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to your Pre-shoot Prep Guide

I created this guide with you in mind, in hopes that it should help elevate any initial worries and overwhelm you might feel about planning your own branding photo shoot.

Trust me, I know - I've been there.

It's a very exciting process, but can feel like a LOT too.

Read through the guide, feel free to make notes as you go and we will bottom out any queries at your planning call.

Be sure to complete the brief questionnaire at the bottom of the page to help me get to know you a little better and so that we can hit the ground running on your planning call!

I can't wait to start planning your exciting personal branding photo session with you!

x .iana


Venue & Locations

First things first: where will we shoot?

Choosing the perfect venue for your shoot takes a hot minute - but it doesn’t have to be stressful.


What stories do we want to tell with the images: do we want to show off your work space?

Share your favorite cafe? Take the viewer on a walk? Or do you want to show them your cute personality by choosing an arcade as your backdrop?

It is important to consider, but not overthink your perfect branding shoot venue(s). And remember - I’m here the whole way to advise and guide.


Here are some of the most common options and brief prep tips for each.

Your Home & 'Home'

I usually shoot in a couple of rooms: most commonly your workspace, study or living area.


That said, I am a light seeker, and I have often shot sessions in unconventional places because the light is just amazing. Think: hallway, front door, your bedroom, bathroom (we keep it classy - promise!)

Make sure your space is clean and tidy before I arrive and you have hidden clutter you definitely don't want in your photos (eg. mobile phone wires, remotes, boxes of tissues etc). I am a master of moving things in and out of the frame as necessary, to make sure the shot looks beautiful, however major removals can eat into our shooting time.


If you think we might shoot in your bedroom (likely if you want to show pictures of you working/relaxing on a bed), please make sure you have a white/light duvet cover on your bed. Patterned or overly dark bedspreads may date your photos and distract your audience.

Try to keep things light and white, it also acts as a great natural light reflector to make you look your absolute best!


I love flowers and greenery.

If you are anything like me you will have them in every room. They add a beautiful softness and depth to your photos and I will often then carry them from room to room and add some continuity to your gallery.


Please throw a (brand color-friendly) bouquet or pot plant into your shopping trolley before our shoot. I used a pot of fresh basil all around a client’s house recently and it honestly added such a lovely spin to the images!


If (for whatever reason) your home doesn't feel like the ideal location for your brand shoot, Airbnb is another option for hosting.

I have used a number of apartments around Aberdeen and am happy to source the perfect one for your shoot - additional charges will apply and I will work with you to confirm you are happy with the aesthetic of the proposed space.

All the rest

When we plan your shoot, we will have a good chat about what you love doing, where you work, how you relax and your workflow.

This will likely influence the choices of locations for your shoot.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with shooting at one location - there is every chance that your home, or local woods, where you write and walk every day, has everything you need to tell your story!

However, if you would like to call on more spaces, the planning process will flush out ideas for the best options.


This could be a local cafe, it could be a park nearby, it might be a street with funky graffiti in a town near where you live.


Or all of the above!


Keep an open mind - but don’t overthink. Keep  reminding yourself this :)


Everyone shines, given the right lighting

Susan Cain



What to wear?

This part can be overwhelming and I am here to help you.


The clothes you choose to wear tell a lot about you - so pick carefully.

Do you want to come across as Fun? Trendy?Creative? Professional? Easy going? Relaxed?


Clothes are the one thing that can really elevate your photos.

If we are working in multiple locations, telling multiple stories, consider how you can make these images work for you all year round.

Perhaps a t shirt with a kimono for one look and a chunky sweater for another.

Living in Scotland, either could be worn in summer and winter alike, but we’re trying ;)


Think about your brand and your target audience. Are they relaxed? Trendy? High end? Techie? Luxury? Sporty?

Your ideal client will see a little of themselves in you so  consider this when you are choosing your looks.

Don't be afraid of colour. This can be the most important thing to get spot on as the right colours can light up your face and make your eyes sparkle. You don't have to be wearing all your brand colours in one photo.

In fact some people decide to wear colours that complement their brand colours on the colour wheel.


Hold the colours up to your face and see what they do to your skin tone.

Ask a friend to help or we can Zoom and see what looks best.

Neutral colours can look smart and professional but they can also zap your skin tone and stop your true personality coming through.


Steer clear of head to toe block colour (unless that is very 'you') and bright red doesn't always photograph very well, but can make an incredible statement, if you're happy to brave it!


Think about your brand - do you have lots of warm hues?

If so make sure you are wearing warm colours - browns, maroon, orange and yellow.

If you have a black and white brand you could wear greens and greys, muted colours.


One key thing to keep in mind is that when we confirm your shoot locations and ‘looks’ you are aiming for, that’s when it’ll all pull together - because backdrops and outfits will collab to tell your story.


Pick your clothes in advance. Have a variety of outfits ready just in case you change your mind or spill your coffee.

Consider different types of outfits (one smart/one casual) rather than a few versions of the same type of outfit.

Remember your colour palette and keep referring back.

I honestly don’t mean to be patronising (trust me, as someone who hates ironing and doesn’t own a lint roller), but please take extra care to iron and use a lint roller on your clothes ahead of the shoot - camera (like my hips!) don’t lie and picks up on flaws on material and you don’t want your clothing to look untidy in your brand images.


Make sure your clothes fit properly and that they make you feel fabulous!


Try putting a favourite shirt with a new skirt, a jumpsuit with some statement earrings, or some fab new shoes with cropped trousers. If you are struggling there are stylists that I can put you in touch with, who will help you piece together colours and clothes to suit your personality and body shape.

Instagram and Pinterest can also be a great source of inspiration.


Necklaces, earrings, hats etc can make an outfit. Many people who view your picture won't have met you in real life so you want to make the best first impression. Have a play around with jewellery etc. Take a few selfies to see if you prefer your outfit with or without.

Never underestimate the power of layers.

I recommend incorporating layers to at least one of your outfits - a casual jacket, long cardigan or a wrap. This can really help with posing you too.

It can give a certain edge to the look and help your outfit look more structured, nipping in your waist.


Think leather jackets over floaty dresses or blazers over t-shirt and denim jeans.

Layers also helps keep your shoot 'season neutral'. This means you can use your photographs all year round (hello, Scottish seasons!).


Hair and make up are really such a personal thing - I'm not going to tell you that you must get your hair done or have a make over before the shoot.

If that is your thing then go for it. For what it's worth, it can be a really relaxing and pampering experience.

When I got my own branding shoot, I chose to get a stunning blow dry in a salon, but did my own make up. No regrets on either front!

If you are doing either or both yourself, I usually recommend you go with the ‘going out for a fancy cocktail brunch with girlfriends on a Sunday’ approach. This usually results in a ‘not too much, not too little, just perfect’ look.


I can recommend hair and/or makeup artists for your shoot, if you want to take that approach. What I will say is that taking your time over your hair, make up and nails makes for a flawless photograph.

Bring your products along so you can refresh, as needed, while we shoot.



Where I do encourage a small (potential) investment is in you collecting a number of ‘props’ for the shoot.

Some will be in your brand colors or carrying the wording relevant to your business, but others - telling the story of you - your why and your how.

This is what makes you irresistible to your clients and stand out from the sea of competition.


We will incorporate these items into the images - as background or centre stage.

When strategically placed in photos, such subtle accents help enhance the presence of your brand.

For example, a steaming mug with your initial is a great conversation starter on instagram and can be a versatile feature for your website. Your logo or brand colors on it become a visual marker of your brand to the viewer. You holding a notebook could make for a great blog feature image.


Props can include accessories - such as shawls or small personal devices - or household items - such as a cup, phone, notebook etc.

I’ve pulled together a handy suggestion check list (towards the end of this Guide) for the items you might want to bring along to your session and there’s a pretty elaborate listing of props!

If you think of anything yourself, gather it up - I'd rather we discount it on the day than have that frustrating 'I wish...' moment.


You need to think about aspects of your personality you want to show. If you are a coffee connoisseur, you might want to have a few mugs to be featured. If you have a thing for wellies, then let’s get some photos of them for you to talk about on your website’s ‘about me’ page.


Anything that you think tells your story and helps you to stand out from the crowd.


Pin it!

Pinterest is great!


It will help us work together and create a VISION for your shoot.

It can be hard to describe ideas in words, but finding images that carry the feeling you’re looking to convey, will work a treat.


I will send you an invite to share a Pinterest board with me and it will be set to 'secret', which means that no one else can see what we do on there.


Feel free to go to town, adding pins that speak your brand language: calm and peaceful, spicy and fun, full of life and color.

The image doesn’t have to be of people - as long as it contains the mood of your vision: pin it!


Be sure to include your brand colours, logo and website details, if you have one.

Although we won't copy the shots exactly we can use it as a guide to getting the types of images you love.


I have probably mentioned already, but I am incredibly excited for your session - to see the tale of your passion and expertise told through a professional photo shoot and delivered on your website and social media channels is a game-changing experience.


My mission for your Personal Branding Session is to help you tell your story with amazing imagery.

You personal brand is not just about you... it is about the feelings your customers experience when thinking of working with or buying from you.


You offer a very unique and special service and product to your clients - let’s show them how unique and brilliant the person behind the brand is!



I look forward to photographing you!

x .iana

Props Prompts

Here is a handy little list of props and accessories you might want to bring along.


Do not hold back on looking out as many as resonate with you and what you feel would represent your brand - as I say, I'd rather we didn't use some than feel like we missed out.


Do feel free to bring things you feel would convey your message and let me know if I can help you source anything! I'm in good books with a few people that can be very handy for last minute branded print orders or getting a hand on some unusual props.

Stationery - branded notebook, journal, colorful pens, markers and pencils etc. - consider your brand colors  or those that compliment them (PencilMeIn is a brilliant little shop!)


Branded items (mug, cup, clothing, accessories)

Your phone

Large headphones or tiny Bluetooth AirPods

Mug - with your logo or in your brand color(s), a takeaway cup or a fine china cup?

Books and magazines - relevant to your industry or written by you?

Accessories - do you wear glasses, live by your iWatch, rock red lipstick?

Would you like to talk about your hobbies? If so - think of a ‘story’ that we can tell and gather props that would support that

I also encourage to consider celebratory shots - it’s your businessversary, your birthday, client success, an award… you  can announce these by popping champagne, standing with loads of balloons, drinking out of a stein glass - something that suits you best?

Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.

Edward Everett Hale


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