Have you ever taken one look at someone, and just absolutely fallen in love with everything about them?
(And no, don’t think about your partner – that’s cheating!)
As a photographer, I get to work with many people, in many stages of their lives. And many times I’m falling in love with every bit of them, every step of the way!
Stefani from Savor & Sage was no different – from the moment we had the opportunity to have our first planning discussion, all the way through to the end of her shoot, we pretty much made a celebration out of the entire thing. The best part? Stefani ended up with some on-brand, delightfully fun and engaging imagery that she can use and repurpose for years to come.
But what about you? How do you even create brand imagery that showcases the special and different thing that you have to share and sell? Who do you choose, and who could possibly understand your visual needs, and bring them to life?
Planning a brand session is no small task – especially when your main goal is to create scroll-stopping imagery that engages your chosen audience, and encapsulates every bit of you and your brand. But that’s not to say it’s impossible!
Consider today’s blog as an in-depth guide (with real life examples, thanks to Stefani!) on how to plan for a killer brand photography shoot, as painlessly as possible. And yes, I realize I used the words “killer” and “painless” in one sentence, while speaking about photography. To each their own, right?
If you’re ready to *finally* create imagery that speaks to your audience, showcases your brand and stands out from the crowd, just grab my hand and keep on reading 👇
But first, why I love Stefani from Savor + Sage
Am I starting this blog with a monologue about why I love Stefani? Yes.
Is it important that you get a good understanding of Stefani, her personality, brand and business before I subsequently use her as an example throughout this blog?
Also yes 😌
Here’s why I love Stefani: she sparkles.
To clarify, when Stefani speaks about her food, there’s a real, palpable sparkle in her eyes, and lightness in her spirit. She has a warmth to her presence, and a welcoming demeanor, even (or should I say especially?) as she moves about the kitchen.
Each and every recipe she creates has a story to go along with it, with roots that connect to her Southern heritage, and California lifestyle. During our branding call, Stefani described her recipes as “Southern-influenced, and California-inspired,” and rightfully so!
During our first meeting, I immediately picked up on Stefani’s vibrant personality and genuine smile – both make you want to sit down at the table and share in the community she’s creating. To top that off, her recipes are not only visually inspiring with their beautiful pops of color and texture, but they bring people and cultures together.
Understanding a brand goes far beyond taking a cursory look at what a business owner sells or offers, how they do it, and how much it costs. In order to really capture the finite details that go into creating a beautiful, vibrant brand, you need to dig deep.
And to create imagery that really, truly showcases that beautiful, vibrant brand? You need to dig even deeper.
So, let’s chat through some need-to-knows when it comes to planning for your very own brand session, while also sneaking a peek at how Stefani and I incorporated her brand message and story into her photography session. After that, I’ll leave you with some questions to ask yourself, before getting in front of the camera.
Let’s do it!
First, a peek at some of Stefani’s branding photos for Savor & Sage!
Now some tips for planning your own branding session:
You might have noticed that I spent a good amount of time describing Stefani, her background, and what she does for others. Reason being: those individual factors are what we leaned into to create a visually stunning brand session!
Stefani wanted to incorporate her Southern roots, as well as inspiration from her granny, Octavia, while seamlessly blending things with her California lifestyle. To do so, Stefani made recipes that combined both elements to feature in her photos.
Stefani also brought photos and an old recipe card from her granny, and we made sure to take photos of those things, while surrounding them with her current recipes.
Storytelling in your brand photography is important – it’s what creates a connection and undeniable memory for your audience and ideal client or customer. In order to visually tell your story, make sure to take some time to dig deep into your “why.”
Of course, half the battle in creating the photography your brand really needs lies in finding the right photographer to connect with!
When Stefani came to me, she shared that she wanted a “thought partner,” not just someone to capture photos. Stefani understood the gravity and importance of finding someone who fully understood her personality, her history and her “why,” so as to create the photography she was really striving for.
Working with thought partners, not just clients, is incredibly important to me. As a photographer, I enjoy creating and cultivating a connection with my clients, while encouraging them to dig deeply and think creatively.
The result of Stefani and I being “thought partners”? We were able to discuss her brand, where she came from, and where she sees herself going, what’s most important to her, and what she wanted to share about herself in her imagery. We also thought about specific photos that she needed for certain areas of her website (don’t forget about that horizontal home page image and leaving space for text!), and together we came up with some concepts, a shot list and prop list.
See? Having a thought partner is important stuff!
Savor + Sage is all about growing, creating and bringing people together. In fact, Stefani’s site features three categories: Eat, Gather, Grow. Naturally, we incorporated food elements (eat), gathering with a tablescape and wine (gather), and books she finds inspiring (grow).
Additionally, we wanted to create some unique photos that really encompassed her, and the things she loves! Because everyone needs a cute photo to share some personal details on Instagram, right?
To do so, we photographed a stack of books (including cookbooks, and non-fiction favorites), and topped it with her vintage microphone and headphones (more on that in a minute!). Then, we added in her yellow high heels next to the stack of books. This not only added a pop of color to her photos, but it allowed us to create something that felt truly like Stefani!
Many brands find it helpful to sit down with a blank sheet of paper, and write out their brand elements, before coming up with a list of visual indicators or props that might be useful to portray those elements. Give it a shot!
You might have noticed that we took photos of Stefani’s microphone and headphones! This was intentionally done in preparation for the podcast she was planning on releasing (it’s out now!).
We ended up taking some great candid photos of Stefani with her headphones and vintage microphone, so that she had content to utilize when it did come time to launch.
When it comes to your own content, sit down and take a look at what you have planned for the year. Do you have any upcoming launches, exciting releases, events or news? Since you’ve already got a shoot in mind, you might as well plan to create photos that cover those things, too!
The location we utilized for Stefani’s shoot was perfect, because we needed a bright and welcoming kitchen space, a warm table space for entertaining, and a relaxed backdrop for her podcast photos. All three of those areas were not only functional, but they spoke to the overall brand vibe and essence that Stefani had to show off.
Finding the right location for your brand shoot is half the battle – your photos just won’t feel the same if you aren’t in a space that speaks to your functional needs (like Stefani’s need for a table and kitchen setting), or your brand’s vibe (like the bright and welcoming kitchen space, or warm and inviting table space). Since your images will serve as visual indicators to your audience on who you are and what you do, it’s important that your location for those photos fits the bill!
I help my clients find and choose the right backdrops and I even scout out locations ahead of each brand shoot to make sure the lighting, area and space are right for the feeling of the individual shoot and brand. Don’t skip this step! Much of the work in creating beautiful brand photography is actually done before you’re even standing in front of the camera.
When it comes time to plan your own brand session, you’ll want to ask yourself a few (okay, maybe several) important questions!
Phew, that was a mouthful! (And a ton of fun, too). If you found that helpful, make sure to join my VIP list! I promise to share monthly tips, resources and updates, so you’re always in the know ✨