How to Make the Most out of your Branding Session

Have ya’ll heard of the know, like and trust factor? You probably have if you’re a creative trying to pursue a passion. The basic idea is that in order for a follower to become a paying client, they have to know you, like you, and trust you. You can build trust by calling your shots and following through. For example, let’s say you advertise a weekly newsletter every Wednesday. Each time you show up in their inbox on Wednesday, you build trust. Each time you fail to send out that Wednesday newsletter, you break trust.

The like factor is easy…just let your personalty sparkle. Okay, so easier said than done but really, that’s an easy one to understand. But the know factor depends on you showing up on your feed and sharing the things you love with your audience and this is the one I can really help with. Branding sessions will allow you to get fifty images that you can use on your social media, marketing, website and in print for a much more affordable cost than you’d expect!

Denise Karis Branding Photography

1.) What to wear
I’m a big believer that when we look at an image, the first thing we notice is the color palette. When choosing what to wear to your session, choose colors that go well in the environment we’re shooting in.  Nicole (above) picked outfits that fit well with the space we were shooting in making her shoot cohesive and the images look all the more intentional. I tend to look for spaces that have lots of light with neutral colors. You’ll see this recurring theme on my Instagram as well. Noisy, loud and overly busy backgrounds are spaces I generally stay away from.

But back to color… comparing the three images above to the three below will help you to see how much color shapes the overall feel of the shoot. If you’re more drawn to the images above, then stick to those neutral blue, gray, and white tones. If you’re more drawn to the images below, add in some pops of yellow or red.

When considering what to wear, try to stay away from heavy prints and logos that will compete with your face. I’ve also found that three outfits work well in a one hour timeframe. I love how Nicole chose a casual, at home outfit of a linen jumpsuit with bare feet, followed by a navy top and ripped jeans and ending with a dressy, more formal option.

If you’re still not sure here, take 15-30 images you love from social media and look at them all together. Chances are, there’s a recurring color palette that you didn’t even know you were drawn to! This method is also great for choosing location, lighting and an overall photography style. Knowing exactly what you’re drawn to is going to go a long way in all areas of branding!

Denise Karis Branding Photography

2.) What to bring:
This is a big one! There are only so many ways we can be creative taking shots of just you with nothing to do. I encourage you to bring interactive props like the ones pictured above and below. So what do you bring? First, what do you do? Are you a nutritionist? Bring an array of veggies and fruits, your favorite wooden cutting board and favorite knife for a kitchen setup! You can also bring your apron and a cook book along for the ride!  (I have a whole blog post on branding shoots for nutritionists here!) Are you a writer? bring your notebook and pens and a laptop! Are you a photographer? Bring that camera!

A good way to brainstorm if you’re not sure what to bring is to write down five things you naturally love and talk about often. For a previous client, she loved to travel, so she brought her passport. Another loved puzzles so she brought a box and we used puzzle pieces in one of her shots. So if you’re a photographer who loves Harry Potter and Doctor Who, bring your camera, your laptop, then your wand and your 4th Doctor scarf. Just as an example! 😉

Denise Karis Branding Photography

3.) Hair and Makeup:
… And grooming in general. So often, I hear “I should have’s” throughout the shoot. “I should have gotten my eyebrows waxed.” or “I should have painted my toenails.” and “I knew I should have put lotion on my arms.” I want you to feel good about yourself and sometimes that means taking an extra hour to do all the little things like exfoliating and brushing with charcoal (those are my things, I don’t know what yours are!) If you’re interested in Hair and Makeup referrals, check out Morgan and Allison. Both do amazing work and have the perfect eye for style!

4.) Add Video:
This is a new thing! Video backgrounds are quickly gaining popularity however they’re still seen as a unique wow factor on your site because not many people have them! You can add video to Wix sites, Squarespace sites, WordPress sites and my favorite: Showit Sites! You can even use them on your Facebook banner! Branding videos are an add-on to regular branding shoots and cost $100 for four 4-6 second clips. Each video is delivered in an 8 mb size, which is the required size for Showit sites. Click here to see more examples and learn more about video backgrounds! (Mockup below from a recent branding shoot I did for Mark Brand Boutique!)

5.) Collaborate and be creative with me!
Sometimes I have weird ideas. Sometimes those ideas turn into my absolute favorite images and sometimes they turn out absolutely terrible. Unfortunately, we don’t get to know which ones are going to be which, so we just go with it, trust and get creative! I want to know your weird ideas and I want you to trust me on mine! On the images below: I told Annalise “I want you to lay flat on your back with your legs straight up and I’m going to put this LIFE magazine over your face.”… … … yeah, it sounds WEIRD as heck! But she did it and it’s one of my favorite images from any branding session. In the upper right, I asked Jessica to kind of kick up her legs like she was in an 80’s movie….and it turned out SO cute because she 100% went with it. And the image of Katherine and Samantha was their idea. To toss up a handful of fabric samples… so I staged it and gave direction to keep their faces energetic and bright, even if a sample smacked them in the face on the way down, and the result was so fun!

If any of them had made a cringe face while doing these things, the image wouldn’t have worked. So stay on board with me and I’m also giving you permission to browse Pinterest (Something you don’t hear from Photographers often) and get those creative wheels turning! If you find any images on Pinterest that help communicate your “Vibe” or you want me to try to mimic a pose, let me know! I don’t work with a traditional shot list but I am all for the occasional, “Can we try this?”

Denise Karis Branding Photography

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Denise Karis is an Arizona photographer who enjoys musicals, Doctor Who and breakfast burritos. IG @denisekaris