When’s the last time you did a photoshoot for your biz?
I’m gonna guess, after the year we’ve just had, it’s been a while. You’ve been busy running your business, socially distancing and respecting your budget.
You’ve also spent a lot of time on your phone *ahem* Instagram…
So has your ideal client.
Which is why it’s time to take advantage of your opportunity to connect with them.
These days, users don’t want to just follow businesses, they want support and connection. As an entrepreneur, there’s no better way than to share who you are with your audience!
A great way to do this is by regularly posting photos accompanied by stories about yourself, your business, and engaging content that supports your ideal clients struggles, hopes and dreams.
BUT, in order to do that, you’re gonna have to stop scraping the barrel that is your camera roll and do another photoshoot.
And no, you’re not gonna break the bank or waste a ton of time doing it!
In my latest video, Shoot One Month of INSTAGRAM CONTENT in 1-DAY - Posing, Equipment, Editing Apps & Tips, I show you how to plan, prepare, shoot and edit your own IG photos on your own (or, if you’re lucky, with a “friendtographer”).
If you want to access the very tools we use to help prep, plan and edit our content, grab the Photoshoot Essentials Guide I created for you. Download for FREE here:
DOWNLOAD TEMPLATES >>
FREE guide *PHOTOSHOOT ESSENTIALS: Your guide to flawless, on-brand Photography for your IG content*
Alright. If you're tired of recycling the same boring pics from your camera roll, but don't want to spend a fortune booking, a photographer or a studio, you've come to the right video.
Instagram is an amazing tool to help businesses connect directly with their ideal clients. So, unlike Facebook, Instagram makes it super easy for you to connect and follow your dream clients and interact with them just like you would peer-to-peer. So there's no need to invite them to Like your business page or join a private group. But with great power, and in this instance, great access, comes great responsibility.
With all the amazing content out there, followers expect a lot from the brands and the pages that they follow. If they're going to support you and give you their attention, it's because they want to learn, connect, and engage directly with the person behind the brand.
So how do you deliver on this and hold their attention? The answer is pretty simple, but of course, easier said than done, by frequently posting content that gives a glimpse into who you are and your entrepreneurial journey. Doing this creates an authentic and ongoing rapport with your audience, which helps strengthen the perception of your brand, and also keep your business top of mind.
But can it be done without it costing you tons of time, an arm, and maybe even a leg? Absolutely. In this video, I'm going to show you how to plan, shoot, and edit your month's worth of Instagram photography all on your own.
Before we get to that, if you're in the market for more tips and hacks to help grow your business, hit the subscribe and notify button so you never miss a beat.
I'm Lesley, co-founder of Brand Therapy Sessions. And in my experience of planning and art directing what feels like hundreds of photo shoots for my business and for my clients, I've learned a couple of tips and tricks along the way... You would hope!
Oftentimes, it's very typical for entrepreneurs to dive into booking a photographer and a venue without much of a plan. And while you might know what the set looks like and have an idea of the aesthetic that you want to achieve, without a detailed shotlist and a brief, I assure you, unfortunately, at the end of the day, you'll find yourself with a low amount of usable shots. Giving you little to no bang for your buck.
That's why I'm going to show you the exact process that I use in preparation for any of my photoshoots and how you can do it all on your own. And to make your next photo shoot even easier, I've gone ahead and created a free guide with all of the instructions and templates I'm about to share. You can grab it in the link below this video.
So before your next photo shoot, the first thing you're going to want to do is create a shot list, and a shot list is a document that breaks down all the details for each image. Doing this allows you to get crystal clear on your creative vision and anticipate the outcome of the photoshoot. It allows you to plan, pack, and stay focused on set. Though it's a very unimaginative and feels like not really creative part of the process... I assure you, it's a crucial step in a successful shoot.
Heading over to my screen, we're going to start by taking a look at your monthly content sheet. And if you're not familiar with the term, not to worry, we created a whole other video on this topic and this content creation process. I'll add the link in the description if you want to check it out. It's super helpful.
But for those of you here, high-level: a content sheet is where you plan your next month worth of Instagram content. And within you'll specify how many photos you need to take, the general subject matter, and the accompanied captions for your next month of Instagram posts. Once you've filled out your content sheet, you'll know how many images you need. So for example, maybe you need 14 photos for your next month of content.
What you'll do after that is you're going to go over to the shotlist template I created for you. The link is in the description below. So what you see here is the template I use for every photo shoot V and I have done for our brand. Each page has a reference image and details of the location, the outfit, props, pose, and anything else you might want to add. This doc is going to be your go-to on the day of your shoot. It'll help keep you be super organized and right on track.
These are some examples of how we've customized the doc for some of our clients, and you can definitely refer to these if you need any semi-casual or business casual poses. But just so you know, the last page is the blank template. And to make this file your own, simply click File > Make a Copy and then you can save it to your drive. And that will duplicate the template and you can make it up to as many pictures as you need, and you can also delete the upfront examples if they don't apply to you.
Looking at this now, you can make it as detailed as you like, meaning you can either break down every individual picture, like the examples above, or you could take the 14 pics of the month (from your content sheet) and say, "Okay, three of these are going to be done in my kitchen, and then these five will work awesome at my desk. These two can be of me sitting on a couch, and the last four will be shot outside of a cafe working." And if you want to kind of keep these in a theme and not be too prescriptive, you could just create a page for each of those sets. But at the end of the day, it's whatever helps you feel confident and prepared.
When shooting your monthly IG content, typically we recommend three to five different backdrops or locations max per shoot. It's just so you'll have enough to visually mix it up. And don't run yourself into the ground creating a new outfit, backdrop, and concept for each photo. At the end of the day, your audience just wants to get to know you and these photos are meant to compliment your story. So have fun with it, and you'll definitely get better at it with every photoshoot.
If you're looking for inspiration to help fill out this doc, take a trip over to Pinterest and create an Instagram Content Photography Board with all of your research. So what you can is type in keywords like your occupation + the word "photoshoot". Or "at-home photoshoot", "poses", your occupation + the word "outfits", "backdrops for an at-home photo shoot". Or, if you're leaving your house to go to a cafe or shoot somewhere outdoors, you can search that too.
Pinterest is amazing at finding suggestions and awesome photo inspiration for your next shoot. So what you'll do is you'll take a look, save what you like to your board, and the next thing you know, you have a bunch of shots and poses that you can recreate and make your own for your grid.
You can also do this on Instagram by creating a collection in your Saved Images panel. IG is great because you can also check out accounts with similar ideal clients, relevant hashtags, and specific locations. So you can actually see what's been done and learn from it. I find both super helpful as I'm no model and I'm totally awkward in front of a camera. So if I've seen an example of something done before, I'm a little bit better at following instructions.
And if you're pressed for time, which I'm sure you probably are, I would recommend for your first month to just stick to Pinterest. And this is because when you're working on your desktop and you're using a really pointed keyword search, you're just going to find more options faster, and you'll be able to fill out your content sheet. And don't get me wrong, I still really recommend that you set up that Saved Images collection for your Instagram. It's just that it will probably come in more handy as you add to it over time. So maybe plan to use it for months two and three.
Without a professional photographer, you can go one of two routes. The first, buy yourself, a tripod that comes with a ring light and shoot it yourself on a quality phone camera or a digital SLR.
The second option is to ask a friend (who hopefully has a natural eye for photography) who would be willing to do it for free, or maybe you can in exchange for a free service. You could do an energy exchange. And it's possible that maybe your friend needs pics taken for their business and their monthly content – so you can become each other's content buddies and shoot each other's pics on different days.
Having a second person is definitely something to consider as it'll make your photoshoot go by much faster and it just gives you the flexibility to try different angles quicker than you would be able to with a tripod.
With those options in mind, which one feels best to you? Comment below and let me know. Are you going to grab a tripod or are you going to phone a friend? And once you figured out your logistics, be it your new piece of equipment or your friend-tographer, here are some rules of thumb when it comes to your photoshoot.
Rule number one, bring your shot list on set. I've said it once, I'll say it again. Whether it's printed out or saved to your phone, just bring it. There are so many details and moving pieces during the photoshoot, you're sure to forget something if you're relying solely on memory. And in the name of preparation, the next rule, pack a of your pre-planned outfits and any biz-related props the night before. In the guide I created for you, there's a photoshoot checklist that you can use to make sure you don't forget anything.
In terms of outfits, I'd recommend picking a few outfits that are easy to change in and out of, especially if you'll need to resort to changing in any type of cafe washroom. So jackets, layers, and accessories are all great ways of swapping up your look without having to do a full overhaul change of outfits. Switching your hairstyle is also a great trick as well.
If you're not sure what to wear, Pinterest again is a great source for inspiration. Consider the tone that you want to portray. Is your brand casual or is it more polished? And, even if it's a bit of both, mixing it up is a great way to show different sides of yourself and your biz. Be sure to consider your brand colour palette when choosing outfits and location... Which brings me to my next point, on-brand locations or backgrounds.
So when picking locations, I always recommend picking places that either naturally have your brand colours in it..u. So example, if your palette has yellow, maybe the flowers in the background or the pillow on the couch is yellow, or maybe it's the warmth of the sun. Or you could pick a background that's more neutral, meaning not too colorful, that will allow you to actually wear your brand colours or incorporate a brand prop without clashing against the background.
I also recommend picking locations that strategically show you in an authentic way, and that will connect you to your ideal client. Example being if you offer a premium service, your ICA will likely be more drawn to a picture of you working at a boutique cafe versus a McDonald's. Though, I do hear they have some pretty good coffee.
Next, we have the location proximity. So if you're visiting multiple locations for your shoot, you want to pick places that are walking distance from one another so you don't spend a ton of time with parking, packing and unpacking the car multiple times a day. Ideally, you'll be able to roll your suitcase or bag between locations conveniently.
And once you're at your location, the next rule is to check your set, meaning, take a picture of the exact spot you intend to pose in with the angle you want the camera to be. And this will help you adjust either your tripod or instruct your camera man so that you can get an angle that mimics your shot list and your vision. And this will also help you (for one quick second) notice any clutter or dirt that you might have missed while setting up. It's kind of your last call for a tidy. And this will save you from having to edit or crop out any unwanted details or clutter and make sure that the image composition and the framing look great.
The next rule is absolutely good lighting. Typically, I recommend golden hour or earlier in the morning. Mid-day has a tendency to cast harsh shadows on your face and can also cause you to squint. Nighttime or dark rooms can compromise the image quality, especially if you aren't a professional photographer. If you can, bring a large white paper to help bounce light.
So similar to how our moms used to use aluminum foil to suntan their faces – crazy, I can't believe it – this white sheet will help reflect the light, making sure your face is well lit, no matter where the sun is. If you do decide to go 100% DIY, I highly recommend purchasing a tripod with a ring light that can attach to a high-quality camera. We use our phones because the camera is so good, it shoots in 4K. You just want to make sure that whatever you're using can attach to the tripod and the ring light before you purchase it.
And a little tip, when I have to take a picture of myself, instead of using a timer, I actually take a high-quality video with my phone. So I'll walk up to the tripod and I'll set up the video, record it in 4K in the spot that I know I'll be standing. And then this allows me to settle into the scene, try a bunch of poses and facial expressions. And then once I end the video, I can review it and grab high-quality stills from it. After that, one of the best and finishing touches is the editing and the presets.
As a DIYer and any professional photographer, to step your images up a notch after you've done your photoshoot, you're going want to take them into editing and possibly add a preset. We like to use this app called Lightroom. It's free, super powerful, and quite easy to use once you get the hang of it. So we're going to hop over there and take a look.
Now that I have Lightroom open, what you're going to do is upload your images from your Camera Roll. Once you've done this, you can adjust almost everything about the image, from the colours to the exposure, the contrast and the focus. And this is a great way to give your images a professional polish, and also help establish visual consistency for your grid.
So, for example, if your brand photography is mostly bright and colourful images, but your photo is looking a bit dull, you can adjust it in Lightroom to match the others. And if you're looking for a quick solution to give all of your images the same look and feel, a pro tip is to use a preset. A preset is a predetermined setting that enhances and adjust the colours and the lighting in your photos to give them that extra professional feel and consistency. A lot of bloggers and influencers use them. They're a great trick.
In the guide below, I've included some links to presets that I personally approve of. I'm not affiliated with them by any means. I just want it to help steer you in the right direction. There are tons of presets out there and you should offer one that is a little bit more natural to avoid anything that looks too colourful, fake, or overdone. And the reason why I point this out is because your followers want to engage with you authentically. So an overly treated image subconsciously creates a bit of a divide.
I actually like to create a new album for each month. That way I can look at all of the thumbnails at once and see if anything is standing out in a weird way. After that, all you have to do is download the edited images back to your camera roll for when you're ready to post.
Amazing. Now, you know how to plan, shoot, and edit your month's worth of IG photography all on your own. And if you haven't already, be sure to grab the Flawless Photography Guide that I've created for you. It's absolutely free and will make your next photoshoot more efficient, on-brand and enjoyable. If you like this video, please be sure to hit the thumbs up and the subscribe button. Thanks for watching.