The moment has finally come: it’s time to get your brand photos taken!

You’ve done the hard work getting clear on your brand. You’ve worked through many other details on your visual branding elements. You’re about to green-light your website, and now, you cannot put it off any longer.

Congratulations, you’re about to have a case of bright eyeballs. Assuming, that is, you can decide what to wear.

So what, exactly, are you supposed to select from your wardrobe to rock this big day? Well, for starters let’s keep in mind these are your BRAND photos, designed to sell you and your business, so it’s important that your look for the day showcases a couple of things specifically:

  • Your authentic personality (as in, who you really are as an approachable expert, not a stiff, overly formal professional).
  • Your industry expertise (if there’s something specific people wear in your industry).

  • Your brand looks and feel (including style and colors).

While elements like the backdrop for your photos and your choice of photographer are equally important, today we will focus on what you personally wear to the shoot to help convey the above elements accurately.

Don’t feel like you have to run out and buy something, either. You may want to shop for the big day. But before you do, start with your own closet, especially with items you get frequent compliments on. If one of your favorite outfits fits the criteria below, you may have a winning brand photo look without ever stepping foot in a store.

Here we go!

1. Your photographer is your ally.

I’ll give you some simple tips below to help you get prepare for your big day, but these are not meant to replace the advice of your photographer. If you have trusted him/her to capture your brand look, then you should be able to trust him/her enough to advise you on what to wear. If you have questions as you are using these guidelines to plan your look(s), be sure to reach out to your photographer. S/he might have specific recommendations, too, based on your shoot location(s) and your visual brand elements. Always share EVERYTHING related to your brand with him/her so you can get the best advice.

2. Dress simply in a style that fits your personality.

Today is not the day to try an overly complex new style--unless you have a professional stylist working with you to plan your shoot wardrobe (which IS really fun!). If you are dressing yourself, go for something simple. You can always dress it up. Avoid a blouse and skirt of radically different colors or prints, as that will “cut” you visually in the middle and make you look considerably larger. If you can wear one solid color on top and bottom, this will help to slim you and visually feel cohesive.

3. Plan how you’ll incorporate your brand colors.

I’m a big advocate that visual design should take place before photos for this very reason. You’ll want embody your brand colors through the outfit you choose, BUT refrain from dressing in those colors head-to-toe. A simple, solid-color dress is a great choice when paired with an accessory like a scarf that carries the brand colors. You might indeed have a dress or suit that is in your brand color--but don’t feel everything you’re going to wear has to fit that. You will be just as well off selecting a signature accessory to carry the colors as anything else.

4. Choose soft, comfortable clothes that fit well.

Particularly if you are having a lifestyle photo shoot, you’ll be moving around a lot and even traversing between locations. You will want to be personally comfortable--and the camera will love a soft fabric with movement to it, particularly if you are wearing a dress. Avoid “tent” or “Bohemian” style dresses that have excess fabric as those may look pretty in real life but may have a tendency to look “bulky” on camera. Wear something that fits closely but not too tight.

5. Save the drama for your accessories.

If you want some drama to your photos, don’t choose a way-out-there, edgy dress. Channel your inner edge into those accessories. A statement necklace, a colorful scarf or beautiful bracelet can really add “pop” to an otherwise simple outfit. This is also the best place, as I mentioned above, to showcase your brand colors. If you’re on a budget and want to spend your dollars wisely on an outfit, wear simple clothing you already own and invest your budget into your statement accessory.

6. Consider layers for interest.

You will want your photographer’s insight on how to use layers properly, but don’t be afraid to bring some sweaters, jackets, shawls or other layer-friendly items to mix and match for different looks. Especially if the items have different but complimentary textures, this will provide some added visual interest. When in doubt, don’t hang your whole outfit on layers, but bring them along to the shoot so your photographer can see them and help you select good options.

7. Avoid clothes that appear to “bulk you up.”

On that same note, while you are layering, don’t fall into the trap of “bulking up.” Thick knitted fabrics, turtle-neck blouses and other items that “cover you up” or add “weight” to your appearance will make you look larger on camera. These can also have the psychological effect of suggesting that you are hiding something because your body is “stuffed away” under opaque, concealing fabrics.

8. Use patterns sparingly.

As you are selecting your clothes, use patterns with caution. A small, light texture on a sweater or shawl might be fine--but a boldly patterned dress will likely steal attention away from the most important element in your photo: your face. Even if your leopard print dress is your absolute favorite, this might not be the right time for it. Or, if leopard print happens to be part of your brand, choose a sweater, scarf or even a leopard-print handbag to carry the homage instead.

9. Leverage colors that look great with your skin tone.

If you have not had a skin tone evaluation before, now is the time to do it. (You can take a free quiz here.) Otherwise, if you choose to work with a stylist, s/he will likely do this as part of your initial intake.) Generally, your skin tone will fall into warm or cool, which will suggest which colors you should wear. Some systems divide this as spring, summer, autumn and winter. Take your results into consideration as you are selecting your outfit and accessories, so that you get the maximum camera love!

10. Keep jewelry to a minimum, particularly with earrings.

This guideline applies most prominently to earrings. In most cases, you will want to avoid giant, sparkly dangling statement earrings, even if this is part of your brand. Why? Because those earrings will detract from your face and draw attention away from you and your winning personality by overpowering the image. This doesn’t mean you cannot wear some sizable pearls, but post-based earrings in simple shapes, without a lot of twinkling rhinestones or diamonds, are probably your best choice.

11. Wear more makeup than you feel comfortable with, or hire a professional.

Cameras can make you look harsher than you really are. If you depend only on your natural level of makeup application to carry you through your shoot, you may find that you end up looking less like yourself. Wearing more makeup may look poorly in the mirror after you apply it, but by the time you get under the lights, you will end up looking like yourself in the final image. You can also hire a professional makeup artist to handle your makeup for the day. I prefer this approach myself, because s/he will provide touch-ups between shots and knows exactly how much to apply to get a “natural” look on camera.

12. Get a friend or your regular stylist to do your hair.

The day of your photo shoot can be stressful enough. If you do not have a simple hairstyle that practically does itself (or even if you do), consider having a hair-savvy friend or even your regular stylist do your ‘do. You might even invite this person on set to provide touch-ups between shots, especially if your hair is pinned up or done in some other more complex style. A professional will need to be paid at their hourly rate for this service; a friend might do it for trade or in exchange for a nice lunch out!

13. Select a brand-relate prop.

To really get more mileage out of your brand photos, and amp the uniqueness factor, consider bringing along some “tools of your trade.” If you have a signature pen and notebook you use, an actual industry tool, or even just a pin you wear for good luck, a pet your clients all know by name, or a favorite teapot that sits on your desk, consider bringing those to your shoot. Your photographer may not find them useful--but then again, they may also end up really “making” your photo. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box on this one!

 

In the end, your photo shoot is supposed to be fun. Relax, keep it simple, and follow these tips to enjoy a fun day in the spotlight.

When the results come in, I think you will be amazed at how fantastic you look. And when you feel good about your self-presentation, you’ll feel great about your new web presence, business cards, social media and other brand assets that carry your image--and your message--out into the world.

Before you schedule that photo shoot, be sure you are absolutely clear on your message and your brand, so that your shoot sends a powerful message that's paired with the right words and visuals. Schedule your free 1:1 consultation here to find out more about clarifying your brand so you can create photos, a website and social presence that truly expands your influence.

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