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Updated: Jan 24, 2023


When clients hire us to shoot their brand and portfolio photography, they often come prepared with images from their favorite Instagram accounts as inspiration. During our strategy call, I ask for more details, digging into why they resonate with those images in particular. It usually boils down to one thing: gorgeous, professional photography. They are pulled in by high-quality, cohesive brand images.

Photography sets the tone.

You may be the best in your field but no matter how well you do your thing, the final result will fall short with poorly lit, low-quality photos. Quality photography is crucial to the success of your brand. It allows me to document and share your story in a way that is unique to your brand and its culture.

Your Brand Photos are a visual representation of your brand story and soul. Professional quality photos help to set the tone for your entire brand. They help justify higher price points for your services or products, drive more traffic to your site, and will likely be the deciding factor for a potential client to hire you from your Instagram page.

At the Goldenbrand, we work with consultants, coaches, creatives, and those within the interior design and fashion space looking to up-level their imagery. Today we’re sharing our best tips to help you prepare for your next photoshoot – no matter what industry you are in. To ensure you have the best images for your website, social media, and marketing materials, starting with the checklist below. We also have a done-for-you Brand Photography & Design Questionnaire, complete with worksheets, on our website.

  • Schedule Photographer

  • Schedule Hair + Makeup

  • Schedule wardrobe consultation

  • Create Your Shot List

  • Create a Brand Mood Board

  • Share your story with the photographer

  • Create Prop List

  • Shop for Props

  • Purchase Any Perishables Day Before (flowers, fruit, etc)

Start with the Story.

Meeting with a client for the first time and planning for their photoshoot is one of my favorite parts of the whole experience. I take time to fully research clients before the strategy call. I am known for digging up obscure blog posts, podcast interviews, and reminding them of their long-forgotten quotes. We talk about who they are, why they do what they do, and who they do it for. This is an integral part of the process for me and often very eye opening for them. We are all guilty of getting too busy working on our business and we so often forget to work within it. These conversations help us remember while bringing our stories to life.

Create a Mood Board.

With the story solidified, it’s time to create your vision for telling it. Mood boards help develop an overall aesthetic for your shoot and are integral for conceptualizing how to execute images on shoot day. In fact, our clients love theirs so much that we decided to share the entire process with you here. If you want to try your hand at creating one, download our session template.

Location and Styling.

Depending on what story we are capturing, location can be everything. Some shoots will require the controlled setting of a studio with solid backdrops, while others need the intimate feel of a personal space. As we consider the story, we think about what space will bring it to life. This also determines the styling. For example, are we shooting portrait, editorial, or interior design portfolio images? What styling do we need? Clean, modern, color-pop? Are we selecting a curated space or a messy workroom feel? The right location will transport viewers into your story and narrative. We find that exceptional locations tell their own stories — the key is picking the one that fits into your own.

When finalizing the location with a client, we consider colors and styles of outfits. For this we treat our clients to a wardrobe consultation with our in-house stylist. We help select this best pieces from your closet for the photoshoot, making the process easy for you. Click here to read a client case study and her experience with being styled for her photo shoot.

What is a Shot List?

Your Brand Photo Shoot will be most efficient if you put in a little homework before. By researching what type of photos you think you’ll need, your photographer will deliver better photo options. If you’re working with a web designer, check with them before hand to see what orientation photos they’d like to incorporate. We typically shoot horizontal and vertical images during our sessions. We recommend horizontal photos for your website, and vertical shots for your social media. Below, we are sharing a handy breakdown of what you should plan for. We have a resource for this here if you'd like to go the DIY route.

  • 60% vertical photos / 40% horizontal photos

  • Vertical for Instagram + Pinterest

  • Horizontal for Website + Blog Posts

  • Headshots in at least 3 different scenes

  • B roll for reels and stories

  • Flatlay style environment shots (if applicable)

  • Product Shots (if applicable)

The Rest

The best brand images capture more than branding, clothing or a beautiful smile — they communicate an entire story in one image. They not only give the viewer a glimpse into your personal brand, but instantly convey your personality and make the viewer feel part of your world. This type of visual connection can be attempted in about pages and personal stories, but even the best copy cannot accomplish it with the elegance and impact of quality professional photography.


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