The Secret Weapon To Producing A Successful, Branded Lifestyle Portrait Session
There’s a lot that goes into a successful, branded lifestyle portrait session.
It’s not like you wake up one day, coincidentally find someone with a fancy camera, meet at an agreed upon location, and magic automatically ensues from there. Strategy, logistics and proper planning all come into play, and a huge portion of the legwork happens before a single image is captured.
Before a plan of action is put into place, one thing must be clearly established from the beginning:
In order to clearly illustrate your business and brand through entertaining, informative and inspiring images for your followers, it all starts with being on the same page and developing a solid rapport with your photographer from the first moment of interaction.
IT ALL STARTS WITH A PHONE CONVERSATION
I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard horror stories from clients about their previous sessions. It usually plays out like this:
they reach out to friends and colleagues who’ve had their portraits taken recently, ask for a referral, check out the photographers portfolio online, and, satisfied with the quality of work, email him or her to discuss rates and set up a shoot date, and then show up to the session only to realize that not only is there zero chemistry with the photographer, and that most of the images taken are unusable because this uncomfortable look is plastered all over their faces.
Want to know how to avoid that type of disaster?
Pick up the phone and actually have a detailed conversation because if you realize that the person on the other line doesn’t really vibe well with your personality, regardless of your ability to fake it, or their ability to capture great portraits, the end result will ultimately suffer.
In order to appear confident, approachable and likable in your images, you first need to feel comfortable and taken care of by the person behind the camera. As a result, asking initial questions that qualify the photographer’s personality, directing style and overall vision before you set up a session will clue you in to figuring out if the match is right. Some of the questions could be:
- Will you help me choose the right outfits?
- Do you provide a hair and makeup artist?
- Describe your directing style?
- How has your experience been with thought leaders in the past?
- Will you correct my posture and stance to improve my shots throughout the session?
Here are a couple questions you need to answer for yourself based on the photographers personality, as well as his or her portfolio:
- Does he/she know how to find my good side?
- How will he/she react if I object to an idea?
- How will he/she help me get past my nerves?
- Will he/she help me appear authentic?
How many photographers should you speak to before you make a decision? There is no magic number, but, it is important to feel the “magic” on the phone, so, keep vetting photographers whose work you admire until you’re satisfied you’ve found a great match.
Once you pass the initial “your-work-is-great-and-you-sound-cool-too” stage, the work of preparing for a portrait session can truly begin, and to do that, it’s best if you prepare beforehand by answering some foundation questions like these:
- What is your brand all about?
- Who is your ideal client?
- What does “work” look like to you, and where do you work mostly?
- What service/program offerings are you promoting?
- And, how much content do you need?
By sharing these answers with your photographer, you can stay on the same page and he or she can create a blueprint for the session by suggesting location options, provide valuable makeup, hair and wardrobe suggestions, figure out how many different types of portraits are necessary, as well as provide insight on how to caption each image.
TIME TO TAKE SOME PICTURES!
When it finally comes time for your session, you and your photographer will have already developed an initial rapport through detailed conversation, laid out the blueprint for the day, and that will help translate into immediate results.
What better way to hit the ground running, right?
When I shoot with my clients, one of my first jobs is to inspire laughter from them, even while they’re still in the makeup chair. Why? The more they laugh, the more they open up and feel comfortable being themselves and are less likely to put their wall up and be closed off emotionally to the camera.
Oh, but the jokes don’t stop there, folks!
The laughing will continue in front of the camera, too, because candid, laughing portraits are a great way to present confidence, approachability and likability, and are an essential component to your image library. It also loosens them up and their range of expressions expands exponentially, which is vital when creating diversity among images.
I would describe my style as an elevated and purposeful form of talking shit to my clients. I create a high-energy, playful atmosphere where I capture candid movements and expressions in interesting compositions. This is my secret sauce - a crazy combination of heavy, non-stop direction fueled by sarcasm, wit, and role-playing games - basically, busting my clients chops with a splash of colorful language as a topper!
Long story short, whatever it takes to open them up, I have zero problem taking them to that place - it is for a good cause, after all, :)
My particular style is not everyone’s brand of vodka, but again, this is why I cannot over stress the importance of you performing due diligence when qualifying potential photographers.