Question: What happens when the Photographer becomes the Model? Answer: A lot of lessons learned, self-consciouness, and newly gained empathy for my photo subjects. Here’s what went down when I did a photoshoot a couple weeks ago as part of my rebrand, where I enlisted my Awesome Husband Jon as my photographer #creativepartnerforrealz
Why did I do a photoshoot?
For the past few years, I had done various types of sessions – portraits, newborns, weddings, events – but this year I’m focusing all my efforts on Personal Brand Photography (PBP). I wanted more cohesive imagery across my online platforms, so as part of my rebrand I wanted some new photos of myself. (Learn more about PBP here.)
What were my goals?
Have images suited for social media and online ads
I really emphasized to my husband that I wanted mostly horizontal images with lots and lots of white space around my head and body. I knew I would be taking these images and adding text, my logo, or other graphics to them when needed.
My current Facebook cover is a perfect example of this. I loved how I looked in this photo and there was plenty of space to the right of my head for me to add the text.
When you do a business photoshoot, make it really clear to your photographer how you plan to use these images because that affects how she will compose the shot when photographing you.
Jon did take some tight close-ups of me that I can use in a blog or one of those circular account profile pics, but I wouldn’t really use them as cover photos or ads because the layout doesn’t work as well.
Have a versatile set of images
I also knew the types of shots I wanted:
- Some of me holding a camera, some without
- A range of full-body, mid-waist, and headshots
- Posed photos where I’m smiling at the camera
- “Action shots” of me taking a photo
- Outdoor and studio photos
I’m planning a separate shoot for Jon to take photos of me working with an actual client so people could understand the lighting setup and customer interaction I go through. But for our first shoot, it was all about me =D
What’s great with having a versatile set of images is that I can’t predict all the scenarios I would be using these photos. So let’s say in the next couple months, I decide to participate in an Expo and I’m asked to provide a profile pic and images that represent my business. Well if I didn’t have a library of images to choose from, I’d be scrambling trying to get that done or maybe submitting images I’m not really that crazy about. But now I don’t have to worry about that since I have personal brand photos ready to be used.
How did I prepare?
Select a photoshoot location
This was definitely an area I should have spent more time on. Since I was in a rush needing new photos, I picked the Town Center since it was close to my house and I could get my makeup done nearby. There’s a long atrium area in front of Nordstrom with light, neutral backgrounds that I wanted to use.
For the studio photos, we set up a backdrop and single strobe in our living room. I knew I wanted a mix of outside and studio shots to show that I provide both types of shoots to clients.
Select a color palette
Part of my rebranding effort includes includes having a more consistent color palette across all my marketing. I’ve chosen mint green as my primary color, with gray and purple as secondary colors. I love this color palette because those are my wedding colors and my engagement stone was actually mint green.
For Instagram users, having a consistent color palette is one of the easiest ways you can build a cohesive grid of images and give your profile a more polished look and feel.
Coordinate wardrobe to match the color palette
I wanted to reflect those colors in the wardrobe and accessories I wore. I immediately thought of clothes from Belle of the Blvd, a mobile fashion boutique here in Jacksonville started by Holli Nygren in 2013. I’d bought from Belle before so I knew they had clothes in the colors I needed and in the styles I like to wear. Holli was so great about pulling 3 outfits for me that matched what I was going for – 2 dresses and a ruffled top. That gave me several looks for my shoot, which goes back to wanting versatility in my images.
Then I had to figure out the poses. Normally when a client hires me, I’m the one guiding them into flattering poses based on body type. So I already had an idea of how I should be posing myself. But I also researched poses where I could incorporate holding my camera. I found some pics for inspiration and created a posing album on my phone so I could reference the angles and holding position. This is something I do anyway when working with a model.
Budget money and time for make-up
So I knew ahead of time that I wanted to have my makeup professionally done, but I took a gamble and didn’t make an appointment. It was actually pretty busy when I walked into Sephora and I lucked out in grabbing the last available slot. I did underestimate how long it would take – about an 1 hr 15 mins – and that cut down my shooting time since it was nearing sunset by the time I was ready.
No regrets though – the makeup made such a huge difference! I didn’t have to retouch my skin at all in the photos.
So…how did it go?
Great! Except the part where we got kicked out…
So that area in front of Nordstrom I picked out? We shot there for about 30 minutes uninterrupted…but then a security guard came and kicked us out! I should have expected that lol but at least we got some shots in.
We had 15 minutes of sun left so we rushed to a nearby apartment complex that had a small field in the back. The photos Jon got here were some of my faves because it was less posey and included more active shots of me shooting with my camera.
What did I wish I’d done differently?
The main thing I should have prepped for was understanding my body more and recognizing my posing habits. Until I started reviewing the photos, I didn’t realize I tended to tilt my head back and too much to the side, making my chin look bigger than it was.
I also underestimated how critical I was of my body. I generally enjoy being in photos for fun but I became hypersensitive knowing these photos would represent my business online. So many photos that were technically good (exposure/composition/lighting) I disliked because of my expression or my arm fat (my Kryptonite!). I empathize so much more now with models/subjects I’ve worked with in the past. So often I loved certain photos that they didn’t, portraits where I thought they looked fabulous but they didn’t agree. And it comes down to the fact that we just see our own selves differently and more critically than others do. I’m sure I’ll recall this feeling the next time I do a portrait session with someone.
Logistically, I should have budgeted more time for packing my wardrobe and accessories. I’m used to packing up equipment for shoots and knowing how long that takes, but this time around I had extra stuff to consider (clothes, makeup, shoes). So it definitely took longer than expected.
Did I end up with photos that I love? Yes!
Did I learn more about my own insecurities and posing habits? Absolutely.
Did I appreciate my husband even more for all his patience as I asked to see the back of the camera dozens of times? HELL YEAH. (Love you, Jon!)
With all the things I learned from doing this photoshoot, I’ll be putting together some guides to help others prep. Stay tuned!