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4 Mistakes to Avoid When Planning Your Personal Brand Shoot

a woman styling another women

Creating epic visual storytelling photos that reflect your brand takes careful preparation and intention. As easy as we want it to be your brand shoot is not just a monetary investment - it's a culmination of all the hard work you've put into building your business.

After working with countless brands, I've come up with four mistakes you want to avoid when planning and preparing for your brand shoot.

#1 Unclear Direction, Look and Feel

My personal favorite way to help clients get super clear on the direction of their brand shoot is to create a mood board. Pinterest is my favorite way to do this, but you can use whatever works best for you.

Create a mood board titled 'My Brand Vision' and start pinning images related to your brand. Try not to restrict yourself; you want to gather as many pictures as you can. Once you have a fair amount of photos pinned on your mood board, you'll want to take a step back and check for consistency.

Are their photos that do not make sense? Does your mood board feel cohesive? You want to fine-tune your vision for the shoot so that the shoot has a coherent direction.

I always recommend creating two sections within your mood board POSES and VISION.

A screen shot of how to organize your brand shoot vision board into two sections. One titled poses the other titled artistic vision.

Sometimes we pin images because we like the pose, but nothing else about the photo relates to the brand. Creating a section just for poses ensures that the direction of the shoot stays on brand.

A little aside: As womxn we often feel pressured to show up in untrue ways to be successful. What a load of BS! You are worthy of a thriving business, just the way you are. All you need to discover is what that looks like for you. Creating a section for posing will help you better understand how you want to be seen in the world.

Once you've created your shoot mood board you can take it a step further and create a PDF guide using Canva that brings it all together.

A screen shot of a brand mood board I created for my client's brand shoot.

Personally, this is my favorite because I LOVE seeing my vision neatly and beautifully presented like the image below.

This was a mood board I created for a rebrand shoot for a realtor.

And below is a look at some of the final photos we captured for her rebrand.

A photo collage of final pictures from a rebrand shoot put together in a shoot mood board.


You and I may never love getting in front of the camera, but there are some ways we can make it feel way more comfortable!

First up, practice posing at home. Using your pinned poses from your mood board, get in front of the mirror and practice, practice. TRUST me it will make a world of difference in your confidence on the day of the shoot.

Second, let your photographer know your insecurities. SAY WHAT?!

Yup, you read that right. If there are angles or parts of yourself that you know you don't like, let your photographer know before your brand session.

We are not here to judge your insecurities. We are here to help you create amazing on-brand images that you love. While also being honest with you about what is a realistic expectation.

As someone who is deeply aware of how the beauty standards have stripped so many womxn of their self -worth I'm on a mission to help you love your body for what it is and where it is. This means we have to get honest with ourselves and start challenging the status quo by letting our imperfections come through!

Curious as to what I mean, check out the first frame in the video below. Check out that double chin and large nose?! Not flattering at all but it's true to life and what's the sense in trying to hide what happens naturally????

And before you say, no way no thanks - think about the impact we can make for future young people and other people in our circle when we embrace and proudly show up. It takes you and I to create the positive change we want to see and it starts with us.

Third, have fun and show up boldly! On the day of your shoot, remember to have fun.

Create a playlist, bring a beverage, and let yourself unwind. As much as your brand shoot is about you - it's actually way more about your clients. They want to see the real you and feel connected. The more you can remember that and let it embolden you to show up as the best version of yourself the better your photos will be!


If this is your first ever real brand shoot, then you'll likely find yourself thinking you need to do EVERYTHING you've ever imagined for your brand. Pump the breaks, friend!

Your final gallery depends on two major factors your next year in business and budget.

Let's talk about what we all hate talking about -- MONEY. Actually, I don't hate talking about money but it can bring discomfort when I'm in a place of lack.

As savvy business owners, we have to make decisions all the time when it comes to where and what to invest our money into. And no matter how seasoned we become in business THIS will always be a ball we are juggling with.

So knowing our numbers matters because brand photography is an investment that you don't want to skimp on. And if you find you don't quite have the budget yet, it's better to wait than waste your money on a cheaper option that will have to be redone.

You know your numbers and now it's time to hire the photographer. You've realized your budget is smaller than you anticipated but you know you need brand photos so what do you do?

Here is where you sit down and visualize where you see your business going in the next year and create a 12-month vision by asking:

--> What are 3 changes I want to make to my website or social media?

--> Do I have any new products or services I plan to launch?

--> What marketing avenues do I plan to use and what assets does this require?

Prioritize and check your budget by answering the questions below:

--> Of the top 3 changes you want to make this year create a plan + budget accordingly. Start with your MUST - HAVES then move down to the nice to have.

--> Use this list when planning your brand shoot with your photographer. This will help you avoid getting lots of beautiful images that don't serve your business!

A pinterest graphic of questions to ask yourself before your brand shoot to make sure you're on the right track.

Screenshot this graphic so you can reference these questions later!

In most cases, you will find that photographers have structured their packages to include a certain amount of time for the session and the final number of images. With your clarity on what is a priority in your business, you can save yourself time and money by focusing on what actually matters for your business goals.


Planning and executing a brand shoot takes thoughtful preparation. If your photographer doesn't provide you with a prop checklist, make one yourself.

Waiting until your brand shoot week to gather your props and organize your outfits is the ultimate mistake to avoid.

If your brand shoot requires fresh items like flowers or food, you'll want to prep those items the day before. And make sure that you have opened and removed tags from any recently purchased items. You do not want to be wasting your shoot time removing tags - trust me!

The night before your session, pack your car with anything that can be packed that evening. Be sure to check your list and mark off all the items as you pack them.

Get a good night's rest and wake up with plenty of time in the morning so that you are awake and excited for your shoot!


Building a brand takes time and a whole lot of work but the payoff is so rewarding. As your business grows so will your brand.

The first brand shoot you do will be such a fun eye-opening and learning experience.

Did you find this blog helpful? Let me know your biggest takeaway in the comments below!



Hey friend!


I'm LeeAnn a Pittsburgh-based personal brand photographer helping women create memorable brands that align with who they are  while attracting the right people. 

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