Running a retail store is all about connecting with your customers. One of the best ways to do that is through a retail brand photoshoot! With masks on our faces in-store, the connection we make through digital channels is more important than ever.
Last week, I did a brand photoshoot for Savvy Shopkeeper. I’ve done photoshoots before, but this was the first time I did some work before the shoot to prepare. I wanted to feel more confident going into the photoshoot because they can be awkward or uncomfortable (unless you’re Linnea of Darling Boutique—she always looks so natural in front of the camera!).
Here are the ten ways I prepared for this photoshoot and how you can plan for a brand shoot for your retail business, too.
1. First Things First: Conquer the Fear
Trust me when I say I DON’T LOVE photoshoots. They feel awkward, vain, time-consuming, and they’re quite an investment! The money part can be scary.
Feeling prepared and starting small are two ways you can conquer your fear of photoshoots, along with following the other tips below.
2. Recognize the Value of Branded Photos
I have used my collection of photos from previous photoshoots for YEARS. I still use images from my first Savvy Shopkeeper photoshoot four years ago!
You can use these photos on your website, social media accounts, and for public relations purposes. For example, if a news outlet covers your store and asks for a headshot or photos of your workspace/store, you won’t have to scramble. You’ll have professional, branded, high-quality images that you can send them right away. Your store will be represented beautifully!
I store all of my photoshoot images in a shareable Google Drive folder so my team members can access them as needed.
3. Research and Interview Photographers
You have to find a photographer that matches your visual style, your budget, and—most importantly—that you feel comfortable with.
The best way to do this is to stalk IG or ask friends who they use. This is what I did for my most recent shoot! I went with Sarah of SB Brand Photography after seeing the gorgeous photos she had taken for Maureen of The CoLab in Lakewood, Ohio, and Sarah of WE Profit Foundry.
Then, consider your style and what you’d like your photographer to capture. Maybe you want moody images, or a more traditional style, or perhaps something whimsical and creative.
Most importantly, find someone who specializes in BRAND shoots. Brand shoots require a different way of thinking. Brand photographers will help you with the creative direction of your shoot, suggest useful shots you might not have thought of, like flat lays, and keep the end-use of the photos in mind.
4. Reverse-Engineer Your Photoshoot Budget
The first time I had photos taken for Savvy Shopkeeper, I bartered.
The second time, I took advantage of a mini-shoot offer a local photographer was offering—it was $75. I have used those photos over and over and over again!
The third time, I had a set dollar amount I was willing to spend. I knew it didn’t have to be an elaborate shoot, just some photos of me in my home office with my podcast mic. I used those photos for the launch of the podcast.
I knew I wanted two locations, multiple clothing changes, and LOTS of images the fourth time.
See how this evolved for me? You don’t have to spend $1k on a shoot. You can start small or find a photographer with a payment plan if this feels better to you and your wallet. For a retail store, you could use simple photos of you at your cash wrap over and over again! It doesn’t have to be a big production.
5. Define the Theme or Concept for the Shoot
Are you trying to tell a story? Are you trying to convey something specific in your images like authority, services, area of expertise, products, your incredible store, or your merchandise displays?
I like to take a good old pen to paper and map it all out. For instance, maybe you want shots at your cash wrap, shots in areas of your store where your popular products are located, or perhaps you want to do something more fun, have team members involved, or have customers in the store.
Whatever concept you land on, having a plan in place will save you time and frustration.
6. Find Your Personal Style
You’ll want your photos to feel like the authentic, best-self version of you. That means you should work on finding clothes that you love, feel confident in, and that fit well.
I love creating a Pinterest board for this. You can also head to the mall and take photos of outfits you love or ask your most stylish friends for help.
Try and dig into your current closet FIRST before you buy all new clothes. Pull out some of your favorite pieces of clothing or favorite shoes and go from there. You don’t need a whole new wardrobe—or maybe you won’t need any additional items at all.
I spent more time defining my style for my most recent shoot than I have in the past. I didn’t do this for previous photoshoots and felt unprepared, or worse yet like I wasn’t making the most of the shoot. This time felt great because I was embracing the real me and wore the clothes to match!
7. Book a Planning Session With Your Photographer
Avoid wasting your time or the photographer’s time trying to figure out the details the day of the shoot. I made sure I showed up for our call prepared by working out the shoot concept and my style ahead of time.
On the day of the shoot, Sarah walked into my house with a list of shots we had discussed on our planning call. It was such a relief knowing we had a plan, and I would get the exact photos I needed.
When you’re thinking about the shots you need, try to consider…
- what kinds of photos you could use on your Instagram or Facebook
- if you need more vertical or horizontal images for your website layout
- if you’d like flat lays of items from your store or pictures of your beautiful displays
- and if you want individual or group photos of team members.
8. Prep Your Store or Studio the Day Before
Get your props ready and lay out your clothing/jewelry/shoes the day before! BE PREPARED. Do you have an apron you wear while you’re painting furniture, a mug with your store’s logo, or t-shirts that your team members wear? Make sure everything is laid out and washed if needed.
I didn’t do this as well as I should have, which is why I’m mentioning it. I should have rearranged some things in my store before Sarah arrived. Thankfully, she was patient and kind, and it only took me ten minutes. I try to be very respectful of other professionals’ time, so this bothered me a little.
9. Get Your Hair and Makeup Professionally Done
This is definitely a splurge, but to me, it is so worth it. I prefer to hire a makeup artist and a hairstylist, so I know that I look my absolute best day of.
If you love the way you do your makeup and hair, then please, by all means, run with it! But for those that can use a little confidence booster, don’t be afraid to invest in this. Just make sure to book your appointments well in advance.
10. Master Your Mind
Doing a photoshoot where you’re the center of attention is vulnerable. I like giving myself pep talks and repeating affirmations so that I feel my most confident when the camera shutter starts clicking.
I hope that these tips help you plan a retail photoshoot for your business. If you end up doing one, be sure to message me on Instagram and let me know how it went!
Lastly, I have an exciting announcement: the first-ever Savvy Shopkeeper Retreat is happening on September 12 and 13 this year! I’ll be opening up ticket sales to my email list very soon. Be sure to sign up for the email list, as spots will be limited.
- Shopkeeper Shoutout: Calli of William James Gifts
- My most recent brand photoshoot photographer, Sarah of SB Brand Photography
- Sign up for the Savvy Shopkeeper email list for first dibs on tickets to the first-ever Savvy Shopkeeper Retreat!
- [03:49] 1. First Things First: Conquer the Fear
- [08:16] 2. Recognize the Value of Branded Photos
- [09:41] 3. Research and Interview Photographers
- [10:48] 4. Reverse-Engineer Your Photoshoot Budget
- [12:31] 5. Define the Theme or Concept for the Shoot
- [13:38] 6. Find Your Personal Style
- [16:15] 7. Book a Planning Session With Your Photographer
- [17:02] 8. Prep Your Store or Studio the Day Before
- [18:09] 9. Get Your Hair and Makeup Professionally Done
- [19:47] 10. Master Your Mind