When you scroll through Instagram checking out the cozy photos of a trendy home with a cute girl lounging on her sofa with coffee on the Anthropologie feed, you think "that's what I want!" I love these lifestyle images, they give such warmth to brands that traditional product photography cannot.
So what does it take to create a seemingly simple photo to promote their new couch + robe + mug + candle?
Many many people came together to craft these photos shoots. I've been on these sets and seen the amount of people, time, planning and money that goes into a photo shoot for 1 blog post. One blog post! That's it!
An example of a shoot for a larger company with products sold at Anthropologie:
1 creative director
1 person handling manual labor (that cute couch? may have been moved 3 times for the photo)
1 studio setting or a real home that's been scouted + pre-styled
20 hours of prep time
8 hour photo session
Plenty of post processing time to edit images (I don't know the exact amount of hours for this specific shoot)
Result: 5-7 final images for the client
So when you're a small business owner and you're working with a one-woman-team photographer, how can you bridge the gap to get the results you want without all of those resources and that big ol' budget?
I've got some ideas.
1. Know where you stand. - Are you in the beginning stages and need help developing your brand? Do you need guidance with this or just some time to gather your thoughts? Let your photographer know this when you inquire about their services.
2. Maybe you have the basics of your brand in mind (the mood + feel). - Now you're ready to gather inspo pics and make sense of it all. Please don't expect your photographer to recreate other's work but sharing inspo pics is very helpful! Visual aids help when words aren't cutting it, Pinterest is great for organizing this on "secret boards".
3. And perhaps you know exactly what you want and you have a very strong vision. - My advice here is to meet with potential photographers to discuss and see if you're a good fit based on their input. My other advice for this is to still be flexible, you're hiring another creative to bring your vision to life and they will breathe in new air to a project, let them!
Bonus: Always know your budget. Know what range you're comfortable with and don't be afraid to tell your photographer! They are likely just as excited to work with you and may be willing to negotiate.
Next, what are the expectations of the shoot?
Visit this post for what factors may or may not be needed for your shoot, very helpful for preparation!
Now that you've read that past post, here are a few tips to make the most of a smaller budget:
-Model for yourself! You're likely the face of your business so hopping in front of the camera saves you money + time and gives you a chance to connect with your audience! Photos of you do SO well on social sites.
-If you're struggling to find a good location, chat with your photographer for their recommendations. Your own home may work just fine which saves on a rental fee.
-Find a photographer who is comfortable styling products if that's necessary for the subject. Their rate may be a little higher than others but you saved money on not hiring a stylist without putting that job on yourself.
-Go with the flow of natural light. If you work with a photographer who shoots natural light, you are somewhat at mercy to the weather gods. A good photographer anticipates and prepares for that with equipment (including artificial light just in case!) and approach. Trust your photographer to guide that process and make lighting recommendations.
-When tallying up the number of products you want photographed, narrow it down. If you ask a photographer for 20 styled shots, they'll need to charge for the time it'll take to make that happen. Choose wisely!
-And, lastly, communicate! When planning a photo shoot, respond to questions from your photographer in a timely manner so they have time to prepare. If they're to set up a shoot, help book models, buy props, prepare backdrops and be ready creatively - help 'em out and give them the appropriate time to do the work.
I hope this helped as you consider professional photography that's still within your budget. You're always welcome to email me with questions about your situation!
How long does a small shoot last?
To be honest, I struggle creating packages that will fit all small business needs. You are each so unique!
Let's break down what elements of a shoot that determine the time needed then get into package options.
-number of models
-model experience / efficiency
-number of outfit changes
-hair & makeup needs
-change of location + driving time
-the public (waiting on passersby or a truck to move along)
-availability of the location (public spaces may have limited hours)
I shoot mostly natural light so time of day and weather conditions are an important part of my approach. When shooting outdoors, I'll always push for early mornings or later evening just before sunset and those hours are fleeting in the mountains!
Products // Styling
-number of products you need photographed
-number of ways you need the product photographed
-styling props to set the scene (the amount of props we're working with + the time to style them)
I rarely have small business clients ask about the amount of images they'll receive because they're not shopping for bulk.
A good reason for that? Your products and services will continue to evolve, so your photography needs will too. It's not necessary to have 10 photos of 1 product from slightly different angles. It's better to have less images, each of stellar quality.
Narrowing down your needs for the photo shoot greatly helps your photographer provide an accurate time frame + quote for the session. Not everyone knows the answers to these questions from the start but that's what I'm here for! I'm happy to help brainstorm the session visually and logistically.
I offer a standard small business session that often suits most client needs but I'm also happy to modify it. I work with small businesses because I enjoy being flexible and working together for the best results.
Looking for ongoing photos that evolve with you and your goals? I offer monthly and seasonal packages as well as my standard small business session!
I really enjoy putting together this lil list because I put a lot of thought and care into it. I look around for inspirational creators that may rock your world, even in the smallest way, of course ;)
One of the hardest parts is not including any current clients of mine in this list because I love them and what they offer oh-so-much. But at least you know it's not bias!
I hope this helps narrow down your holiday shopping and I'm sending lots of cheer to you this December!
There you have it, 4 killer gift ideas for the season. And I just noticed the top 3 are ALL women-run. Hell yes.
Wishing you all the best for the holidays this year!
The holidays are here. Officially.
Small businesses have to strike a balance between taking time off to enjoy (yay, you're your own boss!) and making the best sales during the shopping season (oh ya, gotta earn $$).
My best advice? Prepare ahead of time.
Next year, let's get those holiday photos done in October so you have them to use throughout November and December. Photos to promote new product, the holiday spirit, promotions and events.
Find yourself needing to change things up regularly?
I offer monthly packages for a quick photo shoot every month to fill up your Instagram. I also offer seasonal packages if you want to highlight the changes in weather, product, styling and use of your product or service!
This is a portrait session I did with Christa Briana for her to create a new website (coming soon!). She is a local illustrator who's work is similar to mine so we enjoyed created hauntingly beautiful images together in the woods of Asheville, NC.
Portraits of Asheville artist Christa Briana
Makeup by Serenity + Scott
Clothes are vintage
Props belong to Christa
What is a lifestyle shoot when it comes to your small business?
Product photos on a plain white backdrop are great for selling an item online. Potential customers can see the item clearly and make an informed purchase.
But, is that enough?
What about that initial feeling when they first visit your website or open up your Instagram? That can't be under estimated! It's the excitement and enthusiasm that drives sales.
What about the way you caption your photos and the words that describe your company's values? You're building an emotional connection with people that creates lifelong customers.
Lifestyle images connect you. They show a sweater wrapping you up by a cozy fire. They show your glasses when you set them down to enjoy breakfast after reading the paper. They show you on date night, escaping the kids. They show you in your earth-friendly t-shirt on your favorite hike.
What story connects you and your clients?
How will they use your signature product in their daily life? Or do they invest in it for special occassions?
Dig deep. Put yourself in your customers shoes and then show them with photos.
You'd be surprised how little prep you need to do for an in-home session. Catherine and I picked 2 spaces to create images. First up is the office. We created 3 different looks inside one small space!
We wanted some fun and colorful photos with match her previously created office flat lays. These all go together to support her marketing company, Bright Planning.
Bright Planning has a vintage flair with a cool logo and uses strong primary colors like blue and red. We moved a desk in front of her favorite bookshelf and created a beautiful mess with other beloved books from around the house. As you may have guessed, Catherine is also a writer outside of her marketing career. She and her partner, Brandon, are literary souls with many many books floating around their home.
The vintage typewriter is a nice touch too!
For the next look, we cleared the desk, changed shirts to create simple workspace portraits. Less styled images for Catherine's portrait.
Next we simply changed direction for images (in the same room!) of Catherine on her chaise just enjoying the quiet space. The hat beside her holds family memories so its a nice touch to personalize the portraits.
That's 3 different looks in one small room!
We wrapped up with a relaxed, lifestyle portrait on her screened in porch. We shot in just one corner so we didn't have to move a thing for these photos in preparation.
In-home sessions are some of my favorites because they reflect you, your favorite things and often where you work!