Are you on the cusp of launching your own business? Among the many marketing and branding items you need to consider, photography is one of them. You may be able to get by with some phone photos but there comes a time when a professional photographer needs to step in. 

And this is where it can go wrong. 

Before you book a personal branding shoot with the first photographer you find on Google, you need to keep these four things in mind. Yes, you can leave some creativity up to the professional photographer, but if you want to gain the biggest value out of your investment, you need to spend some time thinking about what you and your business want and need

1. Understand what personal branding is and isn't 

Personal branding is the presentation of you, as if your image, likeness, interests, values, etc. are a brand. It’s commonly used for solopreneurs, content creators, podcasters, and other occupations where you are the face of your business. The intention is to market yourself like you would a business with the goal of making money from the services or products you sell.

It has an intentional strategy, plan, and sales.

Personal branding is NOT a list of your interests or skills.

2. Spend time on your personal branding and marketing strategy

Your strategy should include knowing your values, what sets you apart from your competitors, your ideal customer base, and how you’ll go about finding those customers. Having this strategy thought through and documented will make the photoshoot go so much smoother. It informs the shot list and the visual feel of the photos.

3. Know what you want out of the personal branding shoot

Hand in hand with the branding strategy is knowing why you're booking a shoot in the first place! At this point, the answer should not be, “Because someone said that I need some pretty photos for my business.” Instead, it could be that you need to refresh the imagery on your website, the products need to be photographed while in use, or you plan on writing a lot of blog or social media posts that require photos of you. These three goals are dramatically different from each other.

A good personal branding photographer will work with you to develop great images that match up with your shoot goals.

4. Have a budget in mind

If you've never booked a professional photographer before, you may get some sticker shock. The easiest way to form a budget is to research the personal branding photographers in your area. Many photographers list their “starting from” prices on their websites. Some, like me, may publish their packages/tiers; others will send the information upon request.

Photographers don't all have the same pricing structure. Much like personal-use portrait sessions, there may be a base session fee with photo purchases on top of that. An in-person “reveal session” is used to present the photos to you, the client. During these sessions, you choose which photos you want to buy.

The cost of personal branding photography is entirely dependent on several factors: the photographer’s skill level, location or studio access, editing requirements, photo delivery count, length of session, outfit count, and more. You should know your shoot priorities so you can find the best photographer for you. If you need a handful of photos to fill your site, then booking a four-hour studio session would be overkill. And conversely, needing photos for a variety of social posts featuring you means that you need an assortment of outfits. 

From my own personal branding shoot.

So before you jump the gun into hiring a personal branding photographer, have these four things prepared. Being armed with this knowledge will narrow your search down, aid in photoshoot direction, and give you the photos you really want.