Photoshoot Prep for Rockstars

photo shoot prep for rockstars

As a photographer, I might be a bit biased but photos are a very very important part of your brand.

Branding is all about consistency, right? You know that you use the same fonts for your branding and the same colors and the same design elements but are you making sure that your imagery is consistent?

It needs an on-brand vibe.

Go look at your favorite brand's Instagram feeds. I'll bet they have the same feel - similar colors, lighting, and props. That's what you want!

There are a few different ways to get beautiful imagery.

1. You can use stock. Stock is a great way to get started inexpensively and there are a lot of great places to shop for it or even find it free. Talented photographers are making new gorgeous stock photos everyday.

2. You can hire a professional photographer. There are freelance photographers out there, like me, who love to shoot for brands and have experience specifically in making your images on-brand across the board. But, this is the pricy option.

- or -

3. If you want to be more hands on - you can style and shoot your own photo shoots!

and if you want to style your own shoots, this is the post for you cause I am gonna help you get started.

Photo shoots don't have to be complicated, stressful, or impossible for you. They can be the best way to get beautiful imagery for your brand! And they can be so much fun!

Step One: Get Inspired

Inspiration can come in many forms. It seems these days most people, including myself, default to Pinterest when inspiration hunting. It’s a great tool and you should use it! But what else inspires you? I am inspired by the floral department at Trader Joe’s, the label on the body scrub I just bought, and the song I am listening too. The most important inspiration advice I can give you is to always be open to it. It’s everywhere.

Keep a secret Pinterest board, a saved Instagram collection, a folder on your desktop, or - go old school - and keep a journal. (Or be like me and do all those things. Just try and remember where you saved what. HA).

Step Two: Create an Inspiration Board

Inspiration boards are pretty much my favorite thing. I think they are vital to the creative process and the perfect way to organize your brain. I use them when starting any new project. A new product line, a branding project, a logo design... anything! But I didn't always use them before starting a photo shoot. And I wish I had! Think of all the time wasted without a clear vision of where I was headed with a particular project!

An inspiration board is a must have for your photo shoot because it is your starting point. It is your vision - on paper - and printed out! I highly recommend printing it and having it on your shoot with you to refer to. Of course, you never want to copy the images on your board but, if they are what inspired you, it’s good to have them as a reference to remind you.

I have a free inspiration board template on my site that you can download and fill in with your words and photos to make this step even easier!

Step Three: Prop Shop + Location Scout

Giving you prop shopping advice is hard because I don’t know what your style is :) But, I do have some pro tips.

  • There’s a good chance that you found some inspiration that had props in it that you liked. Start there.

  • I find that it is a good idea to have a variety of sizes of things. Don’t buy too many big bowls or tiny pieces of glitter.

  • Don’t let your props overwhelm your products. Your product should be front and center. Pick props that enhance your product. Remember your color pallet - that will help a lot here. If your product is beige, you probably don’t want hot pink props. And vice versa.  

  • If you don’t have a physical product then don’t worry about that last one. Just style gorgeous on-brand images.

My favorite places to shop:

  • Trader Joe’s and Costco both have great prices on florals.

  • Cost Plus World Market always has sales and you can sign up for their coupons.  

  • Target. Cause I could live there. Try the dollar section. Tons of cute stuff for $1 or $3. 

  • Local vintage shops (I grew up in a town where antiquing is a major tourist attraction so thrifting is in my blood)

  • And if I may shamelessly plug our sister shop: Props + Stuff. We have cute stuff in the shop right now!

And sometimes the place you are shopping is your own kitchen or office. A prop can be as simple as your computer keyboard. So don’t stress if today the prop budget is low.


Location scouting essentially follows the same guidelines. Pick a place with the right feel that doesn’t overwhelm your product. And that place might be in your house. Or your backyard. Or a blank wall. Don’t rule out anywhere simple and free. 

But if you do have the budget for renting somewhere:

  • Check your area for rental properties that will let you shoot commercial

  • See if any local floral shops have an area to shoot - there’s a gorgeous place by me that does this!!!  

  • Sometimes local photographers rent out their studios by the hour or the day

  • Get a hotel room for the night if that fits your brand. This one is a fun one cause you shoot in the day and then have a mini vacation and hit the pool!

Step Four: Create a Shot List

Your shot list will be your boss at the photo shoot. It will also be your best friend.

Start by listing all of the photo needs you have. What does your blog need, your instagram, your website? Where will you be using these photos?

List those out and then, thinking about your inspiration, make a note next to each describing what you want the shot to look like.

I’ll give you a mini example:

Page Header - Lined up cutting boards on a white background

5 instagram shots - Products simply styled with spray roses on colored backgrounds that match our brand colors

Website Front Page - Simple image of the roses for overlaying our logo

Time To Shoot!

Charge those batteries and pack up your props! It is show time.


Good luck with everything! I know that you are going to rock this shoot. Just don’t stress. If you follow all these steps, and stay true to your brand feel, everything is going to be stellar!


If you didn't catch it above, I’ve made you something to help you even more. A photo shoot prep list. Everything from above put together in a mini workbook that you can download and fill out for photo shoot glory.


Rock on, my friend.


xoxo, RJ