The importance of getting the location right
Everything was so WHITE. My footsteps clacked on the gleaming white tiles - would I scratch them? - and my head throbbed from the shards of noon sun piercing through the expanse of glass roof.
The blinding light picked up the splatter of mud on my left shoe, a remnant from walking the dog through the woods that morning. I hoped nobody would notice the mud, then remembered picking up my tabby and white cat for a hug and a chat before I left the house. It was spring, and he was shedding. I started devising excuses for keeping my jacket on.
Almost running to keep up with the haughty woman with the fixed smile tasked with taking me from the front desk to the interview cubicle, I wondered how soon I could escape. We rushed past hard plastic orange benches, weaving between polished metal poles holding the roof up, a roof with arty metal struts and cables so high I got vertigo looking up at it.
That was NOT my favoured environment. Could you tell?
If I’d had my own brand shoot there I’d have felt completely on edge, and it would have portrayed me as someone I’m just … Not. People seeing my brand photographs would have formed completely false impressions of me and what it’s like to work with me and who I am.
So how DO we decide on the perfection locations for personal brand photography sessions? Well, we consider these 6 points below for a start.
1) Have a think about your style (think of your clothes)
The best portrait sessions capture your existing style. Think of what your favorite outfits are, what you tend to wear from day to day, and what sort of style you’re drawn to, then we’ll come up with complementary session locations.
For example, if you lean towards the bohemian, then an edgy urban streetscape would just confuse viewers.
As for me, I all too often have cat hair on my top, dog treats in my pockets, and mud splatters on my breeks. I felt so out of place in that ultra modern, stark office complex I described above that there’s no way I could have been photographed there and looked even vaguely comfortable or happy.
Seriously … How crap would the photos of me have looked?
2) Locations meaningful to you
As a large part of personal branding photography is to show the real you and try to draw your ideal client towards you, it makes sense for you to have at least some of your photographs taken in a place which is significant to you.
Your audience will connect with you so much more when you explain this particular back story, and show yourself there. (If it’s a beach scene in Hawaii, we’re kind of stuffed. Sorry.)
3) Look at your favourite images
Now, this comes with a caveat. Be inspired by your favourite images, but don’t try to recreate them. You are a special little snowflake who’s completely unique, so don’t try and be someone you’re not! But do nick ideas. Nicking ideas is brilliant.
Are you constantly drawn to the same sorts of backgrounds and location? (Again, if it’s a Hawaiian beach, sorry!)
What are the common themes that you gravitate towards?
4) Indoors or outdoors?
Are you an outdoorsy person who spends every possible moment out and about? Do you work mainly outdoors with your clients? Or do you have outdoor spaces you’re very strongly drawn to?
If you work outdoors you may like to show folks what you do in your working environment.
Maybe you work at a desk and it would make more sense to show mainly indoors photographs of yourself.
However, if you’ve booked a full brand shoot, you have the option to go to a couple of different locations, so you could easily go outdoors somewhere meaningful to you for some personal shots of yourself, then go indoors somewhere for the rest of your shoot.
What are your brand colours? Can you think of any locations which display a lot of them?
Going deeper than just echoing the colours in your logo, however, we need to think about what messages we want the predominant colours in your locations to convey.
For example, if you’re a spa owner or an aromatherapy massage therapist, you might like an indoors location with muted but light, natural looking colours, whereas if you’re a dog trainer, you’d possibly want wide open spaces with the bright colours of sky and grass reflecting dogs’ cheerful characters.
Brand “personalities” play a part in the colours of your locations too… Are you summer, autumn, winter, or spring? You can read here about “seasonal personalities” and how the colours of each can play into your photographs and influences others' perception of your entire brand.
6) How many people will be photographed?
This detail matters for a few locations, especially if you decide to go with a small space or an indoor spot.
If it’s just you or a wee small handful of folks in total, then your options are a bit more open.
Large groups, however, require large and open spaces, otherwise things may start to feel crowded and chaotic during the shoot itself.
How we decide on locations at our planning meeting
When planning your brand shoot, you and I will mull over all the above points above when coming up with the perfect place(s) to photograph you in.
Location is really important to the outcome of your images, so this is something we’ll discuss at some length in our shoot planning meeting.
Try and come up with some of your own ideas to start with, but if you’re stuck, I can help as I know lots of great locations for photoshoots in Edinburgh.
Once we've decided what sort of messages your location convey to your ideal clients, we can then start narrowing specific places down.
Examples of indoor and outdoor locations
If we’re going out outdoors have a think which of these would suit your brand best:
For indoors, some good options are:
Your own home/office/studio
AirBnB or show home
Cafe or restaurant - at a quiet time of day these can work well
Co-working space or office
A photography studio - there are a couple in particular I recommend in Edinburgh
Oh and that job interview I went for ..?
I didn’t get it.
But I think I dodged a bullet because instead I got a job in a 200 year old building on Princes Street, Edinburgh. I didn’t feel intimidated when I walked into work every day but instead got lost in daydreams of all the people who had been there before me, feeling quite at home in the history and antiquity of its faded splendour.
Now that might be an idea for the next brand shoot I have done for myself ...
I know lots of great places in Edinburgh which are great to photograph at, so why not get in touch with me and we can start planning your session?