There’s not much that feels better for me than seeing a personal branding shoot come together with all the different elements. When everything just ‘works’; the outfits, the location, the energy, even the weather! And of course let’s not forget the PROPS!
Often underestimated, sometimes forgotten, props are a crucial element of any shoot, and my pre-session conversations with clients always include discussion about what we can bring in to help create amazing images that will not only stop the scroll, but also support my client’s unique personality, purpose and perspective.
So why all the fuss about props? What can they bring to the shoot that an incredible location, stunning outfits, perfect makeup and professional posing can’t? I never thought you’d ask …
Let me share with you at least five brilliant, brand-building reasons why carefully considered props should always be included in your shoot prep.
1 – To show people what you do
Okay, so I’m going to start with the most obvious one, and the easiest! Without a doubt, one of the first reasons people pick up the phone to book a personal branding photoshoot is because they want images that will help market what they sell. Because at that end of the day, there’s no business with no customers, right? So whether you are in the business of products or services, you will want to think about what props will help show your audience what you do in a few seconds.
If you sell products then you won’t have to look too far for props – it’s a no-brainer really! But in addition to capturing your final product, you can also think about capturing the process behind them.
In these images for corporate gifting service Go Above and Beyond we photographed the products on display and in use, as well as the hampers being put together by Laura, the face behind the business.
With my shoot for sustainable knitwear brand flocci, we were able to photograph my client Julie Torrence at different stages of her creation process – from designing her knitwear on paper right through to a gorgeous shot of her wearing one of her finished products in her kitchen.
Some service-based businesses have obvious prop choices (ie a personal stylist or photographer), however if you’re a coach, copywriter, or consultant, then it might take some extra thought to come up with the right props to tell your brand story. There are a few examples below and even though they don’t tell you exactly what the person does, they still give a strong visual impression of how the person works.
2 – To share your brand personality
If you have a personal brand then you also have a brand personality, and this should shine through in your photos! If it’s something you’ve never considered before, then just imagine your brand as if it were a person and think about how you would describe them. Are they joyful, serious, classy, sexy, stylish, fun, shocking, quirky? Once you have your words, think about the props you could bring in to help create that feeling.
I’m sure with a quick glance at each of these images you’ll agree that a viewer would be able to quickly make an assumption about the qualities of their brand personality:
3 – To add a personal touch
Showing your audience a more personal side to your business is a great way to create a stronger connection with them, and will help them relate to the person behind the brand. What’s important to you? How do you spend your time when you’re not working? Do you have any passions or interests you could share with your audience?
Maybe you have a passion for luxury handbags, drive around on a yellow moped, love your pooch, can’t survive without your weekly yoga sessions, or spend your weekends browsing bookstores. Whatever it is that makes you tick, giving people a glimpse of it will help humanise your brand and build a strong emotional connection with them in a short amount of time.
4 – To send a message
An obvious but often overlooked way to use props is to simply send a message that is aligned with your brand. How do you want your audience to feel? What do you want them to know about you? How can you inspire them or make them take action on something? Get creative and I’m sure you’ll come up with a few awesome props in no time!
5 – To help set the scene
What I love about props is that they make it clear to people where you are and what you’re doing in a split second. It could be something as simple as a coffee cup to show you’re out at a cafe, some fancy stationery to show your desk set up, or items that show part of your client process. Think about your locations and what you can bring into each shot to help set the scene.
6 – To build brand awareness
I’ve saved my favourite reasons for using props till the end! When people think of your brand, what do you want them to think about first? What is it you want to be known for? You may have strong brand colours, a reputation for wearing Gorman clothing, or maybe you’re obsessed with drinking tea! Some of my clients have had their business logos turned into large-scale props, or created small versions of words or tag-lines they are known for (see Emma MqQueen and Suz Chadwick below.
Oh, and I’ve just remembered one final BONUS reason for using props in a shoot, and it’s a good one! They give you something to hold onto. As a photographer I’ve seen time and time again that if people have nothing to do in front of the camera except pose they feel extremely awkward (especially if it’s their first shoot). But if I ask them to pick up a book, drink their tea, or pretend to type, they are doing something which feels familiar and it allows their body to relax, loosen up, and look more natural.
So next time you book a brand shoot, whether you are a product or service-based business, think of how you can incorporate props that not only show people what you do and how you do it, but that also inject a personal touch, along with a good dose of brand personality. It will add so much to your final images!