Before I did this shoot, you can say my experience in front of the camera was pretty nonexistent. I did an engagement shoot with my fiance directed by our wedding photographer, Ryan Zarichnak. And that’s…pretty much it. The engagement shoot was really fun—Shoutout to the real MVP: Prosecco!—and Ryan took our ‘ideas’ and made them cooler. I was hoping my branding shoot would do the same.
Why Elizabeth Craig?
I had been lightly stalking her for a year or two. She has a very impressive portfolio, and is a leader in the photography circuit in Pittsburgh. Liz also started in weddings, and branched out to shoot boudoir and personal branding. Now she owns a media company: Elizabeth Craig Media! I trusted her before even meeting her. The women in her photographs looked confident, empowered, and 100% sure of who they were. I’m trying to feel that!
Prepping for the shoot
Months before my shoot, Liz e-mailed me a very detailed questionnaire to help guide the vision. She also took a look at my website, and gave her input while sharing photos of the hotel room she reserved for my shoot. At first, I was hesitant about a hotel room for a branding shoot, but by the end of her e-mail, I was sold.
“Your website is awesome but yes, it needs more imagery with you in it. I see you on that couch with a floral arrangement on the coffee table, and some wedding magazines. I also see you in that chair in the window and standing as well. Remember, the photos are about you, not necessarily the space.”
She went on:
“Your personal branding photos need to be expressive, on brand with coloring and wardrobe, but they are undoubtedly about connecting your potential clients with you instantly, and that is much less about environment, and much more about emotional, on-brand imagery of you.”
Like I said, I was SOLD!
To anyone considering a branding shoot: It’s so, so, important that when you research photographers that you find someone with a complete vision. Personal branding means so much more than a cheesy head shot these days. People (especially brides!) won’t even consider hiring you before checking you out online first, and you need to grab them with:
A dope photo
I’m pretty confident in my writing skills, and when I don’t book a client or have a bad day, my reviews from past couples raise my spirits. I knew with the right images, I was the total package.
Meanwhile…Liz wasn’t done:
“We could do poses of you on the couch with work accessories such as a laptop, coffee cup, cell phone, scheduler/pen, little camera. You in a gorgeous dress that is reminiscent of a wedding guest (fun and feminine), a sharp suit, a work/pencil dress…the imagery in my head is endless!”
I can see it! I started making a list of the props/wardrobe based on her recommendations.
The day of
The morning of my shoot (exactly one week ago!) I woke up excited, but unsure of what I got myself info. I found a killer dress at Marshall’s the week before, but had nothing else to wear but my ratty jumpsuit that I work every wedding in. I have 4 of the same one, and it just didn’t feel worthy of such an important day. I packed it anyway and threw another plan B outfit together just in case.
As I was getting ready to leave, I started brainstorming how I’d use my shoot photos to book more clients, and if maybe blogging the experience was a good idea. Then it hit me: Whey even wait? I brushed my teeth, ran into my backyard, opened up my Instagram Stories, and pointed my phone in my face:
“Hiiiiii! I’ll be sharing my experience with my personal branding shoot all day! Follow along….Byeeeeee!”
I felt stupid as hell, but whatever. I continued on, snapping photos of the outfits, props, and my manicure. Next stop? Gold Dust Floral for a colorful arrangement! I scooped the flowers and meet up with Liz in the hotel. It was bright, airy, and had some funky seating to play with.
Enter Lee Ann of AtHome Beauty! I love Lee Ann you guys! She was included in my photoshoot package to do the hair and makeup, praise BE. She’s so great at her job, and has a peaceful calmness to her, which was the perfect balance to Liz’s spark of energy. As Liz setup the ‘scenes,’ Lee Ann got to work on my hair.
Speaking of hair. I am 110% attached to my favorite hairstyle: The sockbun. It’s literally my best self. Whenever I have a wedding/big meeting/anything important: The sockbun goes up. It is very much part of my brand.
After some back and forth with Lee Ann and Liz, we decided the sockbun would be in for the entire shoot to tie my looks together. Everything else (outfits, jewelry and lip color) would change based on the vision and vibe we were going for.
At the end of the shoot (which took about 2.5 hours start to finish!), I had 3 different looks, and I loved them all for such different reasons.
Look 1: Me in the office
This was taken in the hotel room, with my desk as the focal point. I had a bold green dress on, and posed at the desk, on a chair, and near the window. What helped make it ‘my desk,’ was all my props, AKA the stuff that is on my real desk back at home. I loved the natural light and pop of colors we featured in these. It’s exactly how I want my clients to picture me working during the week.
Look 2: Me on site
We set this up in the conference area of the hotel, which made it the perfect setting to visualize what I look like on the morning of a wedding, doing my job. I deliver flowers, coffee/breakfast, check in with the bride, answer phone calls, and scamper about getting things together. I wore my work jumpsuit for this, and I was so happy I decided to bring it! It felt super real, and not forced at all. Not going to lie, these were my favorite of the shoot.
Look 3: Me in Pittsburgh
We went out and about in downtown Pittsburgh, and had fun with it! It was a beautiful day—a rarity in the Burgh—and I took some pictures walking around as people left their offices. I incorporated my signature ‘day of wedding planning‘ task: Delivering Starbucks to my client, with Bride written on the cup! Are you rolling your eyes? Whatever, brides *love* it. I also brought my felt office sign and wrote some funny sayings to use as a ‘mug shot.’ It will make sense once you see the picture, I promise!
We wrapped it up in classic ‘hardly working’ fashion: Sampling free margaritas in the hotel lobby, haha!
WOW. This became a novel real fast! There’s so much more I want to share, but for now, I’ll let the photos speak for themselves. Hop around my website to meet me, Heather Dougherty, the found of Day of Pittsburgh! I know who I am, what I’m selling, and who I want to attract.