Glam Up Your Personal Brand with an Annual Photoshoot

This is an excerpt from my book, Poor Girl’s Guide to Fame and Fortune.

Before we dive too deep into digital marketing specifics, let’s talk about a few essentials. First things first, if you want to build an online following and strengthen your personal brand, you must possess a small portfolio of high quality, professional images. Put away the selfie stick, amateur. Partner up with a real life photographer *gasp*, and get ready for your closeup.

If you’re a little slow on the uptake, you might be wondering “But, why?” Can the right images really launch your career? Well actually, yes. We are knee deep in the visual marketing age. People really do need to see it to believe it. And, to throw in another commonly used cliche, most people do actually judge a book by its cover. It’s human nature, and something we can’t avoid.

To get more specific, how exactly can a photoshoot strengthen your personal brand and rocket launch you to fame?

  • It heightens your credibility.
  • It forces you to be comfortable in your own (partially Photoshopped) skin.
  • It’s a tangible confidence boost.
  • It allows you to get creative, and take control of your personal brand.

Don’t go into your first photoshoot unprepared. I actually hopped on Pinterest, and made a board called Pose. I surfed the net, and saved poses that made me go “DANGGGGG GIRL.” I’m not necessarily an on camera natural, so I wanted to make sure I wouldn’t be a nervous, awkward, deer in headlights wreck.

Next, put together a few basic looks. You will need a simple outfit, pretty outfit, and wildcard.

Keep it simple, Sally.

This outfit should highlight you in your most natural state. No, you don’t have to go makeup free, but try to stay away from a smokey eye or red lips. For outfit colors, go with white, nude, black. Don’t sport hot pink kicks, or a bright red pleather jacket. Have no fear, you’ll get the chance to fully express yourself soon. But, for these shots, you really want it to be all about you. Have a set of striking baby blues? This is your chance to show them off. Can your collar bones stop time? Work it, girl.

Pretty girls rock.

For this look, feel free to glam it up a bit. Add the frilly accessories, throw on the sparkly jewels, and slather on an entire tube of lip gloss. These photos will highlight your inner diva. When picking this outfit, make sure it shows off your personality. As a general rule, never wear something that just doesn’t suit you. Sure, skinny jeans are all the rage, but when I wear them, I look like Susie Sausage Legs. Don’t ever let anyone pressure you into dressing for others.

Wave that wild card.

This third look is the most interpretative. Pick an outfit that really highlights your everyday style. Some of you may choose to show up in your birthday suit, and if that’s something you’re comfortable with, then go for it. This is your wild card, use it as you wish. The only rule? Make sure this look is an accurate representation of you.

So, now you have a collection of poses and a rocking wardrobe. Think you’re ready to get under those neon lights? Think again. Before I send you off into Photoshoot Land, I want to share one more tiny tidbit. Make an on set playlist. I can tell you from personal experience, nothing is more nerve wracking than shooting in silence. Seriously, it will give you the jitters, and cramp your style.

Personally, I suggest a bit of Gaga, Beyonce, and Jessie J. But, pick whatever makes you feel confident. You know that one song that makes you giddy? Put it on the list. How about the “the love of my life screwed me over, and I’m ready to get revenge” track? Oh yeah, add that too.

Before we move onto the next chapter, here are a few more last minute photoshoot tips.

  • Wine helps. Don’t throw back a whole bottle and slosh around like a hott mess, but a glass, or two, won’t hurt.
  • I don’t mean to sound sexist, but in my personal opinion, working with a female photographer makes things so much easier. I don’t have to worry about her leering, and that gives me a huge sense of relief.
  • You don’t need to keep every photo. In fact, at the last shoot I did, my photographer took 150+ photos, and I really only liked 30. Go through the proofs and pick out the money shots.
  • Since this book centers around online marketing methods, make sure you get digital copies of your photos. Trust me, you’ll use them.

So, are all my little branding tidbits starting to sink in? I promise, once you get it, you’ll really get it. Don’t overcomplicate your understanding of this concept. Feel free to reread this chapter, as personal branding mastery is crucial to your professional success.