How to “Stage a Story” for Your Next Personal Branding Photo Shoot

A personal branding photography session needs a little pre-planning for best results. And though professional portraiture is a MUST in your visual branding, a photo session like THIS it is not solely about portraiture.

Many PBP customers book continuous photo shoots… quarterly, every-other-month, and even monthly. So developing fresh ideas is very important to building variety in your photography portfolio. And I find that by planning a story that you can act out, creating fresh visual ideas is way easier to accomplish over and over again.

How to Stage a Story for Your Next Personal Branding Photo Shoot with Kelly Heck Photography

By staging a story, we can break out of portrait mode and take some truly candid-looking photos of you in your element! Staging a story is effective because you can envision how the story will play out, allowing you to plan use of the best props, location, and wardrobe. This results in cohesive and engaging photographs for you to use throughout your marketing.

Want to start planning your own stories?

Mix and combine the following 4 story-building categories to transform your vision into a variety of photoshoot realities!

1. Select a meaningful location.

  • Office / Studio / Place of Business
  • Home / Home Office / Kitchen / Patio
  • Co-Working Space / Client’s Office
  • Cafe / Coffee Shop / Bakery / Restaurant
  • Rented Condo / Loft / Hotel / Bed & Breakfast / AirBnB
  • Outdoors / Park / Main Street
  • Vacation / Destination

A location is the foundation that adds meaning a believability to your story. Gone are the days of the studio backdrop! Over the years, I have photographed professionals in their offices, their homes, kitchens, local parks, restaurants, coffee shops, main streets, dingy alleyways, and beyond. After picking the perfect location(s), I will advise the right time of day for the best available light.

Nikki Couloumbis Health & Fitness Coach of Central Maryland | Photo Credit: Kelly Heck Photography

2. Decide what to wear.

How do you want to be seen? This is the most important factor in deciding your outfits. Ready to walk into a business meeting vs. ready to start a yoga workout will result in two very different clothing choices. Dress for the activity at hand!

Some general “Safe Zones” for designing timeless killer outfits are:

  1. Clothing pieces that make you feel amazing.
  2. Properly sized, form-fitted pieces.
  3. Solid colors such as Neutrals and Jewel Tones.
  4. Incorporate Your Brand Colors.
  5. Large and Simple Patterns.
  6. NO TIGHT PATTERNS (i.e., no teeny stripes, dots, chevron, etc.).

Safe Zones” are meant to be broken – don’t be shy to venture outside of the above 6 tips.

Nikki Couloumbis Health & Fitness Coach of Central Maryland | Photo Credit: Kelly Heck Photography

3. Incorporate “Brand Cohesive” props and people.

Props are a vital part of your photo session, adding interest to your photos. Props also give you something to hold, use, or do which will make you feel more comfortable and relaxed during your photo session. And finally, by incorporating other people, you give yourself a friend, family member, or client to interact with. Following are several prop categories:

  • People:
    • Hubby / Wifey
    • Family / Friends
    • Co-Workers Collaborators
    • Clients
    • Models For Hire
  • Pets
  • Coffee / Tea / Juice / Smoothie
  • Laptop / Computer / Phone / Tablet
  • Journal / Book / Pen / Papers
  • Flowers / Balloons / Confetti
  • Car / Bike / Transport
  • Bag / Hat / Sunglasses
  • Food / Prop

4. Stage the stories that will build trust and interest.

Personal Branding Portraits and Photographs are a must for effective marketing because sneak-peeks into your life and how you run your business is of huge interest to your audience. Just imagine what you could share…

  • Behind-The-Scenes (a fly on the wall viewpoint)
  • Client & Co-Worker Interactions
  • Act out a Product and/or Service
  • What you do during “down” time
  • Using your support system (apps, tools)
  • Enjoying the Outdoors / Traveling to/from Work
  • Act out WHAT YOU DO from start to finish
  • Act out an Adventure
  • Introduce your Family / Best Friend / Colleague / Clients
  • Share a Personal Interest

Build and Boast Your Brand Unapologetically!

If you’ve been feeling stuck about WHAT to create and share with your audience, I hope this planning breakdown motivates you to take action!

I would LOVE to work with YOU on your next photo project. Reach out to me at if you would like to explore a photo shoot for your brand.