Monday, June 4, 2018

social media shoots & how to make the most of them!

Hopefully the term "small business photography" isn't completely foreign to you at this point. But in case it is, here's everything you need to know:

A small business shoot, or a "social shoot", is a dedicated and completely
 custom photography session with one goal in mind: 
creating personalized content that will help your business
 and your brand to grow in a purposeful way. 

I don't think anyone can deny the power of having photo content as a tool to thrive in this age of the social media craze. Consumers are turning to social media as a way to research a product or service more than ever before. It's not enough anymore to say you have a good Google ranking or some killer SEO keywords built into your website. In 2018, if your social media presence isn't leading the pack in your industry, you're behind.   

Over the last few years I've had the pleasure of helping countless brands and businesses through social media content creation. It inspires me so much to be around these amazing business owners and see a bit of the behind the scenes of why their business is so freaking successful. In that time, I've learned a lot about what it takes to master the art of original content that SELLS. 

I've compiled 6 of my favourite tips that are designed to help you maximize every opportunity that a social shoot offers -- READY. SET. GO!


ONE // The power of a modern headshot

Grey backdrops are dead. Or they should be if they're not already... Maybe there's a time and a place for studio headshots, but let's decide that they can be reserved for high-powered CEO's of multi-billion-dollar banks and credit unions. Cool? Excellent. Now let's figure out what the *new* headshot should look like... 

The visual representation of YOU as a business owner should first and foremost match the energy and the vibe that you bring to your work. If you're fun and high-energy and vibrant in your work, then that needs to come across in your photo!


A grey backdrop will never be able to compare to a real workspace that shows off exactly what you do and how you do it. 

This next photo is one of my absolute favourite examples of a modern headshot. Food blogger and nutritional aficionado, Stephanie, has managed to tell you so much about her through this photo that was taken in her kitchen:


Down to the clothes, the accessories (in Sarah's case, the TDM water bottle!) and the mood, every little detail matters. As a fitness studio owner, Sarah should be staying far away from fancy, glamorous, stuffy portraits in formal attire. 

Any client of The Dailey Method knows that this is what Sarah looks like when they run into her in the studio. This photo would make them feel right at home. 


TWO // Finding a location

Okay so at this point you know that a social shoot is totally the next big thing to help you grow your business. But now you're racking your brain to think of where you could possibly make these beautiful photos happen. I've got you!!

Before we think about location options, maybe your decision can be made easy because your space is what you should be showing off above all else! Even if it's not as glamorous as Makin'It Lovely's showroom, being able to show your clients where the magic happens is hugely important!

Over the years I've done shop tours of all kinds of locations, for example: store openings in major malls, medical clinics, hair salons, tattoo studios -- you name it, I've shot it.   


If you work out of your parents' basement and it just couldn't possibly work for photos, rest assured there are always studio spaces that are available for rent. One of my favourites is the Breather room on York Street. This space is available to rent on a 2 hour minimum and it's super affordable!


Showing the culture of your physical space is an amazing way to build unique original content. Your customers will have an idea of what it feels like to be in your environment before they even step foot in the door. This is especially true when it relates to a place that someone might feel intimidated to visit.


Trust me when I say you really don't need a TON of space either -- all it takes is one plain, neutral spot near some natural light, and I'll make it look like you're in a fancy workroom! Take my word for it with this next photo for Cake Whisperer that was shot at Cat's kitchen table:


Sometimes it's best not to distract the eye if what we really want people focusing on is your skill and talent!


And when in doubt, a bright and airy café could be just the thing to get you that lifestyle look. This shot was taken in Little Victories by the way, everyone's favourite new hangout spot in the Glebe. 


THREE // Find the heart of your messaging

This is the hardest part, but it's also the most important. Your MESSAGE is the heartbeat that brings a social shoot to life. It's impossible to start with photos and then build the message on afterwards, especially if you care about staying authentic to your brand. One of the homework elements I ask of my social shoot clients is to write out a list of messages that the photos will aim to evoke. Here's a good example:

1. We are a family owned dental office, run by a husband and wife team.
2. We are open long hours to make it very convenient to fit into your schedule.
3. We specialize in helping patients who are in the process of overcoming dental fear or anxiety.
4. You will always be able to see the same dental assistant and build a trusting relationship. 
5. Our clinic is warm and inviting.
6. We care about your time and promise not to keep you waiting for very long.
7. We will be celebrating 5 years of business next month.

Using this list, it's my job to come up with new and innovative images that will get those messages to your ideal clients. Knowing what's important to you as a business owner helps me to work within that parameter when building a shot list. 

Let's use LaFabére as a quick example: luxury paper goods with intricate handmade details:


The Dailey Method messaging revolves around community, passion, fun, energy, and approachability. Together we create photos that reflect that same energy. The "voice" of their branding sounds like this: "RUN, don't walk, because we've got amazing promos happening at the Great Glebe Garage Sale next week!" 

When the photos are created with their voice in mind, captions are made super easy. 


FOUR // Plan ahead for holidays and promotions

You've been there before -- thinking about posting something on Instagram to announce a new promotion or increase sales for a particular season. The only problem is you can't find a single photo in your camera roll that would fit your message! You do a quick #mothersday search and find some generic, slightly blurry picture of some tulips, and overlay a bit of text in one of your many apps that you don't entirely know how to use... I guess that's the best we can do. 

But is it?

Part of your homework before a social shoot is to predict any future photo needs, at LEAST for the next 4 months or so. Have a new product coming out? Have a cool event that you're planning to market next week? Or maybe Summer is your busiest time and you want clients to be anticipating their needs before the very last moment. Plan, plan, plan -- it works every time. 

Having holiday-specific content is way more likely to promote engagement with your audience! Remind them just how much they need a new One Fine Beauty signature lip colour in preparation for this year's holiday party season...  


Clearly customer service is important when someone is physically shopping in your store, which is why the employee always says, "let me know if you have any questions!" That same customer service should be granted to your online followers, and you should consider it your job to answer their questions before they even have a chance to ask. 

You picked these products to line the shelves of your boutique for a reason -- tell us about them! 


Speaking of planning ahead, if you know you're going to be overlaying photos with text for promotions, Facebook ads, store banners or sandwich boards, make sure you communicate that in advance so that I can make sure to create images that are less cluttered and perfectly suited for text composition.

You'll thank me later ;) 


FIVE // Setting yourself up for success

In my opinion, props should always be intentional. Just like I tell my engagement clients, if you don't ACTUALLY go out and picnic in the park in real life, then you shouldn't be doing it for your engagement session. 

I think props can absolutely add dimension to your session when used strategically to enhance a mood, vibe, or appeal to a specific clientele. This shot from the TOAST Events team shoot last year is one of my favourites. The light and airy colours, the elegant and slightly romantic look... this is TOAST Events in a nutshell. Anyone who has ever visited their website, met with Elise for a consultation, or observed her working in her natural environment would say this photo totally fits.   


Another way you can set yourself up for success is to invest in hair and makeup that will ensure you're loving your final collection. If you're feeling uncomfortable about appearing in front of the camera, you are not alone. My best advice is to put yourself in the trusting hands of vendors who know what they're doing, and let them do their thing. 

Ask me if you need a recommendation!


If the idea of a social shoot is brewing, start putting a few things aside that might work well as bonus material. You can hand me a pile of things and I will use my judgement and the homework that you've already completed and turn them into something that you can absolutely use for your business. 


SIX // Understanding the value of original content

Whether you believe it or not, as a business owner in 2018, you are an influencer. Regardless of whether you have 100 or 10,000, your followers care about what you bring to the table. 

Too often I will check out a business for the first time and be so blown away that their space looks so beautiful! Clearly they put a lot of care and effort into creating an amazing environment for their customers. Every time someone is shocked by how good something is, I consider that a missed opportunity. Be bold and share that beauty with the world! Make sure everyone who books an appointment is excited about where they're heading. 

It might even make paying for parking a little bit easier...


For an influencer of a personal brand, your followers care about all the little things that set you apart. What you're wearing, where you're travelling, what restaurants you absolutely love -- you name it. 

In a world where pre-made social media content is becoming increasingly available to purchase, it is more important than EVER to be creating original content. These are things that no one else will be able to replicate because by their very nature, they're 100% you

Be yourself, be different, and don't be afraid to share it. 


Don't believe me that people are buying their social media photos? Well it's actually way more popular than you think. 

I can tell you right now, if you look at someone's Instagram feed and it's an endless series of perfect looking desktop images of rose gold keyboards and perfectly placed headphones beside a lit candle and a vase of pink peonies... something is definitely off. 

There are TONS of companies that are making their living by creating relevant, trendy, and share-ready images on a monthly subscription that can make you look fancier and more put together than you really are. These photos can make it look like you eat at cool restaurants, work in a magazine-worthy office space, and scribble down notes in fancy notebooks. 

My issue with that: all it takes is for someone to see the same photo in two different accounts and suddenly they question the validity of everything else you're showcasing. If your trendy office picture is fake, then what does that say about the product you're trying to sell?

If I can impart one piece of knowledge: be. authentic. Your followers can totally tell.  


I am so blessed to have worked with some of the most amazing business owners in this beautiful city. I can honestly say I never thought I would see this side of my business expand in such an exciting way -- I'm never looking back!

As a way to remain consistently dedicated to both my small business clients 
as well as my wedding clients, I am accepting 8 more commissions 
for social shoots in 2018. If you'd like to hop on that list,