I’m a Houston girl, and there is no way around it. I’m also a writer and an avid reader. So, when I was brainstorming locations for my recent lifestyle photo shoot, I figured that downtown Houston near the Houston Public Library was the perfect location!
One of the most important aspects of blogging is having high-quality visuals to compliment my content. For years, I have taken most of my pictures myself on my DSLR, but with all of the other work that it takes to run (and relaunch) a blog, this time I decided to hire a professional.
I was familiar with the work of @bymichellemedia from posts online over the years, so I hired her to snap my photos for the shoot. I wanted to incorporate the spirit of my hometown, and I also wanted a local photographer who could help bring my vision to light.
As part of my new Behind the Screen series, I’ll be sharing a behind-the-scenes look into what it takes for me to create content and build my own online brand. Check out the details of my photo shoot and ideas on how you can plan your next lifestyle shoot.
Note: This post contain affiliate links.
What is the Purpose of a Lifestyle Photo Shoot?
The purpose of a lifestyle shoot is to capture pictures that you can use on your website and social media accounts to share and reflect a moment in time. A branding shoot is a bit different because the pictures are meant to capture the essence of your overall brand and to be used for years to come.
I used a lot of the photos from my recent lifestyle shoot on my website, but I plan to do a full branding shoot soon to replace these pictures with more permanent photos that will remain static on my website. I’ll continue to do lifestyle shoots and mini-shoots to provide fresh content for my social media accounts and blog posts.
In addition to using original photography on my site, I currently use stock photography. Stock photography comes with a limited licensed. You may be required to use original photos or purchase a full release from the stock photographer in order to use the photos for commercial purposes. Brands may also request original photos when you partner with them to avoid any sticky legal issues.
Original photography is best because you usually don’t have to worry about copyright and licensing issues as much, since this style of photoshoot is usually work-for-hire.
(Be sure to check your agreement with your photographer because the photographer owns the copyright to the photo, and some photographers do place limitations on how a photo is used. Check any exclusions before the shoot.)
You can check out my Instagram page to see how I’m utilizing my recent photos to refresh my account.
How to Choose a Location for a Lifestyle Photo Shoot
My first step was to choose the perfect location. Lifestyle bloggers and fashionistas are especially secretive about the “best” locations to shoot photos in Houston. Although a lot of bloggers choose areas with iconic signs and bright colors, I wanted to take pictures at the library. Yep, the downtown library.
One of my favorite movie scenes of all time is when Carrie Bradshaw stepped inside of the New York City Library and decided that she wanted to have her wedding there in the movie Sex and the City.
I can totally relate. I’m not having a wedding anytime soon, but at least I could have a photo shoot!
Many of my photos were shot in front and around the Julie Ideson Building. The rest of the photos were shot around other parts of downtown Houston.
When you are considering what location to choose for a shoot, try to brainstorm areas that will reflect your personality and your brand. Don’t select a location just because it’s a popular place for Instagrammers to take pictures. Instead, think of unique locations that will help your brand shine and stand out.
Lots of Houstonians take pictures with the famous Houston signs, and with many our street art murals around town. But, I’ve never seen any other Houston influencers shoot at the location I chose.
Also consider the time of year. I was trying to wait for cooler weather for my outdoor shoot. But, on the day of my shoot, it rained in the morning and it was warm and muggy! Still, it was better than sweltering heat of the summer.
Make sure your hair, makeup, and outfit choices make sense with the location, and that you can withstand the weather. Also, double-check to make sure you don’t need a permit.
A lot of public areas are cracking down on photo shoots and requiring permits and permission before a shoot.
Tips for Selecting an Outfit for a Lifestyle Photo Shoot
For my outfit, I initially picked out a bright pink dress by Calvin Klein. But, it didn’t really feel right with a outdoor, downtown photo shoot. I needed something a bit edgier. I was crazy busy with work, but I still went from store to store looking for an outfit. Finally, I called in a stylist, my sister Julia. She took me to straight to H&M where we picked out an outfit, but they didn’t have my size.
We had about thirty minutes left before the stores closed on the night before my photo shoot! We dashed into Express and my sister was able to pick out the perfect outfit that was both business casual and edgy.
For my top, I wore the Silky V-Neck Gramercy Tee in a blush pink color. For my skirt, I wore a high-waist seamed faux leather skirt. Links to both pieces are below. My shoes were a pair that I already had from BCBG. They are no longer for sale, but I linked to a similar pair.
The idea behind this look was an edgy, but sophisticated take on business casual. Although I’m a working professional full-time, I’m also a blogger and I wanted my shoot to reflect different sides of who I am.
I rounded out the look with simple gold accessories, which really popped in the photos.
Styling Hair and Makeup for a Lifestyle Photo Shoot
Different hairstyles and makeup styling sends different messages to your audience. In previous photo shoots, I always work my hair straightened for a sleek look. Like it or not, straight hair is still often perceived as a more “professional.”
But, for this photo shoot, I opted to wear my hair in its naturally curly state, which is the way I wear my hair most of the time in real life.
I’m working on really building up my personal brand, and my naturally curly hair is a great reflection of who I am. Plus, I was holding an outdoor photo shoot in the unpredictable and often humid Houston weather, so straight hair would likely revert and become a complete mess.
For my makeup, I went to a professional makeup artist, which I highly recommend for professional photos. Even if you are a beauty blogger or vlogger and frequently take pictures of yourself, pictures taken by a professional photographer are totally different. My makeup was done by Noe Flores of Color Du Jour Studio.
Professional makeup artists know how to apply your makeup in a way that ensures that it will last through the whole shoot, and through bad weather and even rain. Despite the super muggy, humid air, my makeup lasted for the entire session.
Now, I didn’t really have any idea how I wanted my makeup to look, but my artist created a look for me. I would recommend looking at makeup looks and having an idea of what you want before you get your makeup applied.
If you can’t afford a professional makeup artist, lookup tips on makeup for photo shoots and practice before the shoot. Take pictures of yourself in different lighting to make sure that you makeup will be look good in pictures. Yes, you can edit out flaws, but it’s much easier with the right makeup application.
Final Tips to Remember
Professional lifestyle branding shoots can save you a ton of time, and they can really help you carve out your niche as a blogger and a microinfluencer. If you don’t have the money yet to hire a photographer, use these tips to have a family member of friend snap a few original photos of you that you can use on your website and social media accounts.
As your brand grows, and you start to bring in an income online, you can invest in yourself with professional photo shoots and as your carve out your niche as a blogger and microinfluencer.