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Christmas Beauty Brand Photography

The Beauty Brand Owners Guide to Creating The Best Seasonal D.I.Y Photography 

There’s is so much to do at this time of year, your work to-do list is huge let alone your at home to-do list! Thinking ahead to Christmas promotions might seem like the last thing you’d want to do, but sis, with £1.93 BILLION set to be spent on health & beauty this Christmas in the UK alone, you need to just find a bit of time to think about your Christmas Campaign & marketing plan, and if you manage to squeeze in a seasonal photoshoot, you’ll be reaping the benefits all over the holiday season through into the new year.

Unless you live under a rock, you will have noticed that Beauty brands put a lot of effort into their Christmas Campaigns to maximise Holiday season sales and you should be doing the same. 

Image by Hel of a Beauty

A huge part of this is having  GREAT images of your products and your brand in action for your Christmas Campaign. 

So, whether you’re a makeup artist, a hair stylist, you sell home made lotions or produce luxury perfume, you want to make sure that the images you use not only look amazing but that they clearly tell your audience WHO you are and what your brand is all about. 

The best way to do this, of course, is to hire a photographer who specialises in capturing the HEART of beauty brands, showing who you are and what your business is all about, (hint hint, this is my jam!)  But, I know that hiring someone may not always be in your budget when you’re just starting out. Saying that, however, you cannot, I repeat CANNOT afford to swing it with unclear, blurry, discoloured or grainy images which is what you can get if you use low quality images. 

Here are some tips for you, if you want to take your own Christmas campaign photos for your business:

Brand Clarity

First of all, you need to make sure that you are super, SUPER clear about your brand.

You don’t want to be creating random images.  You want your photos to communicate your message directly to your target audience, connect with them and get them to take action. 

So Beauties, before you even get started, make sure you do the work to establish your brand voice and get to know the exact look that you’re after. This is touched on in the Creating a Killer Christmas Campaign Guide.This is an important step that you really cant afford to skip.

Location

Once you’re clear about your BRAND VOICE & Message, you have to decide what type of location you want for your images. This will have an effect on the overall feel of the images you produce. Will you simply show your makeup products in a bedroom setting, shoot a model walking outside to advertise your hair holding spray?  Shooting in a Studio with props?  Whatever you go for make sure that it makes sense for your business, your ideal clients and what your brand is all about.   

Image by Nicole De Khors

For example the above spa photography would be suitable for a brand that is all about the natural products, the elements and relaxation. 

If you are shooting yourself or staff members one of the main things to consider when choosing your location is making sure its somewhere that you’ll feel comfortable. You’re going to want to completely relax, so if taking selfies out in public makes you uncomfortable, that’s something to bear in mind.

Lighting

If you’re going to shoot outdoors, try to shoot in the early morning or early afternoon before the sun goes down remember the sun is setting earlier now.   This is what’s known as the golden hour. 

The light will be soft and is very flattering for portraits. If you just can’t do that, and you mange to be shooting on a rare sunny winters day, try to use the trees as a cover overhead to diffuse the sun light a little bit.  

If you’re shooting indoors, make sure you have good light.  With the usually darker winter days you may have to want to make sure it’s not too dark or have to use some lighting.  To be honest Natural light is always going to give you the best results unless you’re a pro at studio lighting, so try to plan your shoot for suitable hours in the day to make this happen.  Open up the curtains and let the light in!  If possible check at different times of the day when the light is better for where you want to set up. You may have to experiment a little and plan ahead to get this just right. 

Continuous Lights are also a great way to go, you can check out this video I put together on Continuous lighting options for beauty photography if you want to learn more on that. 

As this is the season for it you’re most likely going to want to shoot some candle and fairy lights, to get the best for this you’ll need a longer exposure.

Christmas Concepts 

Whatever your beauty business is about, there is a seasonal concept that can promote you and give some seasonal cheer to your social media and visual marketing. 

Here are some Christmas brand photography ideas:

  • A wrapped present with tinsel, adding with your logo on a gift tag would be a great touch. 
  • Your beauty products with some fairy lights placed around it as wells as fairy lights in the background. 
  • A seasonal floral display next to a fireplace, with your products in the foreground. 
  • Crackers on a decorated table setting with your branded service menu
  • Stocking with your products peeping out of it by a bed. 

Yes sis, you’re going to need to get creative, think about the typical Christmas items that you might have in your loft from last year, dig them out and put them to use, you may also need to pick up a few additional items, just try not to get carried away, think about your brand and what items fit your image. 

Try to get a mixture of shots, some to share this year with your current products and promotions and some more generic shots to use in your seasonal marketing next year.

Tripod

Use a tripod!  Even if you are taking pictures of yourself, don’t be tempted to have your brand images be arm length selfies! This doesn’t mean that you have to go out and buy a fancy new piece of equipment.  Lets say you’re using your mobile phone to take your photos, you can use a box stacked up on a chair with a few books and something behind your phone to keep it propped up. Getting your phone at the right height is whats important here as well as having it the right distance from you. Again, you’ll have to experiment and see what works and is best capturing what you want.

Usually straight on, or positioning the camera a little higher than eye level is going to be best.  Avoid looking DOWN into the camera cause this doesn’t do any of us any favours – a double chin please said no one ever! On the flip side make sure you also don’t look up too much, that can just be odd and is very old fashioned.  Just relax and be you, you want your images to look and feel natural.

Tripods are also very useful with product photography especially if you’re shooting in lower lighting and need longer exposure time. 

Using a Tripod you’ll alway get sharper images because there is no camera shake at all. 

Self Timer

Another life saver when you’re taking your own brand images is a self timer!  This allows you to get in position before the image is taken if you’re going to be in the pictures. 

They are also useful for taking product images, you might need to prop a product up by hand or to hold up a reflector, whatever you might need to use your hand for they will be free’d up by using a self timer.  

If you’re using an actual camera, it will probably have this function – go check our your manual!

I have an app on my phone that I like called shake camera.  I’m pretty sure it was free (or cheap).  I like that it will take multiple photos at once so I don’t have to move back and forth a million times.   And it shows me a countdown when I’m shooting, which helps me to get in position.

There are A TON of these types of apps! Find one that you like and stick with it

Change It Up

The best thing about using a timer or setting that takes multiple images is that you can change thing up swiftly.  What I’ll do is do a couple of sets of 10 images, then look through them and see what’s working and what I like.

Don’t be afraid to act a bit silly if need be, move around, pout, smile, jump, laugh, talk to the camera, sing, try different angles, sit down, stand up, get closer, change your clothes, etc.  If you are clear about your brand, which you really should be by this point, you’ll know the type of images that are working and you can make changes as you go.

Take Lots & LOTS Of Photos!

The great thing about the digital age is that you can click away and take as many pictures as you like till you get it right, just make sure you have enough memory on your phone or camera card.  Honestly, you will probably end up with quite a few of bad photos, thats ok because you can just delete them, but if you are patient and have a vision you’re working towards, there will also be good ones that you love and that communication your brand.  When I’m taking self portraits (yes I do take a lot of my own images) I usually take at least 200 -300 images, after deleting a whole load of them I get down to 40-50 images that I download to my computer to go through and edit.

Please, please don’t be afraid of bad photos, either, unfortunately they are going to happen, these even happen when I’m working with top working models, but guess what, no one needs to see them.  Get into loving yourself and work through it!  There will be some great ones in there if you take enough, I promise!

Take Your Time

Sis, this isn’t going to be just taking a couple of snaps and be you’d done.  Even when I’m doing a pro photo shoot with a client, we of course do all of prep work BEFORE the session and then spend AT LEAST 90 minutes shooting.

Give yourself the same luxury of being able to take time. Your brand photos matter so much, you really cant be rushing through it.  Be patient and give yourself the time you need to do amazing job that you’ll be proud of for years to come!  You’ll be thrilled you did. Years later, I’m still using one of the images I took of myself in my very first self portrait photoshoot session.

Change Up Angles 

When taking your brand photo’s make sure you change up your angels and perspective, move around, from side to side, up and down. Until you have a preferred way to shoot and its a great idea to take images of the same setup from lots of different angels, this way you can experiment and work out what works best, you might also come across something you may not have though of otherwise!

The same goes for if you’re shooting yourself. You don’t have to look straight into the camera AND you don’t always have to smile. Again look around, from side to side, up and down.  You could also try getting some photos from behind, or of you looking off into the distance.  If you’re outside, change your angle to get a different position from the sun.

It is said that we all have have a “good side” to photograph and I actually think it’s true.  I know that if I hold my head a certain way, with my head tilted at a certain angel, it is likely going to be a good shot.  This comes form taking LOTS of self portraits.  Get to know yourself on camera and your images will turn out better.  

Background

Paying attention to your background is important! Even if you are shooting against a blank wall or backdrop, make sure the set looks good. Is there a plug socket in the scene?  Does the door frame peek into the shot a little bit?  These are things you can always photoshop later, but if you haven’t got the time or even still don’t have those skills,  make sure that you deal with background issues while you shoot.

If you’re out and about shooting, make sure you don’t have people walking through the frame, or that there isn’t a big tree perfectly positioned behind you so that it looks like you have a growth on your head. 

If you’re taking photos at your desk, in your office, really look at the pictures as you’re taking them. Are there items that you could move out of the frame or too much clutter around?

Remember that these are photos for YOUR BRAND so you don’t want stuff in the background stealing the thunder!  When using props keep them to a minimal unless its essential for setting up the scene, don’t have it in the shot. 

Be Yourself Sis

If your are coming to be in the images, relax, kickback and have fun when taking your pictures.  Be yourself!  Even if it means you fake laughed your ass off until it starts to feel natural and authentic.

People want to connect with YOU, so be yourself!  That’s what is at the heart of a good brand.

Use Your Surroundings

This time of the year can bring some gorgeous wintery scenes, as soon as we get some seasonal weather, sis get out there with your camera. Snow or a frosty morning look stunning and and can be useful for filler posts. Also snapping quick shots of some Christmas decorations whilst you’re out and is great. Lets be honest we don’t get that much snow over the festive period so you might have to be inventive, for example if you have a door wreath you can quickly put up or a few baubles to hang you can quickly bring some seasonal charm whatever the month. (Hint hint, even if it means you’re taking these in February for next years Christmas campaign, you will thank yourself (and me) for it later. 

Shoot RAW

If you’re new to photography this term might seem a little dirty but I promise its all pure and relevant. 

When talking about shooting RAW what Im referring to is the file format that shot capture the images in. This function isn’t available on mobile phones yet, but if you’re using a camera its well worth checking to see if you can change the file format to be able to shoot in RAW instead of JPEG. Your camera manual will be able to tell you if and how you can do this. 

What’s the big deal with RAW files? Well when you take a picture the data recorded by the sensor is captured in file format, in all digital camera’s this is in RAW, the camera then does calculations to what it thinks you might want, it changes the image and compresses it to a JPEG file. When you shoot to capture in RAW format NO information is compressed so you’re able to produce higher quality images, its also easier and much more flexible when it comes to correcting problems in images, unlike with JPEG where the image is compressed and a lot of information is unrecoverable. This is especially important when you’re shooting your brand images so that anything that needs tweaking and perfecting can be without hassle.  

Edit Your Images

To get the most out of your images its best to edit them, but be care here, you can easy go too far  end up creating something fake looking. Editing should just be used to clean up and enhance your images to show your products in the best light.   This can be to clean up blemishes, soften or sharpen, enhance colours, adding flattering filters, etc.  I use Lightroom and Photoshop to do all of my editing, but there are tons of free programs out there.  Picmonkey is one that’s free and really easy to use. Remember that these are YOUR images so you can manipulate them however you want to create your brand!

Don’t have the time to Edit? Check out our quick 48 hour turnaround beauty product retouching services from just £5.

There are a TON of other things you could consider when taking photos for your brand Christmas campaign, feel free to ask in the comments below or head over to our Facebook group

And, if you find that you just can’t quite capture what you want for you brand, then for sure, hire someone to help you!  You could either use stock photography or a professional photographer can really bring your brand to life and is going to be money well spent! The 12 Days of Xmas Packages are ideal solutions for this time of the year go check them out. 

Whatever root you decide to go down make sure you end up with amazing images to take your Christmas campaign to it’s maximum potential 

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