How to set up a quick and easy content photography session

Creating content for your Instagram account, website or blog can be seriously tedious, especially if as a business owner you aren’t necessarily creative or a budding photographer. If you can afford to outsource then I absolutely would encourage you to find a local photographer and schedule in monthly or even quarterly photo shoots. No one can do something better than an expert, so if you want professional, beautifully edited images then of course a product photographer is your first point of call. There are even photographers who hold “express shoots” now where you get 15 or so minutes allocated to photographing your product or yourself. Within the coming days you receive edited images and you purchase the images you want, how awesome and cost effective is that!


Alas if there are restrictions on your budget or you’re just starting out then keep reading to hear my top tips for DIY content photography and content idea generation. However, before we go into that, there is also another way you can generate content that you don’t have to have a big budget for. User generated content.Honestly the easiest thing to do is repost user generated images! It’s obviously authentic and free, as they have purchased and photographed your product or service being used. The authenticity will resonate with potential customers as well and contribute to your brand being viewed as reputable and on trend. Make sure at the checkout you have a little note, “share the love and post a pic using xyz.” It’s always great if you can sneak a note in with the package thanking them for their order and details of how they can post and tag you, this can also be done with any customer service aftercare that you may conduct. By encouraging your customers to create the content for you, let them know they in return get a shout out to the rest of your community, it’s a win-win. You can obviously also look into a similar field of influencer generated content too if your budget allows.


An example of customer lead content from a business is a watch company called The Horse. The main style of image shared by their customers seems to be a birds eye view from the person looking down, holding their ‘watch’ arm horizontally with blurred shoes and ground in the background. The image below is almost identical to one my friend took a while ago when she received her watch in the mail. Out of the packaging, on the wrist and uploaded just like that. A similar image, birds eye view, watch in the centre and she’s done. Customers hoping for a shout out or reshare will always try to recreate or stick to a similar style of image that’s shared by the business because of course they want to be recognised and be on brand so they have a higher chance of being reposted.  Customer lead user content is a very cost effective and timely way to create content so I would start to increase ways to make this happen.   



Image from @thehorse Pinterest



So why is it important to generate all of this content? Well did you know that 81% of consumers research their products online before purchasing? Yep they do, and that’s why it’s so important that you don’t fall down where your competitors soar. Give them a reason to WANT to buy from you when they could easily buy from anyone else. Customers will be attracted to socials and websites with good content. Take for example the image below. I could buy ice cream anywhere, literally so many places. But I want to go here for the very Instagram-able wall. The neon light, the tiles, they are providing customers with an overall experience that includes eating a yummy ice cream, but it isn’t the ice cream necessarily that entices you there. They are selling beautiful warm sunny days, where you’ll look super stylish, eat an ice cream and get your selfies for the gram to share with your followers. Free advertising by gram-of-mouth and a happy customer and it’s a pretty good story to be selling. So really think about your product content and your marketing stories and make sure you’re advertising and selling the whole package, not just the ice cream.



Image from VSCO Pinterest   




So what is batch content creation? The short answer, creating a large amount of content for your socials in one sitting. The longer answer, when you plan out a higher volume of content to be created, images, captions, videos and other forms of content, it helps you to stay close to your strategies and marketing stories. It saves you time because you’re more likely to stay on task and reduce any wasted resources. It also helps that when you’re in the right frame of mind you become hyper focused and more productive. Having a higher volume of content to work with will reduce any stress or anxiety about having things to engage your audience with. It will also keep you on track to putting out high quality content that is more likely to resonate with your potential customers than a quick post on the fly that they may skim past because of the lack of relevance to them.


So, the top tips for batch content creation and photo shoots:


STRATEGY:You honestly shouldn’t even book a photoshoot or start your DIY shoot without your strategy in place. These sessions if not thought out can go on forever and have you going nowhere fast, so you really need to stick to a plan keeping you on task working efficiently and effectively, no time wasting happening here.  Plan out what content you need to shoot and make sure that you get enough to last you as long as needed until your next batch day. Link your content plan with your strategy, think about your customers pain points, how can you target what they will be interested in. Have a look at your insights and find what content generally gets the most engagement from your followers and work backwards to produce more of that. Usually images with people- customers, you, employees- get the most traction because it humanises your brand. Think and utilise ways you can shoot as much relevant content that you can repurpose and repost to make the most out of your time and resources.


STORYTELLING:Each piece of content or image you create needs to be directly linked to your caption and your strategically thought out story. Think about what caption or product description you would write as you mentally set up your photography session. Can you turn this image into a blog post, a pinterest pin, an Instagram story or an ad on facebook? They say a picture is worth a thousand words, well you don’t want to waste a single one of them. So once you have your storylines under control, your content ideas are thoroughly thought out and you have an actual list of the images you want to create you can move on to the next phase, equipment.


EQUIPMENT: The only tool you really need these days generally lives in your back pocket or bag, your iphone (albiet it I’ve never had any other smart phone but I’m sure this applies to them too.) I have a HOT TIP for you, Apple have actually created a how to for iphone 7 users, you can find it here. So for all you flat selfie taking, boomerang enthusiast, flat lay lovers its worth a look. My personal fave, stepping aside from business for a moment, ‘How to shoot an intimate moment’, as a mama, all the heart eye emojis, seriously. But back to business, ‘how to shoot overhead (flatlays)’, ‘different lighting aspects’ and lots more, it’s a great tool to utilise. Sidebar for a moment: what an awesome way to SHOW your customers how to fully utilise all functions of your product, snaps for your apple! You may not be selling your own version of an iphone but think about the marketing opportunities and content creation that could come from your version of something like this.


So you’ve got your iphone, you’ve read up on a bit of knowhow, what other tools can be useful? Well I don’t shoot on a DSLR (I wish I could) but there’s a few tricks I can share with you. If you can shoot in natural light, close to a window but not directly so that it casts shadows this will lighten and brighten your images. Remember to keep that flash off and you can always invest in a ring light, either a small one to clip on to your phone or a larger one for portrait or larger photo shoots. Please keep in mind that when photographing anything that might be shiny or reflect in anyway, including your eyes, the white ring reflection from the light is not a good look in photos.  You could also look at using a light box which you can purchase on Ebay if you have a smaller product. Anything with a white background looks fantastic as featured images. It’s also great to mix up on your newsfeed as well as Instagram stories, pinterest etc. So don’t forget that although styled images are beautiful you need to sometimes keep product images clean and streamlined for your website. This leads into our next tip, backgrounds.


BACKGROUNDS:I strongly believe that our Instagram feeds do not need to be heavily curated, that authentic engaging content will always win out, BUT, if you can have a consistent look and keep things to your branded colours and styles then do so. Think about what colours your products are, how can you keep your feed looking consistent with just a few touches of a similar colour here and there. If your feed is strictly monochrome not a drop of colour in sight, then you wouldn’t go and shoot a styled image on a bright and messy mural brick wall. Think about what types of products you can use to keep things consistent. Bunnings have a great supply of MDF and ply, Office Works have white or black card if that’s your thing. Take a drive and see what walls you can find around that you can use as a backdrop that would match your feed. Plan, plan, plan. This leads us to…


STYLING: You know where you want to shoot and what you want to shoot, now how can you style everything? You need to round up any props you may think you’ll need, flowers or décor anything that will make your product sparkle. The shoot day is not the day to be running around collecting your bits and pieces. So find those key props that will help sell your products. Again, it has to be part of the story and strategy, keep those customer pain points in mind. Props are also a great way to help infuse your overall brand personality into the image, so don’t be afraid to have fun and think outside the box. Use other products but remember your product is the shining star so keep it that way! When gathering up props think - collaboration, a great way for you to approach likeminded businesses to develop or continue relationships with. Don’t be afraid to reach out and see if you can borrow any stock in exchange for use of rights to share the images. It’s always good to have a formal and signed agreement in place though if this is the case. Things can get messy, you’re the one paying the photographer but their product could be excluded on the day or altered for a specific shot so for your and their best interest have yourself covered. Once you’ve got your strategy in place, your storylines are under control, you’ve organised props and backgrounds and you have your equipment, let the fun begin.


Yay, you’ve now completed your first batch content photoshoot! What to do now?


TOOLS:So you are gave it a red hot go yourself and now you may need editing apps. You can either edit images in the iphone edit option or through an external app. Light room, Snapseed, VSCO, there’s a healthy  range out there so hit up your app store. Keep in mind that your products are being sold and if Sally orders a beanie that is clearly peach in your photos but arrives at her door as bright pink, Sally is not going to be happy. Keep it simple when editing your images, don’t change anything that will impact the look of your product from its true form. You can also use other apps to create content, my personal faves are unfold, bazzart and canva.  


Batch content creation can be lots of fun especially if you have a team around you that can all pitch in with ideas and make it a diverse fun filled experience. It’s also serious business, keep focused, time yourself, stay on track and just think of how much content you will be drowning in afterwards, it’s all worth it.


When you have your content and captions ready to go, I have one last but certainly not least little tip, do not, I repeat do not forget or purposefully leave out a call to action! I know sometimes it can seem ‘salesy’ but if you don’t ask you shall not receive. You’re a business, people expect to be asked for the sale, so don’t hesitate in directing customers away from your hard worked on content to your website to buy your product.

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