In the last post I told you about the ‘creation story’ of the M Planning Notebook and ended with a nod towards what happened next. Here’s goes…

I ordered the main sample of the notebook. *drumroll* We’re talking fully functional, printed, leather cover de-bossed, ribbons added etc – a complete prototype of the book.

I knew that this was going to take approximately 10 days to arrive and I was chatting to the printer the whole way through. I found out that the book was likely to arrive on Wednesday 10th August and so I booked in a photoshoot for the Friday 12th at midday, figuring that a 2 day window should be OK to allow for any minor delays.

Things didn’t quite go to plan….

First of all the book was delayed at the printers and then there was lots of me emailing and calling to check we were still OK for Friday because I had 6 women booked to come over for the photoshoot. I’m sure I was not on the ‘favourite client’ list at that point.

Thursday afternoon and still no notebook so I called and asked to confirm the pre-9am delivery. They told me that it was with TNT and they would check in the morning. No pressure!

Friday morning and I’m not the calmest I’ve ever been. Around 10am I get a phone call to say that the notebook, which we were supposed to be photographing at midday, had been delivered to their address in London by mistake. They then, very kindly, offered to bike courier it up to me in Norfolk immediately with estimated arrival at 2.30pm. I agreed and hoped it would get here slightly earlier with good traffic.

The photoshoot went ahead and it was soon 12pm. Julia Holland (photographer extraordinaire) arrived, along with Becki, Nicola and Jenni, who had all volunteered to join in the photoshoot with me for the afternoon.

No notebook.

We had lunch and chatted and took some lovely photos while we were waiting for it to arrive, all the while listening out for a bike on the gravel drive and jumping up every time we thought it might be there.

3pm came and the motorbike arrived at the door. Huge excitement – here at last!

We were now ready to rock and had just 40 minutes to get all the photos done. 40 minutes later and we were all done. It definitely would’ve been nicer to have the full 3 hours or so with the notebook but I’m sure you’ll agree that we got lots of fabulous photos so it was a big success regardless.

Photoshoot was now done – the excitement of imminent launch was palpable. I could feel how close I was getting to be able to launch. Now, just to wait for the photos to be ready to collect and then next step is sorting out a video and doing the finishing touches on the Kickstarter page.

Photoshoot Tips

I’ve done quote a few photoshoots now, and of course have worked in design and print for many years, and one thing that amazes me about so many businesses is their lack of professional photos. The value versus cost for having some really great, unique photos of your business really is a no brainer. If you’re on a tight budget then invest in a simple head shot of yourself at the very least, it really does elevate your perceived professionalism for your clients (and potential clients).

There are a few different types of photoshoots you could do:

Head / Body Shots – these are brilliant for using on your ‘about/about the team’ pages on your website and also for social media profile images and for sending off when you’re asked for a ‘bio’ for speaking engagements, blog submissions etc. This is one of my recommended ‘must haves’ if you’re self employed or employed and want to be professional on say your LinkedIn account and similar places.

Team Shots – self explanatory really. Think about getting professional head shots for each member of the team and a few group photos. It gives a face to the company and makes the customer feel they know you more. Amazing the power of a picture 🙂 One word of warning with these sorts of photos is changing teams; remember to get individual images as well as the team ones, that way if someone leaves your team you still have images you can use before you update your group ones.

Product Shots – There’s a few different ways you can do product shoots and I would suggest that both are really handy tools for promoting your product. Isolated images are brill for things like online shops and when you need to simply show your product in all its glory, on its own. These would be product only on a plain background (often white) – nice and simple. Lifestyle shots, of your product being used, are fantastic for helping the viewer see how it could be used by them. Think about Show Homes for new housing estates, the reason they work so well is because the majority of people can’t picture how something could work for them unless they are shown. Your photos are the ‘show home’ for your product and they let you show the user how it could fit into their life and it really helps sell your product.

Business/Lifestyle Shots – Much like the ones above these are the photos that get the feel of your business across. As these are designed to be concept shots they can be the most challenging, which is why it’s especially important to choose the right photographer for your goals. These will likely end up being one of the most important elements of your branding so it’s worth investing time ensuring you get them just right.

There are of course lots of other types of shoots but these are the main ones in this context.

Plan Your Shoot

One thing I have done on all my recent shoots is plan the photos I want to get from it. This means you can get LOTS out of a short space of time. I spend a few hours looking through images online of styles of photos that I would like to have for whatever I’m doing the shoot for. Using the notebook as an example I scoured the web for photos of notebooks and people writing and saved all the ones I liked into a folder. I then sent the folder to Julia the week before the shoot so she had an idea about what I wanted to achieve.

As I mentioned above, we ended up with just 40 mins to get the photos of the notebook – and we made the most of that time. We got LOTS of the different styled images I wanted because we worked through my idea folder and got as many of the set ups done as we could in the time we had. If I had not previously done this we probably would’ve only ended up with a handful of different images to use. Because I knew what I wanted we ended up with a big selection of images that I can use to promote the notebook – which is incredibly useful to keep the promotions looking fresh and interesting.

As I also used the images for the Kickstarter video and have also used them to create mini promotional videos too, having lots to choose from made those jobs much easier.

I can easily say that the photos are one of the most important elements when doing something like this. I just couldn’t imagine doing it without them.

Who do I use?

These are all lovely people and take fabulous photos:

Julia Holland, all-about-image
Raymond Taylor, Gentleman Photographer
Alex Thursby, AJ Digital

My recommendation is that you find someone you can build a long-term relationship with. Local is best (nice ad easy) and go by recommendation and style. Have a look at the photos in their portfolio and go with someone who ‘gets’ you and what you’re trying to achieve with your brand look and feel and, very importantly, someone who you like as that will make the photoshoots much easier and more enjoyable.

Love, Sophie


Find out more about the Minerva ‘M’ Planning Notebook at