Christian Brand Photoshoot Ideas
Before I left Hong Kong, I wanted to get some new portraits. It had been 5 years since the last time I had gotten one, a 'random' shot that happened to work as a portrait, as part of my parent's 30th anniversary shoot. I shared a little bit in the last podcast episode, and will share a bit more coming up, but leaving Hong Kong for Canada was a bit of a whirlwind! The season was changing and I had *some* inkling of what God might be doing but... I was so busy preparing, moving, applying, etc. that there wasn't time to overthink. It seemed to be a 'need to know' situation, as in I felt God was giving me only what I needed to know and the rest of it was faith!
So while I didn't know exactly the full range of reasons why I would need some new portraits, I took a step of faith and decided to book a session anyway.
Here are the main things I considered when I booked my portraits.
When researching brand photoshoots, a number of websites came up. There were three photographers that I absolutely adored — their shots were soft, airy, and stylish while also being professional. They also offered various 'extras' — pre-shoot meetings to discuss exactly what was wanted, hair and makeup services, posing advice, etc. The one drawback? Cost! The prices were around 30k HKD / 5k CAD for 20 edited photos. One of the studios offered sessions with junior photographers, but the minimum price was still 17k HKD / 3k CAD.
As I was pretty sure the next step in my journey was full-time grad student/aspiring entrepreneur, I weighed whether I should budget this much for photos. Fairly quickly I decided no... but hoped I could somehow get a similar look for less. There were a few business portrait studios offering 1 edited photo for 400 HKD / 65 CAD. Maybe one shot was all I needed for now... I was willing to pay a little more, but couldn't really find anyone in between the budget-friendly business headshot places and the full-service photography studios.
The Power of Prayer!
On a whim, I reached out to a friend who worked at church. Our church had a large creative team and I wondered if perhaps someone in the team did photography on the side or knew someone who did. She reached out to them and came back with a name: Lawrence Wan of Cadenza Studio. One look at his website and I was floored — his style was exactly the vibe I wanted! He specializes in the airy yet polished look and while his passion is wedding photography (including engagement, and also maternity!), he does portrait shoots for friends and family (and maybe you?!) as well. He was also generous offering 800 HKD / 130 CAD for a 1 hour session and 10 fully retouched images plus all jpgs taken with contrast adjustment. What a blessing! We liaised over Whatsapp and set a date for a few weeks out. Cadenza Studio is located at The Aisle, like a co-working space for wedding photographers.
Lawrence's current rate for a 'style shoot' is 1188 HKD for a 1 hour photography session and 20 photos with colour tuning.
When doing a shoot like this, I think it's reasonable to assume that not all shots will be winners. It'll take some time to warm up etc. So I hoped that I would have at least 3 or so shots that I loved (spoiler: I loved so many). One one professional look, one 'creative entrepreneur' look, and one more casual look for any media opportunities that might pop up. I took a look at some of my favourite creative professionals and shared some headshot ideas with Lawrence ahead of time to ensure we were on the same page. (And he was so on it! Our session was so efficient and also fun, with him suggesting poses that were in line with the looks I hoped to get.)
While photos can be adjusted, I'm no expert with Photoshop and wanted my photos to work 'as is' as much as possible. Before the session, I made a list of places where I hoped to use these new portraits:
Author/Podcaster photos on The Yay Project blog and social channels
Social media banners
For this, I only spoke with Lawrence on the day which was fine. We spent maybe 5-7 minutes rearranging the studio. But you may also want to discuss with your photographer before the session to save time.
After thinking about the purposes, I thought about perhaps my favourite part of the whole thing... the clothes! I love pastels and over time have accumulated a variety of pastel pink clothes. For the professional shots, I chose a pastel pink shift dress with waist tucks by Finders Keepers.
For the creative professional shots, I chose a printed maxi dress from Whistles.
And for the casual shots, I chose Uniqlo jeans, a Love Bonito cropped white tank, and a pastel pink sweater blazer from J Crew.
During the session, when I spoke with Lawrence about my hopes for the photos and their purposes, he realized I was a Christian and revealed that he had actually taken the shots for my church's website! He then put on some soft worship music — including Cory Asbury's Endless Alleluia — which was lovely and relaxing. If you can and would like to, I'd highly recommend praying over the session (from the tech to your poses to the intended purposes of your photos) and making a worship-ful photo session playlist. I didn't think of this ahead of time but loved having it.
Over to you
Aren't photos such a wonderful gift? They capture a moment in time but can also be used to convey purpose, emotion, and hope. With my portrait shots, I hoped they would feel like 'me' but also lead to more opportunities to glorify God. Does that sound overly serious — they're just headshots? But in all we do, may we glory God — amen? Doesn't it make sense to include him in the experience of capturing shots that we want to use to show the world who we are? :)
Also don't worry about being the perfect weight or the perfect [insert any worries here] before going for your shoot — in case you're worried about anything. Yes, let's give our best, but not expect perfection. For my shoot, I didn't have time to get my hair professionally done, build in a few weeks of crunches, or lose a few pounds of stress weight I felt I'd put on. These photos captured a specific moment in time and imperfections are part of our journey — let's embrace them as best as we can.
To recap, if you're looking to get some professional portraits done, I highly recommend Lawrence at Cadenza Studio in Hong Kong. (If you're looking for wedding photos and are outside of Hong Kong, note Lawrence is willing to travel!). No matter where you are, consider the power of prayer in helping you find the right photographer and think through the vibe, clothing choices, purposes for the shots, etc. Prayer works and God cares — he has good plans for you!
Happy planning xx