How to Set Up Your First Brand Photoshoot for Free!

When you create a new brand, whether it is for fashion, lifestyle, or any other industry, having great photography is a huge key in getting it noticed. The challenge that a lot of new brands run into is that high-quality photoshoots are not free and can sometimes even be fairly expensive. When you think about the fact that you will need a photographer, stylist, makeup artist, location, and sometimes even a creative director, the costs can start to rack up. We've outlined some key tips and tricks below to reduce the cost as much as possible (maybe even to 0!)

Join a Local Modelling Group on Facebook

This tip was a godsend and came from a good friend of the brand - @CYOKILO (Gifty Singh) on Instagram, and if you only take one thing from this blog, this should be the one. Most big cities have a Facebook group where local models congregate looking for TFP or Trade For Portfolio shoots. This basically means that the model and other collaborators are willing to trade their time for images in order to build their portfolio. The local group in Toronto is full of photographers, makeup artists, models, and stylists - its been an amazing place for us to source creative collaborators to supplement our shoots. The challenge here is that not everyone will have the level of skills that you might ideally be looking for, but most people fairly good and are willing to collaborate and improve. The images below were all taken by sourcing models and MUA from that group!


Learn Photography

Ok, hear me out on this one. I know that not everyone likes photography, or is interested in spending a bunch of money on equipment, but with some basic lessons from courses on sites like Skillshare, you can get fantastic pictures on your own without spending a dime. Personally, we take all of our photographs ourselves because we love photography and have the equipment, however, there are some basic things to get started yourselves. 

  1. Learn about aperture, iso, and shutter speed - understanding the basics here will not only let you take better pictures but help you discern the style you want to go for when you can hire a photographer later in your journey.
  2. Learn to use your phone to the fullest - I bet you didn't know that you can control the ISO on your iPhone when taking pictures AND you can create long exposure pictures straight from the phone's camera.
  3. LEARN TO USE LIGHTROOM. I repeat LEARN TO USE LIGHTROOM. If you had to pick one skill to learn, it would be Lightroom. This app allows you to edit your pictures professionally, taking them from something obviously taken on your phone to something amazing that will truly showcase your brand. 

Location, Location, Location

The location of a photoshoot can make or break the final images. If you have the funds to hire a highly-skilled photographer, they can usually make the best of any location but when we're looking at less expensive options, it's important to stack the cards in your favor as much as possible.

We've found some of the best places to take pictures are in the streets of Toronto - we'll take a model with some of our clothing and walk around the city for an hour snapping pictures in the most interesting locations - its free and provides stellar backdrops. Toronto has an underground city of tunnels that have amazing photo opportunities, as well as a Graffiti Alley which looks unbelievable. Looking for non-cliche locations in a city near you also gives your pictures a sense of uniqueness which is usually only achievable by spending a bunch of cash. Going out a golden hour will also make it incredibly easy to make any location look like a million dollars (Check out the app Alpenglow to help you find out when golden hour is in your location). 

We even connected with a local music studio, who let us come in and take pictures during the off hours using the industrial space as a backdrop. Making connections with interesting local businesses like music studios or cafes is a great way to get interesting locations for a photoshoot for a smaller price tag. 


Most of the pictures on our Instagram were taken by us, without spending any additional money. When you are starting a new brand its important to know where to spend your money, and where you can save money by doing things yourself or getting creative. If you have questions or comments, let us know below and we'll be sure to respond!

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