Client case study: How we planned this Cotswold brand photo shoot | Garden Designer

Branding images to launch a business for Cotswold Garden Designer Jessica Holcombe

Jessica Holcombe was ready to leave her day job and launch her new Gloucestershire business in garden design. She knew the importance of getting the right imagery in building a successful brand. So she contacted me to book her first Cotswold brand photo shoot to help her launch her business.

Garden Designer looking at wild flowers

// Client: Jessica Holcombe Garden Design | website / Instagram
// Session type: Half day Signature session + make-up
// Season: Summer
// Considerations + strategy: Clean slate, brand new business and new website. Images for website and social media, must align with the client’s new branding in progress, and fit within her new website spaces.

“When setting up my own business I knew how important it was for my imagery to match my personality and compliment my branding. Initially Emma’s style of photography stood out to me, I loved the soft and natural images and felt that this suited the creative nature of my business.”

Garden designer in client consultation meeting outside

The brief

Jess knew that anything she shared online from the word go would be a reflection of her new business, and she wanted to get it right from the start. To attract the right types of clients she needed imagery that would reflect her as a person, but also the way that she works. Stock imagery would be too impersonal, since clients would be buying Jess’s unique vision and skills.

She wanted to look professional and polished but warm, approachable and true to herself. The brief was a beautiful garden with a variety of different spaces where we could capture multiple elements of her business.

Garden designer sits against an arch of pink rambling roses


Most of the work happens before the shoot even takes place. After exchanging several emails, we booked in an hour’s strategy call on Zoom. We talked through Jess’ aims for the shoot, the stage her business was at (ie getting ready to launch!), and the direction she wanted to take the business in.

When a business is in the very early stages, as with Jess, a client doesn’t always know where the business will lead them. Often you learn as you go and the business evolves over time.

Even with an established business I never expect a client to know how to plan their shoot. My job is to ask the right questions and listen carefully, to help me understand the heart of this business. Then together we can start to shape the look and feel of the shoot.

“Emma guided me through the process to make sure we had a clear plan on what imagery I needed for my website, and what settings would work best, based on her experience and what I wanted to achieve.”

Garden designer sketches plans sitting by white rose bush

Stories and approach

One of the big aims of a shoot is to help the client understand how it feels to work with you. In planning Jess’ shoot we identified a number of stories we could tell which would paint a picture of the client’s experience with her, and the different elements and services she offered. These included:

  • Client consultation
  • Garden visit
  • Sketching ideas
  • Her portfolio
  • Initial concepts and moodboards
  • Collecting flowers
  • Portraits.

Garden designer taking cuttings of plants

The location

The location was key to Jess’ Cotswold brand photo shoot. I scouted a few options and I suggested Cerney House Gardens combined with a second location, Ellenborough Park Hotel.

Cerney House Gardens is a wonderful romantic secret walled garden not too far from Cheltenham. We planned the shoot for the season that would show the garden at its fullest. June would give the colour and display Jess was after. This garden also complimented my photography style beautifully, and we picked out colours which were ideal for Jess’ brand. The gardens gave us the opportunity to show Jess’ skills and knowledge, as well as doubling up as a location for a garden visit and a client consultation.

We chose the elegant Ellenborough Park for the backdrop to a client meeting where Jess could walk her client through proposals and moodboards. We used the pods in the garden as a meeting scene, surrounded by open space and greenery.


Garden designer shows client planting plans in a country garden

The result

The combination of the two locations provided depth and variety, and therefore interest, for Jess’ images. They enabled us to tell a multitude of brand stories, providing Jess with a full, varied and consistent gallery of images that all support her brand and her messaging. The planning that went into her images makes her marketing much simpler, easier, more personal and professional. No more selfies or stock photos needed!

“On the day Emma was fab, putting me at ease and making me laugh – a lot! I am really happy with my final images and can’t wait to use them. Thank you so much Emma.”

Do you have big plans for your business this year? Get in touch for a free ‘virtual cuppa’ discovery chat to find out how I can help. Currently booking spring and summer.

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Garden designer shows client planting plans in a country garden

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