One of the fastest-growing niches in both photography and marketing today is a genre called Personal Brand Photography. What’s all the buzz about? What is Personal Brand Photography and what makes it different from plain old, generic brand photography? What makes this type of photography personal and why do you need it for your business?
Have no fear. You’ve arrived at the Comprehensive Guide to Personal Brand Photography here at Ignis Images. I’ll walk you through what Personal Brand Photography is, how it’s different from other types of commercial and brand photography, how and where you can use personal brand photography, and much more.
What is a Personal Brand?
Before you can determine if Personal Brand Photography would be useful for you and your business, you first need to understand what a personal brand is.
The easiest and most simple explanation is that your personal brand is YOU! What is it that makes you unique, that makes you stand apart from every other business around you that does what you do or sells the same type of stuff you sell? How do you go about gaining the attention of potential customers in a way your competition can’t?
Your personal brand is somewhat similar to a resumé in that it’s how the world sees and perceives your business. Your personal brand not only consists of your business’s reputation but also what is being said about you in the marketplace and what past, present, and future customers think about your business.
Who is the face of your brand? Unless you’re a large enough corporation to hire and use a spokesperson, you need to be the public face of your company. Many businesses, especially small businesses, try to market themselves without a public face, without a spokesperson at the forefront. They make the mistake of thinking that pasting the company logo and slogan all over internet ads and billboards is enough. They believe that snappy copy paired with generic and boring product photos will grab their potentials customer’s attention in a saturated marketplace.
Think about some of the most successful and recognizable ad campaigns that you can recall. Whether local, regional, or national in scope, many of the most memorable advertisements have featured either the company owner or CEO, or an actor hired to serve as a spokesperson. Why not harness that same effectiveness for your own endeavors?
A personal brand puts you front and center in your branding and marketing efforts. This allows you to take charge of the discussion and stand out in that saturated market. Jeff Bezos once said, “Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.” Controlling the narrative through personal branding allows you to:
- Build trust through humanization
- Establish credibility through relationships
- Increase your influence through brand consistency
- Grow your customer base through referrals
- And expand your network through increased recognition
All of these work together to boost your sales and profits. Building your branding around a strong personal brand is more and more critical in today’s social media-centric world. Marketing is at once both easier and harder than ever before. It’s easy because pretty much anyone with an internet connection and a credit card can start an ad campaign on Facebook or Instagram. That’s also why it’s so hard because just about everyone is doing it. This creates a noisy marketplace.
How do you rise above the noise? It’s all about figuring out who you are, creating a consistent brand image, and then using it to tell your story to the world. That’s where photography plays a key role.
What is Personal Brand Photography?
In simplest terms, Personal Brand Photography is photography that supports your actual brand—you. No longer will you use generic stock photography. Instead, you’ll use imagery developed and tailored to display your brand’s image and personality to your audience. It’s a library of images that are true to your brand and build a memorable and consistent image.
Personal brand photography makes you the face of your brand. For small businesses—especially businesses working to excel in the local market—it’s important to build relationships and human connections. Why? Because people buy from other people, not faceless brands. People connect to other people in a much deeper way than could ever be achieved with a brand. Think about businesses you frequent who know your name, greet you when you come in the door, and have learned your likes and dislikes. You’re more likely to go out of your way to do business with that kind of person over one that treats you like just another sale. Personal connections build trust and loyalty, so it’s to your advantage to put yourself at the center of your own brand.
It’s highly likely that you’ve spent a good deal of money on your logo and other related branding assets, which shows you’ve put some real care and thought into making your brand stand apart. It also means you take your brand and your business seriously, so you want others to do the same.
But your brand is so much more than your logo. Yes, your logo is part of your brand, along with things like font choices, colors, and your website, but it’s so much more than that. Personal brand photography is bespoke photography that tells your story your way, in a style that features your brand’s personality. Personal brand photography should be the next step in your branding efforts because it puts together all your brand assets with who and what your brand is in a visual format. Personal brand photography puts together visual packages that tell the story you want to tell with next-level, vibrant imagery. You begin to control and direct your company narrative in ways that highlight what you do, how you do it, why you do it, and most importantly how you benefit and add value to your customers’ lives.
Through magazine quality photos that tell your brand story, you can set your business apart in the market in a way that sets the mood you want, conveys the feelings you want, with the highest consistency. You can use this tailor-made content with intentionality to communicate a specific message to the masses. When people think of your business, you want them to be able to describe it in a positive way that is unique to you. Personal brand photography sets you apart from the competition with a distinct style.
Imagine communicating what you sell, create, or offer in the easiest, most straightforward manner. Imagine those customers instantly understanding what you offer and immediately recognizing the benefits they could gain by doing business with you. Imagine imagery that attracts the type of clients you want to work with. That’s what personal brand photography can do for you and your business.
Personal brand imagery includes not only custom professional headshots and environmental portraits, but it also includes lifestyle shots of you with your products—including your creative processes and customer experiences. Great photos also show you using and loving your own products. If you provide services rather than products, personal brand photography can illustrate how you go about providing services and show before and after results from clients who use your services. You can demonstrate how you add value to someone’s life through the application of your services.
Photography is crucial in today’s internet-centric business market. You need quality photography for your website as well as for social media. Every social media platform is visual today—including Twitter—but it’s highly important you are able to present your brand with great photos on the platforms that are primarily visual such as Instagram and Pinterest.
The icing on the cake with personal brand photography is that a great photo shoot experience makes you feel really good in your own skin and at home in front of the camera. Why? Because you’re ultimately in control of the message you want to send—a message that you and a great brand photography have spent time beforehand defining so that your photos show what you stand for, who you are as a person, demonstrate your expertise, and give the public insight as to why you started your business in the first place.
Another bonus is all the time you’ll save. If you’re already doing your own marketing on social media in-house—even if you’ve hired someone to do the day-to-day posting—it’s likely that you or your employees spend hours each month searching through generic stock photos looking for images that fit your brand. You may also be taking some photos yourself—likely with a cell phone—and end up being somewhat disappointed with the results.
Now it’s time to let you in on a secret, but it’s one of the key reasons that make personal brand photography so different from commercial photography and generic brand photography. During your planning stages, you and your photographer should be crafting at least three different stories to tell with your imagery. This can be all about how you create your products, how you perform your services, and how you serve your customers well.
Here’s the big secret that’s really not so secret when you think about it. One of the best stories you can share with your customers is the one about yourself and your family. Aren’t your loved ones the ultimate reason why you do what you do? Sure, you’re passionate about your business and love improving your clients’ quality of life through your products and services, but it’s providing for your family and giving them opportunities to thrive that really drive you day in and day out.
This means that you can and should showcase your family as one of your stories during your quarterly photo shoot with your personal brand photographer. Do you understand what else that means? It means you get to have your business pay for a high-quality family photo shoot out of your business’s marketing budget. That’s a huge win-win!
Psst…don’t forget that a great personal brand photographer will include a commercial use license as part of your service. This means you gain full rights to print your photos wherever and however you’d like. Of course, your photographer would love it if you purchased prints and canvases through them, but with print rights included you’re not obligated to use their services. Having said that, do keep in mind that professional photographers have access to higher-quality print and canvas products that are typically not available to the general public.
I’ll discuss all the advantages of hiring a professional photographer below, but imagine getting at least three months worth of high-quality, vibrant, custom, on-brand photography ready to use for your website, social media, and print marketing efforts.
Who Should Invest in Personal Brand Photography?
While almost any business of any size would benefit from using Personal Brand Photography there are some who would benefit the most. In fact, it could be said that personal brand photography is crucial for certain types of businesses.
Businesses that are brand new can benefit from personal brand photography because it helps them start with extremely strong and relatable branding from the very start. Too many startups leave serious branding and advertising efforts for the future—a future in which they hope to have more money to spend on marketing. The truth is marketing is non-negotiable to every business, even from the very start. How do you generate a buzz for your launch? How do people even know you exist?
Entrepreneurs, small business owners, and business leaders who want to up their game on social media and in the local marketplace need fresh marketing collateral. Personal brand photography is not only the best visual content they can spend their money on today, but it’s also where they’ll find the most return on their marketing investment.
Any business with a website that promotes itself on social media is in need of the same high-quality visual content. And it’s not just for brick-and-mortar stores that carry physical products. Coaches, mentors, trainers, and other high-octane motivators see great benefits from using personal brand photography to find new clients.
Professionals like doctors, chiropractors, physical therapists, dentists, photographers, CEOs, lawyers, and financial advisors find great benefit from making themselves the face of their business. Public figures and politicians already use such marketing to their advantage, so other leaders should do the same.
Entrepreneurs who want to connect on a deeper level with their audience should seriously consider personal brand photography. Business owners with high personal standards will find that such brand photography suits their needs and processes in a way that satisfies their desire to represent themselves and their business in the most professional manner possible.
The most obvious use for personal brand photography is for those who are already social media and online influencers. These are movers, shakers, and tastemakers who are always in need of more photos. The question becomes did they become so influential? Before or after they started featuring themselves doing what they do through visual content? Top gamers on Twitch and the most successful YouTubers that cast a wide net and have a large following understand they need quality visual content to supplement and enhance their streaming content. These people all have strong personal brands and you can too.
Any professional or entrepreneur with an upcoming or ongoing key project—such as a new product launch, new service offering, a book launch, website launch, new location opening, offering of a new program, or a rebranding campaign—should make personal brand photography a central component of their marketing efforts.
In the end, anyone who runs their own business—whether large or small—and want beautiful photos for their website and social media need personal brand photography. Any of those business owners who want other people to look at those photos and feel good about themselves and the brand they see should invest in professional personal brand photography services.
How Can Personal Brand Photographs Be Used?
Personal brand photographs act as an exclusive stock library, ready for use in a wide array of applications both digitally and in print. Let’s take a look at some specific examples where business owners and entrepreneurs can and should utilize personal brand photography assets.
The first and most obvious use for personal brand photography is throughout your website. Personalized photography on your website builds your reputation and garners trust over time by showing your brand’s unique value proposition. Not only that, but custom photography makes your site absolutely unique—your photos are not only on-brand and crafted to fit your brand’s personality but also absolutely exclusive to your website. None of your competition will have photos like yours.
Not only should you be using your custom personal brand photography library to enhance your blog posts—you are blogging, aren’t you?—and throughout all your website content, you should also use your headshot. In fact, it’s a good idea to change your headshot every three-to-six months to help gain new attention. When your headshots all have the same look and feel, you can confidently change your headshot often without alienating your current contact—they’ll recognize your face. The truth is you’ll probably gain added attention and pick up new contacts and followers on social media each time you swap out your headshot or profile picture. One caveat is that you need to change your headshot out on your website and across all your social media profiles at the same time so that your online presence is consistent and immediately more recognizable from platform to platform.
More website uses include new product launches, event announcements, e-commerce store imagery, and landing pages.
If you have employees, you should be using great headshots of them from your personal brand photo shoot on your website and employee. They’re part of your team and part of your business, so they’re part of your marketing efforts as well. Make them look every bit as good as yourself.
Those same headshots can be used in much more than profile pictures and website bios. What if you’re invited to speak at a conference or are to be given an award by an industry group? It’s almost certain they’ll want a picture of you for their website and print products related to your appearance. Why not have a variety of high-quality photos of yourself to choose from and send? And don’t forget to capture and use great team photos!
Speaking of industry-related opportunities, you can also use your custom photography for press releases, magazine articles, interviews, and newspaper features. Don’t settle for the crappy quick-take by the publication’s staff photographer. Submit your own photo—one that you love—and insist they use it. Many Chambers of Commerce also publish their own monthly magazines or quarterly newsletters and feature a member. Imagine having your own vibrant photographs to submit when it’s your turn.
The next place you should use personal brand imagery is the logical step beyond your website, and that’s on all your social media. While Instagram and Pinterest have always been about posting and sharing visual content, even Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter users are increasingly relying on visual content to gain and retain attention from potential customers.
Social media posts that include images receive much more visibility and engagement than text-only posts. And while you can’t post text-only content on Instagram and Pinterest, studies have shown that images showing people’s faces get more likes, shares, and engagement. Not only should you use personal brand photography liberally on social media, but you should also be sure to use content consistent with what potential customers will find on your website. Remember, consistency build recognition, and recognition builds brands.
I’ve mentioned it before, but imagine getting a minimum of three month’s worth of unique, vibrant images for posting on social media. You read that right. A good personal brand photographer’s base package includes the delivery of at least enough digital photos for you to post a unique image once a day, every day for three months straight. That’s a gold mine for your marketing plans.
Beyond regular social media marketing, you can use your custom personal brand photography library for branded content, infographics, web advertisements and banners, and even digital ad kiosks like what you find in the local mall. You could even use your photographs on digital billboards all over town. (Yes, you can use them on old-style static billboards as well.)
There are two main opportunities to consider for using your bespoke brand photography with email. The first one is easy, and that’s to use your latest selection for your profile picture in your email signature. Build brand recognition among your email recipients by including a picture of yourself—remember, consistency in branding is crucial.
The other email-related opportunity that you absolutely should be taking advantage of is an email newsletter. For many businesses, an email newsletter is one of the best ways to grow and maintain an avid customer base by keeping these customers up-to-date and informed about all the latest news, deals, and special announcements related to your business. Quality, storytelling photos will enhance your newsletter by breaking up blocks of text and grabbing your subscriber’s attention—increasing views and click-throughs.
While I’ve focused heavily on online and digital marketing, don’t leave print marketing out of your efforts. There’s still a place for print materials in your marketing efforts, and you should look for as many opportunities as possible to use your custom photography in those efforts. Among the print materials where you should consider using your photos include business cards, brochures and rack cards, coupons, discount vouchers, catalogs, mailers, print materials for corporate or networking meetings, proposals, event flyers, and much more.
Remember, quality personal brand photography will create magazine print-quality images, meaning you can and should use your custom photography library in all of your printed marketing materials. You’re building brand familiarity, so make sure your print marketing is consistent in style and personality with all your other marketing channels.
Use your imagination and creativity and I’m sure you’ll discover even more places you can make use of custom personal brand photography. There’s virtually no limit to the possibilities.
Why is Personal Brand Photography Important for Your Business?
Remember the old saying, “You only get one chance to make a first impression?” This applies to your business too! High-quality personal brand photography helps you make a bold first impression, but that’s not all.
You’re one of a kind, which means your business is one of a kind—even if you offer similar products or services as another business in your community. Personal brand photography demonstrates your brand’s message to your audience while putting you at the forefront of your business to create a human connection. It’s always better to show rather than tell, and that’s just what personal brand photography does for your business.
Customers love a strong brand and using the right visuals to communicate your brand story instantly elevates your marketing. The moment people see your on-brand imagery they’ll want to know more about you and your business.
Strong personal brand photography allows you to control the narrative around your brand. Branding expert David Brier says, “If you don’t give the market the story to talk about, they’ll define your brand’s story for you.” Creating and maintaining a vibrant internet presence—not only on social media but on business listings and review sites—is one of your most powerful marketing tools. Consistent brand photography shows what you do, how you do it, and can even communicate why you do what you do on an emotional level.
Telling your story begins with your photos.
Do people see what you want them to see? If not, then why not? Now is the time to take control of your image and attract more customers to your business than ever before. It’s time to make a bold first impression that sets you apart from the crowd. Personal brand photos capture your brand’s personality and style and create a human connection with your target audience.
Beautiful brand imagery allows you to connect with your ideal audience. Making it personal by including yourself in the photos adds style and personality that speaks to the needs and desires of your potential customers. This is how you humanize your brand, by showing the person behind the product, service, logo, and website.
Quality imagery is timeless and improves engagement. Check out this SlideShare of fifteen visual content marketing facts and consider how adding personal brand photos to your marketing arsenal can help you take advantage of this powerful medium.
Visual content helps translate your personality into something more recognizable for your audience. Humans are primarily visual beings. We are drawn to eye-catching, aesthetically pleasing images. On-brand photos draw the attention of potential customers and remind former customers about your business.
Quality photography builds trust by allowing your potential customers to see you in the photos either creating your products, using your products, demonstrating their use, or performing your services. Imagine your customers seeing you in relation to your product or service rather than a stranger in a staged stock photo. Customers have a visceral reaction to such photos—a subconscious realization that you stand behind what you’re selling. They see you—a real person they can meet and speak with in person.
If a picture is worth one-thousand words, then it becomes obvious that personal brand photos allow you to communicate your brand message more effectively. Strong brand photography highlights your position in the marketplace and grabs your audience’s attention. You’ll get noticed and be recognized in the marketplace because you’ve set yourself apart from the competition.
Professional brand photos elevate your expert status. Your custom photos demonstrate the professional nature of your company. Customers innately perceive that if you’re willing to invest in professional branding materials then you’re more likely to stand behind your products and services. This makes your customers more likely to believe in your value. The public will only value you as much as you value yourself.
Your custom photo library gives you the confidence to put your business out into a highly-competitive marketplace. You’ll have visual content you can be proud of that truly reflects who you are and what your business does.
Online shopping and research for shopping is at an all-time high, and will only grow in importance. Even if you don’t sell products online, or offer a service that can be purchased through a website, you can still harness the power of digital marketing. Most customers look to the internet first when researching what to purchase—many customers use Pinterest to help decide what they want—and I can guarantee they’re looking at offerings similar to yours. Use the combined power of the internet and visual content to solidify and enhance your business in the local marketplace.
Customers most often shop by sight, not price. Impulse purchases are a reaction by a customer who may not have considered your product or service as a necessity but were spurred emotionally by your visual content.
And let’s not forget referrals—the lifeblood of almost every small business. Personal brand photos are a very effective referral tool. Remember, people buy from people, so filling your website and social media with images telling your brand’s story and include your face make it easier for past and current customers to share your business.
How? Imagine those customers tapping “Share” and telling the world, “THIS is the person who helped me. They went above and beyond my expectations!” Yes, word-of-mouth referrals work better than any other marketing, but make getting referrals as easy and painless as possible. It’s not unrealistic to believe you can create a veritable army of loyal fans who will sing your praises across the internet.
What Are the Different Types of Personal Brand Photography?
There are essentially four different types of photos that your personal brand photographer may take during any given photo shoot. Keep in mind that the styles your photographer ultimately shoots will be determined by the stories you decide to tell at your planning session. Don’t assume you’ll get all five of these types of photos if you didn’t plan for them or make a specific request in advance.
- Styled Product Photography—This type is way more comprehensive than it sounds. Not only should you consider vibrant photos of your products (or the demonstration of service if service-oriented), but photos that showcase every aspect of your product possible. Show how your products can and should be used. Show your product in a related environment with styled product photos. Show how you use your own products. These photos convey the quality of your product since customers can’t touch or inspect the item. These same photos will make your customers want to touch and own your product.
- Custom Stock Photography—Imagine this as like product photography for service-based businesses. This is where you’ll show and demonstrate to clients what their life will be like after working with you. Does your service give clients more leisure time or enhance that leisure time? Show them how. Does your product improve your customers’ quality of life? Show them how.
- Lifestyle and Editorial Photography—Your customers want a peek behind the scenes of your business. Show your customers how you create your products. Get some action shots of you getting stuff done—how you help potential clients. Give them a sense of the person behind the business, logo, and brand name. This is where you can also show off your family and bring a deeper human dimension to your brand.
- Styled Headshots—These might also be called “environmental” headshots, but that’s really a misnomer. Yes, your personal brand photography session can and should include intentional headshots, but a good chunk of your session will also include photos of you in various poses or performing various actions around your work environment. THIS is where your brand photography truly becomes personal, which is essential to humanizing your business online. Your customers want to know more about you. You’ll use these photos all over the place, from profile pics and bios to your website and Instagram.
What Do You Get in a Personal Brand Photography Package?
While each photographer will vary in their package inclusions, here are the elements a great personal brand photographer will probably include in their service to you.
- Comprehensive Questionnaire—Your photographer needs to get to know you and learn about your business. The best way to do that is to have you fill out a comprehensive questionnaire before you meet face-to-face for your planning session. Why comprehensive? Because they’re likely going to ask you so many detailed questions that it will take a significant amount of time for you to adequately provide your answers. Be prepared for this and commit to answering the questions fully. Doing so will make your planning session a success.
- Planning Session and One-on-One Consultation—Though you will likely have multiple instances of communication with your photographer leading up to your photo shoot—from phone calls to emails—you should expect at least one face-to-face session where the two of you plan out what stories you want to tell with your photos and how you’ll go about capturing those images. You should also be discussing hair, makeup, and wardrobe options at this stage of your planning. Planning the sequence of the photo shoot is also important during your planning session. If you’re shooting in multiple locations—whether on- of off-site—when do you plan to move to those locations. Are you planning regular breaks for snacks, lunch, and wardrobe changes?
- Several Hours of Styled Shooting—When photo shoot day comes, you’ll probably get somewhere between four to eight hours of photography coverage that includes several outfit changes (based on the stories you plan to tell) and possibly multiple locations. If you and your photographer have opted to include your family in one of your stories, you’ll likely receive a second day of shooting or a move to a different location on the day of the shoot.
- Three Month’s Worth of Branded Images—Most personal brand photographers offer their services on a quarterly basis, meaning you should receive enough photos to allow you to post a unique image on social media each day for three months running. The exact number will vary from photographer to photographer. Some will give you just enough for one unique photo every business day while others will deliver enough photos to post seven days a week.
- Color Correction and Basic Editing—All of your final deliverables should be color corrected and have basic editing applied (such as retouching as necessary). Why only basic editing? Because a great personal brand photographer will give you full editing rights which allow you to make any changes you deem necessary to make your photos consistent with your brand style. If you’d rather the photographer do these edits for you, ask to find out if extended editing is included with your package.
- Commercial Use License—Your personal brand photography package should always include a commercial use license to ensure there are almost no limits to your usage to promote your brand. Be aware that your photographer retains full copyright ownership of the photos and are also free to use them for their own marketing efforts. A commercial use license does not transfer copyright nor grant exclusive usage rights. Other limitations may also apply.
- Timely Delivery—You’ll want to start using your new custom personal brand photography library as soon as possible, so a great photographer is going to deliver your assets as soon as they can—ideally within 10 to 14 days. That may sound like a long time, but keep in mind that your photographer most likely took thousands of photos during your sessions, so it takes time to look through them all and cull them down to fewer than 100. Then it takes time to color correct and edit those photos.
- Digital Delivery—As with other specific services, the method your photographer chooses to deliver your final images may vary. It’s very likely that your images will be delivered via a private online gallery where you can view, make comments upon, and download the images to your computer. Some photographers may prefer to deliver your assets via disk or flash drive.
Here are some add-ons that some photographers who go above and beyond may offer as part of their service.
- Branding Workbook—An excellent brand photographer is more like a brand consultant who takes the time and effort to help you refine your brand and marketing vision. Most of this thought-work has to be done by you so your photographer may offer a branding workbook that takes you step-by-step through the process of evaluating your brand, writing or updating your mission statement, and walking you through everything you need to know to get ready for your big day—including wardrobe and styling advice.
- Private Pinterest Mood/Vision Board—Photographers will often share a Pinterest board with you that gives some general ideas and inspiration for your photo shoot in terms of posing and wardrobe selection. Some personal brand photographers will go above and beyond by creating a private Pinterest board and fill it with content based on your questionnaire responses. You’ll be able to add your own ideas to this board which will greatly enhance your collaboration and planning efforts together.
- On-site Observation—A great personal brand photographer that’s thinking ahead won’t rely on your questionnaire and one face-to-face planning session to ensure they’re prepared for your photo shoot. Savvy brand photographers will come to your workplace and observe you in action for a few hours so they can get a better sense of what you do and how you do it. They’ll be taking test shots, observing the available lighting, looking for the best angles and posing opportunities, and more. Most of the time they’ll stay out of your way and just observe like a fly on the wall, but don’t be surprised if they ask questions from time to time to gain greater insight into your and your work.
- Personalized Complimentary Snacks—A nice touch from some photogs is to find out what kind of drinks and energizing snacks you prefer, as well as finding out if you or anyone else at your workplace have any food allergies. Your photo shoot is going to take several hours and you’re going to be on your feet and fully engaged with the camera throughout that time. A photographer who goes above and beyond understands your need (and theirs) for keeping your energy and vitality going through hydration and proper nutrition.
- Photo Use Education—Another fantastic additional service your photographer may provide is direction and education on how to best use your new bespoke library in your marketing efforts. It’s possible you hired your photographer because you knew you needed to do something different to take your marketing—especially your social media efforts—to the next level.
- Photos Cropped for Social Media—Knowing not only how to take images that work well on the various social media platforms is crucial, but a great photographer should know how to crop those images to the correct sizes since each platform has different needs and specifications. You shouldn’t expect your photographer to automatically crop all your photos for you but you can ask if they can do it on a per image basis. You should realistically expect to pay a little more for this service—likely a few dollars per photo. This is something you’ll want to discuss during your planning session to find out what your photographer’s approach to cropping will be. Most expect you to do it yourself unless you specifically ask.
- Team Headshots—As discussed above, one of the great inclusions in most personal brand photography is a set of headshots. Some photographers will offer to take headshots of your entire team while they’re on-site, but you’ll need to plan for it during your consultation phase. A few premium-level photographers are willing to include taking additional headshots of any employees who were missing on the day of the shoot, or new hires during the three-month period covered by your latest photo shoot. Ask about this service during your consultation and planning stage.
Why Should You Hire a Professional Photographer for Your Personal Branding?
With the prevalence of cell phones boasting excellent cameras and the relatively low cost of entry for professional-level photography gear, you may be tempted to just capture your new photo library on your own. I get it. You’re an entrepreneur, a go-getter. You’re a resourceful fighter who’s used to taking action to solve your own problems. Figuring out how to do things on your own is in your blood.
Plus, doing it on your own is a logical consideration, isn’t it? When you consider the cost of hiring a professional compared to the cost of buying your own gear, you might think that it’s a no-brainer. You end up with your own equipment you can use over and over. Isn’t that a great idea?
As a savvy business owner, you’re also wise enough to understand you really can’t do EVERYTHING. You also understand that if you tried to do so, much of what you accomplished would end up being mediocre. You can’t be great at everything and maintain a growing business, it’s simply not possible. You’re human, and your time, talent, and strength are limited.
Hiring a pro when you really need one is not only the wise choice, but it’s often the most profitable course of action. Many times you’re tempted to just get stuff done on your own rather than spending money on outsourcing, but if you always take that route you’re missing out on taking advantage of another professional’s time and expertise. Isn’t that why you want people to hire you? Don’t you believe you can provide products and services for your customers better than they can for themselves? You owe it to yourself to give other professionals the same consideration.
You know the old cliché “time is money” is actually very true. You’re an expert in specific areas, so why divert your attention away from what you’re great at by wasting time on tasks that aren’t in your wheelhouse. You might even be tempted to delegate your brand photography efforts to an employee, but now you’ve taken them away from their normal productivity and thrust them into a realm that’s probably completely unfamiliar.
Too many entrepreneurs and small business owners spend way too much time trying to create photos only to wind up frustrated by the experience and disappointed with the results. Outsourcing your brand photography to a professional just makes sense from a time management standpoint.
In addition to time savings, quality should really be a major factor in your decision to hire a professional. A pro photographer knows how to compose images, nail the lighting, and translate your brand elements into a compelling visual story. Do you know how to do all of that?
These skills come with time and practice. The quality of your photos is one of the ways you communicate to your customers that you take their business seriously and that your products are top-notch. When you can produce quality advertising that’s also relatable and tells your story without looking overly produced helps earn your customers’ trust. Customers feel confident spending their hard-earned money with a business owner who takes pride in their business, cares about their products, and pays attention to quality at every level.
Have you ever had a moment in your business where you’re so close to it that you miss a crucial detail? Have you been so emotionally invested that you were unable to identify areas in need of change or improvement?
A professional brand photographer can help identify weak spots in your branding, advertising, and social media marketing. You may not be able to identify how or where you could do things better, but a pro with a logical, emotionally-detached, unbiased viewpoint can help you in ways you can’t imagine today.
A professional personal brand photographer’s top priority will be to effectively communicate your brand and style throughout your photo shoot. Great photos, no matter how high-quality, won’t help your business if they dilute your brand message or fail to connect with your target market. Too many business owners use generic stock photos the sort of work but don’t really communicate who you are and what you do.
Your brand photographer takes the time to get to know you and your brand. They’ll probably even help you define and refine your brand if necessary. A pro that goes above and beyond will take it further and help you hone every facet of your brand image.
As mentioned above, many businesses are already using generic stock photos in their marketing. Chances are you do the same. This means that you’re likely using the same sort of photos as your competition—possibly the exact same photos. How can your business possibly stand out from the crowd?
When you hire a professional, you gain a library of stock imagery that is uniquely and exclusively yours. Exclusivity is a mark of a luxury brand, but looking like a luxury brand doesn’t mean high cost for you or premium prices for your customers. Luxury does mean expensive, it means quality. Stock photos your customers have seen already don’t denote quality, they communicate, “I just grabbed whatever I could find off the digital shelf.”
Most importantly, do you know with absolute certainty that you have full legal rights to use the stock photos you’ve chosen for your business? Don’t assume it’s no big deal to grab photos from stock or photo sharing sites without being fully aware of all the various licensing agreements and limitations.
Custom brand photography from a professional will not only provide high-quality imagery but also deliver custom photos complete with a commercial use license so you can be sure you have full rights to use the photos for all your marketing in perpetuity. A professional saves you even more time and money by preventing the headache of jumping through legal hoops to secure usage rights.
How Do You Choose a Great Personal Brand Photographer?
The first step in choosing your photographer is to determine the quality of their work. It doesn’t matter if you found a photographer through a web search or a trusted referral, you should see if they can accomplish what you want. Check out their website to view their portfolio and samples of their photography.
You should not only find a photographer who can take great photos but preferably one who specializes in brand photography. Photography is a competitive, difficult business, so it’s common for photogs to diversify and offer a wide range of services from weddings to portraits and senior photos. There’s nothing wrong with choosing a photographer who does this, and even a great brand photographer is likely open to those types of photo shoots.
What you’re looking for is a photographer whose primary service is brand photography, not just a photographer who happens to offer brand photography as one of many functions of their business. A specialist not only prefers working with personal branding clients but also understands the needs and special circumstances for those clients on a much deeper level.
A great personal brand photographer takes all the time necessary to learn about you and your business so that they deliver the best storytelling imagery possible. They’ll not only take the time to read and understand your answers in a comprehensive questionnaire—asking for further clarification when necessary—but they’ll also do their own private research into your current branding and marketing to see how they can best enhance what you’re already doing and point out ways you could be doing it better.
Professional branding photographers make the effort to learn how you want to use your photos in your marketing efforts. They won’t waste time trying to produce shots that will look great on Twitter if you don’t use that platform. Having said that, they’ll also suggest why you might want to use marketing avenues and platforms you’ve thus far ignored. Maybe you do need to be on Twitter and they can explain why.
As mentioned previously, a great brand photog understands how to create images for the various social media platforms as well as produce magazine-quality files. They should know the difference in orientation and size between Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn and be aware of how to capture images that would look good on those platforms. A great brand photographer understands how to capture images with enough versatility to look good in different media without sacrificing quality. They’re also aware of how to create images that work on Facebook and Instagram stories, as well as how to frame shots to leave ample “white space” suitable for the placement of text overlays.
Digital files should always be a part of a personal brand photographer’s service to you, and they should never require the purchase of prints or canvases. This is the opposite of what you would experience with most professional family or portrait photographers. A personal branding photog understands that the main product you need is something you can use in digital and print media marketing, not prints to hang on your wall. Of course, having some great shots of yourself and/or your product/service hanging in your physical location could be a great touch.
When it comes to legal issues surrounding your bespoke branding photos there are several things you should look for in a great photographer. First, a professional brand photographer will not require you give them credit when you use your branding photos. Second, a great brand photographer will give you full editing rights to your photos. And third, a top-notch brand photographer will include a commercial use license with all of your photos.
What are Some Issues Related to Personal Brand Photography You Should Be Aware Of?
- Remember that consistency and recognition happens incrementally over time. You have to decide what your brand style will be and stick with it for the long term. You can’t build consistency or recognition if you’re constantly changing your style.
- Not everyone will love your style and that’s ok. Learn to live with this fact. Embrace it! Your style will draw people more likely to want to do business with you and help weed out potential bad clients and customers.
- Always hire a professional. You budgeted and invested in a quality website, so do yourself a favor and do the same for your branding. Yes, anyone can snap shots with a smartphone but only a professional knows how to elevate your efforts from selfies to gorgeous, high-quality photography.
- Look out for these five dealbreakers. If a photographer won’t include the following in their services to you, move on and find a better photographer.
- Must give deliver digital files.
- Must shoot photos consistent with your social media efforts.
- Must give your permission to edit your photos.
- Must not require credit when using your photos.
- Must give a commercial use license.
- Don’t over-edit your images. Remember that consistency is your goal, so choose a style for your photos and stick with it. Don’t slap the same old Instagram filters that everyone else uses on their selfies onto your gorgeous photos. Find a balance of professionalism and fun for your image.
- Once you have your custom photos in-hand, stop using generic stock. Generic stock won’t feature you and your business and likely won’t fit your style. Such stock usage will ultimately water down your brand and detract from your brand consistency and recognition.
Why is Visual Content So Important to Online Marketing Efforts?
Check out these fifteen reasons why you should take visual content marketing very seriously for your business.
- The human brain processes visual info 60,000 times faster than text.
- 65% of all people are visual learners and prefer visual content.
- Businesses get 60% more inquiries when images appear in local search results.
- Visual content performs 4.4 times better on the average than text-based content.
- Blog posts with images every 75 to 200 words get 2 times more shares.
- Blog posts containing visual content can get 94% more views.
- Blog posts containing visual content can increase traffic by 48%.
- Social media posts with visual content can produce up to 650% higher engagement than text-only posts.
- Visual content is shared on social media up to 40% more often than text-only content.
- Social media users are 40 times more likely to share visual content.
- Visual content can grow your social media following by up to 37%.
- Facebook posts with images get up to 3 times more engagement.
- Instagram posts showing human faces are 38% more likely to get likes.
- Photographs on Twitter account for more than 51% of total engagement.
- LinkedIn posts with images receive 200% more engagement than text-only posts.