How Brand Photography Personalizes Your Brand [Connecting Your Audience]

by | Branding

I f you’ve ever driven down a country road then you’ve probably seen a deer caught in your headlights. The beams of light catch them and they give you that look – you know, that blank, dopey, stupified, what-the-heck-am-I-supposed-to-do-now-expression.

And this is exactly how most people feel when getting their picture taken.

If no one has trademarked the term “caught like a deer in the camera flash” then I call it.

I’m not naturally photogenic — I’m shy, I’m awkward, and, I know this is hard to believe, but unlike my lovely wife, I’m no model. I know, I know, shocking revelation but it’s true.

However, this is the great advantage to personal brand photography — it actually hides all that shy and awkwardness I have in front of the camera and instead brings out the bold entrepreneur in me.

How is that, you might ask?

Well, if you’ve ever studied a picture in a magazine you may be tempted to think the person in the ad had a certain Je ne sais quoi or X-Factor — that certain indefinable quality that got them to that spot.

Except we seldom consider all the thought behind the set design, location, lighting, framing, composition, costume, makeup, and let’s not forget hours of photoshop to make things pitch-perfect – or at least the illusion of perfection.

While it can be easy to think that maybe some are just born with it, Maybelline reminds us, sometimes, it’s actually an extremely well-choreographed dance that is so seamless it hides the choreography in the flawlessness of its presentation — that’s the definition of good design.

When design is done well the process is invisible, drawing our attention instead to the best qualities that we want others to notice.

We certainly don’t advocate that you doctor your photos or force your images to “appear” authentic, instead we think it’s important to understand that the true, worthwhile you can’t come through if the camera turns you shy.

Personal brand photography, when done correctly, should get you out of your own way so others can get to know the real you.

They tell your story and showcases the experience your audience can come to expect from working with you.

To understand how personal brand photography can connect you and your audience you’ll want to follow these steps:

 

WHAT IS PERSONAL BRAND PHOTOGRAPHY

Personal brand photography is a series of professional images that provide a visual identity for your business through the use of color, tone, props, sets, visual composition, etc.

Izabela Mattson Brand Photography Jamies Juice Plus

Photo Courtesy of Izabela Mattson Brand Photography
Featuring Jamie Herb – Healthy Living

These images establish your brand personality across all visual mediums both online and off to create brand awareness and recognition.

While they generally include images of you, your team, and/or your product/services, they can also include your process, your workspace, work tools, or anything else that sets your business apart from your competition.

Izabela Mattson Brand Photography Erin Jacobsen 2020 (2)

Photo Courtesy of Izabela Mattson Brand Photography
Featuring Erin Jacobsen – Personal and Virtual Assistant

When it comes to branding, it’s important that you stand out. That’s what personal brand photography is all about.

Just as every artist has their own signature, your brand presentation, if done right, can become yours and personal branded photography is one of the best ways to create that defining signature.

Take for example this photo. You may look at this and wonder how you could ever tell that this is a Rembrandt.

Well look again and you’ll see that Rembrandt employed a technique so popular that modern photographers and filmmakers call the lighting technique he used “Rembrandt Lighting.”

Now that’s branding!

 

CREATING BRAND RECOGNITION

When your audience can simply look at an image and know it’s your brand then you’ve branded your photography and created your signature.

When you do this you begin to create strong associations in the mind of your audience and you help familiarize them with who you are and what you stand for as a brand.

 

CREATING A MORE HUMAN EXPERIENCE

Izabela Mattson Brand Photography Web Size (21)
Photo Courtesy of Izabela Mattson Brand Photography
Featuring Dr. Aman Flynn – Springhill Dental

Providing your audience with pictures of you and your team in your marketing gives them a glimpse of the real people behind the products or services that they will be engaging with, it helps them to connect with you, get an idea of the company culture and gives an idea of what it might be like working with you.

This helps them feel like they are part of the experience.

When you provide that human touch it elevates the experience from a seemingly unattainable, hypothetical encounter to a real experience that is tangible, achievable, and even desirable.

Furthermore, providing actual people in your photos gets better brand engagement.

According to research done by Georgia Tech, your audience is roughly 30-40% more likely to engage with your brand when it features a human face.

 

More Unique and Memorable than Stock Photos

Stock photos have come a LONG way! But they still aren’t perfect.

Don’t get us wrong, we are definitely not against using stock photos, especially in the beginning when you are still figuring out your brand and don’t have the money to shell out for professional high quality branded photography.

BUT…when stock photos are accessible to anyone and everyone, including your direct competition, you risk looking just like every other business, forfeiting that signature look that makes your brand stand out.

If you’ve ever driven through a suburb you’ve probably noticed how all the houses look the same.

Homogenized Housing To Demonstrate Importance Of Standing Out

There is a homogenized look to all the exteriors, and if you were house-shopping, well, your opinion of one house might not differ much from its exact clone three doors down.

But what if in the middle of that suburb you saw this?

Taj Mahal

When it comes to business you don’t want your audience to think you’re just like everyone else on the block.

With stock photos, you have no control over what colors, tone, orientation, etc. are used so there is little guarantee you will find something to fit your brand’s aesthetic.

Not to mention, looking for the right stock photo can take hours of sifting through images only to settle for “close enough”.

Is that the impression that you want to give your audience? Choosing you is “close enough?”

Personal brand photography provides a level of quality, consistency, and uniqueness that will demonstrate to your audience that you value attention to detail and quality and that you stand apart from your competitors.

 

Quality Photos Create a Great First Impression

Since we can’t meet with every client in person and win them over with our charm we have to rely on our digital presentation to make a great first impression and reveal who we are and what we are like.

Through personal brand photography, we can create a human connection with our audience.

Because personal brand photography focuses on the personal aspects of your brand it helps connect your audience with you and your brand.

When your audience sees these images they should get a sense of what you’re like, what it could be like working with you, and the experience that interaction could provide.

Remember people eat with their eyes so bad images actually say a lot about you, whether you intend it or not.

Take for example these two dishes. Where would you rather eat?

Brand Photo Comparison Of Two Food Dishes From Same Restaurant To Demonstrate Importance Of Quality Photos

Believe it or not, these are from the same restaurant.

While chefs spend time perfecting plate presentation to make their food more appealing to our senses, personal branded photography does the same for your brand.

 

QUALITY PHOTOS BUILD TRUST

By showcasing quality photos of you, your team, or your products and services you can show potential customers that you are professional, consistent, reliable and serious about your business.

It says that you value your brand enough to invest in quality — and that will extend to how your audience feels about you.

On-brand photos relay that you value quality in work and life and so they will feel confident doing business with you.

 

WHERE PERSONAL BRAND PHOTOS ARE USED

Izabela Mattson Brand Photography Michelle Beaubien Grid 1

Photo Courtesy of Izabela Mattson Brand Photography
Featuring Michelle Beaubien – Healthy Hair Coach

Personal brand photography is incredibly versatile and provides you with a wealth of options on where to use them to promote your brand.

Here are just a few ideas:

  • Social Media — profile photos and background photos
  • Instagram – posts and stories
  • About sections of your website and business listings
  • Blog Posts and Content Featured Images
  • Social Media Posts
  • Paid ads
  • Showing your process
  • Email Signature and Newsletter
  • Your business cards
  • Webinars
  • Team Photos
  • Thank you notes and cards
  • PR and Media Publications
  • YouTube and Podcast Thumbnails
  • Online courses
  • Your products and services
  • Pitch decks
  • Proposals

 

TYPES OF BRAND PHOTOGRAPHY

While personal brand photography focuses on you and the people behind your brand to personalize the experience there are many more types of custom brand photography.

Custom brand photography comes in a variety of forms and the subjects can range anywhere from you and your team to your products and services.

Some are candid and in motion and some are staged.

 

Styled Product and Deliverables Photos

Lifestyle Monat (3)
Photo Courtesy of Izabela Mattson Brand Photography
Featuring Michelle Beaubien – Healthy Hair Coach

When you style your products it gives them personality and sets the scene for how your audience perceives the product and helps provide context on how they’re used.

Another version to consider is the use of before and after shots of your work or product. This gives a good idea of how your product improves the lives of others.

These shots can also make great how-to photo manuals that help your audience understand the best way to make use of your product.

These can work in infographics and representation to explain how things work. Combining photos with a few words can simplify complex ideas and illustrate their value.

 

Custom Stock Photography

Izabela Mattson Brand Photography Working With A Client (20)
Photo Courtesy of Izabela Mattson Brand Photography
Featuring Pacific Payroll

If you are a service-based business this can set the scene for how your client might imagine the lifestyle improvement they can enjoy when they choose you.

How does their life look once they’ve gone with you?

Are they inspired and leading their team with the ideas you provide in your consultations?

Is their family enjoying time grilling in the backyard next to the beautiful home you constructed?

Are they enjoying an incredible journey on an excursion because of the travel package you offered?

These photos show how rewarding life is after working with you.

 

Styled Headshots

Izabela Mattson Brand Photography Headshot

Photo Courtesy of Izabela Mattson Brand Photography
Featuring Adrienne Irwin – Country Financial

Headshots are a must these days and they show the face behind the brand to provide a human connection for your audience.

These work well on your LinkedIn profiles and Company About Pages, Profiles Pics and Professional Bios.

As you grow in your industry, these create an association between you and the expertise that you provide.

 

Lifestyle & Editorial

Izabela Mattson Brand Photography Jamies Juice Plus (13)
Photo Courtesy of Izabela Mattson Brand Photography
Featuring Jamie Herb – Healthy Living

This type is great for peeling back the curtain and showing the life of those running the show.

These can include action shots of you and your team to help your audience get a sense of who you are.

 

Behind the Scenes

Izabela Mattson Brand Photography Working With A Client (11)
Photo Courtesy of Izabela Mattson Brand Photography
Featuring Adrienne Irwin – Country Financial

Give your audience a glimpse into a day in the working life of you and your team.

Is there a common spot you work from? Is it an office, a coffee shop, or are you a creative designer or general contractor working on elaborate construction projects?

Give others a peek into this piece of your day and bring them into your world.

 

Lifestyle Vignettes

Lifestyle Vignettes Brand Photography

Essentially these are the little details in your space that give it character.

They are decor, trinkets, and mementos that demonstrate your personality and what you value and hold most dear.

They could be plants in your office, a stack of magazines you enjoy, coins that you collect or a piece of art.

Whatever you choose, ensure there is a purpose for showing it off.

 

Team Photography

Izabela Mattson Brand Photography Team Photos (10)
Photo Courtesy of Izabela Mattson Brand Photography
Featuring Holly Fisher and Shannon Moore of Pacific Payroll

Getting photos of your team can show the comradery and culture that your company creates.

While a group photo in the office can work, another way to demonstrate your unique qualities is to take your team to an unusual location that fits the personality and culture of your business — a place your team would feel at home.

Candid “at-play” moments can show that you are more than just products and services and there are people behind the ideas that get generated.

Don’t just select any backdrop or location, choose something meaningful — a place you actually frequent or a place your team will feel in their element.

 

Interior Designs & Offices

Izabela Mattson Brand Photography Spaces (6)
Photo Courtesy of Izabela Mattson Brand Photography
Featuring Springhill Dental Office Interior

Believe it or not, your office design can say a lot about you and your company culture.

If you have a unique space then share it. Your audience will feel included and enjoy seeing where ideas are born.

 

Event Photography

Izabela Mattson Brand Photography Event 2020
Photo Courtesy of Izabela Mattson Brand Photography
Featuring Event by Kickin’ Cancer – We are the Solution – United to Prevent!

If your company holds events like receptions, galas, conferences, work parties, or sales events then this can be a great thing to share.

These events can give potential consumers and even potential employees a glimpse of your personality and culture in action and bring them into the fun.

 

WHERE TO START

Before you can start taking photos it’s important to define your story and who you are.

First, know your mission and values and how you want to communicate those to your audience.

Understand the unique value you bring that makes your brand different.

And know your audience – what they think, how they feel, and how they might react to the visual identity you are trying to craft.

Consider your tone as well as the words you used to identify your personality and style so that you can ensure your images match your identity and aesthetic.

 

Make a Shot List or Storyboard

Just as you wouldn’t travel without a map (or your phone’s GPS), you don’t want to begin this journey without first mapping it out.

You don’t need to know every shot because your photographer will likely help you with that and you want to leave some room for the inspiration and creativity that happens naturally during your shoot, but having a general outline and understanding of what types of photos you need is essential.

Know what function you need them to play in your branding.

Consider how your brand colors and brand tone will affect your wardrobe, location, and the props you choose for your shoot.

Do you need photos of you and your team? Your workspace? Lifestyle photos?

Do you want to include pets or mementos to show off your personality?

Would you like photography to show off your products or services? Should they be in action shots, stills, flatlays?

Come prepared so that you don’t leave anything out or skip over something important.

 

Consider Orientation

Consider where each photo will be used.

Get a variety of angles, close-ups, medium shots, wide shots, and make sure you capture them in both landscape and portrait orientation.

Izabela Mattson Brand Photography Erin Jacobsen 2020
Photo Courtesy of Izabela Mattson Brand Photography
Featuring Erin Jacobsen – Personal and Virtual Assistant

After all, if you need a website header photo with room for text you are going to need to ensure you have a photo that is landscape oriented with some blank space to add the text later.

Think about which images would work best in landscape and which would work best in portrait orientation.

Mix things up and get a variety so you have extra and you can experiment.

 

Create a Mood Board

Assembling all your inspiration and ideas into a collage or mood board gives you the advantage of stepping back and looking at similarities as well as outliers.

A great place to start is Pinterest.

You can pin all kinds of ideas together and see if anything works or doesn’t work.

But keep in mind that your ideas need to be on-brand so ensure they match your brand’s color palette and match your brand’s tone for consistency.

Consistent branding creates repetition and repetition creates memorable branding in the minds of your audience.

 

FINDING A PHOTOGRAPHER

When looking for a photographer you want to find someone that is the right fit, can make you comfortable, and bring out the best in you.

Most of us don’t naturally exude confidence in front of the camera, but the right photographer can work magic if you’re willing to trust their creativity.

Ask for recommendations from businesses around you or people in your industry.

Remember there is a difference between a photographer and a personal brand photographer. Professional photography is great, but personal brand photography is more than just nice images.

Make sure you look at their portfolio and see if they can create the type of brand images you are looking for.

Also, consider hiring a stylist to do your makeup, wardrobe, or on-set art direction — some personal brand photographers will do both or have a recommendation so ask during your interviews with them.

 

UPDATING YOUR PHOTOS

You may wonder how often you should switch out your photos.

Unfortunately, there isn’t one right answer, it really depends on you, your industry, and your branding needs.

Consider how often you need to change out your marketing. If your industry is highly competitive and the content you share needs to be constantly refreshed then consider having a photographer on retainer so they can refresh your images on a weekly or biweekly basis.

If you’re a business with a solid brand presence you might be able to get away with every month or so.

If you’re growing, but want a variety to use over a longer period of time than consider quarterly shoots.

Consider your budget, some brands can get away with having a shoot done every year or for bigger milestones.

All in all, it’s worth the investment, so if you feel your images are getting stale don’t wait. It’s better to switch things out and have a fresh look than lose brand authority just to save a little money.

Be wise, mind your budget, and consider when it’s actually an investment that can help you elevate your brand and bring more value to you and your business.

 

SUMMARY

Personal brand photography can make a big difference in brand authority and recognition.

It creates a signature style that your brand can become known for.

Having a variety of pictures make you unique and having photos of you and your team brings a human experience to your audience.

Quality photos create a great first impression and build trust because they show you value quality and demonstrate how your brand can improve their lifestyle.

With great personal brand photography, you and your audience will have confidence in your brand even if you’re not so confident in front of the camera.

Say Cheese!

Need help photos that connect with your audience?

I’d Like to Hear from You

Gabriel Shields Benu CreativeWhat’s your #1 takeaway from today’s article? Or what’s one question you have about what you read? Either way, I’d love to hear what you have to share so leave me comment below and let’s chat.

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Key Takeaways

                       
                       
                       
                       

Brand Photography FAQs

What is Personal Brand Photography?

Personal brand photography is a series of professional images that provide a visual identity for your business through the use of color, tone, props, sets, visual composition, etc. The main goal is to create a personal connection through your images. They open up a window to the experience of working with you and your brand.

Why is it important to have Brand Photography?

Your brand needs to stand out.

By showcasing quality photos of you, your team, or your products and services you can show potential customers that you are professional, consistent, reliable, and serious about your business.

It says that you value your brand enough to invest in quality — and that will extend to how your audience feels about you.

On-brand photos relay that you value quality in work and life and so they will feel confident doing business with you.

Why is it important to have pictures of myself?

Providing your audience with pictures of you and your team in your marketing gives them a glimpse of the real people behind the products or services that they will be engaging with, it helps them to connect with you, get an idea of the company culture, and gives an idea of what it might be like working with you.

This helps them feel like they are part of the experience.

When you provide that human touch it elevates the experience from a seemingly unattainable, hypothetical encounter to a real experience that is tangible, achievable, and even desirable.

Furthermore, providing actual people in your photos gets better brand engagement.

According to research done by Georgia Tech, your audience is roughly 30-40% more likely to engage with your brand when it features a human face.

What do I do if hate getting my photo taken?

Most people hate getting their photo taken, but this is the key advantage to getting brand photography.

It actually hides all that shy and awkwardness that often comes out in photos and instead brings out the bold expert you are in your business.

When design is done well the process is invisible, drawing attention instead to the best qualities that you want others to notice.

We certainly don’t advocate that you doctor your photos or force your images to “appear” authentic, instead we think it’s important to understand that the true, worthwhile you can’t come through if the camera turns you shy.

Personal brand photography, when done correctly, should get you out of your own way so others can get to know the real you.

They tell your story and showcases the experience your audience can come to expect from working with you.

What is the difference between a Photographer and Brand Photographer?

The main difference between a photographer and brand photographer is the level of expertise and experience in bringing your brand to life.

Brand photographers take the time to ensure they know your brand inside and out to create images that tell your story. They compose each image using your brand’s specific colors, locations, and any other brand elements that are vital to telling your story properly.

Many photographers will not allow you to edit their photos or offer only limited use, whereas a brand photographer provides photos with more versatility in how you can use them.

Traditional photographers may require a watermark or not allow you to brand or change the photos in any way, whereas a brand photographer creates images with the intent to give you something that you can use in the best way to represent your brand.

How often should I update my photos?

Unfortunately, there isn’t one right answer, it really depends on you, your industry, and your branding needs.

A good rule is to update them at least once a year.

However, consider how often you need to change out your marketing. If your industry is highly competitive and the content you share needs to be constantly refreshed then consider having a photographer on retainer so they can refresh your images on a weekly or biweekly basis.

If you’re a business with a solid brand presence you might be able to get away with every month or so.

If you’re growing, but want a variety to use over a longer period of time than consider quarterly shoots.

Consider your budget, some brands can get away with having a shoot done every year or for bigger milestones.

What is the advantage of having Brand Photography over Stock Photos?

Stock photos are accessible to anyone and everyone, including your direct competition, you risk looking just like every other business, forfeiting that signature look that makes your brand stand out.

Not to mention, you can’t showcase yourself in stock photos so you have to settle for photos that are less personal and instead choose something that’s “close enough.”

Personalized Brand photos offer a quality that says that you value your brand enough to invest in quality — and that will extend to how your audience feels about you.

On-brand photos relay that you value quality in work and life and so they will feel confident doing business with you.

Why shouldn't I just take photos on my smartphone?

There is a huge advantage to getting photos done professionally rather than relying on your smartphone.

Quality cameras, such as DSLRs, capture more color range, they are more versatile in capturing dynamic shots in different settings and lighting conditions, and they offer a better pixel resolution so that your photos don’t turn out blurry.

One example is that with a DSLR you can choose a variety of lense to get the right shot, whereas a smartphone zoom feature only enlarges a portion of the photo and drastically reduces the clarity of the photo.

However, beyond technical advantages, professional photographers look beyond just getting a shot, they seek to create a visual experience that tells a deeper story to connect to your audience.

Gabriel Shields Benu Creative

Strategic Manager | Marketing Innovator

Gabriel Shields is an entrepreneur, educator, and storyteller. He provides innovative marketing solutions so businesses can better connect with their audience and have their stories heard. In addition, Gabriel has publications in a myriad of literary journals and years of experience establishing effective online and offline marketing strategies.

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