Ah, brand photos.
We love the idea of having a fresh new gallery of images, ripe and ready to share with the world.
Figuring what those images should actually be…that’s a whole different story.
It’s hard to sit down and think about where your photo gaps are (the areas where you need photos but don’t have them). Most business owners know they need updated headshots. Behind the scenes photos are getting more popular. They want photos of their products for when you’re ready to push a sale or simply want to show a client what things look like.
Looking back through my most recent brand photoshoots, I started to see a theme of the types of photos we create, regardless of industry or differences in storylines.
These are the brand images I believe every personality-driven business needs to have…
PS. We all know a new headshot is at the top of this list but there’s no need to explain that in-depth. I’m here to give you the things you didn’t think of on your own 😉
I am a broken record when it comes to “showing your process” but it’s only because I really think it’s the lowest hanging fruit when it comes to brand photos. There doesn’t have to be a ton of thought put into photographing the things you literally do on a daily basis – AND people eat it up!!!
First I’m going to talk to service businesses…
If you offer a service, your experience is your product. You are doing your clients a disservice by not showing what your experience entails. This means having images of every step of the process – including but not limited to:
You could argue that your product is a “final result” (this is also true), but I believe the best way to grow and PROTECT a service business is to build into your experience. That’s what people pay top dollar for, that’s what keeps them coming back, and that’s what sets you apart from others doing seemingly the same thing.
If you’re on tiktok, you see this every day – businesses who are just like you, doing their daily tasks but they share them online and the next thing you know, I am learning everything I can about this beekeeper and her apiary.
I know she isn’t the only beekeeper out there and she may not even be the best, but when Jason Derulo needed a beehive removed, guess who he called…
The more you have photos of you doing what you do best, the more trust you are building with future and current clients. The more they are buying into your experience as a whole.
Also, better set expectations = better client relationships.
Honestly the same could be said to you. It can be easy to lean into just wanting to share your product, but again, if people become emotionally invested in you and your product then the possibilities are endless.
This can look like:
You can apply a lot of the same principles I laid out for the service businesses and also pour into your experience. People love feeling like they are a part of the journey (ex. Watching a clay mug be shaped and molded) or a part of a community (ex. Seeing how others use a cleaning product around their house).
You know I was heading here…it’s all about individual personalities.
The market is saturated. There is so much content to shift through. Ads are everywhere. Sometimes it feels like everything is just a ploy to get you to buy something.
How do you combat that? Connection.
When it comes to “personality pics,” I want to challenge you to dig deeper than the generic headshot with a welcoming smile. Yes, that photo is needed but it’s also easily lost in the sea of other smiling faces.
If you love the energy of a party, let’s pop some champagne and throw confetti.
If you’re more reserved and calm, let’s photograph you in a serene setting.
If you’re bold and spunky, let’s do a line up of a bunch of faces showing different emotions.
If you’re professional and efficient, let’s get a photo of you working diligently at your desk.
If you’re creating a comfortable environment, let’s have you cozied up on a couch filled with pillows.
The real magic of brand photos come when you really start to infuse who you are into your images, because let’s be real, we’re not out here wasting our time to just look like everybody else.
Very similarly to personality pics, it’s equally important to include your passions – within and outside of your work.
Katelyn James shared a blog post few weeks ago that said “if you only ever show your work, you’ll only ever be a photographer.”
This builds connection points beyond just what you offer, which means there’s a reason for people to still stick around and care even when they aren’t in need of your services or products.
Now before you dive off the deep end with overwhelm about what your hobbies are and if they make sense with your business and how to share them…you get to decide what this looks like.
I honestly have been working through what I want to share with the world and what I do just for me. While I do think it’s important to share the unique passions you have, I also don’t believe in exploiting things that are really important to you for money.
The goal is to create opportunities to connect (while still maintaining your boundaries) – share whatever will achieve that!
Your passions and interests can include anything from decorating your home to your love of chocolate chips, to a glass of wine while watching reality tv. You can also include the things that you think maybe are less universally popular, like your love for Crossfit or old Western movies. You may be surprised who you bring in with the niche interests!
One of my favorite things when it comes to messaging is finding ways to incorporate your passions in a way that can even connect with people who don’t necessarily like that same thing by digging into the WHY behind your love for it.
For example, thrifting on the surface doesn’t seem to align with someone who offers a luxury product…but what is your heart behind thrifting? Is it the thrill of finding something hidden in a place no one was looking for it? Is it the idea of taking something old and seeing its potential? Is it how you used to spend your Saturdays with your grandma? There’s almost always a deeper story there if you just know how to look for it.
Okay workshop time – What are your favorite things to do? What makes you light up? What could you spend hours talking about?
Do you have photos of those things to share?
This is an interesting one but also one that I first found immediately necessary in my own business.
The human experience as a whole isn’t sunshine and rainbows. No matter what business you have or what industry you’re in, there will come a day when you need to share a message that wouldn’t pair well with your smiling face.
Not all connections are joyful and bright and glowing.
I found myself within my own business occasionally needing photos where the mood was different – maybe it was disappointed but hopeful. Or frustrated but ready for the challenge. Annoyed. Confident and powerful. Or simply just sad.
In all of my brand shoots I make sure to direct a few images that show a range of emotions that will fit with the many different emotions you need to connect to your messages to make them all the more powerful.
Of course there are a million moods so it’s helpful for you to go back through your posts or stories to think about the times that you wished you’d had a more appropriate photo for how you were feeling. Keep a note of those types of situations and then when we’re planning your brand shoot, we can incorporate them throughout the day to fill that need as well.
While everything within a brand shoot centers around storylines (because they help bring everything together!), there is always a need for promotional style images that don’t necessarily have a “story.”
You know, the photos that come to mind when you just want to post a reminder about something but it’d be cute if it had your face in it.
A few examples of this are:
And my absolute favorite…the out of office photo!! I love getting creative with these by showing off how you typically spend your vacation time (my favorite one of me is on a balcony with a robe and heart-shaped sunglasses, hehe).
Your gallery should be expertly curated to include all of the photo gaps you identified on your own PLUS the ones the brand photographer researched and ideated on their own. Your gallery should have a range of photos showing the business ins and outs along with who you are as a person or a team.
And most importantly, your gallery should have photos that you will actually use for longer than a month post-shoot.
If you read through this list and realized that you had more photo gaps than you thought, I’m ready to strategize with you!!
You can get the process started here 🙂
I’m Dakota, a Wilmington, NC-based photographer Helping engaged couples feel comfortable in front of the camera and creative businesses grow with purposeful brand imagery.
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