Have you ever hired a photographer for your business and found yourself with a handful of nice headshots or a pile of photos that leave you scratching your head, unsure of how to use them or if they even match your business’ aesthetic?
It’s a pretty common scenario, and here’s why –
Most business owners assume that any photographer can take high-quality brand photos.
And while it’s an honest assumption, it’s simply not true!
The missing piece of the puzzle is understanding the magic of strategic brand photography.
Now, we all agree that businesses need pictures, but here’s the deal:
There’s a big difference between a portrait photographer (the kind you’d hire to snap photos for your family’s annual holiday card) and a brand photographer.
And guess what?
It matters—a lot—for creative businesses like yours!
In this blog post, we’ll explore what brand photography is (and isn’t), why your business needs it, and how to pick the right photographer who can turn your creative business visuals into a captivating marketing tool that helps you stand out from the crowd.
What is Brand Photography?
Wondering, “what is brand photography”?
You’re not alone!
A lot of people – business owners, and photographers alike – confuse brand photography with traditional commercial snapshots. When I tell people I’m a brand photographer, they often think like straightforward product shots, simple headshots, or images with a more conventional and generic style often seen in commercial contexts.
So what’s the difference?
While both want to make an impact, they go about it in completely different ways.
In contrast to commercial imagery, brand photography aims to go beyond these standard visuals, capturing the unique identity, story, and personality of a brand in a more personalized and authentic way. I do this by focusing on the people, the process, what your brand offers, as well as the final product or service.
Photography with a Purpose
Brand photography is not just about pretty pictures; it’s a strategic marketing approach.
I define brand photography as imagery with marketing in mind.
A brand photographer’s goal is to capture supporting imagery to showcase the full spectrum of your brand story – from how you started to where you’re heading. It’s about selling a connection, not just a product or service.
Front-End Work, Back-End Impact
So, how do brand photographers create that strong connection?
Brand photography is a little like chess – most of the moves happen before the first click.
A skilled brand photographer’s approach requires extensive research, meaningful conversations, strategic planning, and thorough preparation before the actual photoshoot.
This process dives into the roots of your business, considers your current state, and envisions the future. The goal is always to ensure that every shot resonates with your brand story, turning each image into a powerful tool for your business that you can actually use!
Why Your Creative Business Needs Brand Photography
Another common misconception that many businesses have about brand photography is that it’s only for big-name brands.
That is so far from the truth!
Brand photography is not exclusive to big agencies with massive budgets. More and more solopreneurs and small businesses are recognizing its value, understanding that fresh brand content sets them apart in their industry.
Especially in a world that relies so much on your online presence, from your social media content to your website visuals and more, brand photos are not a luxury, they’re a necessity!
It’s about standing out, regardless of your business size or budget.
The Four Goals of Brand Photography
So how exactly can brand photos support your business vision?
Brand photography achieves four crucial goals simultaneously. These are goals that can benefit any and every business from the smallest mom-and-pop shop to the largest online retail stores!
As a brand photographer, I always have these specific goals in mind for my clients. Here’s why your business needs strong brand photography and what you can hope to achieve when you work with a pro brand photographer.
Goal #1: Walk Away With a Bank of Images
Working with a marketing-minded brand photographer means you can expect to walk away with a dynamic collection of images ready whenever you need them!
I always aim to give my clients a bunch of different images that can be used strategically on different platforms and in various campaigns.
When you invest in a brand photoshoot, you’ll receive a wide range of photos you can use over time. This image bank is a huge time-saver, helping you keep a consistent and interesting online presence without needing constant photoshoots.
Imagine having this awesome collection of visuals showcase the different sides of your brand – from product photos to behind-the-scenes shots.
You can easily dip into this image bank for:
The result is a cohesive and visually appealing brand story that resonates with your ideal audience, all done without the hassle of last-minute photoshoots or DIY pictures snapped on your iPhone!
Goal #2 Create a professional and consistent look
A professional and consistent look across all your visual assets reinforces your brand’s identity and fosters recognition. This consistency is not only important for your visual aesthetics but it can also help you showcase the values and personality of your brand.
A skilled brand photographer understands the importance of maintaining a unified style throughout the photoshoot. From color schemes to composition, every element is thoughtfully curated to align with your brand guidelines.
This visual language extends across your website, social media channels, marketing materials, and any other touchpoints, establishing a strong and recognizable brand presence in the minds of your audience.
At the end of the day, your brand imagery should help you build the “know, like, trust” factor with your ideal clients.
Goal #3: Build brand awareness
Brand photography serves as a powerful tool for building and strengthening brand awareness.
Engaging visuals capture attention and leave a lasting impression on your audience. When strategically planned and executed, brand photography creates a narrative that tells the story of your brand and what it stands for.
This is where your story, your process, the materials you use, your expertise, and your unique approach all tie in. No matter if there are 1,000 businesses “just like yours” no one truly does the work you do exactly the way you do it.
When done well, brand images can focus on what makes your business so distinct, setting you apart from the crowd and helping you find and connect with your ideal audience.
Through compelling visual storytelling, you can connect with your audience on a deeper level, building an emotional connection. Each image is like a puzzle piece in your brand story, adding to how people see and know your business.
When you have consistent and well-planned brand photos, it helps your audience connect certain visuals with your brand, making it easier for them to recognize you in a busy market.
Goal #4: Generate more business.
Investing in brand photography is like planting seeds for your creative business. The main goal is simple: it helps your business grow.
When you have meaningful visuals, they can turn potential customers into actual customers and those customers into loyal fans. Often the most crucial goal of brand photography is its direct impact on business growth.
Strategic brand photos can make people more likely to buy.
When your pictures tell your brand’s story and values in a way that clicks with your target audience, it builds trust. This emotional connection often means people stick around, come back for more, and tell their friends good things about your business.
Basically, brand photos can help you make more money which is a really useful investment for your creative business.
The four main goals of brand photography all work together. They create a visual system that saves you time, keeps things consistent, and helps people recognize your brand, all while making your business grow. It’s more than just receiving a handful of pictures. In reality, it’s about telling your brand story in a way that sets you up for success in the long run.
What Should I Look For in a Brand Photographer?
So now that you understand what brand photography is and why it’s so important for creative businesses like yours, you’re probably wondering where to start!
While I wish I could work with every creative business (if you’re in the New England area, let’s chat!), chances are you’re looking for a brand photographer local to your area.
I often get asked:
“How do I choose the right brand photographer?”
When searching for the ideal brand photographer, don’t solely focus on their portfolio. Yes, check their past work to align with your brand vision, but a good brand photographer collaborates with you.
Look for signs of strategy discussions, check their style, and see how they present themselves on social media. Don’t forget to read client reviews to discover what other business owners appreciated about the experience and the final images. A positive client experience ensures you feel at ease during the photo shoot, resulting in impactful and useful images for your business.
More than Just a Photoshoot Date
Choosing a date, showing up, and getting pictures taken may be fine for family photos or headshots, but it falls short for a brand photo shoot.
If your brand photographer isn’t discussing strategy or brand story meetings this is often a big red flag!
You might end up with nice photos but no idea how to use them. As a photographer, this absolutely breaks my heart!
Because your time is precious as a business owner! You’re already handling tons of tasks, and setting aside time for a photoshoot should be worthwhile.
I’ve spoken to businesses who invested time and resources in a photoshoot, only to get one or two usable photos. It’s disheartening when the right photographer could have better channeled the business owner’s already-precious time and resources.
The Power of a Strategy Meeting
If your potential brand photographer skips a strategy meeting, you might miss out on the real magic. It’s not just about booking a date; it’s understanding your brand’s journey and crafting resonant visuals. The real value lies in the “why” behind each image.
In my process, we start with a Discovery Call – a chat where I get to know your brand, your goals, and what makes you unique. I prepare for this call by:
- researching your industry
- reviewing your current branding
- identifying potential gaps in your visual content
Once you decide that working together is a good fit, we dive into Concept Boards. It’s about capturing and defining an aesthetic that fits your brand, whether it’s calm and moody or lively and bright.
Before the actual shoot, we meet on Zoom for a Strategy Meeting so I can present my concept board and strategy for shoot day. I find that this ensures shoot day goes smoothly and my clients report feeling more confident when showing up in front of the camera because they know what to expect!
On the shoot day, it’s not a rush for random shots. We follow a specific plan, making sure we capture everything your brand needs.
Now, not every brand photographer does things exactly like this, but an experienced one includes many of these important steps.
Ultimately, it’s a team effort and a collaborative process to make sure your brand gets pictures that make you proud.
Brand photography takes your business visuals from individual pictures to a powerful marketing tool. By knowing its purpose, the detailed process, and what to be cautious about when hiring a brand photographer, you can make sure your investment in brand photography fits well with your business vision and goals.
If you run a creative business and want to work together, I’d love to chat and see if we’re a good match. Check out all my brand photography and brand videography services on my website, and reach out to schedule your free Discovery Call to kick things off.