If you’ve just landed on my website, you might be wondering what the heck personal brand photography is, anyway? To answer that, we need to talk about branding. A lot of people don’t truly understand what branding is – it’s so much more than your logo and brand colors. It’s how you present yourself and your business online and in person. It includes your communication style, messaging, visuals and your brand identity elements.
For a lot of industries, the only real differentiator is you – the coach, real estate agent, consultant, etc. behind the logo. In order to stand out and differentiate yourself in today’s noisy world, you need to market yourself. That’s where personal brand photography comes in.
Be the expert they need
Personal brand photography, along with the other things mentioned above, positions you as an expert, gives you credibility and builds trust. To illustrate this, let’s use an example.
Imagine you’re a life coach. What do potential clients need to know and believe to work with you? They’re going to be revealing intimate details about their life – potentially traumatic or difficult things that require them to be extremely vulnerable. They need to be able to trust you and feel secure. They want to know that you have the expertise to give them guidance.
Photography is one of the best ways to convey your professionalism, personality, expertise, and build trust. It helps potential clients connect with you on a more human level and envision what it’s like to work with you. The first step is to empathize with your ideal clients. Put yourself in their shoes and think about what they want to know before working with you.
You need a brand, not a business
People don’t connect with businesses – they connect with other people. Building a personal brand and positioning yourself as the face of your business can help you bridge that gap and build trust and rapport with potential clients.
Personal brand photography is one of the foundational elements of building a personal brand. Obviously, you’re going to need to show your face, but it’s about more than just fancy headshots. Having a cohesive set of images to use across all your client touch points makes you look more polished and professional. It lets your audience know what to expect and creates brand recognition.
Your branded image library should include a variety of images that you can use on your website, social media, in marketing materials, advertising, etc. I recommend shooting a variety of creative headshots, lifestyle imagery, and flat lays to have a versatile set of images you can use for months.
Stop selling, start building relationships
Consumers these days have finely-tuned bullshit meters. Cold selling is becoming a lot more difficult, especially with the glut of options available to consumers. Relationships are the new currency. If you’re not nurturing your audience and building relationships, your bottom line is going to suffer. It’s a lot easier to sell to a warm audience than somebody who has never heard of you. Building a personal brand and using high-quality photos of yourself makes it easier to connect and humanizes your business.
Remember, social media is a two-way marketing channel. Seek out your ideal customer and start conversations. Don’t just use it to “broadcast” your message like a TV ad or direct mail postcard and call it a day. Start building relationships and engage with your audience. Some will not only buy from you, they’ll become your biggest evangelists.
Personal brand photography vs. headshots
Personal brand photography goes by a lot of names – branding photography, brand photography, creative headshots, branded lifestyle portraits, commercial photography. And it is, in fact, a form of commercial photography, but with a lifestyle bend. It arose from the need of entrepreneurs and influencers for consistent, recurring imagery to use on social media.
What personal brand photography is not, however, is a headshot. While headshots are becoming more casual, they’re more like an initial handshake. It introduces you and shows people what you look like. It’s the bare minimum of what you need as a business owner, and is great to have for Linkedin and other profile photos.
Personal brand photography is more about telling your story through images, which is what I strive to do in my sessions. A good place to start is to answer these questions for your audience – who you are, what you do, where you do it, why you do it, and how you do it. It can be somewhat tricky to figure out how to illustrate these through photography, but a good personal brand photographer will have a process to help you brainstorm and plan your session effectively.
As you can see, a lot of businesses can benefit from incorporating personal brand photography. Being more visible in your business humanizes it and helps your customer connect with you more easily.