Answers from a Philly Branding Photographer
The first question we get at the studio is “What is branding photography?” We all know what a headshot is, but branding photography is a nebulous concept to many. So, let’s demystify it. Personal Branding Photography (or simply, branding photography) is a portfolio of photographs that tell the story of your brand. The portfolio often includes a stellar collection of headshots (of you and often any team members that are essential to your work and client experience) tailored uniquely to capture your brand’s voice and style. These images distinguish you and your team as professionals, and experts in your field and are captured in a way that represents the essence of your brand’s energy.
The body of work is designed to set you apart and captivate your audience beyond cookie-cutter stock imagery.
The portfolio also often includes a series of images that creatively use storytelling to share your brand’s values, passion, mission, and more. These images can give a behind-the-scenes glimpse into your work. They can be photojournalistic in style and/or stylized and staged using sets, scenes, props, etc. depending on your brand’s aesthetic and the goal of your messaging. The purpose of these portraits is to create compelling, eye-catching, personalized content for your social media, website, newsletter, blog, print media, press releases, and more. The body of work is designed to set you apart and captivate your audience beyond cookie-cutter stock imagery. Your clients and potential clients won’t be able to simply keep scrolling when they see one of these images in their feed. They’ll want to know more.
Now you know what branding photography is. You can see why some might opt for a personal branding photography experience, but are there any other reasons why this marketing tool and/or even simply headshots might matter to your success? Let’s explore.
First impressions matter. A large percentage of your future clients are meeting you for the first time digitally. Your current clients, peers and circles of influence are digitally experiencing you continually. If you want to be taken seriously, it’s a good idea to present yourself in a capacity that speaks to your professionalism. That does not mean your headshots need to be stuffy. Far from it. They need only be intentional and authentically you.
If your headshot is a selfie or cropped-out photo from an event, that’s not professional. Rather, akin to arriving at the team meeting in pajamas. It doesn’t instill confidence (unless you run a pajama company, then totally have at it.). Similarly, your headshot should be updated every year or two (or more if there are dramatic changes in your appearance or if you make a career shift.). As studio client and friend Ian Wright recently said, “Having a 10-year-old professional photo is just as bad as having a 10-year-old pic on eHarmony. Do. Not. Do. It.”
Attracting the ideal client
Speaking of eHarmony, a branding photo experience can go beyond your marketing portfolio and serve many purposes. Many of our clients come in for both a headshot update and dating profile portraits. Others combine branding and family or pet portrait sessions. Often, for small businesses and professionals utilizing some of these family and pet portraits in branding and marketing content can demonstrate approachability and relatability to your avatar. Showing this personal side of your life can often increase your “know, like, trust” factor – the holy trinity of attracting your ideal client. This benefit is in tandem with creating deeply meaningful personal art for you and your family to appreciate for years to come. As a bonus, personal photographs that become marketing content can be written off on your taxes*. Regardless of whether you opt for a simple headshot session or an entire personal branding photo experience, family and all; just be sure to make the most of your photo session opportunity.
Show what sets you apart.
Another reason many invest in Personal Branding Photography is to set themselves apart in a saturated field. Real Estate professionals, Life Coaches, Nutritionists, Therapists are just a few examples, but the services, approaches, styles and vibes of each provider are as unique as the individuals themselves. So, showing what sets you apart, can send all the signals to the avatars that want to work with someone just like you. This cuts through the noise, can be sanity saving and lead to a higher quality clients.
You deserve it.
Lastly, you deserve it. A branding session can be an act of affirmation of how hard you’ve worked and how far you’ve come. You are worthy of photographs of yourself that make you feel proud and confident. Branding or headshots can be a great way to get intentional about connecting to your sense of purpose and path forward. It’s also important to claim days for yourself where you can step outside of the daily grind, see your world a different way and experience something new. Oftentimes these are the spaces where we receive our greatest inspiration. In the book The 12 Week Year this practice is referred to as Breakout Blocks. Branding photo experiences can provide this much needed respite and reflection. Investing in yourself if investing in your business. You’ve worked hard to get here. So get out there and share yourself and your talents with the world with style and intention. You’ll be amazed what happens next.