1/10th of a second. I’m not talking about my favourite shutter speed here, but how long you’ve got to make a first impression. That’s how long it’s going to take for someone to take a look at your website, your Instagram account or your latest ad, and decide whether they’d like to learn more about you and what you do… or not.

This is why photography, good photography, is more important than ever. It shows potential clients that you’re serious about your business, that you’ve invested in your creative venture, and that you know that visual consistency is the best way of communicating your story. This all contributes to your audience connecting and engaging with you and your brand.

However this doesn’t mean you should rush into booking a photoshoot! Depending on what stage you’re at in your business, there are a few things that you might want to consider before reaching out to a branding photographer.

1. Think about your brand

Whether you sell services or products, whether you’re a singer-songwriter, pottery artist, furniture maker or fitness instructor… branding is essential. Branding goes way beyond your logo, it’s everything that people see and feel when they come across your business: the colours you use, the fonts on your website, the way you communicate and the tone you write in… It’s what helps communicate your why, your mission and your vision. Here are a few questions that you could ask yourself:

  • Why did you want to start your own business? 
  • What is your purpose?
  • What are your core values?
  • Who is your ideal client?
  • What makes you different than others in your industry?
  • What big goals and dreams do you have for your business?

The point of a branding photoshoot should be to reinforce your brand, so when it comes to planning a shoot, knowing your brand inside and out will help determine what direction to go in, what the images should aim to achieve and what you want people to feel when they look at them. I send a branding questionnaire to all my clients because it helps me better understand their businesses and their needs, and to make sure we’re on the same page, but doing that work before you even book a shoot will help immensely.

2. Think about the way you run your business

What activities do you do on a daily basis? Where do you get most of your work done? What does your routine look like? When they think about “branding photography”, a lot of people think about headshots, awkward, forced smiles and the discomfort of being in front of a camera… But your branding photos can (and should!) show so much more than just yourself.

For as long as I can remember I was always drawn to photography because of its “documentary power”, which is why I love capturing not only the lovely faces of small business owners, but also everything that goes on behind the scenes: their workspace, the way they work, the small trinkets on their desks, their pets… Think about everything that makes you the awesome human that you are, and how it could be incorporated into your photos. The more variety, the better!

3. Why do you need images?

Knowing what sort of images you need (and how many) is also extremely helpful – and it will most likely depend on what stage of your business you’re at. Are you just starting out and building a brand new website for which you need various types of images? Or are you wanting to give your overall online presence a refresh and use photos across all your social media accounts? Or perhaps you’re tired of constantly wondering “what sort of image should I post today?!” and you’d like to have a good selection of images at hand whenever you need them?

Landscape images work well on websites, whereas portrait images that take up more space on a phone screen do much better on Instagram and Facebook; and images with plenty of negative space allow you to place text on them more easily. It doesn’t have to be one or the other, but knowing what you’ll be using your photos for will help ensure that you get everything that you need from your branding photoshoot.

4. Finding A Photographer

This isn’t a sneaky way of saying “Me! You should work with me!” — good photography is an investment and choosing who to work with shouldn’t be a rushed decision. Not every photographer is the right person for you and your business!

  • What’s your photographer’s niche? That’s not to say you should rule out people who don’t specifically work with businesses like yours, but if someone wanted to hire me to film a time-lapse of the Milky Way for their astronomy blog, let’s just say I would feel completely out of depth and it would not be my best work. Narrowing your search down to photographers who tend to shoot portraits, lifestyle and products, or whatever kind of photography you need for your brand, will help make the process much smoother and stress-free, because they’ll have a deeper understanding of how to communicate with you and what your needs are!
  • Do you like their style and do you think it’ll suit your own brand? I wrote a little bit about visual identity and seasonal branding in a recent blog post — if your brand is very much spring-like with lots of bright, light and airy colours, you might not want to go for a moody, earthy, autumnal photographer such as me for example… and that’s absolutely fine!
  • What is your budget? This is obviously an important one — and it’ll vary from person to person. Many photographers list their full packages or give a starting price, so you should be able to easily get an idea of what you would receive and for how much. Try to think about what you do, how much you’ve invested or want to invest in yourself through marketing and education, and how much value you bring to your audience. Then ask yourself what value you’d want to get from your photographer, and whether they’ll be able to understand, see and capture all the things that make up your brand, and produce images that instantly grab the attention of your ideal clients.
  • What are their values? How do they come across? Do you connect with the way they communicate? This is sometimes overlooked, but I find it so important! You don’t just want to find someone whose style you like, you want to find someone who makes you feel at ease, who will take time to listen to you and understand your vision. Someone you can actually see yourself working with.

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