What is branding photography and why is it important?

March 21, 2024

Let's start with the WHAT is personal branding photography?

Personal branding photography is a collection of images that showcase you, your business and your personality. They are meant to tell the story behind your business and why you do what you do so that you can make an impression with future clients or customers. These visuals are best used through websites, newsletters, socials, ads or any sort of promotional need that helps expand your reach.

Not so long ago, getting a headshot done use to be the only real option for a business owner. Over the last few years, branding photography has relaxed its look a bit. Stiff headshots in a studio that reveal nothing of the person underneath the blazer are now… a little boring.

Enter-  personal branding photography.

With more and more people choosing the entrepreneurial path, particularly in the wellness industry, those kinds of shots just don’t work anymore. In a world where social media is a key player in gaining an audience, people need more than just headshots. They need content that really captures the soul of their business. Thus, the more laid-back, lifestyle trend was created and has been spreading ever since.

(There will probably always be fields of industry that prefer the buttoned-up look... think insurance agents and lawyers.)

But personally, as a consumer, I’m much more likely to trust my business to someone who seems more like a relatable human than a corporate robot. We all know the cliché headshot of a real estate agent in a blazer with their arms crossed in front of them. But I know some realtors who have a much more down to earth approach, their Instagram shows off their personality and interests. I am much more inclined to trust them to find my future home over someone who seems more polished and aloof.

That’s the difference between getting headshots done or commercial portraits vs investing in personal branding photography.

Personal branding photography is PERSONAL. It helps entrepreneurs connect with their audience in a more intimate, relatable way.

So WHY is it so important?

1. First Impressions matter

"First Impressions Last- This is thanks to something called the primacy effect, which means that when someone experiences something in a sequence, they remember that first thing more. If you don't leverage first impressions correctly, your customers might get the wrong idea in their head." -startblox

Not only do you want to make your first impression something that portrays the value of your business but you also want something that stands out. When a potential client comes to your website or even your Instagram, you want their first impression to match your mission. So if you are a yoga instructor, you might want the feeling to be of health, peace and spirituality. If you're an online clothing boutique you might want the feeling to be of vibrancy, playfulness and trendiness. And how do you convey those feelings? Mainly through the visuals. Good visuals that can accurately capture those vibes.

2. Brand consistency

Beautiful and consistent content helps clients recognize and trust in your brand. Brand recognition is a concept used in marketing, basically meaning that everything you put out under the umbrella of your business should have a similar flow and design. If you use this design effectively, consumers can tell it's you without even seeing the business name. You're imprinted in their minds and that is what will keep that coming back to you. As long as they trust in your brand.

Trust is a big word. Earning trust from your clients may start with a solid first impression but then gains weight through building confidence with them. The more you show up and deliver what you promised you would, the more you'll earn that trust. Which turns into a true connection.

3. Perceived Value

First impressions, trust, consistency all form the base for the perceived value of your brand. If you have a business that is inconsistent, has poor quality images (clearly taken on a phone) and the design seems all over the place, then most likely people will see the value as being pretty low. And will likely not use you.

I know that's happened to me where I was in need of a service and was scrolling online looking for the right business to use and found websites that looked awful. It put me off wanting to use them... tbh I am a bit of a photo snob so if I see poor quality images, there's a high chance I'll go with someone else. But humans are visual beings so I don't think I'm alone in feeling that way.

4. Connection

I covered this a bit when talking about what brand photography is. Creating a connection with your audience is essentially marketing. Nurturing a relationship with past, present and future clients is one of the most impactful ways you can expand your business.

Whether you are relying on organic marketing or strategic ads to get your name out there, you need good imagery and a cohesive vision.

When you are actively running ads and putting out consistent marketing material, it becomes apparent fast that you need good visuals. Stock photos only get you so far. You need those images that capture you and why people should want to work with you.

Then, you have word of mouth, testimonials and referrals that are all organic ways to grow your brand. And how do you leave such a good impression on your clients that they tell everyone they know about you? Well, by doing a good job and treating them with respect for one. But being consistent, building trust, giving a good first impression and showing how much YOU value your brand is another... and all these things should be happening before they even book/hire/buy with you. You're creating that connection before you even work with them.

Good quality images are a huge part of that. Images of you, your family, your dog, your work space, your routine, hobbies, interests, etc. All these pieces come together to make up who you are as a human and why (the right people) should want to work with you.

But at the end of the day, connection isn't just about bringing in more business. It's about creating something authentic that can you can build on. Like communities, relationships and make a difference in people's lives.

5. Good images tell your brands story and convey emotion

Here's where the pros kick the amateurs ass! Professional, good quality images can convey emotion if you invest in the right photographer. You can actually feel something when you're looking at these images (whether it's joy, inspiration, peace) you can feel the message a brand is trying to project. It's pretty difficult to get that from your cousin who thinks they're a photographer because they do a newborn shoot once every 6 months.

I understand how investing in yourself and your business can be scary (I'm an entrepreneur too, so believe me I get it). But if you thoughtfully use the images that you take from hiring a professional, then you should more than be able to make that money back. These images are what build that bridge of connection, that breaths color and life into your business for potential clients.

Don't get me wrong, there's a lot of factors at play here when you're just starting a business. There are important decisions/actions to take before you even get to the photography step. But impactful photography really is an important piece. If you find the right photographer that fits your style, of course! Which is a whole other conversation.

Humans are such interesting beings. The way our brain latches to things and takes in information is hard to fully comprehend. It's one of the things that makes us so complex. I think that's why we gravitate towards things that we can relate to or that feel meaningful.

In my years of experience, the most profound way I've see people run their business, is by being open, honest and genuine. Putting the focus more on how best to serve others rather than themselves. Then, not only will you have a business that grows but one that makes a true impact in people's lives.