Here at Braid, we obviously appreciate good branding – from articulate messaging to a consistent look & feel. Brand “polish” happens when your typography, layout, and color themes are consistent across platforms – and one of the biggest opportunities you have in making an impactful first impression is cohesive brand photography.
Branded photography can help set the tone and make a good first impression – and it can reassure and build trust with your potential customers because you’re showing them what they can expect when they hire or buy from you.
In this article we’re going to cover the basics of what you need to know when it comes to creating and utilizing your own brand photography.
I know, I know! Just the words “stock photography” conjure up images of very happy and very white middle-aged couples walking along the beach with a glass of wine in hand. But trust, stock photography has come a long way and with a curatorial eye you can find beautiful and diverse imagery that sets the tone for your brand.
In the brand platforms we create for our clients we always start with stock photography and we have a few secrets to making it look a little more custom – including creative cropping and color adjustments. These subtle shifts not only make stock from different sources look consistent to each other, but it brings cohesion to the whole brand. However, even with great stock photography resources available, we always recommend a custom branded photoshoot to use in tandem or in place of stock.
Custom Brand Photography
Custom photography will take your brand to the next level. It not only elevates the look and feel of your branding but it inspires a new level of trust in your dream client. It gives them an idea of what to expect from you and your business along with the confidence to move forward … branded photography proves that you are a legitimate and real business!
Here is an example of a photo from our last brand photoshoot. It features our creative director and graphic designer in our airy open office space that is filled with vintage wicker furniture, hanging plants, cacti, and our infamous chalkboard wall that helps us manifest and keep track of our client workload.
Ideally, you’ll be able to hire a professional photographer to capture these branded pictures for you – but we won’t judge if you have to DIY it with your iPhone in portrait mode!
Here is a general shot list we always recommend for our clients when they’re working with us:
Headshots: If you are a service-based business, like a consultant, coach, designer, or developer, we recommend including images of yourself and any members on your team on your website. We suggest a mix of traditional headshots alongside more candid snaps to capture your personality. But even if you don’t have a personal brand don’t shy away from making an appearance with your image. People buy from people and seeing a human face behind the business is always reassuring!
Working and behind-the-scenes shots: What is it that you’re doing all day? Are you working on your laptop from a coffee shop? Video conferencing with clients from all over the world? Are you an interior designer that is pulling together moodboards or doing furniture and art installations? However it is you work capture snaps of what you do.
Lifestyle vignettes: if you have an office space capture little vignettes of day-to-day details. Here at Braid that means we got snaps of the bottles of Topo Chico and succulents that fill our office. This might also include snaps of your signage or logo as it appears in real life.
Deliverables and product: if you are a maker or have a physical product show us what you have to sell! This is your portfolio of work – show it off! Share what your work looks like in your space and in your clients’ space. If your work lends itself to befores & afters share those too!
Here are a few more pro-tips when it comes to branded photography:
- Hire a professional photographer. Ask your friends or colleagues for a recommendation. Take a look at portfolios and what your budget will afford to decide who will be best for you!
- Consider hiring a makeup artist, wardrobe stylist, and on-set art director / stylist. If that sounds overwhelming ask your photographer if they have a team they regularly work with – sometimes they’ll even wrap the cost of subcontractors into their total fee for a more turnkey experience.
- Create a moodboard – get on Pinterest and start pinning headshots, working shots, vignettes, and portfolios that you like the look and feel of. Share these with your photographer and have a conversation about what you like and don’t like.
- Create a shot list of must-haves – there’s nothing worse than ending a photoshoot and realizing you didn’t capture an essential shot you need to really show how your process or product works. Get yourself a clipboard, print off a shot list, and make sure you’re checking off those image requirements as you go!
- Expect 1-2 GREAT images per hour of photoshoot – I know it doesn’t sound like a lot when a photo only take a second to snap but you can expect to get one to two “hero” images per hour of shooting. So if you’re needing 8-10 branded images block off 4-6 hours of a photoshoot to ensure you have enough time to capture what you’re wanting.
- Think about photo orientation – try to capture a mix of close up, medium, and wide shots that will work horizontal, vertical and square – this way you can populate all the places your brand shows up with the appropriate snap.
- Shoot for the mood – Some photos might call for an angle with a depth of field that will give your photos some environmental dreaminess. Some images may require everything straight on and in-focus for clarity. Lighting and shadows (or lack thereof) can also affect the overall look and feel!
- Update your branded photos! How often should you update your brand photography? It depends! If you’re a retailer you might want a photographer on retainer to come in every week or two to get snaps of your product and merchandising. If you’re an online business with a strong personal brand you may want a photoshoot every month or two. If you’re a growing company with a lot to share, a quarterly shoot might be best. For most of us, it’s enough to update your brand photography anytime there are big milestones in your business – from changing your work space to hiring new employees. We think a professional shoot at least every 1-2 years will suffice.
Here is a PDF download of a shot list template to get you started on your next shoot! It also includes a to-do list leading up to your photoshoot!
DOWNLOAD THE BRAND PHOTOSHOOT CHECKLIST – NO EMAIL REQUIRED!
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