Using Professional Photography to define your Visual Style
No matter what type of business you are, whether that be a service or product it is really important to try and define a brand aesthetic for your business. This not only separates you from your competition but also provides a strong visual identity that will attract potential clients who identify with your aesthetic. It is a known fact that most people make buying decisions that are based on the visual information they are receiving. Creating a strong visual style to begin with also provides you a with a very clear idea of the type of images that you need to create to effectively market your business in the right way. Your visual style should also inform your logo , business cards , packaging , your personal style and your portrait/headshot … basically YOU! If you are the face of your brand this is even more important. If your potential clients can’t connect you visually with your brand, then they instantly lose confidence. Imagine if you were selling leather handmade dress shoes and potential clients only saw pictures of you in jeans and thongs. Anyway I think you get the picture. The question you really need to ask yourself is. Am I visible in my brand and if I am how do I fit in. Are my images headshots/portraits etc captured in the same visual style as that which I am trying to sell and is this also reflective of my personal style ?
Below as some suggestion to help you define a visual style and also how to use photography effectively in creating your brand identity.
A good starting point to help you define your visual identity is to start a Pinterest board of the things that you like. This doesn’t have to be restricted to images that relate directly to your product or service but rather to anything that inspires you on a personal level but also visually represents your aesthetic choices. It could be interiors, places, fashion, poetry, quotes, colour palettes, people, portraits, etc. etc. You should find that after some time you start to develop a theme or style to your choices. This in itself is a great starting point when speaking to a branding agency or other creatives in that it will give them a pretty clear picture about your visual aesthetic and should inform them on what direction you should go.
The importance of investing in professional photography when you start your brand
There are some reasons you should consider the investment.
- Primarily because you want to create the most eye-catching images that are representative of you and your brand. A lot of people often ask well cant I use stock imagery? Well yes, you can but it will not be specific to you, and there is a good chance that someone else in the same line of work is also using the same images. Remember you are trying to create a visual language that is specific to you, so you stand out. People are also often surprised by the cost of licensing stock images especially if they are of a more professional standard. I say why pay a premium to look like someone else. I well considered and well-planned photo shoot should not cost you an arm and a leg as long as you are clear about what can be achieved with your budget.
- A professional image of you on your website bio page speaks volumes. It says that you are serious about what you are doing and that you care about your business and brand and that you are well invested in it.
- There will come a time or opportunity for some publicity via other media channels. The first thing that they will ask for when running a story about you is do you have a professional photos you can send to them. Having professional photo means you wont have to sit there deliberating if the image your friend took of you behind your desk is good enough or that you have to run off to quickly have one done by your colleague. Both of these scenarios rarely lead to a favourable result.
Some basic ideas around what photography to consider
- An Office shot – this can be sitting behind your desk on your desk or somewhere in your office where you conduct the business side of things. It should be a reflection of you on how you might go to a meeting.
- At work shot – If you sell a product then this would be a shot of you with your key products, key messages in the frame. If you are a designer, it might be images of you at the drawing table or fabricating something etc
- A headshot / Portrait – This can be fairly straightforward and should capture you regarding how you see yourself in your business. It is about you and the focus should be on your face and not in your surroundings. How you express yourself in these images will definitely inform how your potential customers/clients perceive you. Make sure you are happy with the final images before you let the photographer go. A good photographer will collaborate with you through this process.
Some final thoughts
Having a clear direction and visual aesthetic means that it will be a lot easier for the photographer to help you create the images that you require. It will also mean that you best utilise the time that you have together. Planning is as important as shooting. There is nothing worse than a client that says to the photographer “can you please just take some nice pictures of me and my business“. If this is you, then take the time to define your style/brand before you invest in photography. Also, remember that the photographer is there to offer you solutions to what you are trying to achieve and this is where an experienced photographer makes the difference. They are not simply there to point a camera and click the shutter. As I said earlier the process should be collaborative and yes the photographer should also have a style that you like but you should also be able to tell them if you are not happy with something or ask for direction should you need it. Finally, think about engaging a stylist or hair and makeup if you feel that it will give you more confidence on the day of the shoot.