Picture-Perfect Partnership: How to Find the Ideal Brand Photographer for Your Small Business
Your brand images offer the biggest and best opportunity for you to show off what it is that makes you and your small business unique. If you want to stand out online (don't we all?!) and show your audience what sets you apart you need to show up in your photos. Along with a strong brand strategy and identity, your brand photos will play a big role in your online marketing, and give your future clients and customers a strong impression of who you are, what it's like to work with you, and why the should choose your products or services.
What is brand photography- and how is brand photography different from headshot photography?
Brand photography tells the story of your business: who you are, what you do, how you do it and what's important to you.
If you prefer a dictionary definition, it's probably something along the lines of: "Brand photography is the art of creating visually compelling images that represent a small business's brand identity, values, and products or services."
Headshots are focused solely on an image of a person: they tend to be formal and professional, posed and with neutral backdrops- they offer a visual representation of their subject but not what they do.
Brand photos typically include a couple of headshots, but tell a much more complete story of the person, the brand and the business as a whole. They incorporate all of the elements that make up what you do and how you do it: your process, behind the scenes, tools, workspace, values, style, approach and personality. Often they will also include things like hobbies and interests, back story and 'real life' elements as well, painting the complete picture of a business and the person who runs it.
Why is it important to choose the right brand photographer?
Strong, on brand images are a huge asset to your business- and can play a big role in helping you to build a strong, unique and well known brand and to grow your small business.
Brand images that don’t reflect your business have the opposite affect. If your images don’t help set you apart, or share your brand personality, approach and values they can actually do you a lot of harm. Aside from not working for you the way brand images should, they can also misrepresent your business and tell your audience all the wrong things about what you stand for.
Finding the right brand photographer who will create effective brand images for your business is an important task. It’s not as easy as looking at a photographers portfolio and going "those look like professional photos, I think I’ll book them".
If you want a portfolio of photos that are unique, well suited to your brand and that you love- you need to make sure you choose a photographer whose approach and style suit you and your business. Those two things are just as important as the finished photos! If you can't relax around your photographer, and be yourself in front of their camera, you won't be happy with the results.
Here are my top three tips for finding the right brand photographer for your business:
1) Find a brand photographer who actually specializes in brand photography
With brand photography there’s a lot more to it then simply knowing your way around a camera. There is a lot of necessary prep work, a number of additional considerations to account for, and a different knowledge and approach needed for brand photoshoots than there are for portrait work or weddings or even commercial shoots.
Recently a lot of photographers have added brand photography to their list of services on their website- "Hey, I do this now too!" but very few of them can say they actually specialize in this area: and by that I mean have the background, education and/or experience, and the portfolio of work that shows they understand branding from a strategic standpoint and not just a visual one.
They might have a page or small section of their website dedicated to this kind of work, but when you look at their portfolio you might not actually see much (or any) brand work in there. Do they have a separate approach to this kind of work? Do they have any experience with it? Have they put any time and effort into brand-specific training?
This is not to say that photographers who do more than one type of work can’t create great brand images, but simply to be mindful that the photographer you choose does actually have experience specific to this type of photography and will take the time to get to know your brand ahead of your session. This is probably not the time to book someone who has decided to pick up brand photography on a whim, or to keep them busy during the winter.
2) Find a brand photographer who does their homework
Speaking of research and planning… a huge part of my job as a brand photographer is getting to know the businesses I work with. More than half of the total hours I put into creating a portfolio of brand images are put in before my camera comes out. And the brand photographer you choose should do the same.
A good brand photographer does their homework before the photoshoot, taking the time to get to know your brand personality, style, approach, values and process. If you are unsure about any of these things, or it's been a while since you revisited them, find a brand photographer who also offers brand strategy (that's me!). If you don't have a strong feel for who you are as a brand, it's difficult to create brand photos that will effectively communicate your message.
Additionally, you should have a strategy in place for your content and an idea for how you want to use your photos. What are your content pillars? What kinds of photos do you wish you had? What kind of content is your audience most engaged with? A content strategy will help you get the most out of your shoot- and also out of using your images effectively afterwards. Not sure on this? More on help with content strategy here.
Future goals are also something worth thinking about ahead of your session- you know where things are at with your business now, but where do you want it to go next? Chat this through with your photographer so they can help you to create images that are in line with your business goals.
When it comes to planning your brand shoot itself, a lot more goes into it than just picking a time, date and location. Your photographer should work with you to determine the location(s) that best suit your brand, the props or materials you might want to include, whether other people might need to be involved in the shoot, what to wear to make the most out of your session and any other details specific to you and what you do. You don't need to have a 'shot list' per-say (especially if you're looking for a more relaxed, modern shoot!) but you want to have a plan in place so you achieve everything you're hoping for.
3) Find a brand photographer who “gets” what you do- and who you’ll feel comfortable working with
Every photographer will have their own style and approach, and their own niche that they work in. Some may be more traditional in the style, doing a lot of setup and posed shots whereas others may offer a more modern, candid approach. One photographer might work mostly in the corporate sector, where another might work primarily with creatives.
Think carefully about what you’re looking for, who your target audience is, and what kind of message you want to get across to your audience. From there, seek out a photographer whose work reflects what you’re looking for. There’s no right or wrong style of photography here- photography, like any art form, is subjective- but there will be right (and wrong) photographers for your brand.
Also- think about what kind of experience you want to have
Don’t forget to give some consideration to the experience you hope to have as well, because how you feel in the lead up to and during your session is an important part of the process. Yes- it’s important to choose a photographer who creates photos that you love. But if you can’t relax and just be yourself while working with your photographer- chances are you’re not going to love the end result. For example: if you’re shy in front of the camera or don’t love being the centre of attention, don’t choose a photographer who will spend the session putting you into formal poses. Instead, look for someone who is friendly and chatty to help you feel at ease, and who shoots in a more natural style.
Take a look at the photographers you are interested in on social media, and you’ll get a better idea of what they might be like to work with- from the types of content they post to the way they write- and take a peek at their stories too to get an idea of their personality. It can be difficult to “get to know” someone through a website but the more casual content on social media can give a lot more insight into their style and approach.
Setting a Budget: how much does Brand Photography cost?
Choosing the right brand photographer will make all the difference with your photos- and your photos are one of the most important investments you’ll make when it comes to branding your small business.
As with anything, there’s a range of prices for brand photography and it can be a bit of a minefield trying to figure it out. As a general rule of thumb- the more experienced and established the photographer, the higher the cost. At the higher end of the spectrum you have photographers who have been doing what they do for a while and are well known in their industry, and at the lower end you get those just starting out or still learning.
You might also find that those who specialize in corporate work with bigger companies will be more expensive than those who work with small businesses- big companies have big advertising budgets and usually the cost of setting up those type of shoots will be higher as well (ie. hiring professional models, hiring a space, additional equipment and lighting, etc).
Everyone has a budget, and its a good idea to take a look at the prices in your area to get an idea of what you’ll need to invest before you set your budget- rather than just pulling a number out of thin air. After you look for a photographer who ticks those above three boxes, you should have a shortlist and can get a better idea of prices from there.
LOCAL RATES: how much does Brand Photography cost in Scotland?
Like anywhere, you'll find a range of prices for brand photographers in Glasgow, Edinburgh and across Scotland. You may find someone just starting out or looking to build a portfolio who is willing to do a brand shoot for just a couple of hundred pounds, and you'll find those who specialize in working with larger, more established businesses charging in the thousands.
Most brand photographers who specialize in working with small businesses, freelancers, and entrepreneurs are in the middle of that price range. If you are looking for an experienced photography who specializes in brand work, you can expect to pay between £500 and £1000 for a brand photoshoot in Scotland.
that is a big investment for a small business- but it will pay off and it is worth it. I think the reasons why are a topic for another blog post, (along with why it costs what it does). In short: when you invest in your business, it shows. How can we expect people to invest in us, by buying our products and services, if we don't have the confidence to invest in ourselves?
Booking your Brand Photographer
Most brand photographers will be happy to set up a complimentary consultation call or meeting to chat in more detail about you and your business and make sure you're a good fit. Once you get to know them a little bit, you'll have a better idea if they are suited to your business and if they are the type of photographer you will feel comfortable working with.
If you take these things into consideration when searching for a brand photographer I have no doubt in my mind you’ll find the right one!
If you'd like to know more about what it's like to work with me, visit my brand photography page here.
If you're looking for a brand photographer in Glasgow, Edinburgh or Ayrshire- or anywhere in Scotland really, I LOVE a road trip!) I would love to hear more about what you do. You can find out more about me and set up your 'let's see if we're a good fit' call here.