What is Personal Branding Photography?
Building a personal brand is something we should all be thinking about. Social media allows potential clients to cast quick and ruthless first impressions. So how exactly can an image affect your personal branding?
Whether you love looking at photos of yourself or not, you have to accept that you are the face of your own personal brand. Personal branding includes how you present yourself, conduct your manners, how you speak, and of course: how you act and present yourself and business online.
What Makes You, You?
We have all heard that Dr Seuss quote: “Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.” While this might just be a couple of lines from a children’s story, it resinates with us when we think about our personal brand.
Think about it. If you are a shyer individual, keep to yourself, buckle down and get the work done, would you want your personal brand to tell the world how outgoing, bubbly and outwardly enthusiastic you are? Particularly if you are offering a service (especially a face-to-face service), your clients will use your brand to make a judgement and assumption about you. If they meet you, and find that your brand reflected you incorrectly, it can create distrust. What are you hiding? Why are you putting on a different persona?
I’ll use myself as an example. My headshot is fairly reserved. I’m sitting, quietly, smiling quietly, engaging with the camera. I recently had someone that I should update it – be a bit more enthusiastic. I tried this. So I took a tonne of really awful, fake, horrible and unreflective photos of myself. They all felt like a lie. They did not reflect how people would meet me. So I decided, I like my headshot, I like what it reflects. I’m not a loud person, I’m not at the centre of the room – and I have never wanted to be.
I wanted my headshot to reflect my qualities, not someone else’s qualities, and not what people expect me to be. This is an important acknowledgement to make. Your photograph needs to reflect your branding – your branding needs to reflect you. Use your voice, show your passions, and be you.
What Is Your Brand?
So we know that a social blogger and a lawyer are not going to have the same branding. Every person and brand has something they want to say through their images of themselves, and it comes from your personality but also needs to reflect on your profession. So it is time to start seriously considering what sort of images will reflect your brand:
– Where will you use your images?
– What are you trying to sell about yourself?
– How do you portray yourself when you interact with clients?
– How will your headshots work with other content you have/are creating?
For your headshot or portrait, you can use your other branding as a starting point. Think about the colours in your logo and on your website. Have a look at what other imagery you are using on social media. Find inspiration on Pinterest or Google Images.
Also consider what expectation there is of you. If you are a lawyer, do you think your clientele would want to see you in a certain way? Would they look past you if you are wearing casual attire, or do you need to dress up a bit more?
A social blogger might benefit having their photograph with props or in a particular location. Different blogs might associate with pets, being in their kitchen, outside their home, with their children. Props and setting can be a great way to link back to a business, and can give a little context that further connects to a personal brand.
It is important to discuss all these points and considerations with your photographer before your branding photography session. It is important to make sure you are both on the same page to get some kick-ass branding shots that will push you above your competition. You can book a cheap ‘on-demand’ photographer, or grab a friend to take your photograph, but a great photographer will work with you to unlock and research your brand, coach and direct you during the shoot, and follow it all up with polished post-production to bring it all together.