Once you’ve read all our brand photography tips, you’ll be ready for a successful shoot, and a bank of high quality branding images to use across your online and printed marketing.
What is brand photography?
Brand photography is the suite of bespoke images used to represent companies and form clear visual identities for marketing materials.
It includes all your product photos, team headshots, social media and blog images and every picture you use for digital or print media - but only if they’re unique to you.
Lots of businesses make use of stock photography instead, which is where you use licensed pictures from a library to represent your brand instead.
That can be fine for a while, but it’s hard to make a visual impact using a bank of generic photos that anyone can use.
But getting a professional brand photographer means that you’ll get a selection of unique pictures. They can help you shape that image library to the styles, settings and even colours that suit your brand.
Why is branding photography important?
The world has never been more visual. It’s well known that the pictures on your website can be the difference between a visitor clicking straight back to Google and staying to read on.
But did you know that even in social media, posts with pictures or visual media are much more likely to be shared?
Having the right photos makes such a huge impact, as it sets the tone and character of your whole business offering.
Are you sophisticated and stylish? Professional and accomplished? Approachable and affordable? Your pictures can make it clear without anyone having to read a single word.
But why can’t you just use stock photography? Well, of course you can! But there are a few big problems with using stock.
Firstly, it’s usually pretty obvious. Unfortunately, stock photography libraries are full of images that are very clearly staged. Nothing says “small” like an obviously stock photo.
Secondly, it can be hard to find something specific. If your work is in a niche area, you might struggle to find the perfect picture.
That often leads to people having to use more generic photos instead of something relevant to their industry. It immediately waters down the messaging, and makes it more obvious you’re using stock.
Thirdly, there’s no real connection. Stock photography is designed to be generic. If you are trying to create messaging with your imagery, it’s really difficult to do with stock.
Lastly, there’s nothing to stop someone else using the exact same photo. Or photos using the exact same models. And it’s pretty hard to stand out in a market where everything looks eerily similar.
What makes a great brand photo?
The best thing about brand photography is that it’s unique to you and your business. But how can you be sure you’ll get fantastic photos?
The first step is to create a short brief. This will help you set out what you’re trying to achieve.
In your brief you should think about:
Where you’re planning to use your pictures. Are they for your website, social media, blog posts, brochures, adverts - or all of the above?
What type of photos you need. Do you need team headshots, personal brand photos, product pictures, office images?
Who you’re trying to appeal to.
What sort of messaging you want to show in your photos. Do you want a highly professional or an informal style? Do you want to be abstract?
Once you’ve got an idea of what you need, the next step is to find a personal branding photographer.
They will not only take the shots you need, but they’ll be able to help you organise and plan the shoot to make sure that you’re getting exactly what you need.
And planning the shoot is really, really important.
If you hire a brand photographer, they won’t just rock up to your offices with a camera. They’ll come armed with a plan so that they can get all the shots you need.
And on your end of things, it is really helpful to make sure you’ve got your offices and team ready and prepared for your personal brand photo shoot.
That means that anyone who’s going to be in the pictures has the right wardrobe and look.
It means that the space itself is clean, tidy and looking right for any office shots.
It means that any props, products or backdrops are set up and ready to go.
With a good brief and a great photographer, you’ll have everything you need to plan a really successful brand photoshoot.
Types of branding photography (with examples)
Brand photos come in a range of types and styles. It can be really helpful to familiarise yourself with some of the different photographic styles before making any decisions on your own personal branding photography.
Headshots, or brand portrait photography, is probably the most obvious type of personal brand photography.
A lot of people get professional headshots for adverts, websites and even email signatures, even if they use stock for everything else.
Headshots are usually team profile photos. Often they’re simply a shoulders-up portrait of a staff member. However, you can always get more creative if it suits your style - and your photographer can help you with that.
Having team profile pictures done professionally ensures that you’re using the same style for everyone.
It’s always painful to see an About page on a website with a random assortment of photo types - especially as there’s always at least one that was taken on a phone in the pub!
When you’re planning headshots, it can often be a good plan to make a full list of people you need and the order you need them in - much like you would for group photos during a wedding.
This will speed things up no end, and lets your team know exactly when they’ll be needed.
Lots of people imagine the product photography is always the same - but in fact, nothing could be further from the truth!
Product photos require a unique approach, and it’s really important that you think carefully before making any choices about style.
Should your products be pictures in situ, or isolated? Should they be on a white, black or colour background? Will photos be straight on or at an angle?
There’s actually a lot to think about - and you need to establish that style before you start snapping!
Not everyone has products to sell, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t think about branded photography.
Lots of people like to use shots of their offices, and their team hard at work in meetings or even with clients as part of their brand photography library.
These are the sorts of images you can find lots of on stock websites, but you can usually spot them a mile away.
There’s a mathematical balance of people, often someone looking straight down the camera, the papers are either blank or have a clearly fake graph on them, and there’s just a slight air of cheesiness to the whole thing.
But if you take these workspace photos in your own office, with your own staff, you can create the style and ambience you’re looking for whilst also keeping it authentic.
Remember that workspace photos can be really varied, you can choose whether you want to focus on details or have a nice wide shot of the space, or whether you want staff and customers to be part of the picture too.
Of course corporate imagery doesn’t always need to be about you! A lot of the time you want your branded material to show customers or clients.
Again, these are a lot of these types of photos readily available on stock libraries, and as always the challenge is to avoid the cheese.
Of course if you’re getting bespoke branded photography done, then it’s easy to capture images that feel authentic and real - even if they do take a bit of staging!
The key to good lifestyle pictures is to make sure you have a really good range of them, with lots of different people doing different things in a variety of types of shot.
These shoots really do benefit from a photographer’s eye, as they’ll be able to create a diverse range of options for you, so you aren’t creating a site with the same photos 12 times over, just with a different person in each of them, or a range of styles but with the same subject.
A great photographer will also know how to make these shots look candid, not staged, keeping that really naturalistic feel.
Abstract brand photography is always lots of fun, but very difficult to get right. Where most corporate or brand photography focuses on the big picture, abstract photography looks at the details.
Abstract images allow you to show, not tell. It’s a nice way to create an atmosphere, whether that’s about luxury, relaxation or professionalism.
But remember that cheesiness we were talking about in stock photography - because when you are using abstract imagery you’re always walking a very fine line between creative and cheddary.
A nice way to minimise that is by coming in to close focus on those elements that tell your story. And it’s a great way to bring more variation into your photography library too.
Personal brand photography
There’s also a style of branded photos that is more suited to entrepreneurs and small business owners than companies, and that’s personal branding photography.
This is usually a series of photos based around one individual, using the founder’s own personal brand to promote the organisation as a whole.
A personal branding photography session is a fine blend of corporate and lifestyle shots, mainly portraits of the subject at work and/or at home.
They’re wonderful if you’re trying to build a personal brand, but if you plan to grow and expand your business, this style of photo can become a bit of a problem, as you’re essentially marketing yourself as the entire business.
That can get tricky when you’re trying to expand, as every potential client is going to be expecting to see you, not one of your team.
What happens in a branding photo shoot?
You and your brand photographer will have prepared for your photoshoot by putting together a list of scenarios, locations and props during your planning.
You’ll also have a timetable of shots to work through, which will enable you to get all the different types of photo you need.
By having a plan in place, and a great photographer, you can feel comfortable and relax in front of the camera, knowing that everything’s in hand.
It’s really important to make sure that everyone who’s going to be part of the shoot is readily available. There’s nothing more likely to slow the project down than people not being ready when you need them.
By planning the day in advance, it will be much easier to keep everyone on track. And by the end of the shoot, you will have a fantastic bank of brand photos for your organisation.
Getting started with brand photography
Brand photography is what makes a company stand out from all the others using stock photos, employee-provided images and case study pics from someone’s phone.
It provides the big visual impact you need, but with authenticity.
Nothing inspires more trust than being able to see you and your team in your actual office, doing actual work.
And, now you’re an expert on personal brand photography and professional brand photos, you’ll know exactly what to ask for and expect from your photographer too!
If you want to find out more about my personal branding photography pricing or packages, please get in touch!
I've been photographing weddings for over 15 years now, and I still think I've got the best job in the world. I feel so honoured that couples put their trust in me to capture their special day.
When Janie Coney from own your style asked me to be a guest on her podcast naturally I jumped at the opportunity. Our paths had crossed a number of times and I resonated with her as she hold the same values and knowledge as I do in personal branding .