Anatomy of Your Personal brand Photography Session
Like it or not, if you have a social media account, you have a personal brand and your audience, followers, customers, tribe, friends, community, etc. will be forming impressions and opinions of you based on your digital footprint they see.
Here I am assuming that you already understand the power of a personal brand and you already know that you use images in every single thing that you do. You probably already have a defined brand of your own and have seen first hand the important role that visuals play.
This Blog post is specifically about what a personal branding photo session looks like and gives you five types of images your personal brand needs in its media library.
Let’s be clear that no two brands are exactly alike and accordingly no two personal brand photo sessions should be the same. If the resulting images look like a generic stock photo than we did something wrong. There is a sort of “anatomy” of a personal brand photo sessions, and I believe there are five types of images your personal brand needs that in many cases are both necessary & result in conversions.
1. Authentic / Styled Lifestyle Images
You need images that are authentic. This doesn’t mean that they can’t be staged but rather staging it for the authentic representation of your brand. Where people can get behind the staging in order to see the real personality that your brand is conveying. You’ve heard it 1000 times---people do business with brands that they know, like & trust.
A Personal Brand Photographer is the ideal professional for capturing your personal branding photographs. They understand how to set the scene so that you can tell your story authentically. Personal Brand uses lifestyle photography technique, as opposed to documentary photography, because although you don’t want the staging to take over, the styling is important to your overall brand story or personality.
For example, perhaps you want an image of your hands typing on your keyboard. It may not be 100% authentic if you aren’t someone who regularly gets a manicure, but perhaps in preparation for your photo session you not only get a manicure but paint your nails in one of your brand’s accent colors. Better yet, perhaps you spend most days in yoga pants + flip flops but for your Personal Branding Photography Session you opt for a more business casual look with textures and layers that photograph well.
The point is that the scene can be “styled” or staged to reflect your brand towards whatever story you want to be told. Where the authenticity comes in will be in the moments and interactions captured. Attempting to convey personality and avoiding stiff and uncomfortable posing is key to great personal brand images.
2. Up-to-Date Images
Your personal brand needs images that are up-to-date. If you are using headshot taken three years ago when your hair was red and now it’s purple, it’s definitely time for an update! But aside from the obvious physical changes that can take place, you want your brand to be relevant and current since images are used for every single thing your brand does. For that reason you want those images to be relevant & current. Recycling content works to some degree but only if you are intermixing in new content with it.
I recommend having a social media plus a marketing plan put together at least quarterly and branded images taken specifically for the stories that you want to tell throughout that plan. Anticipating what your needs will be is not an exact science which is why – in my yearly client packages – I provide ALL of the images taken from your session. You get the shots that we specifically have a plan for as well as the shots that you don’t have a clear plan for yet but that may be perfect for something that you come up with in the future.
Some personal brands that do a lot of blogging and need consistent varied images work with me monthly rather than quarterly but the concept remains the same.
3. Images that Convert
The goal is always to be putting out images that will take your ideal client (who happens to stumble upon you), to stay with you and then turn them into your raving fans. Certain types of images have proven to convert – you may even know the type that works well for your own brand. Some examples are:
Point to It – pointing at and looking to the “product” or “text” that you want your audience to pay attention to. These are great for landing pages where you are specifically pointing to the lead-generator opt-in or action that you want your visitor to take.
Backgrounds that help you or your product POP – often we think of white backgrounds as being the standard but “standard” doesn’t always stop the scroll. Sometimes a bold background is what is needed to help your post jump out in a feed of vanilla.
The Outtakes / Behind the Curtain – while we enjoy seeing beautiful images of perfect spaces ----the truth is there is a reason that traffic jams on the opposite side of the freeway after an accident. People are drawn to the mess of real life as it unfolds. Just think about the popularity of reality tv shows and it makes sense. You can draw your audience in by showing them the “real” behind the curtain. The outtakes where you didn’t realize a picture was being taken, the behind-the-scenes of what your juggling act of life looks like.
Negative Space – It is important to have some images in your media library that contain a significant amount of negative space (or white space). This is the place in your image where you can add text & graphic overlays.
4. Sizing / Cropping of Images
I don’t like to see an image that isn’t sized correctly for the platform it’s being used on and so gets cropped in a funky place or is otherwise rendered too small to really see any detail. To maximize the value of your personal branding photos, you should make sure you have images platform sized and cropped specifically for the places you plan to post them. Another example, you want your blog images to be the smallest file size possible without the loss of image quality so that they load fast on your site. You want your Facebook cover photo to be sized so that it appears great on both desktop and mobile. If Instagram is your thing you need those square 1:1 cropped images. Oh and if you love Pinterest as I do, then you want vertical images to maximize the real estate of that search engine.
5. Profile Picture
I’m not saying you have to have a formal “stiff and Smarty” studio headshot but you MUST have a good profile picture that you can use across all platforms and I believe that in most cases, for this image you should be looking directly at the camera. You want your personal brand to pull people in. When you get back to the basic goal of getting your audience to know, like & trust you, everything starts with EYE CONTACT. I think a natural inviting or friendly smile or expression is important too but eye contact is critical.
If this isn’t obvious to you or if you are totally attached to your somewhat artistic profile picture where you look fantastic but are looking off to the side a bit, really take a moment and think about it. Would you trust someone who doesn’t make eye contact with you? Maybe, but I doubt you would in the first second or two, which is all you get when it comes to first impressions on social media. So unless your personal brand personality is moody, mysterious, or ultra-dramatic, save the artistic, fun or personality infused images for your feeds and keep your profile picture one that clearly says welcome, come on it, I’m glad you found me.
Now that you know the five types of images your personal brand needs, I challenge you to comb through your existing image library and see if one or more of the five types is missing. If you would like to discuss your brand images then message me!