What exactly is personal branding? And why is it so important for bloggers? Lucy Down, brand designer and personal branding photographer at Fresh Leaf Creative, explains why personal branding is so much more than headshots…
What is personal branding?
Personal brand photography is so much more than a headshot; it’s a collection of images that showcase your personality, talents, tools and the little details that make your brand unique. If you imagine a beautiful wedding album telling the story and details of a big day, but switch the wedding for a brand, you’ve probably just about got the idea.
It’s also about capturing YOU as the figurehead of your business with the aim of helping you to connect more easily with your customers or followers. By showing a more personal side to your business you’ll quickly build trust and, ultimately, increase your engagement. What’s not to love?!
Why is it important for bloggers?
In a social media led world, where we have 7-seconds to make an impression before people click on, it’s important to stand out. For every person doing social media really well, there is another doing it badly. Poorly lit, ill-composed photographs and selfies don’t scream professionalism and it’s really important to stand out… for the right reasons rather than the wrong ones.
For bloggers, it’s even more important. If you don’t have another product or service you’re offering, then YOU ARE YOUR BRAND, and people want to see who they’re engaging with. It’s vital to be visible so that you can connect with your dream audience.
What aspects of personal branding should bloggers focus on?
A personal branding shoot is a chance to show different aspects of your brand and personality, so I’d focus on creating variety in the time you have with your photographer.
Think about images of you at work and of you at rest, in addition to environmental and detail/storytelling images.
At my sessions I always capture a number of the more ‘traditional headshots’ but my clients find that their storytelling shots are some of the most versatile ones that we capture together.
The fact is, you can’t build a social media page around images of you smiling at camera alone, it just doesn’t work. Layer it up! Detail shots such as your tools of the trade are just screaming to be captured.
What should a blogger consider when choosing a photo for their headshot (on their blog and social media profiles)?
First and foremost you need to consider your audience and what they’ll be attracted to, but it needs to be considered alongside your brand aesthetic – hopefully these should be in sync if you’ve got your branding right.
Maybe you need to show that you are fun and energetic, in which case a bubbly, smiling shot will work a treat. Or maybe your audience demands something cool and edgy, or quiet and thoughtful.
Once you know the look you’re after, you can view your images with an unbiased eye and see what feelings each shot evokes.
If in doubt, ask your followers – give them a selection of images to choose from and see what they pick. Eb did exactly this when selecting her bio image from our first shoot together. If you follow this method, it goes without saying that you need to love all of the images that you put forward for votes – you might be surprised what gets picked and you don’t want any surprises!
Another thing to consider is seasonality. Many of my clients come to me a couple of times a year to refresh their images with the season, but if you’re picking just one image, make sure its as timeless as possible. Woolly hats and winter coats look out of place in June, as do summer dresses in December.
How else should bloggers use headshots / personal branding photographs?
The possibilities here are endless – your website, social media accounts, subscriber emails, media kits, look books, price lists, print and marketing collateral and third-party magazines/websites to name just a few.
The beauty of personal branding is that no matter what the requirement, you are sure to have an image fit for the job – it’s no longer necessary to keep rolling out that ONE headshot image you have from back in 2017!
What are the advantages of professional photographs vs doing your own?
Where do I start?
A good photographer will choose the most flattering angles for each person, will find the very best light and will work each set-up quickly to create a wide variety of images for you.
Choosing a professional photographer will also result in more natural shots – the rapport you have together will create infinitely more natural images than any set ups you can create at home with a tripod. Plus it means you can concentrate on looking your best, enjoying the shoot and not worrying about the technical aspects of the photo.
….yes, I DID say ‘enjoying’ the shoot. Because, if you select the right photographer I can promise you that you’ll have a blast, even if you’d rather pull teeth than have your photo taken. But more on that next.
How should a blogger go about choosing the right photographer for the job?
First hit Instagram and Google and do some research – draw up a list of potential photographers serving your area offering ‘personal brand photography’ or ‘brand photography’.
Then consider the following:
We photographers all use similar kit but the settings we choose and the editing style we favour marks us apart in style – from “light & airy” to “dark & dramatic” and everything in-between. Narrow down your choices based on what style complements your brand aesthetic most closely. Then reach out to your shortlist to request their media kits.
When you read their media kit, are you excited about working with them and about their shooting style? Do they sound excited about your brand? It’s important that you get on and have a connection – trust your gut instinct! Most personal brand photographers will want to chat over the phone or a coffee to make sure you’re a good fit for one another. It is, after all, a two way process.
Obviously, this plays a part. This is more than just a headshot and the investment reflects that – You can expect to pay anywhere from £350-£1200 for personal brand photography.
Describe a typical brand photography experience with Fresh Leaf Creative?
It all starts with a rather civilised cuppa over which I get to know your story and hopes & dreams for your business. We’ll talk about what you’ll be using the images for and I’ll want to get an idea of your target customer/audience to get my creative juices flowing.
We’ll also collaborate on Pinterest – it’s my weapon of choice for quickly grasping your brand look and feel!
Next comes the fun part of planning – locations, props & clothes! Most clients enjoy this part because you get to invest in a few new treats for the wardrobe as well as some carefully selected props to incorporate your brand colours oh so subtly. Location wise, it’s important that we tailor location to the look you’re after. Think farmhouse shabby chic vs Scandi minimalism – it’s important to pick somewhere sympathetic to your brand.
The day of the shoot itself starts with hair and makeup to make you feel completely fabulous, before we meet at our first location to start shooting. Depending on which shoot package you select, we’ll move on to between 1 and 3 other locations during the time to give you lots of variety. I can promise you, you’ll love the experience even if you have an aversion to being photographed. Just think of it as a day out with a friend who happens to have a camera in hand.
Shortly after your shoot you’ll be rewarded with a preview slideshow, followed soon after by your full gallery of images to download. You can then enjoy planning out your content, media posts, marketing collateral and media kits bursting with your beautiful new images.
How can bloggers contact you if they’d like to book a brand photography session with Fresh Leaf Creative?
You can find out more information about my brand photography and brand design services at www.freshleafcreative.co.uk.
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