If you take pictures of other people, chances are you won’t have many pictures of yourself. It will help build trust and reliability with your customers if you show up on your social media, so be brave and get on the other side of the camera. Capturing personal branding photos for your photography business is a strategy that will pay off in more ways than one.
However, it can be difficult to plan the content in advance. How do you know what photos you will need? With a little preparation, you will always have plenty of photos on hand.
Plan the personal brand assets you need
Batch content production is a huge time saver for your photo business. When I work with clients to plan content in advance, I work in three stages.
Step 1: Create (or revise) your branding script
A brand script simplifies all communications with your customers by clarifying your message and unique offering. It’s not a script in the sense of a movie script (meaning it’s not lines to memorize!) but rather a system based on age-old principles of storytelling. It positions you as the guide on your client’s “hero’s journey.”
If you don’t have a brand script, all I can say is: create one! It’s an incredibly useful asset to your business. The concept comes from Donald Miller and he created an awesome (and free!) online tool to use to create your script here.
You’ll need his book, “Building a Story Brand”, to go into great detail on how to use your script in your marketing, website, etc., but for our purposes we want to identify “stories” that connect to your ideal customer. . You can also work with someone (like me) who creates brand scripts for creatives, if the DIY approach isn’t for you.
Think about what your customer wants when they come to you. What problems do you solve? What worries do you soothe? What is the origin story of your empathy with your client’s plight? Use it to brainstorm topic ideas that will resonate and interest your clients enough to keep them coming back to your content (and ultimately booking your services).
Step 2: Plan your content calendar
Now that you know what you’re going to talk about, the next step is to plan where and how often you’re going to talk about it. Create a list of all the content you need to:
- social media
- Blog posts
- Advertising by e-mail
- Print and online ads
- Online directories
- Google My Business
Determine how often you want to post on each platform, how many images you need for each post, and block out topic ideas for your brand script.
Plan to intersperse your personal brand photos with content from client photo shoots. You’ll find the right combination for your ideal client, but you can start with one personal brand post for three or four client posts. You can (and should) still use your brand script ideas for posts featuring customer photos.
There are online tools for planning a content calendar: My favorite is Trello. The Kanban board view is ideal for most cases, and with a paid subscription, you can use the other views to find what works best for you. If you use Trello as your CRM, it will be even easier to integrate client work sharing into your calendar. With Trello’s integrations, automations, and buttons, the sky’s the limit. Social media schedulers can also help by uploading posts in advance.
Step 3: Break it all down into a list of photos for your photoshoot
Zoom out to get an overview of everything you’ve done. How can you group photos into photoshoots or locations? Which essential shots need to be captured and which subjects are more flexible?
At this stage, you don’t need to go crazy with details or be overly prescriptive. A list of two hundred exact photos will be a pain to capture, compared to 10-20 essentials and some general location/action/emotion ideas.
Once you know what you need, your next task is to organize yourself to get it!
Arrange a swap photo session with another photographer
Doing a swap session with another photographer is a great way to get both of you the assets you need for your business. Depending on your promotional needs, you can do annual, semi-annual or quarterly photo shoots.
Some things to discuss when planning your swap shots are:
- How long will the shoot be, e.g. 1 hour, 2 hours, etc. ? Can you go to more than one location?
- Will you take RAW or JPG?
- Who will edit the photos: you, or your friend? Consider whether the changes will be brand appropriate for the end user. For example, if your signature edit is quite stylized, you’ll want to edit your personal branding photos to match that style.
- Will you get the unedited or just edited RAW photos?
- Will the photos be deleted or will you get the whole thing? How many photos are you going to give yourself?
There is no right or wrong, just be sure to agree in advance so everyone knows what to expect.
Buy personal branding photos for your photography business
If you don’t have a friend to work with on a mutually beneficial deal, booking a photographer to produce the items you need is a must.
The questions you need to ask yourself when booking are similar to planning a swap photoshoot with a friend, except it’s highly unlikely you’ll be offered the RAW photos without a substantial investment reflecting the value of these assets.
In general, it’s a good idea to ask for a natural, true color touch-up that will be flexible and resistant to the dated look. This will allow your photos to be used for years to come, even if you change the look of your brand or move into another area of business.
Your personal brand photographer will likely have their own system to help you plan your shot, but after you’ve done the work here, you’ll be one step ahead!