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Stand out from the crowd

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Stand out from the crowd

If you take photos of other people, chances are you don’t have many photos of yourself. It will help build trust and relatability for your clients if you show yourself on your socials, so be brave and get on the other side of the camera. Capturing personal brand photos for your photography business is a strategy that will pay off in more ways than one.

However, it can be hard to plan out content in advance. How do you know what photos you will need? With a bit of preparation, you’ll always have plenty of photos on hand.

Planning the personal brand assets you need

Batch-producing content is a huge timesaver for your photo business. When I work with clients to plan out content in advance, I work through three steps.

Thinking about what you want to talk to your clients about gives you a framework to plan your own photoshoot. Photo of me and my toddler by EKP Studios.

Step 1: Create (or review) your business brand script

A brand script simplifies all communication with your clients by clarifying your message and your unique offering. It’s not a script in the sense of a movie script (i.e. it’s not lines you have to memorize!) but rather a system based on age-old storytelling principles. It positions you as the guide to your client’s “hero journey.”

If you don’t have a brand script, all I can say is: Create one! It’s an incredibly useful asset for your business. The concept comes from Donald Miller and he has created an awesome (and free!) online tool to use to create your script here.

You’ll need his book, “Building a Story Brand,” to fully explain how to use your script across your marketing, website, and so on, but for our purposes, we want to identify “stories” that connect to your ideal client. 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 client wants when they come to you. What problems do you solve? What worries do you assuage? What’s the origin story for your empathy with your client’s plight? Use this to brainstorm ideas for topics that will resonate with, and interest, your clients enough to keep them coming back to your content (and ultimately booking your services).

If your clients have families then showing yourself with your own family gives you a point of empathy to converse from. Photo of us by EKP Studios.

Step 2: Plan your content calendar

Now that you know what you’re going to talk about, the next step is to plan out where and how often you’re going to talk about it. Create a list of everything you need content for:

  • Social media
  • Blog posts
  • Email marketing
  • Website
  • Print and online ads
  • Online directories
  • Google My Business

Work out the frequency that you want to post on each platform, how many images you need for each post, and block in topic ideas from your brand script.

Plan on interspersing your personal brand photos with content from client photoshoots. You’ll find the right mix for your ideal client, but you could start with one personal brand post for every three or four client posts. You can (and should) still use your brand script ideas for posts illustrated with client photos.

There are tools online to plan a content calendar: My favorite is Trello. The Kanban-board view is great for most purposes and with a paid subscription you can utilize the other views to find what works best for you. If you use Trello as a CRM it will make it even easier to integrate sharing client work into your calendar. With Trello’s integrations, automations and buttons, the sky’s the limit. Social media schedulers can help by loading up posts in advance, too.

personal brand photo Jemma Pollari
Having an idea of specific shots you need, as well as general ideas of what your brand stories will be, will help to plan the personal brand photoshoot for your photo business. Photo of me and my husband by EKP Studios.

Step 3: Break it all down into a photos list for your photoshoot

Zoom out to an eagle-eye view of everything you’ve done. How can you block photos together into photoshoot sessions or locations? What essential shots need to be captured, and what topics have more flexibility?

At this step, you don’t need to go crazy with detail or be too prescriptive. A list of two hundred exact photos will be a complete pain in the butt to capture, versus 10 to 20 essentials and some general location/action/emotion ideas.

Once you know what you need, your next job is to organizing getting it!

Organizing a swap photoshoot with another photographer

Doing a swap shoot with another photographer is a great way to get both of you the assets you need for your business. Depending on your promotion needs, you could do yearly, six-monthly or quarterly photoshoots.

Some things to discuss when you’re planning your swap shoots are:

  • How long will the shoot be, e.g. 1 hour, 2 hours, etc? Can you go to more than one location?
  • Will you shoot in RAW or JPG?
  • Who will edit the photos: you, or your friend? Consider whether edits are going to be on-brand for the final user. E.g. if your signature edit is quite stylized, then you’ll want to edit your personal brand photos to match that style.
  • Will you get the unedited RAW or just edited photos?
  • Will the photos be culled or will you get the whole set? How many photos are you going to give each other?

There’s no right or wrong, just make sure you agree in advance so that everyone knows what to expect.

child smelling flower
Batch produce your images and give yourself time to smell the flowers! Photo of my family by EKP Studios.

Buying personal brand photos for your photography business

If you haven’t got a friend you can work with in a mutually-beneficial arrangement, then booking a photographer to produce the assets you need is a must.

The questions you should ask when booking are similar to when planning a swap photoshoot with a friend, with the exception that it’s very unlikely you’ll be offered the RAW photos without a substantial investment reflecting the value of these assets.

Generally it’s a good idea to ask for a natural, true color edit that will be flexible and resistant to looking dated. That will make it possible to use your photos for years to come, even if you change your branded look or pivot into another business area.

Your personal brand photographer will likely have their own system for helping you plan your shoot, but having done the work here you will be ahead of the game!

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