What makes photos you post for your business or your professional brand different than your personal photos?
Those that have followed my work over the past few years know that I’ve spent much of that time living in Germany—and picked up a few things. One cultural difference you learn working there is that even though you may not enjoy every aspect of work—even when you’re doing what you love—you put your head down and get through it. Then you give yourself time to relax or celebrate afterward. Generally you talk about and do only work while at the office—saving what we as Americans would consider “watercooler chat” for after work hours.
So how does this saying apply to photos for your professional branding? This comes down to the story that you want to tell. Your profession or business may have started with you and have a big part of yourself in the brand. However, this isn’t necessarily the same “side” (warts and all) that your closest family and friends get to see. You want your clients to get to know you but you may want them to see you in a certain way.
So how do you make this happen?
- First, figure out what you want your ideal clients to see about you and/or your business. If you work from a home office do you ever bring clients there? Do you exclusively work at your clients’ locations? Are you casual or more formal when meeting a potential client for the first time? Everything from what you wear to where you work (and what it looks like) should match what your ideal client expects to work with. Check out others in your industry (and their marketing) who you admire to use as a benchmark for your own images.
- Second, look at your budget—in both time and money—for having professional photos taken. There are photos that are best taken by a professional (e.g. banner photos for your website, headshots, and print marketing) and others that you can take on your own for immediate posting on social media (e.g. day-to-day operations). Look at what you need to get done and when you need the photos. If you’re working with a professional photographer you can look at breaking up what you need into a series of sessions over a period of time—spreading your costs—and also discuss taking photos that will be relevant to your brand for a year or even longer.
- Third, prepare for your photo shoot(s). Put together a list of shots that you need—posed shots of yourself and any team members, action shots working in your office or at a client location, shots of your products, etc. Plan out what you want to wear, where you want to shoot, and ask your photographer for suggestions to convey the message and feeling you’re trying to share with your ideal client.
Photos that define your professional brand require more research and a lot more planning than your personal and family photos. You’re also sharing your story with a different audience and need to craft your images to match that story. We all work on this over time and make changes as our service or product evolves—including me. So take a look at what you have now and make a plan to improve what you have.