You are The WHOLE package!!
Brains, brawn, AND beauty. You’ve got it all! Sure, you have a rockin’ product, but you also have that lil’ something about you that your customers love and keep them coming back for more! So, of course you’ll want to show off both yourself and your product. Maybe being in the spotlight isn’t your favorite thing to do, but you get that it’s the personal touches like adding a face to your brand that makes your product that much better! Let’s dive in on the actual type of photos you’ll want to focus on and some of the main challenges you’ll have when it comes to visual branding!
First things first, if you’re kinda iffy on the openness level that businesses feel pressured to be in order to gain trust and make money, you’re not alone. Not everyone wants to give an hourly report of everything going on in their life for the entire world to see. So that’s when we need to be very strategic about what we post and why we post so we let people in enough to carry on a quality conversation, but still keep it mainly geared towards business. Obviously, if you’re an open book, but you still want to highlight the products you offer – read on! Keep in mind that captions play a huge part when it comes to sharing those vulnerable moments and you can adjust the “openness level” with your captions.
We are probably most familiar with a headshot. It’s a photo where you are looking at the camera, probably smiling, and it’s pretty staged. It can be on a background/ solid color, or it can be in a pretty area (outside or at a cool spot), OR it can be in a place relevant to where you work. Headshots are a great way to introduce yourself. They are ideal for any sort of profile photo (Linkedin, other social medias, Intro post, etc.)
2. Me living my best life.
Me living my best life is what I consider you to be doing random daily activities, but staged and put in the best light. Maybe you don’t work on your computer in the living room but actually in your dark and beige colored basement. But if it’s light and airy up there (and that fits your brand mood) you better believe we’re bringing a laptop up to the living room instead. It doesn’t have to be 100% real. It has to look good, be inviting, and show that you’re an approachable person in a nice space. These are different from headshots because you’re actually doing an activity of some sort, which gives you something to do with your hands. Examples of these would be to sit with a cup of coffee, type a little something on your laptop, have a glass of wine, play with your glasses. Your activity will depend on your industry, business, and target market. I often tell my clients that it’s like you’re writing a little note (or whatever your activity is) and just look up like “oh you caught me doing something fun and productive.” 🙂 These are ideal for instagram posts, email headers, blog posts, product promos. They are perfect for the online business owners.
3. Behind the Scenes / Action shots. Doing your thang.
Behind the scenes and action shots are different from the “living your best life” photos because they are a little more candid. These are especially great for creatives who actually make a product with their hands. Imagine a chef and all of the potential for the action shots (process shots) of preparing a dish. For me as a photographer, it would be photos of me holding a camera, directing clients, setting up lights, and taking photos. It can be a little more gritty and real. These shots are the down and dirty of how you make something that you sell. If you have an online business, this would be a lot more similar to “me in my best life” since you would be working on your computer, writing notes, and making calls. But the idea here is to show your process and how you’ve made what you’ve made. You’ll also want to add in great captions to describe your process. I love these photos for about pages and social media, especially Instagram.
4. Finished Product. Desired result/ transformation. Emotional goal.
Ok, this is a big one and super important to perfect. If you create a physical product, you have a pretty solid idea of what you need to be photographing. For physical products, you will want “glamour” shots, meaning photos of just the product on a clean/styled background. It’s a “nice-to-have” if these types of photos denote the size and features, but not necessary. (Product on a clean background allows for type to be placed anywhere on the image, so it’s really convenient if it’s just a product in the photo.) I also like to incorporate products “in action” for their intended use or their “quirky” use for something fun and different. And then you’ll want to take photos of it existing in its environment. Where do you use it? So, let’s take something easy like a coffee cup. 1. Glamour: A coffee cup on a background. (things to denote size would be a spoon or teapot or coffee pot behind/next to it, for example.) 2. In action: A hand holding the coffee cup. Pouring coffee into the cup. Sipping coffee. Maybe the coffee cup could actually double as a pot for a plant for a quirky alternative use factor. All of that jazz. 3. It’s environment: Sitting on a coffee table with steam coming from it and a couch in the background. Sitting next to some really cute dishes. In a nice corner of your eclectic kitchen. That wraps up the physical product, but it should get your wheels turning. For me, as a photographer, my product is my finished photo. For weddings, it would be a sweet wedding photo. Since I specialize in branding photography, I’d post something like this…
For the desired results/transformation. This is a little harder to show, but you will want to photograph the transformation you are trying to sell. Before and afters work magic here. Imagine a weight loss program or hair stylist. For these photos, you can do them side by side, or a gallery flip on instagram, which is cleaner.
For an emotional result. I consider this to be coaches, online businesses, and some service providers. For businesses who do not have a physical product, you are selling something that’s a little harder to describe in just one photo, and it will need a caption to accompany it. So you sell confidence? What does that look like? What does your customer look like after they have finished working with you? For me that is something like looking people in the eye, an easy smile, and a power pose. You could incorporate a before and after (like the transformation we just talked about) of a sad looking person and then boom! Dressed up, standing straight, and oozing confidence. Say you have an online course teaching yoga. I would show a “student” with your program pulled up on their computer or tv mastering your move. This way, people would understand that it’s an online program and see its effectiveness with the “student” crushing the moves.
The whole idea of taking product photos is to effectively communicate what you are selling and what your customers can expect by working with you. Product shots are great for product pages, sales pages, social media, and promotional blog posts.
Stock photos are great filler content. Sometimes, you just need some visually interesting photos that can diversify your social feed. I like to suggest stock photos that you take yourself, just so it’s personal to you. You can always buy stock photos, but I challenge you to create your own. Have a favorite notebook to write in? A favorite pen? Coffee cup? Obviously people can be in these photos, but I usually like to keep it to objects. Here are a few tips. Make it inspirational. Look for fun/motivational quotes that you can incorporate into the photo. Make it personal. Use objects you already own and love! If this were an Instagram worthy photo, what would it entail? For scenes, try to keep it to odd numbers of objects in the photo. Shooting it straight down is usually a great angle for these shots. Also, consider shooting certain objects off-centered. This will allow for type over the image without getting in the way. Additionally, you can use the objects to create a frame of sorts and put type in the middle. You definitely have options with stock photos. Have fun with it!
6. Personal. Family pics. You with your cat.
People want to know more about you. And more about you includes: your significant other, your family, your pet, your home. Now, I’m not saying make every post one of you and your boo. But those personalized photos should be sprinkled in throughout your feed. People like to know that you’re a real person with real problems, including #momstruggles #mansbestfriend and #girlboss to name a few. Personal posts are great ways to let people see you…in a controlled way. You get to choose what you share. People don’t like to see a perfect instagram feed ALL THE TIME. They want some authenticity in there too, ESPECIALLY if your target market was you at one point. They want to connect with you and your journey, and authentic personal posts like these keep the result you are selling within reach for your customer. For these posts, I like to keep them sweet or funny. Pick what works for your brand, but those are my go-to styles. Personal photos are great for about pages and random social posts.
Being the whole package here, there’s a ton to focus on other than personal. So you can post as much or as little as you want from this category, but I throw it in because it’s nice to show the “real you” to the people who follow you and your brand.
7. Location. Whether that’s your office, creative space, location you service your clients, OR a city you live in.
These types of photos have a couple of different purposes. First off, they’re informational. If you have a brick and mortar store, it gives people an idea of what to expect when they come visit you. You can tell a lot about a business by these kinds of photos, and so if you have a storefront where people will be coming to you, I really wouldn’t get too fancy here. Just make it straightforward. (This being said, if you’re working from home, you don’t need to take a photo of your home office unless it’s particularly cute/stylish.) If your city influences your work, post random photos of the city and talk about it. That’s also a great workaround for anyone with an online business who spends most days working from their couch. Photos of the city can also ground you a little so you become a real person from Tennessee instead of a digital person from the vast “Internet Land” that people can’t really envision.
After informational, we get into the fun and creative detail shots, which often times will double as stock photos as well. Do you have a particularly cute corner in your office that you really love? Take photos of that! They’re interesting and have the potential to be Pinterest-worthy. Do you have a special place that gets your creative juices flowing? Take a photo! These types of photos can be artistic, straightforward, fun, emotional…whatever you want. With location photos, you can make them as personal or passive as you want. Just change the captions! Location photos are great for about pages, contact pages, blog posts, random posts on Instagram/social medias, and yelp pages (directory listings).
8. VIP access.
(like that time I was a nurse stand in for a photo shoot.)
VIP access is giving your followers special access to what you’re up to…right now! They are the sneak peeks and hints/clues of your business. What are you doing right now? What new thing is about to hit the market? What new project are you working on? What is something a follower gets special access to just for following you? Usually these are phone photos. They are fun, low maintenance, and little happies to spread with your people. VIP access photos go great in Instagram stories or promo posts!
PHEW! I know that was a TON of information about what kinds of photos to take. But don’t worry. Taking photos will get easier, and you’ll be a master in no time! If you want more information about how to take better photos for your business (not to mention family pics and vacation photos), click HERE to learn more about my Photography for Business Owners course!
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