What is Personal Branding?
Personal branding is a relatively new term that is being used specifically to describe branding for small business owners. It is the ‘practice of people marketing themselves and their careers as a brand’. Each small business needs to attract exactly the right clients to survive and flourish . How you are perceived by your ideal clients is therefore critical and whilst we can’t control what people think, we can certainly shape it. And this is the role of personal branding. It provides the framework for communicating the WHO – WHAT -WHY of your business.
Before I became a people photographer I worked in the world of media – both client side in TV marketing and agency side in branding. I worked with brands like the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, FIFA, O2 and Sainsburys and quickly learnt that the word ‘branding’ can cause confusion and can also be difficult to explain. However, most people understand that It goes much deeper than logos and colour palette. That ultimately brands elicit thoughts and emotions from customers.
Personal branding establishes who you are, what you offer and who your customer is. It gives you the content for your marketing – for building and maintaining awareness. Thankfully this is made easier today due to social platforms like Instagram. Easier, yes. But it also brings with it a pressure to deliver a consistent, visually compelling, brand story.
The important word there is ‘story’. The why and the how – as well as the who.
Over the last 10 years I have met SO many creative entrepreneurs – florists, makeup artists, cake makers, jewellers, wedding planners, life coaches, artists, photographers etc. Each of them unique, talented people who are the heart of their brilliant businesses. It therefore follows that they are their brand – which is derived from their individual values, personality and vision. They have come to me to ask if I can help communicate their story through personal branding photography.
What is personal branding photography?
It is the creation of a selection of branding images that tell the story of you and your personal brand. Branding photos that are carefully styled and crafted to show the people behind the brand as well as the actual product or service that you offer. Images that are authentic but also inspiring.
Personal branding shoots are a very important investment in your business and should be planned carefully to ensure you get a fabulous range of images that you can use across all your communication channels in print and screen resolution. The photo shoot will of course include some headshots but will ultimately delve much deeper into how it feels to work with you.
Here are a selection of images from personal branding shoots – each one as unique as the business they celebrate. You will even find a rare personal branding insight into me because it is super important to practice what you preach! It was a very interesting thing to organise because a personal branding photography session needs to consider many things – location, styling, mood, story etc and should be planned carefully to get the most out of it. I am here to help collaborate and make a plan to bring your brand to life visually.
If you are interested in a branding photo shoot like this please get in touch so that we chat about how best to tell your story in pictures to attract your ideal clients.
Photographer - Kate Hopewell-Smith
When I planned a personal branding photography session for myself I wanted to try and offer some insight into ‘Who is Kate Hopewell-Smith?’. Feeling comfortable being photographed has a HUGE amount to do with the person behind the camera but I tended to just show the results – the ‘what’ rather than the ‘who’ or ‘why’.
It took quite a lot of planning, of thinking about the things that I do all the time within my business or life that help create the jigsaw puzzle that is me! I work from home in a beautiful garden office and I spend more time behind my iMac than I do behind my cameras. This is normal in the digital age. As well as shooting weddings, portraits and boudoir I also mentor fellow photographers.
Each image tells its own little story and the reason behind my blue brand should now be obvious – it’s my colour and I surround myself with these beautiful hues because they make me feel happy, relaxed and peaceful.
I’m lucky to have a brilliant husband who films and shoots alongside me – so he was the man behind the cameras (because there are drone shots and an underwater shot on a GoPro). The kitchen photo of Brent and I was down to make up artist Caroline!
Sarah - Cold Pressed Juice Entrepeneur
Sarah got in touch about doing a shoot for her new business ‘Roots and Bulbs’. She needed imagery that celebrated the health benefits and healing powers of cold pressed juices. Understandably she wanted a mix of images that showed the face behind the business as well as the fruit and vegetables that lay at the very heart of her offering. She is busy working on the brand and packaging at the moment so watch this space for further branding imagery as the business develops!
Sarah and I worked together on the ‘finish’ of the images – she wanted an earthy and natural tone that would reflect the raw ingredients. She wanted her portraits to be outdoors and have a natural and fresh feeling. Pre-shoot collaboration is super important – so that we all know what we need to achieve on the day.
Catherine - Lifestyle Photographer
Catherine is a fellow lifestyle photographer and she got in touch to say that she wanted to have a relaxed and natural personal branding session to try and get across the woman behind the camera. The location was very important and she chose the gorgeous and unique Story Deli – as well as being super friendly they were also very happy to have the dog there too. Like most photographers, Catherine doesn’t enjoy being the other side of the lens but we had a great session and collaborated to get her lots of different images for her own marketing library.
She brought quite a large selection of clothing to the shoot and over a coffee at the beginning we discussed looks and settled on the different locations that we would use and the desired ‘feel’ that she was after. You can tell from the bare feet that she a lovely, relaxed, friendly person.
Richard - Boat Builder
The Freebody Family have been living and working on the middle Thames, as boatbuilders, bargemen, fishermen and ferrymen, since the 13th century. Peter is now running the business with his sisters and he asked for some imagery to show the craftsmanship behind the company.
The team of craftsmen boatbuilders at Peter Freebody & Co are skilled in all aspects of traditional boatbuilding – design, hull construction, fine joinery work, finishing, classic craft restoration and conservation and brightwork.
I spent a few hours shooting alongside the team at work, creating some environmental portraits of Peter and highlighting the beauty of the Freebody Slipper Launch – each of which is individually hand crafted in Hurley.
Isabelle - Dancer
Isabelle first got in touch in 2016 and we planned a dance photography shoot which included some portraits. Since then we have regularly worked together and I have always loved the imagery that we create.
Her star is definitely on the rise and her Mum truly believes in investing in professional dance photos. 3 years later and Isabelle is now an ambassador or ‘artist’ for brands such as BLOCH and Five Dancewear and regularly models for dance clothing companies.
She is an incredible role model and influencer for other dancers – what comes with this is the pressure to produce fresh imagery for her 30,000+ Instagram fans…
I always try to give her something a bit different in terms of lighting and how I use the locations. She has become something of a muse to me!
Jade - Gem Stone Jewellery Designer
It all began with a Diploma in Creative Jewellery and now Jade is designing absolutely beautiful one off pieces for women who LOVE jewellery. For her business Eau Rouge Jewellery she creates beautiful one-off pieces, using exquisite precious gemstones and gold. Jade is passionate about jewellery that tells a story, so she spends time researching and importing beautiful, interesting gemstones and designing them into unique pieces of jewellery which are then made in Hatton Garden. Having shot her marketing imagery it was so lovely to create some personal branding photographs that help tell her story and show who she is and where she works – the creative behind the creations.
Jade’s early jewellery designs were all hand made and she has an amazing work station for soldering and crafting her pieces. Now that she is specialising in bespoke gem stones her design work is more computer based but it was important to capture the journey that she has been on and where the magic happens.
Caroline - Hair & Makeup Artist
I met Caroline in 2013 when we worked on our first boudoir shoot and now we work together nearly every week. She has an incredible ability to talk to anyone and make them feel completely relaxed. She is like a ray of sunshine breezing in at the beginning of a shoot.
Caroline worked for MAC for years before setting up on her own and she now offers her artistry for weddings, special occasions, makeup lessons, boudoir, fashion, masterclasses, proms and editorial photoshoots.
She makes women look incredible but in a totally natural, glamorous way. She is such an important part of a shoot but often you only see the end results – so it is really important for potential clients to also see some images of her at work.