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Why you should always hire a professional for branding photography

Google search: Branding photographer. Result... well - a gazillion websites! We are overwhelmed with how many are available to us (and even AI). However, while anyone can do branding photography - not everyone understands the importance of hiring someone who truly understands how branding photography works and the different aspects to it.

When it comes to branding photography (which can also be taken as marketing, headshot and corporate photography) - there are endless ways to approach this for your business, but that does not mean all of them are right for you.

As a photographer experienced with branding portraits, but also as a website designer (Top End Virtual) - all too often, I see a website with mixed styles.

Recently, I built a website for a client that was not located in the Top End; the client requested a very specific colour palette, and we spoke about the colours they did and did not want. The client got the photographs done by another photographer down south just before we built the site, and they did not match the mood board or feel the client wanted - unfortunately, I still had to work with the images - but the whole way through, I felt either the photos or site design did not belong.

Now, as a professional - I know on my end by looking at the site, it was built and designed beautifully. But also, by looking at the images - I knew the site is not where it went 'wrong' so to speak; but it was the images.

Not only did all of the images photographed contain no branding colours, they did not match the mood board, and contained the clients' colours that they did not want a touch of in the website.

YES! I know - why on earth would someone incorporate a colour the client dislikes - in their images?

The images were not light and airy from the mood board; many images were of a darker background; with odd headshot angles and poor attention to detail. Things such as a dirty laptop with many stickers, a very underexposed dark background and half a face lit instead of even lighting can make or break your website (while also taking into account branding colours and where you are). The worst part was; there were some nice images in there, but on a background where there was another business' name that even editing could not remove (so, they were not useable).

Even as a professional, sometimes - not all of these things can be avoided. Sometimes it comes down to what is available, time of day, location or client communication.

When I do portrait photography, the client comes to me for my style and I send them details such as clothing to suit and compliment my style. However, when I do branding photography - while my style still plays a crucial role, I design the session around the character and business of the client.

Having a branding shoot means your photographer must absolutely take into consideration a range of things:

  • Clothing colour choice and style

  • Location and/or backdrop choices

  • Items in the photograph (along with behind and in front)

  • Colours of the location such as walls, furniture and signage

While the above is important, having a photographer who truly understands the art of light is essential.

Branding photography should never be treated and carried out the same as a family portrait session.

A branding shoot generally consists of studio quality off-camera flashes and soft boxes mixed with ambient light if on location. I generally use more than one light, and mix it with ambient (natural) light to give a natural yet professional quality glow. This is much easier than it looks - it takes much experience, training and practice to confidently mix the two and make it look like it is natural!

Below, we have Core Realty in a stunning home full of light - but while the light was stunning, the team needed to still stand out so multiple soft boxes were added. This looks almost like they are standing in front of a very large window - while there are many windows, I needed to underexpose the background so the windows were not just completely white. In order to balance the two, I added multiple soft boxes to give this effect.

Here, we have Traci - we spoke about her branding colours which consisted of blue hues. Traci wanted a natural vibe away from the studio; and due to time constraints for her needing to go live - we took these images in the brightest part of day which limited where we could go - and I chose some rustic soft locations to reflect her warm nature.

This image was shot in a slightly dim area, and filled in with studio flash to brighten Traci up while also blending in with the surroundings for a relaxed yet professional and warm vibe.

Had we not used flash, Traci would have been quite dark (and then when it is edited in, her features would have been quite dull, missing that glow).

Another local business for on-location headshots. Whilst the clinic was well-lit, having studio lighting for headshots is essential (but also knowing how to work them for every skin type and tone).

Here we have Amber (my lovely dentist!), for her headshot. I did not feel that placing Amber in a normal white background would be suitable, so instead I placed all of the team members in front of the sign in the foyer. Amber was actually standing on a stool to be in line with the sign. As you can see, the sign branding colours match with her shirt.

And below are 'traditional' headshots, customised for each person! In the first image, we have a lovely blue background of the Darwin seascape. This was actually added in digitally, at the request of the company. In the second image, taken in my Leanyer studio, we have Diana in one of the hand-painted backdrops I created. Grey is one of my favourites for headshots as it does not wash you out, and looks good for all skin tones. Then, in the last image is a traditional white backdrop. All have multiple lights used as well as photography equipment to give a professional look to the images.

Now, you have seen how professional images can really set you aside in your website and overall branding to the bigger world, and read how important it is to hire a professional when it comes to branding.

So, where do you start? What questions do you ask? What can you expect?

When looking for a photographer, look for these aspects:

  • Reviews - Reviews help you understand what you can expect from the experience from a client point of view. Don't be put off by one bad review though; for example - if the business has 20 good reviews and one not so good review, it might not mean the business is necessarily bad.

  • Portfolio - THIS IS SUPER IMPORTANT!! Many websites only showcase a mere tiny percentage of 'hero' images of amazing photographs, but the remainder of those sessions could be very different to a 'hero' or 'winner' image. If you are not sure, just ask for a portfolio.

  • Try to see how the photographer has taken in different situations - such as skin tone, skin texture, light (natural and studio), locations.

  • Look at their style and see if you do actually like the style

  • Ensure the photographer is registered with an ABN, so you can get a tax invoice for tax purposes

When it comes to questions, if the photographer is experienced with branding photography and it isn't just the simple single backdrop headshots; they will generally either send you a questionnaire to fill in or give you a call to discuss and learn about your business. If this does not happen, this is a red flag as in order to have a successful session; they must understand and know more about you and the business to shape the session around you.

What to expect during one of my branding sessions

In my specialised branding session package, I first communicate (email or phone) to the client about what they are looking for, we book in a suitable time, and I also ask about which locations they may prefer. I then send them a questionnaire.

Closer to the day, generally a week from the session - I contact the client via phone to discuss the session after they fill in the questionnaire online. We talk about clothing choices, outfit changes, locations, backdrops (if required), items of importance, style (feel) of the session and I also then take a look at their website (if it is current). I also ask about things they really don't like (such as colours, styles, items, locations) and what really connects with them and their brand. If there is something they really like, but it doesn't suit their brand, I usually guide them during this process.

The day is all about feeling relaxed, enjoying yourself and having as much input as possible - I always show images as they are captured, so the client has the opportunity to voice any changes or concerns through the actual shoot.

Book your next branding session with me here:

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