We live in a time where we are so visually driven as a society that images, branding, and everything else that defines our overall aesthetic is incredibly important. When we see beautifully photographed and marketed products, we immediately want to buy—even when we don't exactly know what the product is. We visit witty and modern websites that draw us in with visuals. Visual brand assets are incredibly important.
I've been a photographer for over 13 years and an influencer for about five years. While I have experience photographing weddings, travel, practicing photojournalism, and so much more, my expertise is portraiture. Specifically, street-style fashion. Clients hire me to take modern and edgy images for their personal brands or in collaboration with other brands. My work has been featured in publications like InStyle Magazine, Elle, Insider, Essence, and Vogue Italy. Strong images can take you and your brand to unreal heights.
Here are some ways you can take the best brand photos:
Create a mood board
You can use Pinterest to create a mood board that serves as inspiration for your branding photos. This is one of my favorite things to receive from clients and create for my own sessions. Having a mood board can be ideal for maximizing your time with a professional photographer, as some may charge by the hour. They provide direction and bring together the vision for the brand images.
Having a visual reference is also great for making sure you take all the shots you need to tell your brand story. And what's going to sell your brand? Your visual story! But remember, it's your visual story. So although we may find inspiring images and videos that really move us and resonate with the vision we have for our brand assets, you don't want to copy anyone. Inspiration, not imitation. Be sure to make it your own!
Invest in a camera and tripod
Photography can be an investment. Photography is also a craft worth learning if you are going to be in constant need of visual assets. If you've got the patience, the eye, and the resources, you should consider investing in a good camera. I love Canon cameras and have used them most of my career. Most newer camera models come with Wi-Fi capabilities and other bells and whistles that can simplify your experience.
I'll share what's in my bag. Now, remember, this is what I use for myself and my clients. I carry a Canon R5, Canon 1DX Mark II, and a few lenses for portraits. I love a 50mm lens or 85mm. However, my favorite lens is the 35mm. Those are great for taking photos of yourself, your team, and even your products.
Aim for timeless, not trendy
When planning your brand photos, it's easy to get caught up in current trends. Though incorporating trends can be great for marketing, it's important that you have one set of great brand photos that are evergreen. That includes a strong headshot and clean product photos if you have products to sell.
Whatever your profession, clean headshots are essential. Content creators use them for features, websites, or even speaking engagements. As your brand grows, so will your opportunities to gain exposure. And when you do receive that exposure, you want to make sure that you have timeless images that are a great representation of your brand.
I know that not everyone is in the position to invest in high-end cameras or professional photographers. So, if you've got a fellow content creator friend or creative (or someone good at taking direction), meet up and collaborate. Dates with friends where we create content for one another are some of my favorites. You can take photos of each other or even model for each other. This is a great way to build your brand photo assets while staying on a budget. It also allows you to practice and try new ideas for creating your brand images.
Remember appearances matter
In whatever setting your images are being taken, it's important to make sure everything is physically on point. Products should be clean and current. The last thing you want is an image of an old label or a smudged bottle.
As for models, grooming is key. Clean nails, hair, and makeup (if it aligns with your brand), and a well-rested body. As a professional, I can almost always tell when someone hasn't gotten good rest. I always encourage my clients to drink a ton of water leading up to the session and get as much sleep as they can.
Take your finger off the filter button
Great brand photos are also realistic images. What does that mean? If you're selling a peach dress, you don't want it to look unrealistic by adding a filter that drastically alters the dress. Make sure that when you are editing your images, you're not compromising what you're trying to showcase. Remaining as true to color as possible is key here.
Hire a professional
Taking great brand photos may sound intimidating, but it can be easy depending on your budget and resources. If you're able to hire a professional photographer, there are great portrait and brand photographers who can assist you in taking the photos you need to make your brand stand out.
Hiring a professional also opens the door for other opportunities. If you're on social media, we see how brands are partnering with content creators to share their products and services. If it's video, sometimes these campaigns look like commercials. Images even look like magazine-worthy ads. If you're a content creator in need of photos for your brand and you hire a professional, when the brand sees photos that have amazing qualities and scenes that are executed beautifully, it can create a desire for the client or brand to collaborate again. It can also draw the attention of another potential client.
That may sound a little lame, but when we strip away all the technicalities, mood boards, outfits, and ideas, if you're not enjoying yourself, it can really reflect on your project. It's great to have a shot list. As I mentioned, it's incredibly helpful in making sure you stay on task. But it's also great to leave room for new inspiration that can come while you're creating.
The great thing about having professional photos done is that oftentimes they can be versatile and evergreen. I have clients who are still using images that I took 6 years ago for their personal and professional brands.
Whatever your idea, whatever your budget, amazing branding photos are possible, and you've got this!
Create your own photo portfolio
Whether you're a pro photographer or just want to showcase your best brand photos, this portfolio template from Microsoft Create makes it easy to put together. And if you're interested in creating a polished professional image, check out our LinkedIn design templates.