When I used to introduce myself as a wedding photographer, I never had to explain what that involved. People got it right away.
But since pivoting, when I meet someone new and tell them “I’m a brand photographer” there’s an inevitable head tilt as they struggle to figure out exactly what that means.
Because “brand photography” as it’s being practiced today is still a new concept! It only really picked up speed a few years ago, as the social and online landscapes have shifted to demand more and more visual content.
When the pandemic hit and wrecked everyone’s wedding & portrait schedules, there was a HUGE tide of photographers that rushed to dip their toes in the “brand” category.
The vast majority of brand photographers I’ve met have come from a background in some other type of photography (i.e. weddings, families, senior portraits), and they’re looking to either 1) diversify their income, or 2) find an offramp from their current offer.
And they’ve all found that branding requires a SIGNIFICANT shift in approach.
The good news is that having a background in weddings/families/portraits/etc? It translates REALLY well to branding work!
But you’ve got to know there’s a difference, instead of approaching branding like it’s the same as all your other work!
It isn’t as simple as “I’m a good wedding photographer, so I’ll just take what I know about this business model and apply it to brand photography.” You’ve got to understand how branding differs from other avenues of photography before you can master the niche.
So… what IS brand photography?
In short, brand photography helps bridge the gap between a business owner’s intention for their brand and their audience’s perception of the brand.
We do this through a combination of portraits, process imagery, and photographs depicting the client’s product or offer.
The purpose of brand photography is kind of meta, when you think about it:
At the risk of sounding crunchy, brand photography is a holistic approach- we’re telling the whole body story of a business, from the product to the personality of the brand itself.
Head shots- brand shoots involve so much more than simply cheesing at the camera. We want to give the client’s audience an overall idea of what the business is about and who the brand owner is, not just a photo of their face. Do we plan for head shots at a brand session? Yes! But it’s so much more than that, too!
Lifestyle portraits of a business owner smiling at their laptop. Will we take a few of those? Sure! But if you stop at “client grinning at their MacBook Pro,” maybe clutching a cute Anthropologie mug for effect, you’re stopping way too soon. Laptop photos only tell me what kind of computer the client uses- it doesn’t tell me anything about their unique market position, who they serve, and what they do!
Listen, I’ll be honest with you- my first few brand shoots? I approaching them all like glorified lifestyle shoots.
So. many. laptop photos.
It wasn’t until I understood that the purpose of these photos was to help my clients stand out so they can market CLEARLY to their target audience that the tide began to change.
And once that clicked, well… things took off in a BIG way.
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