Your Ultimate Guide to Branding Photography - What Is It? & Why You Need It

Photo by Stevie Rotella Photography

Photo by Stevie Rotella Photography

You may very well know the importance of having a headshot, but what about ongoing content for social media, blog posts and the other miscellaneous, consistent content outputs where your business spends most of its time marketing? Branding photography is key to the visual presentation of your brand - so we’ve created this handy dandy guide to branding photography to put your mind at ease about the whole thing!


THE ONE WORD THAT MATTERS MOST

Branding photography is all about one word: LIFESTYLE. If you can sell people on a lifestyle, you can sell anything relating to that lifestyle. Behind all the best, most successful brands is one key element: the narrative of a lifestyle that the buyer is striving to achieve or emulate. Here at FFM, we consider branding photography to be the pathway to selling without needing to be salesy - focusing on making connections and building relationships with our wonderful, devoted audiences.

We will forever stress the importance of branding photography to our clients. It's one of the quickest ways to set yourself apart from the crowd in an oversaturated digital space and make a lasting, emotional impact on the people you wish to convert. Our brain takes 1/10th of a second to form an impression on someone or something and therefore branded photos are a game changer, answering the audience's first questions nearly instantaneously!

It tells what your brand wants its followers to know, what result they will achieve if they buy your product or service, as well as stimulate inspiration of the life they will get if they choose to participate. The WHY must also be clear.


SO, HOW IS THIS DIFFERENT FROM REGULAR OL’ PHOTOGRAPHY?

We’re glad you asked! By popular modern definition, “branding photography” can at times be used interchangeably with the term “lifestyle photography” - a photoshoot consisting of props, intentional settings and oftentimes models interacting with the business’ product or service.

While some brands may also opt for headshots and editorial-focused photos for print and more “important” features than social media, lifestyle photography is often on-the-fly and captures candid moments of reaction and interaction. It serves the audience emotionally rather than rationally.

In a staged headshot photoshoot, you may be asked to make uncomfortable poses or do things that seem rather unnatural - and that serves a fantastic purpose! It makes you look your best (and ultra polished). However, that stiffness won’t fly in a lifestyle branding photoshoot. Lifestyle shoots celebrate the humanity in all of us and the genuine experience we have with X business.


WHERE THE TREND IS HEADING

Over the past couple years, we’ve noticed an uprising of this contemporary style of branding photography and have embraced it with open arms. All it takes is one photographer to start the trend and it becomes an instant chain reaction! Around the world, people are starting to catch on to this new way of authentic marketing and we truly believe that it will soon become the universal standard for how businesses are represented, especially in the progressive digital space that is largely celebratory of self-expression and identity.

It doesn’t matter what niche you’re in - if you’re a real estate agent or a boutique shop owner, a repairman or jewelry designer. By jumping on the trend now, you are future-proofing your business in this visual, story-driven 21st century. The first step is to take a stand and demand authentic marketing throughout your branding ventures.


HOW CAN I BE SURE TO HIRE THE RIGHT PHOTOGRAPHER?

Oh, boss - this is a loaded question with a loaded answer. Photographers are creatives and free spirits at heart, so finding a photographer that embodies both a solid professionalism and fun-loving attitude is going to be your ultimate task. We’ve compiled a list of the key questions we encourage all of our clients to ask their photography candidates:

  • What is your experience with branding and lifestyle photography specifically? Can I see a portfolio? You should be looking for direct examples relating to your niche if possible, or at least a wide variety of different types of works.

  • What types of businesses do you find the most joy working with?

  • What is your turnaround time? Is there an option for a rush fee if I would like my photos sooner?

  • How do you prefer to communicate with clients? Email, text, phone call?

  • Do you offer any detailed retouching post-production? (Blemish removal, Photoshopping, etc. - this question is more important when discussing professional headshots vs. lifestyle photos).

  • Do I own the rights to the photos upon delivery or is this an additional fee?

  • Do you expect that your clients will credit you (byline) when they use your photos for marketing?


IS THERE ANYTHING I SHOULD KNOW ABOUT USAGE SPECIFICS?

In general, it is not customary to add a filter or additional edits on top of a photographer’s final delivered files. Cropping is appropriate within reason, but check with the artist before alterations.

Keep in mind that photographers are just that - artists! They expect that you are hiring them for their individual style and aren’t going to turn around and ask them to “edit the photos differently”. When shopping around for candidates, make sure you pick those in line with your desired aesthetic.

It’s common courtesy to credit photographers with a simple byline when posting their work on your social media, website, etc. but this shouldn’t be required. Always ask to avoid sticky situations!


Ultimately, make sure when choosing a photographer that they fit your business’ needs and can make your lifestyle shoot dreams become a reality! By investing in your business in this form, you can expect to reap the rewards tenfold. If you have any questions regarding photography for your business or if you need a referral, pop your Q below - we’d love to chat specifics and send one of our amazing creative partners your way!

While you’re here, discover our guides on branding, graphic design and content marketing.

Guide to Branding Photography
 

more food for thought…