How to Create Connection Through Brand Photography

by | Oct 5, 2022

Now, more than ever we are craving connection. If the last few years have shown us anything, it’s that in all the uncertainty, the one thing that’s certain is connection is key. In everything we do, especially in business, it plays a fundamental part in our success. From feeling uplifted and supported by surrounding ourselves with like minded people; to building connections that lead to collaborations, partnerships and clients.

We’ve all heard that people buy from people; but more than that, we buy from people we like and feel connected to in some way. Creating that connection with our audience is now one of the most important skills we need to adopt. When it’s something we are good at, it’s a superpower that will just keep giving.

In the online space, our visuals are the first part of our connecting tool kit. Yes, a picture tells a thousand words and the science behind that statement is staggering. The human brain processes visuals 60,000 times faster than text; and 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual. It really is a no brainer to ensure our images are doing the right talking for us!

Amongst all the noise and ‘busyness’ it’s also important to get the focus of your audience fast. Humans now have the attention span of 8 seconds, which happens to be less than a goldfish! So, in this crazy world of go, go, go, to encourage anyone to stop the scroll, we not only have to stand out but have a message that’s clear and engaging in our images.

Where to start?

It starts with you! Before you can truly connect with your audience, you must connect with you. All of you. From your values and core essence which make your brand identity to your messaging and stories.

In this piece I will share my signature system and take you through the first part of the journey which leads to this desired connection.

Connect is the first part of the Three Cs to being Unstoppable: Connect, Capture and Captivate to create stunning brand images that grow your business by building your relationships.

There are three parts to connect:

–Connect with you, your personality your values

–Connect with your brand stories

–Connect all the dots to create your unique experience

Here we will dive into all three areas to show how you can bring it all to life and ultimately connect with your people.

Connecting with You:

The starting point is to connect with your brand Identity. This is your core values, the foundations of you and the heart of all that you do. It’s your purpose. A great approach is to choose 5 key words which summarise all that’s important to you. For example, mine are freedom, positive, natural, intuitive, and fun

To reach your words, don’t overthink it. Often your gut reaction and initial thoughts are the best. Ask yourself some questions: What do you want to be known for? What impact or difference do you want to make? What’s important to you?

To expand on your brand identity further you can add statements to each of your words to add context. These are great to share with your audience. They are also a fantastic reference point for you to check your messaging and to ensure all that you do comes back to your values. Here are mine as an example:

It’s also important to mention brand colours at this point. They are another vital aspect of your tool kit which add to the impression you want to give. Colours evoke different emotions and will lead us to being perceived in a certain way. It’s therefore important to consider your choice carefully and ensure they are in line with your keywords.

I could talk about colour all day and the psychology is fascinating; but that’s for another time! For starters you can see above what led to my colour choices and how they fit with my values.

Connecting with Your Brand Stories

Brand stories are a brilliant way to engage with your audience as let’s face it, we all love a story, don’t we?! These types of stories are ones that focus on showing how you will be the guide to help your clients resolve their pain points. How you are the one with the solution and the provider of the happy ending. They are all about enabling your client to have the success they want so that they can make the impact they are meant to with their business.

We all have several different brand stories which together give the full picture and let our audience know, we are the obvious choice to work with. They make us relatable and real, to the point our ideal clients can picture themselves fitting in and being a part of our world.

The most obvious brand story is how we help people. This allows people to imagine what it would be like to work with you and the way you provide the solutions they need. Often, they will demonstrate your difference and approach; as well as your expertise and knowledge.

With these stories it’s also great to take your mission statement or metaphor and make it visual. For example, Nikki is a Financial Advisor who works in a very different way to what you would expect. She has coffee and cake consultations and walks and talks with clients in nature. All key to her personal brand and important to capture in her brand images. Her visuals now say ‘I make your financial decisions a walk in the park’

Other brand stories could include how you spend your spare time and relax, you doing what you love, celebrating a success story; and importantly, how you do you! All aspects which will help your audience connect with you as they are real and reflective of you.

When establishing your brand stories, I would recommend brainstorming or journaling the parts of your life that you want to share. The elements that show case you and your personality as well as your expertise. Those that show your difference so that people can relate to you and decide if you are their person, for as much as we want to attract clients, we want to attract the right ones that are aligned to our values and repel those that don’t!

Connecting the Dots

The final piece of the jigsaw puzzle is pulling all the elements of your brand identity, colours and stories together to create the ideal experience to capture all of you. This is the really fun part when you can get creative bringing it all to life in your choice of locations, outfits and props.

All of the different elements of a photoshoot are key in the storytelling of your images. The location alone is a huge part of creating the emotion so it’s important to take time to consider the right settings

Take 3 Coaches:

All with the same vocation but with very different ideal clients, niches and personal brands.

Gabi is a relationship coach. Her experience was centred in a park, surrounded by nature where she is seen as grounded and approachable. Her grey coat is very calming, and she has a presence which portrays her as someone who listens.

Lucy works with troubled teenagers and has a brand which is youthful and vibrant. Her photoshoot took place in Brighton against a backdrop of bright graffiti. She wore her leather biker jacket and a bright scarf in her brand colour pink.

Cristina is a business coach. Her brand images were shot on the roof of a Fenchurch St Office building in London with the city skyline as her backdrop. She wore a sharp and sophisticated suit with bold lipstick.

Three very different brand shoots with coaches with very different messages to share.

Pulling out all the S.T.O.P.P.S!

As a creative, it took some time for me to get my head round the fact that for me to be in flow, I had to put structures and systems in place! The irony, I know! One such system is STOPPS. A great way to ensure everything is planned and in place to allow the photo shoot itself to be in the moment. Afterall, the best images are very much those that capture you naturally.

For each brand story you are wanting to tell, it’s important to piece all these elements together to make it real and representative. The timing is key to ensure the lighting is just right, the location is quiet, and you have enough time to capture all the aspects. Your outfits and props are key to reflect this part of you; and the place gives you the backdrop to pull it all together. If any one of these doesn’t fit, you’ll immediately see it in your images.

Finally, a shot list is key to ensure you have photographed all the types of images for the end uses you require. For a website for example, you will need predominantly landscape images which can also be cropped for banners. You may want a profile picture headshot and full length too.

Different end uses will require different resolutions so it’s a great idea to have your images shot in high res so they can be compressed for website and social use. You may also want to consider how your images may work with your content.

Do you need to have space for your marketing messages?

Do you need expression shots to get your message across with personality?

Do you need placeholder images for variety within articles and presentations?

With all this incredible groundwork, all that’s left to do is find the way that best captures you. Now you know exactly what you want to achieve you can have an incredible experience, forgetting the camera is there and being in the moment. Feeling relaxed and in flow, all is in hand. Whether that’s in person or through virtual brand photography, you can create brand images that are not only wonderful visuals, but ones that connect, captivate and ultimately, convert

Most of all, have fun with it! The camera will love you when you do; and you in turn will love the results. Having images you are proud to share which you know reflect all of you and your messaging, is a game changer. It’s so much more than a photograph. It’s so much more than getting shot. It’s all the feels. All the confidence it brings for you to show up, get out there and connect. That’s the power of brand photography and all the connecting that comes with it.