The first couple of months of a new year is a good time to evaluate what you particularly enjoyed working on last year and what you’d like to do more of this year. For me, that is definitely personal branding photography.
When I first stopped teaching photography to become a full-time freelance photographer I was really worried that I’d be lonely. I’m an extrovert (seemingly quite rare for a photographer) and, while I was very excited about finally being able to focus all my working time on what I’d wanted to do since I was sixteen, I wasn’t so keen on the idea of spending most of my time editing and retouching at home on my own. I also quickly discovered that, despite having already been a part-time freelance photographer for nearly fifteen years, I actually knew very little about running a business.
I soon realised that the solution to both these issues was to surround myself with other people who run their own businesses. I joined the Athena networking group and found a very talented, inspiring and supportive group of women who have taken the place of my work colleagues and who I really look forward to seeing every month. That spurred me on to seek out other groups and events where I could meet other business owners that I could learn from and share ideas with.
As I’m predominantly a portrait photographer it made sense that I would begin to photograph these people, but I wasn’t prepared for just how much I would enjoy it and how energising I would find the experience. In general, I photograph people because they interest me and I like finding out more about them. As a business owner I love hearing about the journey of other people in a similar position. Why do they do what they do? How did they discover their passion? What are their hopes and dreams? I also understand what images they need to successfully promote themselves and how best to capture them. As I am in the same position myself, I deeply feel any concerns and nervousness they may have about putting images of themselves out in the world and shouting “Here I am and this is what I do”, so I prioritise making them feel relaxed and confident and look amazing.
In fact, I recently had my own personal branding session and, like anyone, was worried about how I’d look in the pictures. I dealt with this by having make up done by the wonderful Amina Salahuddin (who I recommend to all my clients) and by remembering what my potential clients are looking for in pictures of me. They want to see someone who looks approachable, warm, professional and like someone they want to work with. They are not going to be as critical of my looks as I am myself.
I’ve found that having new photos of myself has prompted me to update all my social media and business listings, because I am so excited to share them.
The following images are from two of my favourite personal branding sessions from last year. I met each client beforehand to plan in detail exactly what we would do during the shoot and a list of images we were planning to get. Also they have both worked with Floss Gibbs, one of them having had a Brand Brainstorm session with her beforehand, which I can’t recommend highly enough as a way to get prepared – it gave them a much stronger idea of how they wanted to approach the images and Floss’ notes communicated this to me very clearly. They also both wanted the sessions to take place in their home/work spaces which helped show more of their individuality.
Julia Finlay is an osteopath who works from a beautiful, light and airy room in her West Norwood home. We really packed it in during her session. She wanted images of herself treating patients that also showed her workspace, so we arranged for a few of her patients (including a family with a young child) to come in for mini-sessions so that I could photograph her doing what she usually does, but with a little photographic direction.
She also wanted some good shots of her in her beautiful space and some more standard head shots. We actually managed to fit in an outfit change and taking her to Streatham Common for some images with a natural background, but in the end we felt that her looking crisp but approachable in her clinic gave the best impression.
Amelia Critchlow is a wellness coach and theta healer who runs Soul Space Healers. My session with her overran massively because it was so interesting talking to her! I felt she was coaching me as I photographed her and came away feeling incredibly positive.
As she offers online sessions from her home, we did the shoot there. I really wanted to show how warm and intuative she is. Clients will often need to discuss very personal issues with her, so it really helps for them to see how easy she is to connect with.
I have so enjoyed my recent personal branding sessions with business owners and look forward to doing many more of them this year. If you need some new photography for your businesss please have a look at the branding page on my website and get in touch to have a chat.
I also now have a beautiful, well-equipped studio for personal branding and head shot sessions.