A strong and unique photography brand is the foundation of a successful photography business. Like building a home, if you try to build a photography business without having that solid foundation, other pieces are likely to start falling apart right before your eyes.
It’s not a good feeling, but thankfully it’s preventable as long as you don’t try to take shortcuts and skip the work at the beginning.
Whether you’re just starting your photography business, you’ve decided to rebrand, or you’ve been in the industry for a while and aren’t seeing the results you want, this is where you should start.
The Importance of Building a Photography Brand
How can you make your photography business unique? What makes you stand out as a photographer? If you’re asking these questions, you already know why having a well-thought-out brand is so important. Because it will help you do just that.
First, what does it mean to have a brand?
It’s important to understand that your photography brand is a lot more than just your logo or business name. While those are important aspects of a brand, they’re just pieces of a much larger puzzle!
Your brand could be viewed as the identity or personality of your business, and besides your work, it’s the thing that will help you stand out in a saturated photography market.
Your brand can also act as a beacon as you make important decisions that determine the future path of your business. It’s something you can come back to when tough questions arise or you feel a little lost. And as the professional photographers out there are already well aware, those moments are likely to happen—and you’ll be thankful for this roadmap when they do!
How Do I Brand Myself as a Photographer?
Now that we know the why, let’s dive into the how!
Here are some important steps to take and things to consider when building a brand as a photographer.
Brainstorming & Defining Your Photography Brand
Start by doing some brainstorming and coming up with a clear vision of your business and what it means to you.
Creating a brand as a photographer is a unique situation because you and your personality are such important elements of your business. It’s one of the reasons why people will choose to work with you. That means that you play an important role in your brand, too.
So, this step takes a little introspection and deep thinking.
Here are some questions to help you define your photography brand:
- What makes you special?
- What makes your work special?
- What makes the experience that you offer to your clients special?
- On what area(s) of photography would you like to focus?
- What problems do you help solve?
- Who is your ideal client?
- How would you define your photography style, and how can you apply that to your brand?
- What words would you use to describe your photography business? Make a list.
Take some time with these. Write down your answers. Trust your instincts, but also feel free to sleep on it and come back to a question if you just can’t seem to find the answer right away.
Important Elements of a Strong Brand
Now that you have a better idea of who you are as a professional photographer and what you have to offer that is unique, you can start diving into the more specific elements of a strong photography brand.
Here’s a breakdown of some different brand components. We recommend actually having these written down somewhere—you may want to create your own brand book or guide—to easily reference whenever needed. Plus, writing it down helps to solidify it and make it real!
Vision and Mission Statements
Having both a vision statement and mission statement for your photography business can help you define your goals and stay on track. A vision statement is a broad idea that describes the long-term, idealistic goal of your business. It should be inspirational and convey emotion. A mission statement is more specific and should explain why your business exists, what you want to achieve, and how you will achieve it.
Wedding photographer vision statement example: To capture and immortalize love and human connection.
Wedding photographer mission statement example: To use photography to document your wedding day in a way that captures the realness and emotion of each moment, so that you can look back and relive this special day for years to come.
Your brand values should be a list of words or short statements that help define what you believe in and what you promise to stand by as a business. Since you are an important part of your photography brand, start by thinking of your own values. Think of the things that you promise to your clients. Think of what you’d like your clients to say about you.
Your photography brand values might include that you are dependable, that you offer high-quality work, that you offer a professional yet fun experience, that everyone is beautiful in their own way, etc.
Your vision statement, mission statement, and values are also great places to reference when you’re making decisions about your business. Whether it’s deciding whether or not to take on a new client, to try a new marketing tactic, or to branch out into a new genre of photography, you can come back to these three things and ask yourself whether or not it fits.
Photography Business Name
Of course, your business name is pretty darn important. Many photographers name their business after themselves, but it depends on the structure of your business and what you’re hoping to achieve.
When thinking up photography business name ideas, it’s important to keep a few things in mind. Make sure you choose something that will last the test of time, that’s easy to spell and search for, that’s unique yet relevant, and that just feels right. You can find more best practices for photography business names here.
Now we’re getting to the stuff that first pops into most people’s minds when they think about branding: the visual assets! This includes your brand colors, logo, fonts, and any other visual elements that you use throughout your business and marketing materials.
Because photography is such a visual industry, this part is really important. Your brand should complement your photography style and the type of work you want to do. For example, if you shoot moody black and white portraits, you’re probably not going to choose neon colors and chaotic shapes for your branding (unless that’s the kind of juxtaposition you’re going for!).
Your brand voice shows up everywhere from the written copy on your website and social media channels to the way you speak to clients. Just as the way you speak and write is a big part of your personality, the way you speak as your business is a big part of your brand. Your brand voice can convey particular emotions and messages that tell others what you’re all about.
So, how do you find it? Again, since you are such an important part of your brand, consider how you like to speak. You want to sound natural and you also want the way you present yourself online to match the way you present yourself in person, when you’re with clients. You don’t want to accidentally mislead people into thinking you’re a super bubbly, big personality—based on your voice online—just to find out that you’re a more quiet, introverted type once you’re shooting.
Choose some words that describe your brand voice. Is it playful, serious, deep, funny, professional, witty, sassy, sarcastic, sincere? What are some phrases or words you love to use? What are some phrases or words that you would never use? How will you make your brand voice inclusive?
Keep working on your brand voice and refining it until it feels just right.
One of the most important elements of a strong brand is consistency and practicing consistency with all of the pieces we mentioned above is essential for a cohesive photography brand. Use your brand voice consistently. Use your visual assets consistently. Stay true to your brand values consistently. Show up for your business and clients consistently.
For photographers, this also often means having a consistent look to your work. Having a certain “style” will help potential clients understand what you have to offer and help you find your niche. If you’re not sure what this looks like for you, keep experimenting and practicing. Photography Presets can also be a great way to achieve a consistent look in your photography with just a few clicks.
It’s also important to stay consistent when promoting your brand, which we’ll talk about more below.
DIY Branding vs. Hiring Branding Professionals
Okay, so now you know what you need to create a stellar photography brand. But actually doing it can be a different story.
Some photographers choose to DIY their brand from the ground up, but not everyone necessarily has the skills, time, or desire to make that happen.
You may be tempted to do all of the branding for your biz yourself. After all, no one knows it better than you! But you may want to consider outsourcing your branding—or, at least, elements of it—to the pros.
This depends on your skills, resources, and the level of energy and care that you want to put into the process.
For example: If you hire branding professionals, you will likely receive a proper Brand Guide which can be super handy when you’re working on marketing campaigns, website updates, or outsourcing any part of your business stuff in the future.
At the very least, it’s important to make sure that you have a proper logo and that your visual assets were chosen and created with care.
On top of that, it can be easy for us to get stuck inside a bubble with our businesses and miss things that others might notice. So, having a second set of eyes can be helpful indeed!
Building Brand Awareness
Once you feel confident in your photography branding, it’s time to send it out into the world!
There are several ways to market your photography business and build brand awareness. We recommend using a combination of different efforts, including:
Having a well-designed website is extremely important for almost any business. Make sure you include these photography website must-haves. You may also want to consider adding a blog to your website to showcase more of your work, offer valuable information to potential clients, and improve your Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
Social media can be an amazing tool to promote your business! Remember to keep your brand consistent across social media platforms and stay true to yourself while also adapting to the constantly-changing algorithms and trends.
Left: Courtney Miller Photo | Center: Pine Wreath Photography | Right: TruVision Studios
Examples of finding a consistent look for your photography (using Mastin Labs presets)
Email marketing, such as newsletters, is a great way to stay in touch with existing clients (which could become returning clients) and connect with new leads. Automated email marketing is an especially great tool for photographers and can save you tons of time!
Public Relations (PR)
When it comes to brand awareness, PR is tough to beat! From having your photography work published to doing something newsworthy, PR is a sure way to build connections and strengthen your brand.
Word of Mouth
Referrals are huge in the photography world. In the end, all the effort you put into building your brand should shine through during your interactions with your clients, and having a strong brand will make it easier for them to talk about you with others and share what you’re all about.
What Does Your Photography Brand Look Like?
Now it’s time to dive deep and decide—what does your photography brand look like?
We hope you found this article useful and that it sets you off on a path to success! If you’re looking for more education and inspo, you can find plenty more tips for photographers on the Photoism blog.