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ABCs of Personal Brand Photography for Photographers - Part 3 of 5 (K-O)

Breaking down all aspects of personal brand photography letter by letter...because it's so much more than just headshots.

After telling countless clients during their planning chats that they know so much more than they think they do, I decided to put this to the test myself, using the same method I suggest to them: write down each letter of the alphabet and start filling in words related to their industry, then little by little expand on them with your explanations. Before long they'll have dozens of potential captions and shot list ideas.

When I took decided to do this for myself, after months of compiling, I had nearly two hundred so I thought what better thing to do than use those words to educate others in the industry?!

If you're inspired and finding these helpful, head down below to download your free packet of all of them when it's ready!

A -E | F - J | K | L | M | N | O | P - T | U - Z


Kindness - preach self-kindness to your clients. Lovingly encourage them throughout the planning sessions, shoot day, and when going through their photos, to be kind to themselves and focus on what they love in each photo. It may be a little out of character for them at first but it’s a wonderful habit for them to get into and explore. They may thank you later!

Kit - nail down your shoot day essentials from camera gear and lighting, to your emergency kit and snacks. You may want to create a checklist on your phone to ensure you’ve got everything ready before each shoot. It’s easy to get complacent and forget something so make it a habit to gather it all with enough time to make sure it’s all prepped and ready.



Launches - when going through the shoot plan, ask your clients if they have any product/service/offer launches coming up that they want to promote. How do they want to represent them in photos?

Layers - one of the best tips to provide your clients when it comes to their wardrobe choices is to layer. Things like blazers, jumpers, and scarves are really useful ways to quickly change up their look, helping to provide them with a gallery that doesn’t look like it was all shot in one day.

Lenses - know what lenses you need for each type of shot. I would LOVE to always shoot with a 50 or 85 1.2, but when shooting in England with narrower houses, I often need to pull out a 35 or wider - the smaller the focal length, the more likely the edges of your image will warp so keep the main subject(s) toward the middle for these shots.

Lifestyle - capture your clients in lifestyle shots as those are a great opportunity to showcase their relatable human-ness and work great in their marketing.

Light - I definitely don’t need to lecture other photographers about the need for good lighting in photos, but I do want to remind you of a few things when it comes to capturing images for your clients’ businesses. Although artistry can have a place with some brands; crisp, well-lit photos are the main desire. I used to be only a natural light photographer but when I realized this and started bringing lights to all my shoots (most UK houses don’t have the giant windows I was accustomed to growing up in the states), my in-focus rate and image quality increased by a lot! But don’t feel like you need to know everything about lighting - just bouncing lights off light-colored walls and ceilings tends to do the trick. As it pertains to shoot rental locations, emphasize large windows to your clients before they start shopping around.

Location - location ideas will vary depending on your clients’ shot list, area, industry, and goals, but the importance of lighting remains the same. Work with your clients to help them brainstorm places that will tell their story while complementing their brand, AND work well for photography purposes - well-lit, minimal decor, and styling, large enough, etc. Many clients opt to shoot near their hometown to capture things that represent where in the world they are, so their knowledge of the area is generally the best place to start. You’re going to want to limit the number of locations you offer as part of your package. Time goes quickly and it’s easy to fall behind so try to get the most important shots right at the start when you’re both feeling (and looking) fresh, then everything else you get is a bonus! I’ve made the mistake of including too many locations and with traffic, we missed one and it was a bit of a letdown.



Mailing List - this is an important part of your marketing strategy. The people who opt into your mailing list are already warmed-up leads who want to see what you have to say. Repurpose content that you’ve shared on social media or in blogs to keep sharing value and educational resources. Sales emails are great here too but only occasionally - think about what emails you like in your inbox. Do you like to be constantly sold to? Probably not but I bet you love learning tips, tricks, and hacks; seeing the behind the scenes, and reading success stories. There are lots of email marketing providers so have a look at a few before deciding which one works for you. You’ll want one that allows you to create embeddable forms for your website and send automated emails whenever you get signups.

Make-up - when people know they look good, they feel good as well, which is why I always recommend that clients take the time to hire a make-up professional - who doesn’t love a pamper session?! Application for the camera is a tad heavier than for day-to-day looks so make sure they know to look for a specialist who has done photoshoot make-up and encourage them to take inspiration with them.

Meditation - feel free to skip this if it isn’t in your realm but I’ve found meditation to be an extremely useful tool for me and I recommend it to all my clients to help them ground into their intentions for their shoot. You may like to do the same, and even offer them a guided 3-5 minute meditation at the start of your shoot.

Mentoring - 1:1 mentoring is something I have invested in multiple times to sharpen my photography skills, learn how to better support my clients, and increase my business confidence and growth; and I'm so grateful for all the strides I've made as a result. I would highly recommend you find someone who you can work with even just once to help you see your business from a different angle and help you progress in new ways.

Minis - this has been trendy in the photography world for ages and when done right can be really lucrative in brand photography, and a great way for people to spread your name. I used to throw these out whenever I felt like it and sometimes they would sell well, and other times there would be one booking. Creating scarcity and hype should help your sales, but make sure to be mindful of how much time you spend setting up the sales page, CRM lead capture form, and marketing. Too much, and you won’t make enough to cover the hours you put into it. Map out how many sales you’ll need to cover your time and really focus on the energy of those clients coming to you. What else can you add to make the value irresistible? I’ve done these with included hair and makeup, BTS captures, and house rental - and those sold like crazy!

Mirroring - this is a really useful method to use to help clients understand your posing direction. Don’t just tell them, show them with action. Demonstrate with guidance so that they can mirror you. Not only will it help them understand what you mean, but it will also make them feel better in that they’re seeing you confidently move into the poses as well.

Mock-ups - these are a fun way to help your clients add useful images to their shot list. They can be a blank phone or laptop screen, or even an empty frame or notepad that they can later add text to depending on what they want to say. They are a great way to get your clients’ points across in their marketing. I even have a collection of mock-ups available as part of my free downloadable Brand Photo Intro Kit.

Mood Board - encouraging your clients to create a mood board is a great early step in the personal brand photoshoot planning process as it gives you a look into their vision and expectations. This will dictate the locations, feel, posing, wardrobe, etc., but remind them that it’s just a starting point and that your goal together is not to copy, but rather to get inspired by what others have done. Encourage them to save no more than 25-30 images to keep it easy to reference. Pinterest is my favorite way to view my clients’ dream shoot vision.

Movement - when clients don’t have direction or are standing still, they’ll often start to question if they're 'doing it right,' which is why it’s important to keep things from getting stiff throughout the shoot by adding movement. Add in natural movements like flipping through a book, working on their laptop, walking, throwing arms up in excitement, swaying, dancing, shaking it, etc. These actions will not only release that stagnant feeling, but they will also translate into dynamic images that look natural on camera!

Music - music is essential on my shoots. Not only does it add fun and movement, but it helps clients get out of their heads. I often make playlists for my clients based on what they share with me on their questionnaire, but I will absolutely encourage my clients to use their own if they have one they love. Otherwise, I have a great one filled with all-female power anthems to set the tone.



Nails - nails can be very easy to overlook if your clients aren’t used to maintaining them. Remind them to clip em, clean em, paint em - whatever suits them, just don't forget about them - a dirty fingernail can be so distracting and not an easy photoshop fix. If they’re DIYing their nails, remind them to bring that shade to the shoot in case touch-ups are needed.

Narrate - narrating may feel a little out of character but as the expert and director of the shoot, you must do all you can to give your clients a great experience and dynamic photos that tell a story. I do this by narrating scenarios for my clients to react to while going through their shotlist. This not only helps them respond in natural ways, but it keeps the conversation going so there’s no awkward silence. Bring lots of water because your mouth will definitely dry out!

Natural - in most cases, your clients will want their photos to be as timeless as possible, so it's best to aim for natural in most aspects of your planning - hairstyle, outfits, make-up look, and even posing (hence the jokes and movement as mentioned above).

Negative Self Talk - I'm including this in the ABCs of Brand Photography to point out how important it is to remind your clients NOT to include it in your shoot day together. Guide them to ban all negative thoughts as you go through shoot day and instead reframe them as positives. Pick out the good bits and focus on them instead. It’s a wonderful habit and life lesson they can take away from your time together.

Negative Space - as often as you can, remember to include negative space for each pose so that your clients have the chance to add text.

Networking - love it or hate it, getting out there and meeting people is one of the greatest marketing tools you have at your disposal. There are even some that are memberships so you can familiarize yourself with the people you’ll see and it’s not a bunch of strangers each time. These are great ways to expand your network and build trust as well as a name for yourself.

Niching - personal brand photography is a specialized field of photography. It requires different planning, skills, contracts, and posing than a wedding or newborn session. You’re often a stylist, creative director, and cheerleader, so when someone is looking to hire their brand photographer they aren’t going to want to see your engagement or christening portfolio. It’s ok to work in different genres of photography, but you’ll want to separate the marketing for those businesses so they don’t intermingle - different names, different websites, completely separate.

Notifications - silence your notifications throughout shoot day and encourage your clients to do the same. I know this is a big ask as a business owner but one frustrating message could throw off the flow of the entire day so it’s best to just dedicate both your energies to the shoot.

Nourishment - in the time leading up to their shoot, encourage your clients to nourish themselves because a well-nourished body feels good. And when someone feels good, they radiate confidence in their images. Help their skin glow by reminding them to cut salt and to swap alcohol for water.



Offers - who doesn’t love a special offer?! Decide if these are right for your business and if so, how they would look for you. See what others in the industry are doing and find a way to customize them to fit your unique brand. For instance, if you’re vegan like me, you may want to do a special offer in Veganuary, or maybe to celebrate your birthday or World Photo Day. Remember to introduce scarcity in your offer and make it value-packed and irresistible.

Open Mind - encourage your clients to have an open mind on shoot day. Remind them that they may feel silly pointing up at a blank wall during the shoot, but when it's caused a spike in email subscribers as their highest-performing pin on Pinterest, they’ll be so grateful!

Out-of-Office - you’re definitely going to want to advise your clients to schedule that OOO email for shoot day so they can be distraction-free. You may want to do the same as well!

Outsourcing - this will be so useful to you once things start to pick up. If you’ve got mundane tasks that you don’t love and/or they’re outside your zone of genius, see if you can find someone to take that off your plate. Web design, Pinterest management, social media, editing, taxes - there are so many aspects of your business that could be delegated to give you time back to spend with family, go on holiday, and BUILD your business. It’s not always easy to hand over the reins but the gift of time is PRECIOUS.

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Manchester Brand Photography