What do I do with my hands?! Take these simple steps to get clients feeling comfortable in front of your camera for scroll-stopping personal branding photos.
A great personal branding portrait should do three things:
- Make your client happy
- Make their clients happy
- Make their competition totally jealous
The trouble is, most business owners would rather hide behind their logo than be the face of their own brand. If I had a nickel for every time a personal branding photography client said to me “I’m not photogenic,” I could retire early (and rich). But when they come to me, fully convinced that photos that feature themselves won’t help their business, it’s my job to dispel the myth of “photogenic” and make them feel comfortable in front of my camera.
How do I do that?
Cultivating Comfort for Personal Branding Photos
I’m what I like to call a “reluctant extrovert.” Given the choice, I will always pick reading a book at home over any social opportunity. But put me in a room with an anxious client, and suddenly I’m Ferris Bueller — confident, charismatic, and always ready to bring out the best in my Cameron Frye-esque clients.
“As long as I’ve known him, everything works for him. There’s nothing he can’t handle. I can’t handle anything. School, parents, the future. Ferris can do anything.”
– Cameron Frye
“You’re probably wondering, “Ferris Bueller — HOW?!?”
I’m not going to make you scroll far to get to the secret to creating amazing photos for your personal branding clients.
Here it is:
I take the burden off my clients’ shoulders.
How to Lighten the Load With Personal Branding Photography
Listen to their anxieties!
Some people call them “pain points” or “objections.” Whatever you call them, these are the problems your clients are worried about that they’re trying to tell you to solve, both verbally and nonverbally.
Personal branding clients have a whole different set of anxieties than family portrait clients, boudoir clients, wedding clients, or even headshot clients. Their needs are specific, and my job is to actively listen and respond, putting them at ease before those pain points psyche them out of having a great photo experience.
Common anxieties of personal branding clients
Here are some of the most common anxieties and objections I run into, and how you can help your branding clients put those fears to rest.
#1: I can’t afford it
Money matters. The vast majority of my personal branding clients are not running 7-figure businesses — they’re artisans, advisors, advocates — and they are just as price conscious as anyone else trying to run a profitable business.
I know photographers want to avoid the dreaded “price shoppers,” but business owners aren’t price shoppers — they’re just running a tight ship, and can’t waste money on something that won’t significantly help their business.
That’s why I spend time communicating the value of personal branding photography truthfully.
Personal branding photography is not a luxury. It’s a necessary part of a specific marketing strategy, one in which you leverage your personality to connect with your customers. If this strategy is part of your marketing plan, you can’t afford NOT to do it.
DIY photos are the cheaper alternative, but they take time and skills that most business owners don’t have. And that leads me to another common anxiety.
#2: This is going to be a headache and I’m going to look like a dork
You know what every business owner needs like a fish needs a bicycle? More stress.
When most business owners start out, their singular point of reference for professional photos is usually the shared trauma that is school portraits. They are forever cursed to correlate hired photographers to the awkward yearbook photos that haunt their past, dreading the unflattering results that are doubtless to come.
I know this has been true for the vast majority of my clients, so I’ve developed a few strategies for addressing this pre-photoshoot anxiety:
- “Hey, I can tell you’re worried that these photos are going to be a pain and might not turn out looking so hot. But look at all the people in my portfolio! They’re regular people, and don’t they look cool? Trust me, I can do that for you, too!”
- “I offer the add-on options of professional hair and makeup or professional fashion styling. If either or both of those options would make you feel more relaxed at your photo session, let’s add those to the plan.”
- “This is not going to be like school picture day. I promise I care about you too much to let you look like a dork in your photos.”
Take the time to destress the process for your clients by offering additional services or just gentle assurances that you’re going to take good care of them.
#3: I don’t know what to do/how to pose/what to bring/what to do with my face
A full-service personal branding photographer is not a documentarian. I’m not a fly-on-the-wall, watching and waiting for my client to do something cute or suddenly strike a great pose. My job is to make them look good. And the best way to do that is through thorough preparation.
I make a point of meeting with every client in-person before a personal branding photoshoot or ever pointing my camera at them.
This in-person meeting is meant to accomplish two things:
- Plan out the details of their session, including: art direction, location, date, etc.
- Make them like me more
People are simply more comfortable with a photographer they feel close to, and I decided a long time ago to treat every client like I’d treat a friend. The pre-session planning meeting is an essential part of providing a great client experience. It gives me a chance to get to know them as a person and create a customized photoshoot that perfectly matches their brand and personality.
We spend time trading stories, thinking of fun photo ideas, coming up with a list of props and locations, and breaking down the anxiety of feeling lost and insecure. I’ll also demonstrate how I direct my subjects, and give them space to be vulnerable with me about any areas of their appearance that make them feel uncomfortable.
We’ve all got little weird hang-ups, and it’s better to talk about them before the session.
Alleviating Anxieties: The Key to Authentic Personal Branding Photos
Listening with empathy to your clients’ anxieties and providing clear solutions to help alleviate those anxieties is the only way to create an honest connection with that client.
When a person feels connected to you, when you’ve taken the time to build that trust and tear down those walls, it shines through in the photos like a lighthouse beacon. The results will be tailored to the brand of each person, full of authenticity, and radiating pride. And THAT’S what makes a scroll-stopping photo.
Written by Jesi Cason | Photos by Jesi Cason Photography