Updated: Sep 23
Us human, we are visual creatures. We act on what we see. We eat with our eyes, we buy clothes that look good on us. We just can’t help ourselves and often go for things that are well presented and look good. Images are there to make us choose and decide. They are there to make us warm to something or someone. Images are there to sell. Look at above for instance. Could you resist from having a slice of cake on the picture below?
Having a photo shoot is fun, you get to wear costumes and maybe have photos taken in different locations. You get to use props relevant to your industry and take some time out for yourself. Definitely an experience to invest in. Not comfortable in front of the camera? Yes, I know that feeling. I don’t really like photos of myself either. Just too much of a self-critic but let me tell you, a good photographer is there to make you feel at ease and if you don’t want your face all over your business, ask your friends to step in and be your models instead.
If you have decided to invest your money into professional photography, here are some tips on how to prepare.
1) Vision Board
Check out Pinterest for some personal branding photos and create a vision board to plan your own shoot. When you share it with your photographer, they will have a better understanding what type of shots you are looking for. Think who is your customer. Are they corporate customer and you are offering service to them? You are looking to create more sophisticated look with your photos. You want to come across smart, confident and expert in your field. Is your ideal customer a stay at home mum or a creative person? You want to come across approachable, easy going, friendly- someone they can warm to and in this case wearing a suit does not really work.
2) Get to know your photographer. Good photographer will make you feel at ease and will
guide you through the shoot. They will suggest poses and settings for your photos and if you are concerned about certain aspect of your appearance, they will take it into consideration when taking photos. It’s good to be honest and tell them when you prefer to have photos taken at certain angle and they will understand. At the end of the day, you are their customer and they want you to be happy with your photos.
3) Plan your props
When you offer a business service, your props include your mobile phone, notebook, tablet, laptop and a cup of coffee maybe. You want your photos to look professional and use props related to your every day work. When you are a baker, you surround yourself with baked goods, crockery, utensils and more. You want your client to see you in your natural environment. Write down a list of props you want to use for your shoot when planning for the day.
4) Plan your looks. Choose at least 3 outfits that make you feel confident and that look good on
you. Yet again think what services you offer and who your target audience is. If you offer professional services to businesses you may want to wear smart attire. If pencil skirts and heels is your thing and helping you feel powerful, why not glam up. If your clientele is “parents”, you may want to show more casual side of yourself and wear jeans and t-shirt etc. Think of colours that compliment your eyes.
But if you are no photographer yourself and you can’t afford one either, how is one supposed to access good looking images to make our website stand out or social media profile stay in the game? In most cases, that involves paying for high resolution stock images which you can download online.
Most photo banks offer monthly or annual subscription which allow you to download a number of images each month. Those subscriptions can however be costly. Personally, I have used Adobe Stock photos before and they charge around $70 for 10 images a month. Fair enough if you are working on a project and can vouch the cost of images into your project costs but if this is a regular thing, you want to look at other options.
I have also previously used Dreamstime. Significantly cheaper option than Adobe and a good selection of images and you get 15 first images for free.
Thanks to a recommendation on a Virtually Yours VA networking site recently, I recently joined Ivorymix. They have a great selection of stock images suitable for blog, website or socials. Targeted for a female market, it comes with an annual subscription which allows you to download as many images as you like. As a downside, images may be a bit too feminine and if your client is a male, it may not fit your bill.
A new addition to the stock image source, is Canva. Canva now offers a variety of stock images as part of their premium subscription. Personally, I have found the selection of images a bit limited but it does not mean it would not suit you.
There are also some free stock images available but you need to realise that it’s likely you will come across same photos on someone else’s website and socials. Those photos are free and more people are likely to use them than those paid photos. Other than, no reason why you should not use those sources available. Let’s look at some of those sources below.
You can find a selection of free photos on Pexels. Great source of imagery if your budget does not stretch to paid images but the selection may be slightly limited. Second well known free source for stock images is Unsplash. Again, choice maybe a bit limited but otherwise great.
Just a note to yourself-free image sources often expect you to credit an author of the photo which is a nice a gesture considering you are not paying for the photo but in reality I don’t think many people really do.
Pinterest is great for visuals. It’s full of recipes, food photos, fashion, inspirational quotes, interior design, homewares etc. It is full of inspiration and I am proud owner of Pinterest account. Apparently it’s also a great source of organic traffic to your website when you use it well but about that some other time.
I can’t help but say I love it but Pinterest does not count as a free image bank.
Someone has put a lot of effort into creating those Pinterest boards and pins and if you just download images from Pinterest and post them on your socials without a valid credit to the author, it’s pretty much a theft of someone else’s work and can result in a legal matter.
Pinterest is a great place for sharing your ideas and using it as a source of inspiration but if you choose to post someone else’s images on your socials, please remember to include the author of the pin in your credits. Not sure who’s the owner of the image?
The owner of the picture is always marked on the right hand side of the picture (highlighted in yellow).
And, even when you save an image off someone’s board who is not the owner, you can still see the details of the original owner of the image so there is no real excuse why one could not credit the owner. You can simply follow the business on Facebook and/or Instagram and tag them in your post as a source of your image and save yourself from a letter threatening with a legal action. Voila!
In conclusion, if anything, dear to use more images as this is the first thing catching people’s eyes but remember - unless you are the owner of the photo, use a reputable stock imagery or express your admiration by sharing someone else’s photo by crediting the owner and letting them know you are inspired. It will work to your favour in an ever changing algorithm game.