So here are my 5 top tips to tell your story through imagery. When you first start to use imagery to build your personal brand and online presence, it can be pretty intimidating and overwhelming. These tips are designed to break it down, bit by bit to make it easier. Remember, you’re not making a movie or photo collage of your ENTIRE LIFE! You’re just introducing yourself, gradually. I did some training where the host literally blurted out their entire life story in the first 2 minutes. Erm, awkward!!
Cyrissa Carlson (who is fabulous), likens introducing your brand to dating your ideal client. You wouldn’t overwhelm them on the first date… well, you could, but they’d run for the hills most likely. Gradually, little and often.
I would say that in one storytelling shoot, you would probably be looking to create 15-20 images all linked by the same theme or story. You might not be using these all at once. In fact one of the key strengths of my business model is that I might shoot 3 different stories in one day for a client. They can then sprinkle them throughout their online content and posts for however long they want.
1. Choose a theme
Work out what story you want to tell your audience. Is it that you are a prolific blogger? That you’re an amazing parent, that you’re not such an amazing parent (!), maybe you’re launching a new side of your business which requires more work out of the office. There needs to be a nice little theme that you can really exploit. A good brand consultant or personal brand photographer will be able to walk you through this process. In fact, I’m going to put my own client questionnaire for personal brand photography in my resources area (which I don’t think I’ve published yet, I’ll get on that!).
You can do this yourself, these don’t have to be professionally produced images, but the idea of crafting a theme or story is the most important part. You will want to personalise these images though, so if your story is all about the technology that you use, you might decide to put a few flatlays together. Great! Make sure your business card or colours are on there. There is no point in going to the effort of creating custom content if you don’t make it customised! Otherwise it could just be another stock flatlay.
2. Plan it out
You need to plan your images – I use a storyboard layout to help with mine. On there I list the poses, lighting and even lenses that I might use. I’ll add notes about technical elements of the photograph (depth of field, focus, that kind of thing). I’m a relatively inexperienced photographer (just a few years!), so I do that to remind myself. I posted a video about my planning process here in my Facebook Group for personal brand photography.
It’s so important that you create these images intentionally – you should have an idea of how many photos you want for your content, how they will be displayed on print or on screen and whether you can repurpose them.
3. Match colours/style to content and brand
If you have regular brand colours that you use (and you should!) and fonts etc, try to include those in at least some of your pictures. As I mentioned above, there’s no point in creating custom content if it isn’t customised to you and your ideal client. Consistency is key, so if you always use a certain filter in your own updates on social media, or you always use a particular layout from Canva or Over, ensure that you do it for all of your images.
In fact, you do have a bit of a choice; for each story you might want to use a different theme. Imagine telling part of your story – you’re a dog lover for instance. You have a Red Setter named Keith and you love walking with him. You might want to use some lovely warm autumnal colours to match with Keith’s coat and some gorgeous greens to make the most of the great outdoors. For this you could use a specific filter in post processing. Too techie? Then use a certain filter in IG or FB or on your phone. But, and here’s the key – use the same filter or colour scheme for all of the images in that story.
For a more documentary-style story – maybe your coaching workflow for instance, you might want to use black and white shots. A grainier or high-contrast filter will give the images a film noir feel, a low contrast will make them nice and soft.
4. Make it discrete
Remember the dating analogy? We’re not telling your life story in one set of images. The more detailed you can be about your story for each set of images, the easier it will be to plans and the quicker to shoot.
By far the quickest shoot I ever did lasted 12 minutes, the client (a realtor) ended up with 12 images of an incredibly happy customer celebrating a house sale with the salesperson. Post processing took about 20 minutes, including resizing for web and social media posts. The reason it was such a dream to do was because it was focused, planned and discrete. The objective and story were clear, so the shoot almost planned itself. The editing matched the documentary-style story and Canva (can you tell I’m obsessed with Canva?!) made it a breeze to resize the images.
5. Tease and call to action
So now that you’ve planned your images, you have a clear idea of which part of your story to share, what images you will need and how you will ensure that they can be repurposed and customised, it’s time to build up the excitement!
Think through possible teasers – one-liners that are intriguing and appeal to your ideal client and make them want to read more, see more and ultimately connect with you more. Don’t share your whole image set at once – we’re dating remember? Just some here and there, don’t scare them off and you’ll have your engagement catapult in no time. Make sure you include call to actions on all of your posts and re-use them as appropriate.
I hope this has been useful, stop by the group to find out more tips and tricks to build your brand using imagery!
Be seeing you! (My slightly creepy new catchphrase :))