How to get great brand photos on any budget

Great photos can make your website pop... and vice versa.

We talked a few posts ago about the fact that your brand can really only be as fabulous as your photos and written content.

You know that your photos should be clear and not grainy or poorly lit, and you know it’s better to have no photos than crappy ones.

But what if you don’t have any photos at all? Where do you even start?

It can be super intimidating figuring out what you might need in the picture department.

And unfortunately there’s not really a one-size-fits-all answer, because it’s going to be different for every type of business and style of brand. One site might be fabulous covered with full page photos of quinoa bowls, while another could be perfect with only a photo of the blog author.

What you can do though is understand the different types of photos you might need, and how to use them. That will help you start deciding for yourself what’s best for your brand.

If I were to give you one piece of advice that applies across the board, it would be to always lean towards simple over complex, functional over fancy, and remember your business and website goals.

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First, let’s talk about what brand photos are and what you might need

There are a few basic types of photos you might need in your brand:

  • Photos of you and your workspace

    • This includes more formal headshots as well as more natural feeling shots of you in action - whether you’re at your desk working or on stage giving a presentation.

  • Product shots

    • If you sell products you’ll want to have pictures of them, preferably from lots of different angles and some showing the product in use. This can be achieved with a mix of digital mockups (which we’ll talk about another time) and actual photos.

  • Generic or stock photos

    • You don’t always have to use your own pictures in your brand. Sometimes you just want the picture to set the tone for the page - maybe you want to show families laughing at the park or a beautiful minimal office setting. You don’t need to take your own pictures for every little thing.

Today we’ll be talking about photos of you and your workspace, but you can also use some of these tips (and find tons more on the Google) to take your product shots as well.

If you’re interested in finding good stock photos and learning how to use them in your brand you can check out my articles here and here.

Now that you know what you need, decide how you’re going to get them.

Because technology is a thing and we have cameras on our phones that can take portrait quality pics (and also, stock photography exists), you have a few options for getting great brand photos no matter your budget.

Option A: Hire a local photographer to take your photos for you

This is the traditional route, and when you’re able to afford it I fully recommend having a brand photo shoot. It’s the most reliable way to get great photos, and something about having your own personal photoshoot just makes you feel extra badass.

Prices range widely for this - I’ve seen mini sessions for headshots in my area start in the $200 range and go up to several thousands for full packages with hair and makeup.

If you can find someone local whose style you love and prices fit in your budget, absolutely go for a brand shoot. Make sure you hire a photographer who has done brand photography before, and bring pieces of your branding with you to help them identify your style. It will be helpful for them to have your colors in mind, as well as the overall style of your business.

I hear you… photo shoots are expensive, so what if you can’t afford it right now?

Option B: Take your own pics. And no, I’m not condoning selfies on your website.

I probably wouldn’t have recommended that you take your own brand photos a few years ago. Actually I know I wouldn’t have, because I strongly advised clients against it for years.

We’ve come so far though - my Google Pixel can take photos better than any camera I personally have owned, and most phones have timer and burst options. You can set the phone up (either on a tripod or propped up), set the timer for 10 seconds and have it take dozens of photos on it’s own as you try different poses.

There are lots of articles out there that walk you through the details of taking your own brand pics. Do your research like you would with anything else and you’ll learn all the tricks.

An idea for this might be to find a nice neutral blank wall, either indoor or outdoor (I have a white brick wall in my house that I LOVE for this), then try different outfits and expressions until you find some you feel great in.

This still comes with so many words of caution by the way. Make sure you take the time to get good, clear shots. Take lots and lots of pictures and narrow them down to the few good ones. Wait for good natural lighting - indirect daylight works best. DON’T USE FLASH.

What if that sounds like a lot of work, or you don’t have a good camera?

Option C: Stock photography has come a long way baby.

We’ve talked about stock photos a few times, so I won’t go into too much here. You can find more about where to get good stock photos at the links a few paragraphs up.

With stock photos you obviously won’t have the benefit of showing off your products or building a connection by showing your face - but you will have the benefit of adding some nice visuals to your brand, expressing things that are easier summed up in a photo than a chunk of text, and filling up space that would have otherwise been left empty.

The most important part is making sure your pictures are consistent, clear, crisp, and well lit.

A quick tip for getting great website photos - make sure you request some shots be taken in a landscape layout with the subject (you) off to one side or the other and lots of empty space.

Bonus points if you get a few shots of you looking towards the empty space. These are great for using in website headers or marketing pieces, but I regularly get professional photos from a client without one single shot I can use in the site header.

Find a combination that works well for you and your biz.

I recommend going for a combo of professional photos (a few nice headshots never hurt), DIY photos (think action shots, product shots, and different fun poses for social media), and stock photos (great for blog graphics and header images).

There’s no one specific formula for what photos you need in your brand or on your website. Some people use no photography at all while others use it wherever they can.

Find what makes you feel great, is sustainable with how you want to run your business, and remember you can always pivot later on!

Have you had brand photos taken? Have you DIYed them? What’s the photo situation in your biz?


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