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Claire With the Camera BLog

8 TOP TIPS for How to STOP Stock Imagery from Damaging YOUR Brand

Updated: Nov 3, 2023

(and what to include in your photos instead!)

Small business owners, did you realise that stock imagery can actually damage your brand?

I’m sure you know from other websites or when you see some sponsored posts on Facebook, that stock images are easy to spot. They are very bland and don't create any real emotional connection, which means that your potential clients can't get a true sense of you or your business.

You want to build connection and trust with you audience and do to this, you need to show the real you and your business. Stock images just don’t do this, and more damaging than that, they will mean that people will question whether what you are doing, and what you offer, is real.

And how much time do you spend searching for a stock image? Do you spend any money on them, or just lots of your valuable times? Time that would be better spent on marketing your business or dedicated to your clients. And do you ever really find the photos that portrays your business or the post you were writing?

As a brand photographer in Surrey, I know how important images are, and how every photo you use needs to reflect you and your business.

So now is the time to move away from stock imagery and use my top tips for what to include in your photos instead!

Happy reading

Claire with the Camera x

Tip #1 - Show where you work

We're all a bit nosey, so absolutely LOVE seeing behind the scenes, whether that's your home office or workspace, or what you are up to that day. We all love to see how others live and work, so this really helps potential clients start to get to know you. Increase engagement by posting up a picture of your workspace and asking your followers to post up theirs, or asking a question about how they work.

If you are an artist or sell something you make, why not post a speeded-up video of you in action creating something special. Or you getting your tools and workbench set up for the day. This is so much fun to do, so play around with it! These clips make fab reels and stories.

To get your audience involved, perhaps you could ask them to choose something to go into your next creation, eg colour, flavour or pattern, depending on what you make or create!

If you are a service provider, perhaps share some photos of places or locations you work from, or a client meeting, or how you do your planning for your business.

Sometimes thinking about location can hold small business owners back from having a professional photoshoot, especially if you work from a small room at home. But don’t worry, there’s lots of ways to make it work! I can provide advice and guidance on whether we can make your space work (you would be surprised at what you can get out of a small space). Or I can help you to easily find somewhere that reflects who you are and will enable us to get the photos you need; whether that’s an office or treatment room for hire or perhaps a hotel, café or outdoor space.

Tip #2 - What are the tools of your trade?

Close ups of the things you use in your daily business give great detail, and focus on the love and effort you put into what you do.

Perhaps you are a baker, artist, or create bespoke jewellery and you can take close ups of the art or items as you progress along each stage, from the raw materials to the finished product?

Perhaps the tools of your trade are coaching books that you read and your laptop? Whatever they are, they are a key feature to visually sharing your business story.

I love focussing on the small details, and seeing how something, which you might not initially think is interesting, can really come to life in the right shot.

Tip #3 - Show connection

Showing your connection and interaction with customers and clients, helps people to understand what you do and what you bring to others, enticing them to find out more and see how they can get that same experience.

Whether you can do a screenshot on your next Zoom call, take a selfie at your next client meeting or take a photo of team you are working with, these are great ways to show the great relationships you build.

For those who would like to really showcase the connection with your clients to help build your business brand, then a brand photography shoot could be for you!

As part of planning your business brand shoot, I help you to work out what thoughts and emotions you want to evoke through the photos, and how you can use ‘clients’ to show the connections that you build, and the transformational journey you help your clients to go on.

Tip #4 - Mix it up

Sometimes we are so used to what we do, that we don’t think of it as interesting! It becomes second nature and we don’t realise there’s a story we can tell.

Have a think about some of the things you do that you could use in photos – perhaps as simple as unpacking a stock delivery, preparing for your next coaching session, sharing a testimonial a client has WhatsApped to you, or even something that didn’t go quite as planned – that’s a great way to invite others to share their learnings too!

As part of my business or personal branding photoshoots, we decide what key themes you want your photos to show and how we can tell those stories in an engaging manner.

Tip #5 - Your vibe attracts your tribe!

Have a think about what your business brand values are, your brand colours and your tone of voice - are you fun and frivolous, or more serious and professional. And then use photos that align with these.

If you love pretty things, use colourful fabrics in your photos, if you are all about nature, you might use leaves, flowers and natural colours. If you provide a warm and nurturing service, you might want to use warm fabrics and more muted colours. I love understanding colour and the different emotions colours can help to create.

Again, props and accessories can really help bring you and your business to life. Do you have a favourite mug that brings out your humour, your values or a brand colour, perhaps your notebook or journal reflects what’s important to you? Or maybe you have some key books that you often refer to, which help guide you and represent one of your values or ways you approach life?

Each of these can be a photo that you use to talk about what your business does and what you believe in.

This way, people can start to get to know you through your posts and have visual clues

that mean they immediately know it's you.

Including your brand values can seem harder, but first have you identified these?

Mine are:

  • Honesty and integrity

  • Supporting others and creating confidence

  • Creating visual brand stories

  • Celebrating the perfectly imperfect in everyone!

What are yours?

When I’m planning a brand shoot, these are some of the things that I look for and chat to my clients about, so I can truly understand them and their business and can bring them out in their bespoke photo library.

Tip #6 - Have some fun!

This one is key for me – if you’re not enjoying it, your followers probably won’t be either. So, whether it’s a behind the scenes shot of you messing about or an artsy photo, make sure you show your fun side too!

Including some of these ideas will help to keep your social media posts interesting and engaging, and will show your followers that you’re a real person too – after all, we all need a break from work sometimes!

Tip #7 - Make it personal

We all like to see the more personal side of people we follow – especially if they are in business. Showing snippets of your life, what you get up to outside of work or even just a selfie can help to build that connection with your followers and let them know a bit more about you too.

Tip #8 - Have a professional brand shoot!

And not just because I am biased! As you can see from everything you have read in this guide, there’s more to getting a decent photo than just taking a quick snap!

You need to build up your business story visually, so people can get to know, like and trust you. This takes time and consistency. Having a whole library of on brand photos can help to do this, and will mean you always have branded content ready to post. Imagine all the time you could save if you weren't constantly scrabbling around for the perfect photo to post!

As a professional brand photographer, I can take you on a journey to plan a bespoke shoot that fits with your business including choosing the right location/s, bringing out your brand and personality and creating a variety of photos, bursting with YOU-NESS!

I can help you identify the themes and stories that will help connect your business with your ideal client and help you feel confident and proud.

What next

I hope you have found these tips useful to create varied and engaging photos and content for your social media posts, to connect with and engage your audience.

If you would like to find out how I can create your very own business brand photo library brimming with beautiful, bespoke photos to use each day to tell your story, connect with your ideal client and enable your business to grow, follow this link to book a no-pressure Enquiry Call.

You can also find out more about my small business brand photography shoots in Surrey, visit my brand gallery for inspiration.

Claire with the Camera x


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