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Go Big With Your Next Branded, Lifestyle Portrait Session!

Regardless of the industry, being a "thought leader" means you have a lot of thought-leadering on your plate every day.  

There’s books to promote.  Podcast interviews to conduct.  Webinars to host. Presentations to prepare.  Blogs to write.  Panel discussions in which to participate. Workshops to run — oh, yeah, and let’s not forget creating original content for 365 days.  Damn, that's a lot, but, that's the nature of the beast.  

In order to reach the status where your thoughts are heard on a large scale, you need to have high visibility.  One of the most effective ways to achieve this type of visibility is to leverage original image content that visually illustrates your brand to those who believe in your message and will invest in your products and services.

Your image content is a powerful, marketing engine!

But, it’s influence on your followers doesn’t happen by magic.  You know all that work that you did to get you to where you are?  That’s the same level of commitment needed when creating your image content to get you to where you want to be.  A great headshot alone doesn't cut it anymore. Consistent posting of original content is key. 

The most effective strategy to create compelling thought leader content is branded, lifestyle portraits that are versatile, captionable and reusable.  

Versatile

Create branded, lifestyle portrait content that can be used for your social posts, website, print publications, sales vehicles and other promotional outlets.  

Captionable

Any great image is worth it’s weight in a great caption - as long as it’s on-brand, of course, :)

Whether inserted as text on the image itself, or placed below it in the comments section, captions sum up the “thoughts” of a thought leader.  By presenting informative, inspirational and entertaining portrait content, that represents the daily lifeblood of your brand!   

Re-usable

Doesn’t it suck when you pay all this money for a portrait session and you receive all these fancy- schmancy photos that can only be used once? What if you created some original branded content that can be used over and over again???

Realizing the importance of branded portraits in your marketing workflow is the first step; the next one involves the “how,” as in how the hell am I supposed to get all this content together?

The answer is to prepare for a successful, high-volume, branded lifestyle portrait session that incorporates a wide variety of images into the mix. Capturing 1 or even 20 images is just not enough for you;  in order to meet your exceedingly high, content demands, you need a lot of diverse, image content that can fill your editorial and promotional calendars.

Specifically, it’s important to capture portraits that can be used as headshots, candid portraits of you working, in various locations that illustrate your brand, as well as standing in front of a plain background.  It’s also important to capture re-usable or evergreen images that have significant relevance to your brand and can be used more than once.

 

When I talk to my clients, there is often a lot of confusion regarding headshots and portraits, so, let’s start there.

A headshot is a very specific type of portrait with a specific use.  It is a tightly cropped image featuring a head, a face, a little shoulder, and that’s it.  No hands, arms, props, people - nothing else!  It’s an image that presents authentic aspects of your personality and brand through your facial expression.  

Headshots are best used as profile images for your professional social networks and your About section of your website.  For many thought leaders, they submit a headshot for speaking opportunities, podcast interview promotion, things of that nature.

It’s important to stress to your photographer the need to have one location dedicated to headshots since these images differ from the rest of the session.  For some, a photo studio location with a seamless paper backdrop is the way to go for their headshot session.  Many of my clients prefer the clean look of the paper background, in addition to the quiet, free-from-distraction-and-passersby- atmosphere of a studio location. By the same token, other clients of mine prefer the location look to their headshot, with the colorful, out-of-focus background behind their heads being a big draw to that look.

Either way, you need a high-quality headshot that presents your brand through your confident, approachable and likable expression, so make sure to discuss this with your photographer!

WORKING LIFESTYLE PORTRAITS

What does your office look like to you?  Do you work from home? Co-working space? Frequent the local coffee shops?  Wherever you handle your business, that’s a good place to start your branded, lifestyle portrait session.  

Although portraits of you working on your computer, tablet and phone are paramount, I’m also talking about capturing the little moments, too - sipping from your coffee cup, reading the paper during a break, having lunch, answering texts, listening to music, talking on the phone, consulting with clients one-on-one. Think of all the informative, inspirational and entertaining captions you can create with these types of diverse portraits!

In addition, these candid images differ greatly from posed portraits, both in their aesthetics and in the way they affect the viewer.  These images provide your followers insight into how you operate, which offers them a deeper sense of connection with your brand, and most importantly, you.

ON Location portraits

If you could shoot anywhere that would illustrate your brand and business, where would it be?  

For example, a client of mine rented a pricey, AirBnB for her session because the ornate decor in every corner of this house matched her brand and personal style.  In contrast, another client preferred to lean against a graffiti wall since that grittiness echoed her company brand.  

Locations serve to enhance your brand not only through the visual, but also, it provides you an opportunity to create compelling captions for those images.  Work with what's in the picture and go from there!

CLEAN Background Shots

Everything doesn't need to be so complicated — sometimes, a simple wall is the way to go!

When being photographed in front of a plain wall (or a roll of seamless paper in the studio),  the photographer can creatively compose the shot, providing ample open space in the frame. That open, or negative, space is ideal for text or logos to be inserted.  How many photos on your feed have you seen with text or graphic directly on the image?  

If you’re not already doing it like all the other cool kids, well, now is your chance to get on board with that!

Also, when you are standing in front of a plain wall, that makes it easier for you to be cut from the background and inserted into a graphic — website banner, online ad, e-mail header, etc — so, this benefits your graphic artist/marketing team, as well.

Evergreen Images

As I alluded to earlier, there is a way to create branded content images that can be used many times over; I refer to them as evergreen images.   

Evergreen images revolve around inanimate objects - books, technology, and other tools appropriate to your business and brand — and your ability to create compelling captions for them.  These books and objects could also have some sentimental or inspirational value to you — either way, this makes for compelling content!  You can re-use these images on your feed, in your e-mails, anywhere, and create different captions every time. 

Stop re-posting other people’s memes and create your own by instructing your photographer to shoot these objects in interesting ways, thus, providing you content that offers insight into your influences and inspirations.

Another category of evergreen images involve your phone, tablet and computer;  have your photographer shoot unobstructed images of the screens on each device.  

That way, your digital artist/marketing team can photoshop targeted content into that screen at a later time, providing you with a lot of creative flexibility with this one image.

Where do you begin?

Unlike the typical, look-here-and-smile portrait sessions you, undoubtedly, are used to, prepping for a lifestyle portrait session is time-consuming, and it includes much thought and effort beforehand.  

Winging this is not exactly the way to go.  Before you begin researching photographers, take a breath, then grab a bird’s eye view of your business, and see where you are in relation to where you want to be.  Note all of the current and upcoming promotions on your calendar.  Remind yourself of your goals and then plan out your year accordingly.  

Bearing in mind all of the types of branded images discussed here, visualize how you can leverage each for your own business.  Next, find a photographer that has a style and sensibility that is in line with your brand.  Make sure they are comfortable with your specific requirements.  Be very clear when qualifying photographers that you need them to capture a wide variety of photos during your session.

Of course, I'm available to answer any questions, :)

Questions about this article?  Questions about your image content?  Click here to set up your complimentary, 20-minute consultation to talk about it!