Why Most Photo Sessions Fall Flat

When you go to a Mexican restaurant and ordering the sizzling fajitas, you expect the cast iron platter to arrive steaming, sizzles dancing up off the plate. When the server says, “careful, hot,” you think, understatement of the year.

A well executed branding session does the same thing. It brings the sizzle to your message. It is outrageously obvious in what it promotes. You know exactly what you’ll get when you look at those photos, exactly who the person is. You know what they stand for.

But all too often, that’s not what I see in the online business world. I see a lot of photos that look exactly the same as the next. They have the same feelings as the next. They all kind of perpetuate the same thing.

the reason most personal branding photography sessions fail

To a certain degree, I get it. Your clients might want similar results from you as they would from the next coach (success, living with ease, consistent cash flow). But how you deliver those results will vary greatly. You are a different person than the next. Your values that you hold dear – they inform your perspective. Instead of rose-colored glasses, you have integrity-colored glasses. Or freedom-colored glasses. This is where your branding photography must also differ.

Several months ago, a story trended online. It was an experiment financed by Canon. It was 6 photographers photographing the same man, but each photographer was told the man was a different person. The each asked questions briefly to get to know him, and then they photographed him. To them, he was a:

  • millionaire
  • life-saving hero
  • ex-con
  • psychic
  • commercial fisherman
  • alcoholic

Their subject walked into the same room, wearing the same clothes, acting the same way. The only thing that differed is the story he told. These are the results.
personal branding photos by britneygardner.com

This is why your story matters. When you hear Simon Sinek say, Start with Why, this is why. Said in a slightly less confusing way, this is why branding matters. This is why I package up a VIP branding day with my personal branding sessions. My viewpoint matters as much as yours in the final outcome of YOUR branded images, so I need to understand what your message is. I need to see your why.

To produce a collection of branded photography for YOUR business, I need to know your business inside and out. What gives you incentive? What tickles you?

When there’s a tiny detail that might drive you to despair if you can’t stamp it out, it matters. The tiniest ray of hope that can turn an otherwise dingy day into an afternoon every fabric softener commercial shows– it matters more to your branding than the actual background in your photos.

“This “experiment” is a perfect illustration of how we all deal with preconceived notions about the people we encounter, and how that affects the way we view them and even the way we treat them.” The goal of your personal branding photography is to show something about you. To use the visual cues in your photos to introduce you to potential clients without ever saying a word.

The reason most branding photos online don’t work is because they’re just showing what the subject looks like. Maybe showing some things they like to do. Definitely showing them looking done up in a nice way. And these are all important things, but only if they also couple the secret ingredient.

Most branding photos fall flat because they forget to include the strategy. Your story. Your values. Your results.

Above all, a well-branded collection of photos will show what it feels like to work with you.