One reason you want a website for your business is to look professional and legit…something the average selfie just doesn’t convey. More specifically, you’ll want branded photography. To help with this I’ve interviewed a few photographers in my local area, and I’m introducing you to a duo today.
This is the second in a series of interviews with other professionals that may help you as a service provider or consultant. It’s my hope you come away with a better understanding of what they can bring to your business overall, not just with your website creation! Read the interview with a copywriter.
Let me introduce you to Lori and Erin, here in the Rochester, NY area. Lori and Erin are personal branding photographers that build the relationships that build your business (and have been doing this for over ten years!)
What do personal brand photographers do (and why do I need one?)
They help entrepreneurs and businesses show up and level up the visual presence of their business. Lori says they really “help you tell your story, share your expertise & build the relationships that build your business. And we make it fun, relaxed and easy to do.”
About half of my clients already have professional photos when they come to me and all of them do when their sites launch. The photographs I see on many websites designed by others are ‘high quality selfies’.
You can tell the difference.
I distinctly remember a meeting I once had with a prospective client at a coffee place. I got there early and walked around inside looking for the person who matched the image on their profile. I sat outside waiting for them only to get a call 10 minutes after I arrived asking where I was. Turns out, the picture they had used on their profile was pretty old, because the person didn’t resemble it at all. His response? “My selfie was pretty good quality when I took it!”
Many shy away from professional brand photography. As per Lori, “Simply put, selfies are great for social media updates and stories, but your website is the first impression most people will get of you. So you should make that first impression strong and professional – like you!” And I’ll add that you should consider new branding photography every couple of years, at least, because when you meet someone in person, you want them to recognize you from your website!
Q. Lori and Erin, what are some of the fears and doubts your brand photography clients come to you with and how do you help them overcome them?
The biggest thing we hear from clients is “I’m not photogenic.”
And our answer to that is: We prefer to work with real people, not models! And your clients want to work with the real you, too. So we encourage people to show up as they are. We bring out the best parts of your personality so you can click with your potential clients.
Q. What’s a lesson you’ve learned from being in business that’s helped you grow that you think could help my audience of independent consultants and service providers?
Balance is key.
You need to know your ideal client and what they want, and of course, deliver it. But you also need to know yourself, what you want/need and set boundaries so your clients don’t walk all over you. It is a balance for sure, and it constantly changes as you grow.
If you can balance your needs and your clients needs, you’ll be in good shape!
What can you take away from Lori & Erin Photography, apply to your business and grow?
The best way you can stand apart from your competitors, might be by knowing what goes on behind the scenes of your own business. I mean, there are a ton of photographers, right? It seems like everyone we talk to knows at least one other local photographer.
So what can make you stand out?
Consider reviewing your internal systems and processes. Are there things you can do to streamline your workflow like adding a booking calendar to your website? Lori & Erin believe they are better able to serve clients with things they have in place:
“We have set up a lot of internal systems that allow us to be efficient with our time. From establishing a repeatable workflow and customizable email templates to internal communication and division of labor. We’ve been working together for over ten years, so we’ve got it down pretty smoothly now!
“We have an onboarding process that is pretty in depth. We get to know your business, your values, your goals, and use that information to guide the photography process.
“If your ideal client wants to see you in a suit? Wear a suit. If your ideal client wants to see you in your dirty painting smock? Wear that!
“We’ll help you think beyond “I need a headshot for LinkedIn” to exactly what your target client wants to see, then help you create that.”
Q. What’s one piece of advice you’d give someone starting out in business, from the perspective of your expertise?
“This may seem unconventional, but professional photographs should *not* be the first investment in your business.
“Once you have established a market and are ready to take your business to the next level, that’s when personal branding comes in. You need to do some work in your business to really get to know your ideal client and what you do for them. Once you know that, we can create images that position you as a leader in your field”
That said, they do believe that a website is hugely important. “It’s the first test we need to pass. A potential client is going to see our work and get a feel for our personalities right away, so they often know if we are a good fit to work together from the get go.”
Q. Who do you recommend my clients should check out and follow?
I attended a virtual retreat full of consultants and service providers, and tried to connect with several of the two hundred plus attendees.
Out of the 50 or so people I tried to look up (I got frustrated and just kept going to see if this became a pattern) only a small handful had the same image across social platforms. Inconsistent images and taglines made it oh so difficult to even try to connect outside of the virtual retreat and I only managed to connect with one. (The only one to also have their website on their profile.)
Moral of this story? If you go with a high quality selfie when you are first starting out, use it everywhere!
Lori and Erin are located in the Rochester, NY area, so you may not be able to engage them for your professional photography session (although they are willing to travel!)….but you can still learn from their business and take their advice:
- When first starting out, you don’t need professional photos, but you should have high quality photos that you can use consistently for people to recognize you where you show up online.
- Your systems and processes can create a smooth experience for your clients, and that alone can be what helps you stand out in your niche.
- A website is “hugely important” so people can quickly understand what you do and catch a glimpse of your personality.
- Professional photography can help position you as a leader in your field once you have an established market and are ready to take your business to the next level.
So when you’re considering that new website, or getting your website revamped, look into working with a brand photographer for professional photos…someone who sees the bigger picture instead of getting head shots at your local department store or taking that selfie you planned.
Once upon a time, Lori and Erin had separate businesses. It didn’t take long for them to realize they were stronger together, and now, 12+ years later, they have built a partnership that helps businesses take their marketing to the next level. In addition to small businesses, they also capture comfortable, candid photos for families and high school seniors. They both manage to balance business and motherhood. Erin has a son, dog and cat. Lori has a son, 2 dogs and 12 chickens.