Marketing advice these days is centered around creating a personal brand.
There’s plenty of data that supports this advice, since people are likely to invest in businesses they connect with and trust.
AND, this can be really scary for folks who are deeply introverted, camera-shy, or otherwise uncomfortable showing their face online.
But here’s the thing.
You don’t need to show your FACE to make your brand personal.
You can infuse your personality into your brand imagery without morphing into an influencer or exposing all the intimate details of your life.
There’s another way!
Now, I do believe that having a solid, professional headshot somewhere on your website with a founder story is beneficial for a lot of businesses. It allows for additional connection points with potential clients that can encourage purchasing from you.
Finding out that a local shop is owned by someone like you or someone who has similar values might make a potential client more likely to shop with you than at your competition.
I personally have chosen between two very similar businesses based solely on the fact that one is minority-owned, prioritizes sustainability, or donates part of their profits to a cause I believe in.
The key will be figuring out how to share your story in a framework that feels safe.
❌ You don’t need to share every part of your daily routine.
❌ You don’t need to post about what your kids are doing.
❌ You don’t need to expose (or monetize) all your hobbies and interests.
When it comes to brand photography, you want to show your clients what it feels like to purchase from you or work with you.
And a lot of the time, your face doesn’t need to be involved.
Taking brand images that go beyond the literal and into the intangible takes a dash of creativity and a heavy handful of out-of-the-box thinking.
Investing in a brand photographer that understands you and can support you properly is key!
They can help take the guesswork out of the equation, and bring some new, fresh ideas that give you permission to show up online in the way that feels right for you.
Because here’s the thing:
⚡️ There’s no one right way to market your business online.
⚡️ What works for another business might not work for you.
⚡️ Forcing yourself to pretend to be something you’re not will translate to your clients as doubt, uncertainty, or possibly even a lack of confidence in your service or product.
And we DEFINITELY don’t want that!
Promoting your business with expressive and supportive images will ensure that you’re bringing your best self to every client experience touch point.
And this can allow you to make the greatest impact for your clients!
How can we achieve this?
Here are my 3 top tips:
1. Include subtle details in your images that nod to your interests or priorities.
I used little dachshund paper clips in these overhead working shots for my own business as a nod to my adorable pup, Deetolai. Fellow dachshund or dog owners will likely notice them and feel connected with me!
I also included palo santo and incense, which is something that brings me joy and that I share often on instagram stories.
Cassandra included her adorable boba AirPods case in this image of her podcasting tools as a nod to her love of boba tea.
As a Vietnamese-American living in Spain, she talks often about missing and craving boba on social media! And her audience (myself included) felt the thrill and excitement when she shared that a boba spot opened near where she lives!
Andrea is shown talking a client through the photo shoot strategy on shoot day, which demonstrates her organization and attention to detail.
She hopes to step more into a Creative Director role in her business, and showcasing her planning, prep, and strategy methods will help show potential clients how she cares for them and their vision on shoot day.
This can also be achieved through location, wardrobe, styling, and posing (which your brand photographer can coach you through how to choose)
These lil personality easter eggs will catch the attention of the clients that can relate, and get them curious about you.
2. Showcase specific parts of your workflow or process to help your clients imagine themselves working with you.
Through the dynamic posing in this image promoting my astrology readings, you can tell this is a deep conversation. We included a birth chart with hand-written notes and a sheet of complex transits to show just how much information is part of a birth chart reading, while showcasing that I’m here to walk you through every bit of the process.
Keeping faces out of the image adds a bit of anonymity and allows clients to imagine themselves in this image.
A key part of Rare Bird Coffee Roasters brand is how they manage ever part of the coffee experience in house, with a priority on sustainability. You can see the care with which they process their beans, from roasting to packaging, and the pride they take in their work.
The soothing colors in the background and warm tones throughout reinforce the comforting and natural brand vibes.
Andrea wants her clients to know she is friendly, approachable, and easy to work with. Seeing Andrea’s face behind the camera shows you just how joyful she is on set, which can put potential clients at ease even before they meet her.
P.S. I KNOW! Technically, this image includes Andrea’s face. But, it’s not a traditional headshot! She’s engrossed in her work, not looking directly at the camera, and it’s not a close-up/intimate shot.
Many camera-shy folks find it more comfortable to be photographed at work than to be photographed looking right into the lens. Not only is this a powerful image for clients to see, but also a great way for you to feel at ease being photographed, as not just about you, it’s about the experience of your work.
3. Show off your happy clients (with their permission) interacting with your products/services!!
You can feel the joy this client has in the Rare Bird client experience. From the care with which the drink was made to the smile on everyone’s face, this is a great way to let your clients see what it feels like to buy from you! You could even crop this image tighter to show just the cup changing hands to show a more aspirational image, that any client can imagine themselves in.
Check out this client rocking a t-shirt from The Confetti Bar! She’s got a great smile, and the shirt compliments the colorful, playful vibe of her pants and sunglasses. It makes you feel like you could also feel this confident and expressive in a shirt like this, too! And it creates a potential connection point with this client: she and I are similar, maybe I would like this brand, too!
Andrea is shown here walking a client through the plan, and by showing her client’s face, we can see the ease that Andrea provides.
We see how her client is smiling, at ease, ready to get into the photo shoot and following Andrea’s plan, which in turn lets the client imagine what it could feel like for them. Powerful stuff!
Can you feel the power? I can!
We’re not here to churn out boring, forgettable images like everyone else.
We’re here to cut through that noise and stand out with images that say EXACTLY what our clients need to know.
Need some help generating ideas?
Try these prompts:
- Think of your top FAQs. Could you turn those answers into images?
- What do you tend to have in common with your clients (values, interests, priorities, pets, etc). How can you homage that in your images in an obvious way? How about in an abstract or subtle way?
- How do you want your client to feel when they interact with your brand (examples: happy, calm, powerful, brave, soothed, free, etc). How might you build that vibe/energy into your images through color? Wardrobe? Styling/props? Posing?
I use these same brainstorming prompts when coming up with a plan for my branding clients!
Try setting a timer for 3 minutes per question and just jotting out all the ideas that come to mind! Then, you can go back through and prioritize what is most meaningful for your business.
What if you want to increase your on-camera comfort?
If you WANT to get more comfortable in front of the camera or sharing your self and your face online, great! I think that’s an admirable goal to have.
Here are 3 exercises to train your camera-confidence muscles:
- Set up your phone somewhere and record a few clips of you working on your products/services. As you playback the video, take a few screenshots of the process (or use the clips for a reel/TikTok)
- If this feels too hard: frame the shot so it’s just your hands
- Take it a step further: frame the shot so it faces you directly
- Put on an outfit you feel REALLY comfortable/confident in, put on music you love, and take some selfies (you don’t need to post these, just capture them)
- If this feels too hard: include a friend, partner, or pet into the photo so you’re not alone
- Take it a step further: write up a re-introduction post for social media to say hi to your audience
- If your camera-shyness stems from body-image issues, try out these body-neutral affirmations: “This is my body. The way I look doesn’t impact my mood. My body has not done anything wrong. My body is where I live, not who I am. I appreciate the life I’ve lived within this body.”
- If this feels too hard: write your favorite one down on a post-it note and stick it next to your phone charger so you can see it each time you charge your phone & charge up your self-acceptance
- Take it a step further: face a mirror, look yourself in the eye, hug yourself with your arms, and say the affirmations out loud to yourself. Choose one or say them all, and repeat as many times as you like.
Being camera-shy will NOT keep you from achieving success!
While you can work on building that camera-comfort, you can also create content that meets you where you are today and sets your business and marketing efforts up for success!!
Your ideal clients are waiting for you, excited to give you money to get the product/service that only you can provide!
Let’s get out there and show them what you have to offer!