Successful Brand Photography: Do’s and Don’ts
Capturing the essence of a brand entails a lot more than streamlined logo usage, a website that reflects the brand identity, and a social media channel that expresses the brand’s held ethos and ideas. Anyone who has attempted to encapsulate a brand’s image would probably agree with the fact that there is rarely a simple tactic or technique that can magically seize and amplify everything the brand is about, visually and ethically.
With many successful brands choosing to move away from words and investing in visually exhibiting themselves through photography and media outlets, it isn’t much of a shock that 2017 is estimated to show 74% of digital marketers relying on visual content to drive their brand’s presence.
Most digital marketers appreciate and understand the importance of visual content, but applying this knowledge to the task of representing a whole brand through photography alone, can seem daunting. A recent project internally, which we are very excited to reveal soon, meant that I was submerged in the task of showcasing a brand’s story, success and knowledge, in photographs. Twenty-One thousand images later, some smart tips started to emerge, that may come in handy if you ever find yourself picking up a camera to do a brand photoshoot.
Don’t only focus on the wider picture
It’s very tempting to cram as much in of a location or scene as possible, to capture the big deal all at once. Although this can seem the simplest way to encapsulate something efficiently, it is often not the most effective. There’s a reason the trend of ‘guess the object’ took off in 2016, with thousands enjoying the illusions and quizzes that asked users to guess what the object was with only an incredibly zoomed in and detailed photograph as help.
There’s something a lot more telling and intriguing about texture and detail, that allows an aspect of mystery, surprise and personal interpretation. A personal favourite of mine, which is a perfect example of this, is Marks and Spencer and their advertisements over the years. Although they undoubtedly have an advantage, with delicious food being their industry to promote, their up close shots of products prove a nationwide hit each year, especially around the Christmas period. Capturing the fine details of a brand you don’t necessarily expect to see, can allow the whole institution to be viewed in a new, visually enticing alternative light.
It seems the cliche to obtain a whole restaurant-wide camera shot when shooting food related brands, so I made it my mission to capture the essence of a restaurant without simply taking a picture of the restaurant. That sentence may sound strange and illogical, but we all know what a restaurant looks like, with tables and chairs and probably some nice pictures on the wall. Honing in on the detail of a brand that makes it unique, whatever that detail may be- rather than an expected image, will be the key to creating something a little more independent and personal. Both of which at the end of the day- are the things that capsulate and speak about what the brand actually is.
Think outside the box
It seems that often being a little more abstract and obscure in your work can cause a great deal more interest than simply showcasing a product. Although it may be feel unnatural to be focusing on what isn’t directly a brand’s product, it is true that the unexpected draws more attention.
The ideal example of this that pops into my head every time, is Zara clothing. Their photography on their website is simply stunning. They don’t submit themselves to being in a category of a clothing site. Rather than basic, expected images of models wearing their clothes, they display diverse photography from exotic, unique and vibrant photo shoots, often unrelated to specific clothing items completely.
Rather than using a product to sell- they are using Zara’s beliefs and desired ‘look’, which is what creates a successful brand in the first place.
This greatly inspired me throughout photoshoots I have done. If it’s a clothing shop, don’t only take pictures of clothes. If it’s an ice cream shop don’t only take photos of ice cream. A brand is so much more than the products they sell, and realising this and capturing what makes up the brand apart from their products, will immensely help produce work that displays the brand’s identity without blatant product promoting. Obviously, it is important to get the gist of what the brand is trying to promote, but being able to include more obscure, perusal aspects of the brand is bound to draw more attention and interest. You may also have to do some digging to find out exactly what the brand’s story is behind their products and ideas, as it may not be obvious at first.
Don’t Hide Your Brand by Over Editing Images
If you’re relying on multiple images to capture a brand, it is important to make sure there is some aspect of streamlined imagery running through. It is, therefore, tempting to simply place a filter over all of your images to make them all appear the same scheme. Similar to how you would make sure the logo and brand colours remain similar or the same throughout all company work, ensuring this recognisability through imagery is important but can be risky. Filtering and over editing images could come across as inauthentic, which will not help brand trust and relationships with consumers.
There’s nothing I can’t stand more than when it is obvious a photographer has placed the same filter over a series of images, completely reducing the raw edge which could have been branded focal point of promotion. Everybody knows about photoshop nowadays, so instead of trying to perfect everything to the point it looks fake, why not just celebrate the real thing.
Obviously, editing can go a long way, but rather than apply a filter or standard across all images, looking out for colours and tones that seem streamlined in real life, will make your editing job a lot less extensive and appear rawer. In Morgan Davies Bridal shop, it was obvious to me that the cool blue tones combined with creams stood out to give the shop it’s luxurious and sophisticated feel, which also happens to be largely what the brand stands for.
The White Company gets this right and is all for natural minimal tones to conjure up their image, creating a fresh and clean image, relevant to the products they sell and their brand identity.
Do Balance Being a Witness & in Control
Depending on where you are shooting, you may have a variety of responsibility when comes to setting up a shoot or whether you are simply acting as an observer to what already exists.Rearranging a brand’s headquarters may not make you popular, but if it is an option, take the opportunity to optimise your space. If it’s needed, never be afraid to set yourself up to the ideal backdrop and set.
I do, however, think it is important to balance this with allowing the brand to be as ‘normal’ and as natural as possible. In the majority of cases, being a witness to what is happening and capturing these organically produced moments, will produce much more relevant images that reflect the brand, than set up scenes and ideas.
Although it obviously was staged and not accidently witnessed, Lloyds Banking recent advert got the right idea at allowing a brand to shine through by producing imagery that shows their values without throwing a product in the face of the audience. In a piece that saw the viewers seemingly just being a witness to a scene, Lloyds incorporated the idea of taking a back seat and watching scenes unfold to produce the core of the brand’s image naturally.
It can be tricky to get the balance between making sure you obtain the correct items or ‘vibe’ to allow you to capture the brand image, with also keeping it as real and unproduced as possible! Having an idea about the brand beforehand, and having an eye for what is going to naturally look great without change needed, will make this dilemma a lot easier to tackle. At Gatefold Record Lounge, taking advantage of the natural light pouring in from the window meant I was utilising the scene without having to invade too much.
Key Questions to ask yourself in preparation for a brand shoot:
- What are the brand’s personal beliefs and thoughts that could be inspirational?
- What do they have or do that is a little different from anybody else in their industry?
- What does their current branding represent and how is it doing this?
- What tones, emotions or ideas are going to be the focus to best represent this brand?
Top tips to a successful brand photoshoot:
- Don’t be afraid to get personal and delve deeper into a brand’s story and ethos. If you don’t ask,
you’ll only be left with the superficial and cold- not the marketable or relatable material.
- Get your thinking cap on prior to arrival, with any creative ideas or setups you want to do pre-arranged.
- Take your time. If you’re rushed and short for time, you won’t have the time to capture the special moments as they
- Take lots of images, and have fun. Despite these personal thoughts, there really isn’t a right or wrong way to capture a brand through photography.
Like any other art, focus on the thought behind the physical, and it will be hard to go wrong.
To learn more about how Edge Digital can provide photography to help grow your brand’s presence and marketing recourse, contact us today.