Why You Need to Show Yourself & The Value of Inspiring Portraits for Creatives & Small Business Owners

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Why You Need to Show Yourself & The Value of Inspiring Portraits for Creatives & Small Business Owners

If you're a creative or a small business owner, you probably already know that people who choose small businesses over large corporations don't just buy a product or a service, they buy from those who share their values and dreams. People choose small businesses, because they are interested in investing their money into something that is created with heart, passion and good ethics. So as small business owners, we are the souls and hearts of our brands. It's the connection we establish with our audience that translates into invested clients and customers. They want what we create, but they also believe in why and how we run our businesses. It's more than just about a service or a business transaction. It's about community, mutual support and a shared set of values. If you own a shop selling hand-made toys, your clientele are most likely people who believe in the value of hand-made and quality products that will last. They probably also believe that quality time with their children is more important than showering them with lots of toys, which is why they choose to invest in less, but better. Perhaps you also write a blog about the way you raise your family and your passion about forest education. Your customers read your blog, so they're inspired by your ideas, your lifestlye and the work you do and choose to invest in the toys you make, over what's available in a supermarket. As a small business owner you want to connect with your dream clients beyond just the product you make or a service you provide. This is why photography is so important. It creates a window into who you are, your lifestyle. It can enhance your brand and visually highlight your values. It's a way to share the face behind the business, reveal your creative process and create a deeper connection with your audience. 

Enhance Your Brand

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Most people, when they start a business, are aware that they need to create a memorable brand. Perhaps they commission a logo designer to create something unique and memorable for them. Most likely, their designer will guide them through creating their brand mood board, selecting their colour scheme and font styles, trying to understand the message and identify what the business aims to convey. What most people perhaps don't realise at the start, is that brand identity extends far beyond a logo or font colours. Your brand is also the photography you use, your tone of voice, how you communicate your ideas. So whether you're doing it yourself, or outsourcing, you need to keep your brand style and values at the forefront of your mind when creating the imagery or writing for your business. And if you're choosing what designer, illustrator, copywriter or photographer you want to work with, analyze the style of their work, to see if it suits your brand. You might love a particular photographer who creates bright, playful and colorful photographs, but If your brand is dark & moody, you need to find someone who creates photography that's dark & moody, too. If your brand is very poetic and feminine, then perhaps it's not the best idea to work with someone who creates really edgy urban portraits. Unless their editing style or approach is what you're looking for and they would be keen to work in tune with your brand. You have to have that conversation with your photographer, so they can create work that will suit your business, or direct you to someone more suitable. The same would go for your designer or illustrator!

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Good Photography Completes Your Website

Your website is the home of your business online. It has your portfolio, your offerings, your valuable content and you want your audience to spend time exploring it. And most likely, you want them to come back. You want your website to make a lasting impression. A professional look, memorable brand and quality conent are all things that make up a great website. But it's incomplete without good photography. As a highly visual person, I am always more interested in websites that have a visual story to tell, and that is done through a combination of good branding and quality photography. Your website is a chance for a viewer to come away with a little glimpse into your world, what working with you may feel like and a better idea of who you are, and what you're about. A lot of this can be said through impactful imagery. Say you're a female business owner, making hand-made, organic & natural skin care products, you love slow, ethical living and you're inspired by nature and time with your family. That's part of your brand. If I land on your website and am welcomed by a large poetic image of your hands harvesting natural herbs in a beautiful sunlit meadow, I am immediatelly immersed in your brand and values: slow, hand-made & natural. I scroll down and there's a portrait of you walking into the sunset with a basket on your arm: I'm slowly being introduced to the woman and soul of this business. I click through to your about page and there's your smiling face, with a golden crown of the sunset. An image of you and your children playing in summer rain links me to a blog post on the importance of family time. Inspired by your lifestyle and admiring your values, I visit your shop to try a product of yours, and there I find imagery of your beautifully branded skincare. But instead of just seeing standard 'shop' images of your products in white space, I am given more - a photograph of a bottle of facial serum is followed by an image of your hands, gently applying the serum to your skin. Do you see where I am going with this? Imagery, if created with intention, has the power to tell a narrative and connect the viewer more deeply to your brand, your values and story. 

Connecting You With Your Audience & Potential Clients: the Face Behind the Business

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If you're a writer, you might have a portrait of you with a notebook, a typewriter or your laptop on your about page. But that's just one fascet of who you are, both as a business owner or a person. As a writer you are more than just someone who scribbles words on paper or types for a living. If you're a travel writer, do you love luxurious hotels and plane-hopping to Dubai for a weekend, or are you a seasoned rock-climber and your ideal adventure means canoeing, hiking and camping under the starts. Perhaps you prefer vintage shopping, slow afternoons and walks in the countryside. A photograph of you in your travels immediatelly reveals to the reader what kind of travel writing to expect. And whether they can relate to and connect with you. Through the power of your engaging words and ability to tell a story, accompanied by a window to your life and travels that photography provides, your readers feel like they're coming along with you. You want to fill your website & social media with imagery that inspires your audience and reveals more about you than just your professional title. So if you're an adventure travel writer and keen rock-climber, you could have a photograph of you journalling in your rock climbing kit, with a backdrop of a stunning mountain. One image can tell a whole story - make it count. But don't make it the only image of you that you share. Personally, I am far more likely to follow someone on social media, if I can see a real person behind that account. However inspiring and amazing someone's work is, if all I see is their portfolio - I am not invested in it's development. You need to show up, over and over again, if you want to pull your audience in and keep them coming back for more. If they land on your page or social media account, and they don't see a face behind it, it takes work & time to connect. But if you're showing up often, and you're sharing various parts of who you are through stunning photographs, they will feel like they know you a little almost immediatelly , and if they connect to the person you are - they're far more likely to stick around. 

Inspire Your Clients: Evoking a Feeling

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Whatever you make, create & sell has a purpose. A macrame artist might want people to feel at home, a yarn business might want to help people feel cosy and comfortable. A natural make-up artist would want their clients to feel comfortable and beautiful in their own skin. A poet could aim to stop people for a moment and remind them of how enchanting this world is, or invite feelings of compassion towards those in need. Good photography created with a purpose in mind will not only deliver a strong message of your brand values, but evoke a feeling with intention. Do you want your brand to feel empowering, cosy, calming, exciting, adventurous, nostalgic, optimistic, romantic, spiritual, etc? The right kind of photography will evoke those feelings through the colours, style, composition, and its content. If you want to make the most out of working with a photographer, spend some time thinking about it, write down the key words & communicate this clearly to your photographer. If they're aware of how you want your brand to feel, they can direct and style a portrait & brand session with you in a way that will help to express those feelings. 

Revealing Your Creative Process & Behind the Scenes

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I like pottery, I appreciate good craftsmanship and quality ceramics, but it's not my hobby or particular interest. But I follow numerous potters and craft makers on social media. Why? Because I love seeing the process of creative making & things coming together. It inspires me and fuels my own creative endeavours. The ceramic or tattoo artists, illustrators, print-makers and off-grid homestead owners that I follow online are always ones who's style or approach I really admire, or ones who share a lot of the behind the scenes and process of their art & lifestyle. As a photographer, I try not to overwhelm myself with only looking at the work of other photographers. So those photographers that I follow and connect with online share more than just the photography they create. They're either great educators or incredible business mentors, they share their behind the scenes and reveal how they come to create those fascinating and stunning photographs. Or they are interesting and inspiring people whose ideas and values I admire. And when it comes down to it, I am far more likely to invest in a course from a photographer I've gotten to know and trust the skills and educational methods of than a faceless website just selling photography courses. Or when I have a budget for a beautiful ceramic mug, I'll purchase the one I've seen that potter make on Instagram, because every time I drink my tea from it and sit down to draw or edit images, I will be reminded of and inspired by that person's creative outlook. 

So wether you're hiring a professional photographer or creating these images yourself, or a combination of both, remember to show up in your business. You're the brand ambassador of your own brand - you clients and customers want to see your face & the scenes of your life, and work. It may not be immediatelly obvious how a great photograph translates into sales. So if you're thinking whether to invest in a photographer and you're doubting it because good photographers cost good money, remember the value these photographs can add to your business, if used to their full potential. Quality photography will enhance & pull together your brand, inspire & engage your audience, reveal the character and depth of your business, help create and foster a connection with your dream clients. Which are all things that lead to the financial success & sustainability of your business. That's the value that you're investing in when you're hiring a professional photographer who understand and suits your brand & purpose.

 

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