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What’s With All The Branding Questions?

Getting your branding images done is more involved than just smiling for your headshot. It takes thoughtful preparation.

Carol Cool, speaker
Carol Cool, speaker and author

Carol Cool, speaker and author, shares her experience of working with me (Heike Martin Photography) to get lifestyle branding images for her website, social media channels and marketing print needs. I couldn't think of a better way to explain to you how my process works than asking Carol to share her own experience.

What's with all the questions?!

That was my first thought when I began working with Heike Martin to get a series of branding photos for my speaking and training work. I'd had photo shoots before. The photographer told me where to be at what time and maybe how many outfits to bring.

I hate having my photo taken

I hate having my photo taken, and unless I've drastically changed my hairstyle or lost 35 lbs (as was the case this time) I stick with the photos I've got. I just wanted to get the shoot over with and find a few images decent enough to update my social media, website and mailings.


But first, Heike was asking a lot of questions.

Life is Good T-shirt - branding
Ask Carol about the T-shirt.
  • How would you describe yourself and your business in one sentence?
  • If your business had a personality what would it be?
  • Why are you looking for a branding session?
  • How would you like your brand to evolve?
  • What image will help tell your story?
  • Where do you want them taken?
  • Why is that place important to your brand story?
  • What adjectives describe you?
  • What clothes are you considering?
  • Does that outfit truly project who you are?
  • How would this particular image align with your business?
  • What social media sites are you on and what kind of images do you need for them?
  • What areas are we missing that you might need photos to illuminate them?
  • What colors or fonts are you using on your website or considering for a refresh?

The Prep

This was a whole new ballgame, and at first I was annoyed. I was busy. I didn’t have time to answer quirky questions on a survey or to meet in person to talk about the shoot. (I did find out later that we could have met via video chat, but Panera was a much better choice in my book. At least I could feast on cinnamon crunch bagels while I answered Heike's questions.)

After providing answers to Heike's questions, many of which she expertly coached out of me, she provided me not only with a summary, but also with a mood board of colors and textures and images to see if they captured the look I was hoping for. They totally did.

Next came a timeline for our 4-hour session. It included times for our locations, a description of the types of shots, instructions on what each of us was bringing, and snapshots of the outfits for that session. Having all of that information on one page brought a calmness to my spirit. Heike had a plan. I didn't have to try to invent poses or looks or wear things that weren't "me" just because she thought they would make a good shot.

Finding Balance in the Circus of Life book
Carol's book "Finding Balance in the Circus of Life"

The Session

I was sure I'd be nervous for the actual shoot, but I can only say this: Heike is fun! She put me at ease. In our first shoot, at Panera actually, I mostly did what I do there: read, eat, work. Occasionally she would move things around on my table or ask me to look a particular direction, but it didn't feel awkward, even in that public place.

At our other locations, Heike made me comfortable, gave me suggestions, encouraged me, made me laugh. It all felt like an enjoyable outing with a friend, albeit one pointing a camera at my face.

My husband came so we could get a few images together—he who really was too busy, and who hates posing for photographs so much that he told our wedding photographer he was obnoxious, which you can imagine led to not-so-great photos. Even he ended up laughing and smiling, after she made him whisper "Brussels sprouts" in my ear.

The Photos

One reason I hate having pictures taken is how discouraged I am when the proofs come back. In sessions with previous photographers, they've said, "I'll give you a disk with all your shots," which sounds great—all the shots! I can choose from all the shots!

It's not that great. It means you get the shots that make you look like a 60-year-old pregnant lady, and the one where you're grimacing. You get the shot with your bra strap hanging out and the one looking up your nose. You forever have that picture that makes your boobs look like missiles on a launch pad. By the time I was done looking at them I'd be so discouraged and so negative, that I would grab the 5–6 best images and use them only, everywhere, so I never had to look through the whole batch again.

They're images I've splattered all over my website and social media.

Heike curated the photos she took. Gone are the horror images. Instead I received a link to a gallery of wonderful images from among which I picked those I wanted as part of my package. Heike then did any needed retouching and prepped the photos for online and/or offline print use. What I got was a file of photos all of which I'm proud of, in formats that make it easy to know which to use online and which to pass on for print publication.

Now I understand all the questions!

Thank you, Carol!

Each final branding image gallery will be different because you and your business are unique, but the same thoughtful preparation will be given to understand who you are and which types of images will be best to help in your marketing.

Heike Martin is a lifestyle branding and portrait photographer in Mount Joy, PA. She specializes in capturing your life and business moments in emotive and authentic photography. Fun, relaxed and professional.

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