How to nail your brand photography style like a pro


Written by

Martin Sully

A lady in a navy shirt with a colourful floral pattern on it, laughs against an off white background


  • Finding fresh and original stock photos can be challenging and time-consuming.
  • Define your photography style by considering lighting, locations, colours, and models.
  • Create a shot list based on your key messages and search terms.
  • Decide between using stock images or working with a photographer.
  • Use high-quality stock libraries, choose the right search keywords, and utilise filters to find the perfect images.

Finding fresh, modern, candid, fit-for-purpose, and natural stock photos for your website or marketing is as much fun as dropping your phone in the toilet.

If you've ever scrolled a stock library to pick out some images, you would have been bombarded by uninspiring, traditional, cliched photos your competitors highlighted and probably brought. You were left with a mish-mash of pictures, hundreds of open tabs and no idea how to move forward.

You need to ask yourself: are the time and the money invested in finding the images worth it? There's a physical cost and a cost to your visual identity. And, sometimes, for a tiny bit more money, you can work with a photographer to create images that are easily identifiable as belonging to your brand and more consistent with your visual identity.

What does branding photography involve?

Think about your brand. Only you know what you need to showcase your products, services or organisation.

Here's a few ideas that you might want:

  • Headshots - corporate or candid
  • Products
  • Workspaces
  • Lifestyle
  • Abstract
  • Services
  • Personal Brand Photos for you and your team

In product photography, you must consider the colours you use, lighting, background and angles. In this instance, it's worth planning out the shots with your marketing in mind, hiring a styling team, and custom backdrops. You'll then need custom flatlays, working (action) shots and product images.

Personal branding photography captures you and what makes you authentic. It gives you space to be you and to connect to your audience.

Headshots don't cut it. They have evolved into personal branding photos. And, if you have employees, there's no reason your team can't join in.

By the end of this article, I will help you plan out your brand photography style, search for stock shots, or work with you to create your brands photography.

So, grab a notepad and pen and get stuck in.

Determining if you need brand photography

Before you book a shoot, I want to point out that a shoot isn't for everyone and may not contribute to sales.

Sometimes, user-generated content (UGC) and product reviews work beautifully.

But, if you want to represent your brand as supremely professional and paint a story for your audience to engage with, it's worth continuing with the article.

What is the purpose of the business photoshoot?

Whether you're picking them for social media or popping them on your website, you will confuse yourself, and customers without having a plan. So, you need to note down the following:

  1. Who are you communicating with? Who's your who?
  2. What are you trying to communicate? Does the image support or amplify your message?
  3. Where is the image going to be used? Advertising, print design, website, social media etc.
a set of three photographs in a variety of locations
Personal Branding shoot for Alyssa Brault and Hannah Mills.

Defining your style of photos

When I work on a brand identity for my customers, I always outline the photography style so they know what to look for when they need images. Not all designers do this. If yours hasn't, start thinking about the following:

How do lighting and mood affect your brand photography?

Think about your brands characteristics and tone. Do bright, well-lit images fit better? Or do the photos need to be dark and earthy?

Choosing the suitable locations and environments for your brand photography

What locations/environments/textures fit your brands mood and style? I like to answer this question by considering an ideal office/home for your brand.

  • Where's it located? Beach, country, suburbia?
  • What's nearby? The beach, local cafes/restaurants or a ginormous park/nature reserve.
  • What materials and objects feature — mud, rocks, wood, leaves, plants, concrete, brick, steel, technology, etc?

The importance of colours in your brand photography

What are your brand colours, and how can you feature them in your images? Backgrounds? Clothing? Products?

Selecting models for your brand photography

What type of people feature in your photographs? Picking models that reflect your ideal audience is a great way to make your content relatable. Look for models that fit the age, gender, lifestyle and fashion style of your target audience.

Hot tip

Sign up to Pinterest and search for your style of images. Pin those images to a new board. You can then share this with anyone you work with, including photographers. This moodboard serves as a fantastic collection of inspiration, too. Making a few style choices that cover a broad range of images will help you define and narrow your search.

Creating your shot list

When your photo style has been outlined, and you know what you need the photos for, you can create your shot list.

Find your key messages/website pages and decide how many photos you need. Then, note what types of images are appropriate and possible search terms to find them. It will give you a detailed shot list with ideas for search terms.

Deciding between searching for or creating brand photography

Searching stock libraries is time-consuming, but the above tasks will save you time and keep your brand consistent.

Choosing between stock images or a photo shoot for your brand photography

Stock images are a great way to access high-quality shots, but depending on how many images you need, working with a photographer can work out cheaper. The advantage of this is you will have original images that look like part of a set.

You can supply the photographer with your list of shots and let them work their magic. A custom photo shoot can set your brand apart and allow you to inject even more of your personality.

Valuable tips for searching stock photography

If you only need a few images, here's how to get the search underway.

Selecting a high-quality stock library for your brand photography

Don't waste time looking over cheese-filled, low-quality stock libraries. Some great ones are out there—even free ones for when your budget is just kicking in.

My favourite free stock libraries

Free stock libraries are fantastic but can have limited options, pushing you towards paid stock libraries to help you complete your list.

My favourites are iStock and Adobe stock. They have enormous ranges and also cover illustrations and mockups. Getty is expensive but the go-to for unusual/celebrity images.

Choosing the right search keywords for your brand photography

Choose a related word to the image you need, like 'fish', and if you can't find something immediately, add some related works, such as 'purple fish aquarium'. Use the search function like Google and try different combinations until you find something that gives you a picture you love.

Use filters & similar image suggestions

Most of the above have a filter system, where you can narrow your search to include people or not, add colours close to your brand, alter the depth of field, landscape/portrait and even gender. Some search bars allow you to add the search terms you don't want to see.

Find an almost-perfect pic, but the angle is all wrong? Some stock libraries will enable you to search for similar images or even more photos by the same photographers or models, allowing you to find pictures of a similar style across your project.

a beer is poured into a glass, with the can sat next to it. Photographed on a black background
Shout Brewing, a Newcastle based craft brewery.

Choosing the best images for your brand

If you've chosen to stick to stock, download some watermarked images, send them to your designer, or try them on your website. This way, you can see if it works in the space and makes sense when you see it with the copy.

The same goes for a photo shoot; having low-res, unedited images to see how things look will allow you to pick out all the photos you need.

Struggling to pick the perfect image for your brand?

Look for the image that communicates to your audience. People relate to people, so pictures of people often get a better response than objects or landscapes.

Enhancing your brand photography through editing

Your photographer will edit them to look similar to the style you highlighted earlier.

If you have photo editing software – like Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Lightroom or Affinity Photo 2 – you can edit the images when you've picked and downloaded them from a stock library.

A list of tweaks to improve your brand photography

  • White balance – alter the warmth/coolness of the image so they match
  • Add filters & effects – duotones (think original iPod ads or Spotify) or black and white

Backing up your brand images

Now you've got your images from the stock library or photographer, back them up!

Set up a folder on your hard drive or server and store them all there.

Name it something sensible so you can easily find them again. If I were creating images for this website, I'd set up a structure along the lines of — Snapper Studio (insert your business name) > Assets > Photography > Website (project, etc.). I'd keep the originals and the edited images, too.

Hot tip for safeguarding your brand images

Store more folders of all your brand guidelines, logos, graphics, other photos, videos and podcasts in your assets folder. It's an effortless way to keep vital assets together.

Folder structure for brand design assets
A rough file layout for backing up all your projects, images and brand assets.

Ready to book a brand photoshoot?

Fill in my contact page form and tell me everything about your project. I can then work out a few options and see if one works for you.

Need support? Book a Discovery Call.

Not sure where you want to go? We can chat through your brand, personal goals and work out an action plan.

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