Ellechat Recap: 3 Simple Ways to Improve Your Brand Photos with Brit Chandler

Let me let you in on a little branding secret.

You can spend tons of time designing a beautiful logo.
You can choose the best color palette, fonts and patterns.
You can even pull out all the stops creating an eye-catching website.

But if your photos are amateur and inconsistent, every collateral item and page of your website will fall short. 

The same is true for your blog posts, promotional items and social media accounts.

Great photos not only elevate a brand, but they make it appear professional and build recognition with your audience. 

Photos can make or break a first impression with potential clients and customers who come into contact with your brand. 

Professional photographer Missy Mwac explains why:

“High quality professional images on a business’s website and marketing materials give the impression of a high quality professional business; they are an indicator of quality.”

The stats agree with her. 

In an ecommerce site, 67% of consumers say the quality of a product image is “very important” in selecting and purchasing a product (source).

In an online store, customers think that the quality of a product’s image is more important than product-specific information, a long description and ratings and reviews (source).

Even if you’re just starting your business, high quality photos can elevate your brand and make it look like you’ve been in the game for years. 

But for most creative business owners, taking brand photos is a struggle.

“My strength is writing. I'm soooo not a designer or a photographer.”

“I’m bootstrapping my way to success. I don’t have the money to hire a photographer to take high-quality images for me.”

“I would love to be able to take better photos for my business, but I don’t even know where to start.”

If you’ve uttered or thought any of the above, I have good news!

You don’t have to be a professional photographer to capture beautiful, branded images (and you don’t even need a DSLR camera). 

In our last Ellechat webinar, Brit Chandler from The Inspired Editorial joined me to outline 3 simple ways to improve your brand photos. 

Brit shared some practical tips on styling, lighting and composition to take the guesswork out of photography and make your images appear more streamlined and professional.

You don’t have to have any photography skills or experience to take advantage of these 3 tips.

You can watch the replay by registering through the Crowdcast window below, or keep scrolling and take a look at the transcript. 


Transcript

Lauren:
Hello everyone, and welcome to this week's live chat. I'm really excited about today's Ellechat with Brit, because if there's anything that can make a website or a social media account look like a brand new website or social media account, or someone who's just starting out, it's photos. You can put a lot of effort into designing a great logo, a great website, great graphics, but if you don't have solid professional photos for your brand, it will all fall short. I know that photography if you're not a photographer yourself, and I definitely wouldn't consider myself one, photography can be a very intimidating thing to approach when you're starting a business. I am really excited to talk about just 3 simple ways with Brit today that you can improve your brand photos even if you don't have a DSLR.

Brit:
Hello.

Lauren:
Hello Brit, thank you for joining me.

Brit:
Hi, thanks for having me.

Lauren:
Brit, tell us a little bit about what you do and how you started your business.

Brit:
My very first business, I guess technically I started maybe five years ago. I was a family photographer. I got my first camera when my son was born. I really got into photography and wanted to make it my business and realized that there is so much more to business than just taking pretty photos. I got into a lot of online classes. I was trying to market my business. I was moving all over the country and trying to restart my business every couple of years. That education and the marketing education actually led me to getting a job with a photography resource company out in Portland, Oregon, when we lived there. That was wonderful. I really enjoyed that experience.

About a year later, I got another job as a product photographer/blogger for a company in the wedding industry. Being a product photographer/blogger opened up this whole other world where I just really saw how important images were on social media and on your website. Then we moved back to Pennsylvania. Now I started the The Inspired Editorial. My goal for that is to just provide tons of education and inspiration for creative business owners who have a great product or a great service, but have no clue really what to do on the business portion. I'm hoping to provide really easy content for people that want that business, and they're not sure what to do with it.

Lauren:
I love that. I love your background in photography too that you've not only done product photography, but you've also done family photography and for blogs. It's so helpful.

In talking about brand photography ... We're just going to dive right in. What are brand photos specifically for those who are tuning in and might be a little unsure about that terminology?

Brit:
For me, I think brand photography it lives the same place that your actual brand lives. Wherever you are and your photos are, that's brand photography. On your website, on your social media, if you sell products, your product listings and the photos that you have there, if you have an Etsy shop, your emails ... Just anywhere that your brand lives and you have photos, that's your brand photography.

Lauren:
Why would you say that brand photography is important? I touched on it a little, but...

Brit:
I think it's incredibly important for a number of reasons. If you have a product, I think photographing your product in the most professional way really elevates your brand and your products. You make your brand look more professional if you have images of high quality where everything is lit in a nice way and everything has correct white balance, I think if you can keep everything consistent, you make your brand look a little bit more recognizable. If people see images on your website and then they go to your social media and they're like, "This is the same person or the same brand" ... I think it's incredibly important to have everything really cohesive wherever your brand lives.

Lauren:
I agree. I think especially if you're just starting out, you don't have to look like you're just starting out.

Brit:
Right. Exactly.

Lauren:
Photos can really elevate it and make it look like you've been doing it a lot longer because quality photos give off the impression that it's a quality business, that they know what they're doing. I love that. I know for my business too, I had some stock photos..."stock photos"...taken specifically for Elle & Company when I first started my business. I think that's one of the best investments I could have made. I didn't necessarily purchase them. I traded services with the photographer, but it was so nice to have consistent images. It made me look a lot more legit than I probably was at the time. I agree. It's so important.

Brit:
I always recommend if you can afford it, which it's hard in the beginning, to get those professional photos and hire somebody whose background is taking photos of a business or your headshots or your products. Now with Instagram and even Snapchat, your day to day is photographed and put in front of your audience, so I think it's so important to be able to take decent photos with any camera every day.

Lauren:
Absolutely. Like I said, when you're first starting out, you may not have the means to have someone on your team or have anyone on your team to take photos. Because of social media, it is really important that you're able to take them yourself. We're going to talk about that, how you can improve your photos, right where you are, right now, whether you have a DSLR or you just use the camera built in on your smart phone too. What is the first way that people can improve their brand photos?

1 | Choose a specific color palette 

Brit:
My first tip for having more improved and higher quality brand photos is to choose a specific color palette for your photos. If you've hired a graphic designer to do your brand professionally, you probably already have a color palette chosen, so that's great. It's a great place to start. If not, I would just ask yourself the same questions that a graphic designer would ask you. Talking about who your target audience is, what do they like, what are they looking for and what message you're trying to send.

If you are a calligrapher and you want to have this gorgeous really feminine light airy brand, your images should match that in the same way. Maybe you'll have some pinks or maybe you'll have a lot of neutrals or maybe you're trying to appeal to men and women, which is really hard to do right now, especially for me. When I was doing The Inspired Editorial, I wanted to appeal to men and women while still trying to be feminine, which is a really hard task. I tried to keep pink out of my color palette, which was sad, but you've got to do what you've got to do.

Lauren:
I love that you said to think about your ideal audience because as a graphic designer, yes, you can infuse parts of your personality in your brand, but really every decision you're making should be about whether or not it's going to appeal to your ideal client or your ideal customer. I had a client one time. She was a wedding planner and she wanted to appeal to Southern brides, but she told me, "I love the colors purple and teal." Those were her favorite colors and while she may have loved those, for a Southern bride, it probably wasn't the best choice, so we went with more navy and peach and blush, those kind of Southern colors. I love that you said that.

Brit:
Yeah, I think really thinking about the person on the other end, whoever is going to see what you're putting out there and who you want to attract, their opinions and what they're interested in and what is going to really grab their attention especially in the world of scrolling. You have to grab somebody's attention in a split second. I think having a color palette that's going to pop out and really speak to your ideal client or your ideal audience is really important right now.

Lauren:
Should you do specific colors and only do those colors or is it okay to do colors that are somewhat similar so it isn't quite so matchy matchy? What are your thoughts on that? How do you approach it?

Brit:
I guess it depends on your brand and what resources you have available. For me, I started out with ... I had my brand done professionally. My graphic designer gave me four to five colors, most of them were just like an ombre of the same teals and blues. Then I had white in there. We used black a few times. I try to keep those colors, at least one of those teals in most of my images, but then it's not always possible. I do quotes sometimes that are just black and white. I think choosing maybe five colors and trying to keep at least one of those present in every image or everywhere that you have your brand is important. White is one of your brand colors, if you can do that or just try to keep it consistent maybe with your neutrals and the different colors that you have.

Lauren:
That's what came in handy with my brand colors. White with pops of color. It doesn't always work that way, like you said. Sometimes there are some exceptions, but for the most part ... It also helps that my space is kind of white with pops of colors.

Brit:
Matches your brand.

Lauren:
My brand transcends just the internet. It also goes to my clothing and my house, but that isn't always the case for people either. Do you have any suggestions for how to go about that if your office doesn't necessarily match your brand colors? How do you stick to that color palette if your life doesn't look like that color palette?

Brit:
Match?

Lauren:
Yeah.

Brit:
I guess my life and my brand are two very different colors. If you can see, my office is pink and gold. I wear pink every day and, like I said, I try to keep pink out of my brand. There's not much pink in my brand. What I did was when I was planning my colors, I actually took my little sheet that my designer gave me with all of my brand colors. I went to Home Depot and I got pink chips and pink colors that matched as closely as I could, that matched my brand colors. Then I created back drops with just ply wood and paint. That's what I shoot on. I don't do much shooting in here, but where I take pictures, everything is streamlined and matches my brand because those colors and those backdrops match my branding.

Lauren:
That's a great idea.

Brit:
I did the same thing with props. I try to have props that are matching the rest of my brand. I keep those peeking through the rest of my photos.

Lauren:
Do you have photo shoots where you set aside a time and just take a bunch of photos all at once?

Brit:
Yes. I think that my number one recommendation when you're taking brand photos is to do it in bulk. I tell people that, and I try to tell myself that and I still don't do it as consistently as I would like to. If you can just set aside a few hours in your week or your month and you have everything planned out. You have social media. You know what you're going to say and the next month, you know what blog posts you're going to have.

If you can just plan that in advance and then take some time to take photos with ... You have your props set up. You have whatever you need to buy. If you're like me, I have flowers a lot. I go to the farmers market and make sure that I have some fresh greenery to take photos. I just will pop out a bunch of images, maybe fifty images just to get me through the next month of blog posts and social media posts. Definitely if you can do it in bulk ... That will also help with consistency too I think. Your whole feed will match itself because everything is kind of coordinated.

Lauren:
Yeah, and if you're going to take the time to take one photo, you might as well go ahead and knock out a ton.

Brit:
Exactly. It will save you time in the long run.

Lauren:
I know from personal experience that some days I'll be like, "Oh crap. I want to post, but I don't have a photo on hand." It's an overcast day or I don't have the time to set up an image. It's really nice to have it on hand so that you can pull from it. Hopefully ... I'm trying now to exercise a little bit more intention especially with Instagram. My other accounts, I don't struggle with quite so much, but Instagram you want to have that great image.

Brit:
Exactly.

Lauren:
I need to be more intentional to plan it out and take photos in advance too. Do you have some examples of color palettes for people who are still figuring theirs out or just examples of good color palettes?

Brit:
Actually I wanted to mention, I have a photo styling worksheet that I think will help everybody. If you go to the button that's on there, that will take you to my most recent issue. I also threw in two downloadable PDFs that you can print out and brainstorm what you want your brand and your photos to look like. I have a couple of examples. I wrote them down just in case I forget them, which I do. I think every brand is so unique and different that if you can have a color palette that speaks to your brand and speaks to your personality and then also speaks to your audience, you're doing a great job.

One of the examples I had was a neutral color palette. The reason I like neutral, you can talk to men and women, and I think that's really important right now. I feel like in the creative industry, men are kind of shunned out because there are so many women here and so many creative entrepreneurs that are female, and they just have pink everywhere, which I love. Obviously, I love pink, but I try to include the men when I can. I think it's also neutrals are really simplistic. It's light and airy. I always picture wedding brands that are trying to talk to the grooms as well as the brides. I think that's important.

Another color palette that I really like right now ... I see it ... It just depends on what your personality is, but gold, black and navy to me is a really fun color palette that screams elegance, maybe high end and quality and it's glamorous. If that's who you're trying to speak to, those three colors and then whatever other colors you want to throw in there. That's still pretty gender neutral, but still really specific audience.

Pastels are gorgeous and I think that's a little bit more feminine, but you can still ... Depending on ... I have a lot of pastels in my brand and I'm still speaking to the men. That's one way to still have the laidback airy feel, but get a little bit more gender neutral. Then one of the others ... I think I saw a brewery with these colors. It was black, charcoal and grey. It was really masculine and they even brought in some wood tones. That was definitely trying to talk to men and trying to talk to people that were way more masculine than the feminine floral light colors.

Lauren:
Definitely. I love that you said that gold and dark neutrals is very glam if you can pull it off. I think too something to think about with your brand photos because you said it allows you to be very recognizable, I think a lot of people tend to just gravitate toward what everyone else is doing and not think about their brand color palette as really helping them stand apart from what other people are doing. I love that the examples that you chose, especially that one in particular, the dark neutrals and gold, can really help you stand apart from others in your industry. The creative industry is inundated with people who are doing similar things and your brand gives you an awesome opportunity to stand out. Great examples. I love that. Number one thing for improving your brand photos or the first tip that we said, in case you're just tuning in or may have missed it, is to use a cohesive color palette. That's a great one.

Brit:
Choose it in advance and try to incorporate it whenever possible. It's not always possible. If you look on my Instagram feed, you'll see that I have a lot of dark green happening right now, which is not in my brand colors, but there's some white which is part of my brand so I think it works out.

Lauren:
I find that I go through phases. If you were to scroll down, it would look a little bit different every time still within the same color palette, but it's always interesting. Then I always think, "I need more of this color in there," so have a notebook in there that's a certain color. I don't know if you ever do that too, but just to-

Brit:
I'm the same way.

Lauren:
Try to balance it out among the squares of my feed especially for Instagram, but also ... I feel like I'm gravitating toward Instagram on this, but also on the blog and other places that people are seeing my photos too.

Brit:
Instagram is definitely front of mind right now because you can see nine images or more at a time so you get the whole picture, but even on places like Pinterest where somebody might be seeing your pins for the first time and then they come back a second time and they see those similar colors, you're so much more recognizable if you don't have the pink and gold and black or whatever other colors your competition is doing. If you can spread out, I think it's a great way to be recognizable to that target audience.

Lauren:
Even if you maybe go off the color palette once in a while, if you just stick to the same colors, trying to be within the same color palette, it can make it look so much more cohesive and intentional and high quality. I love that you mentioned that tip. I think it gets overlooked a lot.

Brit:
I agree.

Lauren:
What about tip number two.

2 | Use natural light whenever possible

Brit:
Tip number two, I think this is the most important tip just as a photography tip in general, not just specifically to your brand photos. I highly recommend utilizing natural light whenever possible. For those of you that are scrolling through my feed right now, I don't think there's a single image that was taken with artificial light. I'm 99% sure that every image that you're seeing was taken with a window light or maybe outdoor light with that most recent photo because it was outdoors. I think natural light, for one, especially for beginners, there's no learning curve with studio lights and trying to figure out flash or whatever else is out there. I've never learned studio lights. They scare me and I really love the look of natural light. My big recommendation if possible ... Obviously we don't all have a north-facing window, but if you do, you will have the most beautiful light probably at all hours until the sun goes down. I actually set up my little studio across the hall in my north-facing guestroom if we want to take a look at that. I was going to take my computer over there.

Lauren:
Absolutely. I love that. I've known photographers who buy houses based on the light in their living room.

Brit:
It's a thing. It's a definitely thing.

Lauren:
I love having this light in here. That was a selling point for this apartment.

Brit:
What north facing means is that you're never going to have a huge sun spot. The sun will never be shining into this window, which is really nice, but if you ... Obviously, not everybody can get a north-facing window. If possible, you can put up a really sheer curtain so you still have that pretty light. 

Lauren:
You said the reason it's good to have a north-facing window is because the sun never beams right in. Just to clarify for some of the people about that sheer curtain, is that because it defuses the light so it isn't quite as harsh if it is beaming through that window if you don't have a north-facing window?

Brit:
Yep. In my current office, this would be a south-facing room, which means the sun starts over here and then it just shines in all day long. I have two huge trees outside of these windows so now I don't get really any sun, but in the wintertime, I'll just have huge sun spots shining in. I used to have that big table right there, so I would do is I put up these curtains which are ... They're up there right now. It would catch the light that was shining through. That way I still had some light coming in, but it wasn't that bright, warm sun.

Lauren:
I love that especially for ... I think natural lighting, I didn't realize until I'd just gotten started with my business that lights, lamps and overhead lights, not only do they cast different shadows, whereas with natural light, the light is coming from one direction, also I have lights that are yellow. Is that why too you would suggest natural light.

Brit:
Yes, in addition to natural light being so attractive to whatever you're photographing, the color casts can just create ... If you have yellow lights on, like a floor light or even a ceiling light, it's going to make things either blue or yellow. If you're trying to sell products, I think it's so important to make them as true to life with their color as possible. If you have clothing or something that you want people to see ... This is actually the pink that you're going to buy when you open the package, this is what it looks like. Any artificial light it's really hard to get things with that true-to-life, white balance and the true-to-life color. Natural light is definitely the way to go with that.

Lauren:
Absolutely. Not as much color correction having to go on if you're doing natural light. You can even tell. As I'm scrolling through feeds, I can tell when someone left a light on in the background. There's just this yellow glow. Even I'll find if I'm taking flat lays and I have a candle going or I have the light above our microwave on, which I tend to forget and leave on. I'll look at it and I'll be like, "Something is off." Then I'll walk around and go, "Oh my goodness. It was ... " Leaving something as small as a candle on. 

Brit:
Yeah, that slight little color even in the corners, you can see it. It's funny. It makes a difference.

Lauren:
It really does make a huge difference. If you are taking your photos all at once ... For people who might work a full-time job, but are trying to get their business off the ground, if you were to spend a Saturday morning or something just setting it up, using the plywood, like Brit was talking about, paint it, set it up and that will make it so much easier to pull from and you'll have that natural light flooding in.

Brit:
One of my recommendations for those of us that don't have the beautiful north-facing window or a big, sliding-glass door, just any ... I recommend if you have a big window, find that. If you have sun peaking in, cover it with ... I used to hang white sheets and clamp them just to get rid of that deep sun spot. Those of us that are in apartments or just places that have really dark light or tons of trees in front of the windows, there's a couple of different options. One of them is just going to a friend's house that has a really nice light and just ask them to borrow their big beautiful window for a day and just knock it all out and get those photos when you can, take all your props, plan it all in advance. Just get those images that you need. Take your phone. iPhones are amazing. I don't even have the new iPhone yet, but I know it's even better than what I'm working with. If you have an iPhone or even a smart phone and nice light, your images are more than enough. You'll be fine. You'll be good to go.

The other recommendation I have, which is something that I didn't think about until recently, I actually started working at a co-working space that has a big beautiful studio with the painted white brick, and it's gorgeous. People actually rent it out for a day use and they bring in their products and they shoot it and then they go home. It's so affordable compared to what you might think and just for a day rate to have that beautiful space to shoot in. I think it's definitely worth it to have these beautiful images and elevate your brand with those gorgeous photos.

Lauren:
Absolutely. I know one of my design clients ... Sincerely Amy Designs is the name of her business ... She didn't have a bright, white space. For her brand, she had a lot of white space in the background and some teals and navies and then a copper color. It was beautiful. She rented out Paisley & Jade, which is in Virginia. It's a rental company.

Brit:
Oh yes, I know.

Lauren:
They have an awesome studio. She rented it out with one of our photographer friends, Andrea Pesce. The photos turned out beautiful, but they had all kinds of chairs to pull from and desks because they're a rental company. If you're in the Virginia area, Paisley & Jade is a great place to rent out for headshots and brand photos.

Brit:
That's so funny. I have a friend in Lancaster that I think used their furniture rentals for a workshop up here.

Lauren:
Morgan, who is one of the ... She calls herself a co-captain. She's one of the co-owners of Paisley & Jade, and I think a lot of her, so just putting in a plug for her. I love that, co-working spaces and ... That's a great idea.

Brit:
Even photographers that have studios in your area. I know tons of them try to rent out their spaces just for a little extra income. It's typically very affordable as far as renting a space goes. I think that on top of a few props and you can really get some fantastic images for your brand at a very low cost. It's definitely worth looking into.

Lauren:
You can go ... Katy just asked in the comments what you use to get the marble background that you have in your Instagram feed.

Brit:
I was going to talk about that next, but ...

Lauren:
We're jumping ahead. I'm sorry.

Brit:
That's all right. I actually have two options now. What I've been using for probably years now is I went on Amazon and I got marble contact paper for $15. I applied it to the other side of my plywood and there is my gorgeous, very expensive marble counter for $15.

Lauren:
That is an awesome idea.

Brit:
That was what I've been using for a long time, but it's funny. Actually now I've become kind of a snob and I can tell when other people are using the contact paper from Amazon. I still use it when I need it, but one of my other backdrops that I got, that I need to actually take out and do some more shooting on because I love the way it looks, is mini photo backdrops. I think they're on Instagram and they have a website. I'm actually their brand ambassador. They have vinyl and paper backdrops. Very affordable. You can buy whatever size you need. They're mini obviously for product photographers or for product shoots. I have the paper version. I think if you're on my Instagram right now ... Actually I can check. I think my second to last Instagram post was on marble ... Of course, I have all these notifications on my phone now that I look at it.

Lauren:
I can pull it up too.

Brit:
My third to last post that's talking about the Ellechat was taken on the mini photo backdrops. Actually let me look at that so I'm making sure that I'm ...

Lauren:
Is it miniphotobackdrops.com?

Brit:
Nope just minibackdrops.com.

Lauren:
Minibackdrops, I was just there. I'm going to drop the link. It's the same on their Instagram. I'll type in their Instagram.

Brit:
Awesome. She has a bunch of different things. Her vinyl is a little bit more expensive than the paper. I bought the paper and I just keep it on that table that I showed you guys. I don't let my kids go near it, and it's held up fine, but the vinyl obviously will hold up in the long run, especially if you're traveling or if you're a product photographer and you're using it and really getting rough with it. I would definitely recommend the vinyl if it's a long-term purchase. It's so great to have those backdrops just for different looks. She has wood. She has colors. She has patterns and different marble and different stone. I think she has some concrete, really fun stuff. I'd definitely check it out.

Lauren:
Thank you for sharing that resource.

Brit:
Absolutely.

Lauren:
Number one was to use a cohesive color palette. Number two is to utilize natural light. What is number three?

3 | Style your images with intention

Brit:
Step number three is to style your images with intention. That can mean different things to different people especially ... It depends on what your photographing, but recently I've noticed ... I think everybody can agree that the days of the product on the white backdrop is almost obsolete. We don't really photograph our Etsy products or anything that we have for sale or even if we're styling an iPad to talk about our new website design. We are styling it in a more lifestyle, documentary setting. I highly recommend doing that.


I recommend if you can tell a story with your image. Let's say you're selling a really pretty pillow on Etsy or on your website. Instead of just photographing that pillow on a backdrop or even on a backdrop that's not white, but it matches your brand, I think you have a better chance of selling it if you're styling it on a couch or on a bed or where you want people to eventually use that product. I think the product is selling itself when it's styled in a gorgeous way.

Lauren:
I love that because when you do scroll through Instagram or you're looking at a blog post or someone's website, you imagine yourself in that image. I know when I'm scrolling through Pinterest and I see some really good looking dessert or something or a really cute outfit, I put myself in that photo.

Brit:
Exactly.

Lauren:
Imagine, "What would it be like if I were to wear that?" If it were just to be by itself ... Usually, the outfit is a girl is wearing it and she is outside and looking off to the ...

Brit:
She's adorable.

Lauren:
Yes, but she's in an environment. It's not just the outfit by itself. I love that you say that. Try to utilize that for your client or for your audience, potential clients and customers and help them envision what it would be like if they were to use your product. 

Brit:
Exactly. If you can do the hard work for them. One of my other tips ... This is more for product photographers, but I've seen it, and I've been victim to it. If you can take multiple products and style them in one scene ... If you've ever been to IKEA and they have everything set up for you, you're like, "I can't just buy the bedspread. Obviously, I need all eight pillows, and probably the bed frame too, so that my house can look like that as well. You can use multiple things together. I don't know where I'm going now. If you can use everything together strategically, it just really tells a story and puts your audience, like you said, in that picture. They're going to resonate with you, your brand, whatever message you're trying to sell or share. It's so much easier to get to with a more documentary approach with your images.

Lauren:
I love that. What are some ways that they can tell a story through their stories and through their styling of their images?

Brit:
As far as ... I always think back to Instagram. One of my big recommendations is to humanize your image or whatever you're working with, your subject or your product. There's a couple of fun ways that I've done it in my own images. If it's possible ... I try to do it as much as I can. I will set up my camera. You can do this with an iPhone, with a pile of books or something above you. If you're doing a flat light, I'll set up my tripod and my camera or my iPhone. I will make sure that I get my hands into the image so I'm typing on the computer or I'm writing or I'm eating or I'm texting or whatever. I'm interacting with the subject or the products that I have in that image.

I think humanizing the image goes back to having the audience put themselves into that image. That's one of the ways that I do it. I'll try to put some sort of human element, a person, hands, feet ... I get a lot of feet in there. If we're working with food, I'll take a bite of the food and put the cookie back in so you can tell that there's a person there that was interacting with the scene. If I have a notebook, I'll write something down. Especially if the notebook is going to be used for some sort of marketing purpose, I'll try to keep the writing coordinated with whatever message I'm sending or even the caption that I'm using. Those are the few ways that I try to humanize that image.

Lauren:
I think that's so important too because as I'm looking through Instagram feeds, if I don't see a person in it ever, it just feels very cold and impersonal. I love ... My favorite Instagram accounts, even if they're business accounts, like big business accounts, I love when they have, like you said, even a hand in it or they show someone from behind. You may not even see their face, but I think it's so important to show that there's actually a person behind the brand too. It's not as cold and uninviting. It really does make a difference.

Brit:
One of the biggest tips that I heard probably at the very beginning of my career ... I can't even remember where I heard it from. It was just the simplest thing, but it has such a huge impact especially for those of us that are creatives and have these personal brands. If you think about it, people buy from people. We want to know who we're working with and who we're buying from. Gone are the days where we're buying from a corporation. We would much rather support a local business or a story or anything that we can really get behind. If we know the person that we're working with ... I think you're a perfect example of someone who really puts themselves into their brand. I think we can all resonate with your stories and your interactions with us.

Lauren:
Thank you. That means a lot. I think the biggest thing and what I've found in business ... There's no getting around trying to sell something whether it's your services or products. You're in business to make money, but the biggest key to having people buy from you, they have to trust you. Having those personal touches ... Also that goes back to why brand photos are important in the first place. You look legitimate and you look professional, and you're putting intention into your brand.

You're thinking through everything from not only the graphics and your logo and your color palette, but your photography. People are going to trust you and think, "They really know what they're doing. I can trust them and buy their product because it will probably be made well," or work with them for their services because they look legitimate and they look high quality. Both ends of that: why brand photos are important, but also adding the personal, humanizing touch to your images too.

Brit:
Yep, it can go such a long way I think.

Lauren:
Do you have any more tips for using intention with your photos?

Brit:
Let me look at my notes. Yes, one of the things that I always try to think about, especially if you're doing that bulk photo session or you're hiring somebody to do that session, you really want to think about the end result for those photos and where they're going to wind up. Are they going to be on a slider on your website? If so, you'll definitely want to make sure you get some images that work in a horizontal way as far as products go. Usually flat lays look really nice in a horizontal setting, but if you're going to be using them on Pinterest, obviously vertical is the way to go.

If you're trying to sell products on Pinterest, I would definitely make sure that you have images that will work in that vertical setting. Then obviously social media now, we can do pretty much any orientation, but I still make sure that things will look nice in a square setting. Even with Instagram, you can have vertical and horizontal now, but everything will start out as that square. A lot of other product listings like Etsy and a couple of other places that you can sell, they start with the perfect square. Then when you click on it, it will get to whatever orientation. I try to keep that in the back of my mind when I'm shooting to make sure that I get everything in the different orientations. If you're doing it right, get all orientations. That way you'll never be missing anything.

Lauren:
I know when I worked with Andrea for my brand photos the first go round, she took some flat lays, but she set it up to where I could crop the image down. For blog posts, I might be using the same image over and over again, but people didn't know it because I was just cropping down parts of the image. That can be a good way to provide some versatility too ... Then also negative space like having negative space. If you're using it for a blog post image or something like that where there's text ...

Brit:
You want to add something to the site, that's really important too. It's nice to have.

Lauren:
Yeah, I love that you say think about how you're actually going to use them instead of just taking photos haphazardly.

Brit:
Yeah, if you know what you're going to use them for in advance, you can definitely plan for things. Pinterest especially, if you're going to add that text, you really want to grab their attention. A lot of my images ... I've a template for my Pinterest images so I know that I'm always going to have text at the top half and then something to fit on the bottom. Sometimes you have to really be specific with that, but it's nice to know ahead of time.

Lauren:
Love that. Are we ready to answer some of these questions that have been coming in? Ready to get through as many of them as we can?

Brit:
Okay.

Lauren:
Susanne asks, "Any great suggestions on how to take branded photos for a service business without going the obvious way with a desk, computer, coffee mug and little pretty things?" She says she works within communication/brand marketing and would like some great brand photos for her new website. She says, "I didn't start having customers yet so I can't get photos from client work." Do you have any suggestions for Susanne?

Brit:
I think that's probably why it was voted up. It's a really common question that I see. It's actually something that I had struggled with when I was starting The Inspired Editorial because obviously I wasn't necessarily service based, but I wasn't creating any products. I was trying to think of obviously as a photographer how I could convey that message of who I wanted to talk to through images. Instead of doing my own thing where I'm taking pictures of my computer and my coffee, I wanted to talk to my audience. For me, my audience was creative entrepreneurs, photographers, artists, small business owners that had maybe a little Etsy shop or a bakery or something like that.

What I did way back when was I photographed tons of images on that piece of plywood in a way that conveyed all these different personas. I took pictures of a bunch of paint and little brushes and paper and the paint palette. That was one of my images. Then I took pictures of some bakery good and pastries and flour and oats and milk. That was another image. Some calligraphy items and that sort of thing. Instead of photographing me in my office and my things, I photographed who I was trying to attract or these small business owners and creatives that were creating things that I wasn't really using, but I could still talk to them.

Lauren:
That's a really good idea, photographing the outcome in a sense or the persona. I think that's great. I know for me that's a struggle because a lot of days I am at my desk with my coffee and my computer and that's what's in front of me. A lot of days, I will not post on Instagram because I'm like, "This is the same photo again." Trying to think of what that looks like. That's really good to think about and focus on too is having photos for your clients, those personas. I love that. Awesome suggestion. I hope that was helpful for you Susanne.

Twenty York Street asks, "Are iPhone photos ever acceptable and considered professional? I know a lot of my colleagues just snap a few photos on their iPhone and use it for their blog post, but I just cannot. Admittedly, it saves so much time, effort and lugging around a camera, but I just don't think iPhone will suffice. Thoughts?"

Brit:
I mentioned that earlier. I think iPhones are fine. I think the problem that we run into when we're using our iPhones or any camera in general is that we're not photographing them correctly with great light. I think great light can take an image so much further. Use your iPhone. I use it a lot. I have no issue. I don't see any issue with using an iPhone for professional photos as long as you're taking the right steps to photograph it in a professional way, as long as you know photography basics like great light. I think light is the problem, not the iPhone. Use your iPhone all you want.

Lauren:
I've noticed too. Sometimes I'll wipe off the little lens because sometimes that can get ... Sometimes that messes with the quality. I never zoom in either because photos start to get blurry. I've used them in blog posts before and definitely for social media all the time. I think you're right, it just comes down to light and how you're actually taking the photo not necessarily the iPhone.

Brit:
Actually the second issues of the The Inspired Editorial that's linked down at the bottom there, that whole issue is based on visuals and creating better visuals for your brand. We actually had Melanie from the Nomadic Wife did a whole article on how to take better Instagram images. It's all based on iPhoneography. She has some really great tips, so I would definitely check that out.

Lauren:
That is awesome.

Brit:
It's a free magazine.

Lauren:
That is so helpful. Definitely check that out. I know my friend Chaitra from itspinkpot.com is coming out with an iPhoneography course too. If anyone is interested, she's coming out with that soon. So helpful. Just like you said too in your question that lugging your DSLR around everywhere can be hard. Your phone, you take it with you anywhere anyway. Great question.

Stephanie asks, "How do you get to achieve the same look between photographs? If I'm photographing during different days if it's at the same hour, the light ends up making a huge difference. I can't get a uniform look for the life of me."

Brit:
I think that goes back to what I was saying about the sun shining in. For me, if I'm in that room across the hall that I showed you with the north-facing window, I pretty much get the same light in there all day long, morning until night. It's just that really soft light. If you're in ... For example, the room that I'm in now, in the morning, I could have that bright sun and then in the afternoon, I have some wonky shadows and really yellow-colored cast or green coming off the trees. The way that I would combat that before I moved across the hall was with those sheer curtains or with that really light sheet to diffuse that harsh light coming in that brought the sun spots, the shadows and the yellowish cast. I think just a really simple curtain or anything white, as white as you can get it. I wouldn't use any different colors. I think that could really help with the different lighting situations.

Lauren:
Great question and great answer. Lynn asks ... I'll try to get through a couple more. We only have a few more minutes. Lynn said, "If you don't have a source of natural light ... Our house is very dark ... Then can you use LED lights, white lights or do you have to get a light kit or special lighting for photos? Also what type of editing tools should we use? Are there any free ones?" First, what about the natural light, not enough natural light?

Brit:
Like I said, I don't use any artificial lights. I tried it once and I hated it. I couldn't really mimic the natural light look and it was expensive and it was this huge learning curve, which I think most of us business owners already have a million other things to learn. Learning studio light on top of it was just one more really frustrating thing.

I guess in this instance, I would recommend kind of what I said earlier. If you can find a space that you could borrow from a friend that has a really gorgeous ... It could be a friend with a small apartment, but just happens to have that really nice light and you can just put your little plywood down and go to town for a day or if you know of a place that has a studio rental for an affordable price, I would definitely look into that and I would recommend that before I would recommend learning studio lights. If you have the means and you have the resources to learn and purchase that and you're taking photos on a more daily basis, that is something that you could look into if it makes more sense for your business. Personally, I don't do anything with studio lights.

Lauren:
What about editing resources?

Brit:
There's a lot of options out there. Actually as far as iPhones go, personally I use Lightroom, which you can get a $10 a month subscription to Lightroom in Photoshop. That's what I use. There's a learning curve behind Lightroom, but once you get it, it's fantastic. You can do so much in there. Then I use presets in there, which keeps everything looking uniform and matching. I make my own presets, but there's tons that you can buy out there. Another option if you're looking for free, you can use any of the apps from the app store if you're on Apple. VSCOcam is great. People love that. They have tons of filters on there. Let me type that in.

Lauren:
That's the one I use and I love it. How do you feel too ... Someone may have asked this question. I thought I saw it before we jumped on ... About filters? What do you think about filters? While we're on the subject of editing.

Brit:
I go back and forth about filters. I guess it depends on the mood that I'm in. For me, I would not use the VSCOcam filters for a really long time. I was anti filters, "I'm going to do everything by hand." Within VSCOcam, you can do every step of the editing process yourself. You can adjust the exposure, the white balance. You can add that light matte effect. You can pretty much do anything. Then I got really lazy and I also really started liking the look of that film, hipster, fun look so I started doing that. I don't really feel one way or the other right now. I would just suggest being as consistent as possible.

For me, consistent in the beginning was editing all of my photos exactly the same way on the VSCOcam by hand. Then now I use some filters at least for my personal Instagram. I would use the same filter from that app every time so that kept everything looking more similar than what ... Using a different filter every time would just make it look crazy. For The Inspired Editorial, my Instagram, I use my own presets that I made. That keeps everything more consistent. I don't think there's anything wrong with filters. I think just consistency would keep everything looking more professional.

Lauren:
I find myself for every single photo because I love white bright images, I'll bump up the brightness on VSCOcam and then bump up the saturation a little bit too. I like the pops of color too. I love that. Consistency is key in all of the branding. That's awesome. That hour went by so fast.

Brit:
That did go by fast.

Lauren:
Thank you so much for joining in, Brit. Tell us one more time for people who want to follow along with you after this, where can they find you?

Brit:
I am on theinspirededitorial.com. That is my current blog and website. Right now, there's not much you can buy on there. You just go and you can be inspired by some creatives that I feature. You can download the free digital magazine. We have two issues out right now. The second one, like I said, it was dedicated specifically to visual so you'll definitely find a lot in there. I actually wrote down some of the articles that we have in there.

In the second issue, I have recommended cameras, which I think would be really helpful to a lot of you. I think some people have asked about that. Entry level to the really expensive cameras, you can take a look and it's DSLRs and the mirrorless, which are becoming more popular. Then there's also some gear that you can beef up your iPhone with. They make little lens now for your iPhones. I talked about that and one of the other articles is How To Build A Strong Online Presence, which goes back to what we were talking about. Visuals plays a huge part in that. Then, like I said, the article by Melanie, How To Take Killer Instagram Images. If you want that second issue, just go to theinspirededitorial.com/magazine. I think that button right there will link you directly there. It will go straight to your inbox.

Lauren:
Thank you for providing that, that link. So useful.

Brit:
No problem.

Lauren:
Then they can find you too on Instagram @theinspirededitorial.

Brit:
Yep. I can type that in too.

Lauren:
Awesome. Thank you so much Brit. This was a blast.

Brit:
Yeah, it was so much fun.

Lauren:
So many helpful tips too. Thank you so much.

Brit:
Thanks for having me.

Lauren:
Everyone is saying thanks.

Brit:
Thank you guys.

Lauren:
Bye Brit.

Brit:
Bye.

Lauren:
Guys, thank you so much for tuning in today. I hope that you enjoyed this. Best wishes with your brand images. The next Ellechat isn't next Thursday. It's the following Thursday. I'm going to be talking about my launch strategy for Freelance Academy. I mixed things up this go-round and I'm really excited to share the ins and outs of how I prepped for the course, went through a validation round and then launched it, putting a heavier emphasis on my list. I'm really excited to share about that.

If you're interested, you can click on my account. Either through a comment, you can click on my actual profile through Crowdcast or there should be another little circle with my photo on it somewhere on this screen. I don't know what your screen looks like. If you click on that, you cannot only find my other Ellechats, but you can also follow along with my account so that any future Ellechats, you'll be the first to know about it. I hope that you all have an awesome rest of your Thursday. Thank you for tuning in. I hope to see you in another Ellechat soon. Bye guys.


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