My personal brand  as a photographer has been under the microscope recently as I become clearer on exactly what I want to do. It is only fair to share both the process and the five things that might help you decide on whether I am a good fit to work with you and your own brand. I will not be a fit for everyone and not every brand will be one that I want to work with either. I am growing far more comfortable with that fact.

Why should you care about anyone’s personal brand?

In most cases you won’t really notice and won’t really care much to be honest. That is not to say that branding does not matter or that there will not come a time when you will want to have a closer look and take notice. That point usually comes when it is time to actually commit to something or have to pay for it.

Corporations spend vast amounts on branding, advertising and ensuring that every detail is within the strategy. The effect of all that effort is that we are being subconsciously trained to recognise not only their brand but traits and trends of others too. Continual exposure to corporate advertising has ingrained certain ideas and notions in the way we think, whether we like it or not. Brand recognition has become instinctive on a subconscious level. We can recognise quality or tat very quickly without even knowing or caring why. Purchasing decisions are made on what we may think is a whim of our own inner feelings but they are often influenced by external shaping of our perceptions.

So, it’s not about me, it is about you.

Even though this post is about my personal brand, it is really about what is in it for you, my customer. Perhaps more accurately my potential customer. Once we have got together for a chat to see if I can fulfil your requirements, or we have actually worked together then we know if we fit. The thing about personal branding is that’s what gets us to the point of speaking and engaging. My online brand is what prompts you to call me, email me or book a session with me rather than with someone else. If my personal brand does not resonate with you, then you get to choose, you make the decision and that’s great. You have the power as the customer which is why this is about you.

5 Things you should know about my personal brand.

  1. This is the career that I’ve waited 30 years for.
  2. Branding photography is my speciality above everything else.
  3. I constantly question the norm and buck trends to do the right thing.
  4. You will get what you want, not just what you need, then some.
  5. Your project will be the only thing on my desk.

As you can see this is far deeper than colours, fonts and layout. The look and feel of this website is under scrutiny as well, but I want to offer you some proper reassurance in addition to the corporate vibe. When we work together those things all matter and will all be taken into account. My style is to make sure that you emerge as the hero, I’m just your guide. Let’s take those five points one at a time to show you what I mean.

Rachel and Hannah from salon 40 in Beith. Make up and nail artists at work. Personal brand is very important to them.

Rachel is a nail artist while Hannah looks after the makeup. This personal brand shot inside Salon 40 shows Hannah at work wearing a monogrammed T shirt as part of their personal brand.

The Career I’ve Waited 30 years for.

When I left school I was focussed on a military career. That did not happen for reasons that I will not bore you with. I joined the police as an apparently close alternative, but it never quite stacked up. The decisions of my 20 year old self had me trapped, although it was a secure and varied job. I tried an escape plan but it did not work and I found myself back in the police, albeit in a different force. Throughout this time I enjoyed taking photographs of the people and places in my world. Long before mobile phones and the now fantastic cameras they contain I carried a compact with me. The possibility of being a pro photographer never occurred to me as an option. I kept shooting, learning and enjoying the process.

One day found myself embroiled in a political, corporate mess inside the force. It was not my choice and there was nothing I could do about it. The situation had developed quite slowly but it came to a head very quickly. The organisation had to win, meaning I had to lose. I was utterly sick of it so I sought a way out.  My options were open and I had a whole new outlook. I asked myself what I would do if I could do anything. Photography was my first answer so I set about constructing a plan. As you can imagine going from 20 plus years as a cop to being a freelance photographer had a few steps involved.

The plan developed and despite distractions including a cafe business and a global pandemic I have arrived. Launching my photography business is just the beginning. There are many niches and approaches to being a photographer so I felt it rude not to explore them all.

I Decided on Branding Photography as my Speciality.

Many photographers are self taught. Another common route is to become an assistant or apprentice to an established photographer. This means that there are plenty of photographers with no formal qualifications. I decided that I did not want to be one of those, especially as this was to be my third career. As I intended to charge money for my services I wanted to make sure that my skills were up to the job. I also felt the need to extend my network in creative industries. City of Glasgow College offered the best facilities around and some seriously talented tutors. My portfolio allowed me to skip the first step and join the HND course directly.

The pandemic restrictions meant that tasks were my individual responsibility. I took the brief, decided on how to approach it, then shot it on my own. The course allowed me, even encouraged me to explore all of the niches photography has to offer. Access to working photographers in the Scottish and international scene helped define my choices. I passed the course with flying colours.

Entrepreneurs have always inspired me with their passion, creativity and ability to solve problems. My growing realisation that I am a documentary photographer at heart makes the branding choice an easy one for me. People in their own place doing their own thing has to be inspiring. This is your story so let’s tell it together.

Questioning the Norm and Bucking Trends for You.

Our differences are what makes us unique, so there is no point in diluting that difference by copying everyone else. A trend should be an indicator, nothing more. It should certainly not be something we aspire to follow to fit in. If there is a way to acknowledge the trend but do it with a style that is uniquely you then let’s look at that. If not, let’s just show you as you.

Personal brand photography is in itself something of a trend. It is more than just headshot photography but not quite as wide as commercial photography as a whole. Personal branding can literally be where one person is the entire brand, as in coaching for example. It can also apply to a partnership or a very small team where there is a distinct identity around one leader. That leadership and individuality is the story. Your story is a valuable asset.

I believe that doing the right thing for the client is far better than following any trend. We should be setting trends not following them. I am certain that if you look up personal branding you will find shots that are quickly becoming cliches. When we work together we can look at those, ask if they are appropriate and find better ways of expressing you.

Getting what you actually want, and then some.

Once you make the decision to hire a photographer you will already have an objective and a reason in mind. As I said before, I love working with business people because they know what they want and how to get it. We will prepare a list of shots before the day of the actual shoot to make sure that you get what you need and what you want. That is not to say that we stop there or that those are the only shots we take. I often find little moments of magic that we can snatch out of the air. The shot taken between the shots on the list can be a real winner, often my favourite ones of the day.

Those relaxed moments often show far more personality that the deliberate ones. Relaxation is something that comes around as we settle in, especially when you see some of your images on the back of the camera. Many photographers don’t share like that at the time but I find it sometimes helps to see how well the shots are coming out. A picture speaks a thousand words so sometimes it is easier to show you how the next shot can be better when you see what I see. It really is a collaboration, so why not?

Ashley Model

A shot between the shots on a personal brand photoshoot.A captured moment between posed shots where a breeze catches her hair but creates a striking look between poses.

Your project will be the only thing on my desk.

I want to get this right for you and you really do deserve undivided attention. When I book a shoot I make sure that we have time to prepare, to take the pictures and to edit them afterwards. The preparation will be in advance as that is really the definition of preparation. That means that I can do any research and prepare any equipment we might need so I’m ready on the day.

I believe that the shoot and the edits are parts of a continual process. Editing is usually fairly light to balance highlights and shadows etc, but they do deserve time allocated. I am not a fan of major manipulations or compositing pictures as I see that as a different art form to photography. We can touch out spots or blemishes and soften skin texture if appropriate. I don’t do remodelling of noses or changing body shapes. Careful choice of posing and lighting should be enough to flatter most subjects.

The main point is that I manage my time to accommodate your project with a minimum of distractions. That means that I can provide you with the best service and a quick turnaround.

Are we a match?

I hope that this has inspired you to book a call so that we can discuss your personal needs. If there are things that we don’t see eye to eye on then that’s ok. I will be happy to recommend someone else who may be more suitable. Call me on 07753708860 or drop me a line using the form below. I look forward to hearing from you and working together.

Stay awesome.  Jim.