Deciding how—and how much—to reinvest back into your small business is no small feat. After drowning in hundreds of different platform subscriptions and fruitlessly experimenting with paid advertising, investing in yet another marketing tactic can easily slip lower on the “nice to haves” list.
Over the last decade (and hundreds of photoshoots later), I’ve realized many small business owners see investing in personal branding photography as a catch-22.
They know they need to invest time and money into visual storytelling for their brand. At the same time, they’ve convinced themselves that it’s a luxury they can’t attain without a certain number of clients or income.
The truth is, budgeting for professional photography for your brand or small business is an investment that truly pays dividends in the long run.
Business owners and brands that have successfully invested in a personal branding photography strategy see clear returns through increased brand awareness, engagement, and credibility building.
In this post, I’ll demystify branding photography pricing by exploring the various pricing structures commonly used in the industry and how to make an informed decision based on your unique business goals.
Branding photography helps you establish a strong and consistent visual identity that resonates with your ideal clients. It allows you to showcase your products or services in a way that captures attention, evokes emotions, and builds trust.
Personal branding photography focuses primarily on people and portraits. A branding photographer will collaborate with you to understand your brand’s personality, target audience, and key messages. This collaborative process ensures that the final imagery effectively communicates your brand’s unique story.
Galleries may include product photos, headshots, team photos, individual and group lifestyle portraits, custom stock images, and interior photos for social media and web.
Investing in branding photography can effectively set you apart from your competitors. By creating a unique and recognizable visual style, you can make a lasting impression on potential customers and increase brand recognition.
I’ve seen people run highly successful businesses without a website to speak of or even a logo design. Not that I recommend skipping either of these important steps when forming your visual brand identity. But in this day and age, photography and video are two of the quickest and most effective methods of reaching your target audience and converting them into loyal followers and buyers.
The bottom line: If customers can’t easily see and relate to WHO they’re buying from, they’re going to be less likely to bite, even when you have a really well-crafted offer.
Think about anyone you know, like, and trust on social media. They might be a celebrity, influencer, or fellow small business owner. If they have a highly consistent visual identity, a cohesive brand voice, and a compelling story to tell, you probably give more time and attention to what they share via email marketing or on their social media.
Imagine how your business would transform if you built luxe, high-end imagery that consistently and seamlessly communicated your brand story into your marketing strategy. More on that in a minute.
The US Small Business Administration recommends spending around 8% of your total revenue on marketing if your business names under $5 million (source: Databox). It’s important to look at your marketing spend as a percentage of your gross revenue so you’re not overspending or leaving money on the table.
I can’t stress enough how important it is to work with a photographer who gets it. They understand your vision, the type of clientele you want to attract, and how you want to be perceived in the market. To get the most out of your investment, spend time researching photographers who fit your style and plan an honest conversation about their working style and process.
“Not only is Sara’s work stunning, but she invests deeply in her clients – in their vision, business goals, and emotional well-being. She balances the creative direction that a business needs with the emotional work of making you feel comfortable so well. You can tell that she wants to get to know you as a person – and through that, she makes you feel seen both during your session and in the final product.”Carly Rae
When it comes to pricing, branding photographers take various factors into account. Understanding these factors will help you assess the value and determine the right budget for your branding photography project.
1. Photographer’s Experience: The experience and expertise of the photographer play a significant role in pricing. Seasoned photographers with a proven track record may charge higher rates due to their expertise and reputation.
2. Location: The location of the shoot can also impact the pricing. Your photographer should help you decide whether an on-location or in-studio photoshoot makes more sense for your session. If the shoot requires venue or studio rentals, travel, or shooting in multiple locations, additional charges may apply.
3. Scope of the Project: The complexity and scale of your branding photography project will influence the pricing. Factors such as the number of images required, the duration of the shoot, and the level of post-production work involved can impact the overall cost.
4. Rights and Usage: Consider how you plan to use the photographs. If you require exclusive rights or plan to use the images for commercial purposes, additional licensing fees may apply. Understanding the usage rights upfront will help avoid any unexpected costs.
5. Additional Services: Some photographers offer additional services such as styling, art direction, content creation, or location scouting. These services can add value to your project but may also increase the overall cost.
It’s important to discuss these factors before starting your project to ensure transparency and a clear understanding of the pricing structure.
Pricing models vary widely among photographers in this niche. Understanding these models will help you choose the one that aligns with your budget and goals.
1. Hourly Rate: Some photographers charge an hourly rate for their services. This model is suitable for smaller projects or when you don’t require a large number of images. It provides flexibility in terms of time and budget.
Event photography is a good example of when this pricing model is typically used. I use an hourly pricing model (including time and images) for events to keep things simple and straightforward. Clients often use these images to supplement their more “curated” branding sessions.
2. Package Pricing: Many photographers, including myself, offer pre-defined packages that include specific services and deliverables. These packages often provide a more comprehensive solution, including a set number of images, post-production work, and usage rights. I prefer packaged pricing to give all my clients a clear idea of what they’re getting.
3. Licensing Fees: In some cases, photographers charge a licensing fee for the usage rights of the images. This model is common when the photographs will be used for commercial purposes or require exclusive rights. Licensing fees can vary depending on the intended usage and duration of rights.
It’s important to discuss these pricing models with potential photographers and understand what each package includes. This will help you make an informed decision based on your specific needs and budget.
If you’re new to branding photography, my base branding photography package includes everything you need to get started.
Okay, this is the part where we talk about the consistent strategy I alluded to earlier. For more established brands with a higher monthly marketing spend, I recommend investing in recurring branding photography sessions to capture special events, multiple team members, and product photography. Using the same photographer will massively improve the quality and consistency of your visual identity online and elevate the overall look and feel of your brand.
My year-long Partnerships package is for business owners looking to take their brand to the next level.
Send me an email to get on my Partnership Client Waitlist: firstname.lastname@example.org
Finding the right branding photographer is absolutely crucial for the success of your project. Here are some steps to help you find the perfect fit:
Several years ago, I traveled to Charleston to shoot personal branding photos for another photographer. Michelle and I clicked right from the start, and the outcome of her session was pure magic. She recently reached out to me to inquire about new branding images so she could plan ahead and build travel expenses into her budget.
“Literally you are the best photographer, and I wish you were in Charleston!!!! I need new photos, and I love what you did for me last time. I still use them! … Even if you don’t make a trip for other [photoshoots], I may end up just booking you anyways for 2024.Michelle Fiorello, Visionbalm
The style I’ve honed over the years naturally has an evergreen aspect to it, which keeps photos polished and fresh so they don’t look dated. I shot branding images for an esthetician client who has since used her photos for years to promote her business and get new clients. They’re still working for her after all this time!
At the end of the day, the question is not whether you can afford to invest in branding photography; it’s whether you can afford not to. Branding photography pricing can feel overwhelming, but once you get clear about your business goals and marketing budget, you’ll find it’s a luxury you won’t want to do business without! If we get the chance to work together, I promise to make your time in front of my camera a fun and ultimately rewarding experience. If your brand could benefit from luxury personal branding photography that resonates with your dream clients, let’s chat here. Check out more work from my brand and commercial portfolios here.