Just One Image
What if you had to pick a single image to represent your company and brand?
I know it seems like a crazy question. After all, when a client comes to you, they see your website, portfolio, blog, albums, etc. They look through hundreds of images before they make an informed decision about your photographic style and skill. Right? Wrong.
Unfortunately, we humans are hard-wired to make quick judgment and decision calls. There are vast amounts of science and research regarding why this has become an instinctual human behavior. We make judgments when we meet people, hence the importance of a first impression. We make quick judgments when presented with choices and options that are being marketed to us.
These decisions and judgments are made almost instantaneously, and what’s worse, we are getting better and better at it over time. Through the past 20 years, the amount of information that we are being fed has increased dramatically, and so has our need and ability for quicker filtering and decision making.
Quick to Judge, Slow to Change
Ever heard of the importance of a first impression? Science shows that first impressions are generally made within the first few seconds of meeting someone, and what’s worse, they are more than likely to never change. This means that if you meet a person and quickly assess that the person is an introvert and shy, it’s more likely that you will always think of that person as a shy introvert rather than change your first impression.
There are two reasons for this. First, our initial judgments and decisions are more often than not correct to some degree; which reinforces our need to make these judgments. Second, even if our initial impression is incorrect, in order to change it there needs to be a strong desire or “need” to change our initial impression. Generating that “need” or desire for change is difficult, which leads to first impressions often never changing.
So what’s the point, how does this apply to photography? What people see first MATTERS! It’s more likely that a client judges you and your work based on your website landing page, versus the vast amount of images on your blog.
If you are presenting your portfolio, the first image is going to tell someone all they need to know about your work. By the time the 2nd, 3rd, 4th…20th image are shown, it’s already past the point of that person deciding whether or not you are a “good” photographer.
This principle holds true to showing your work online or in-person. You need to spend time to make sure that first image speaks to your brand and identity. It needs to communicate who you are as a person and photographer, and every image following should simply support that claim.
So, being fortunate enough to have a lot of friends who are incredibly talented photographers, I asked them a simple question. “If you had to choose one image that represents your brand, what would it be and why?” A question and exercise I encourage each of you to put into practice in your marketing materials.
Here were their images and responses.
Jerrit Pruyn at Jerrit Pruyn Photography
Follow Jerrit on his website, Facebook, and Instagram.
This image is easily my favorite of the year because of its uniqueness and individuality to the couple. This photo is is bright and colorful, spontaneous and silly, alternative and adventurous; this image is Zach and Camille in a single frame. I pride myself on being a photographer able to capture the spirit of each couple I work with, constantly striving to deliver vivid and emotional images that couples can look back on all the days of their lives and say ‘That’s us, that’s who we are.’ – Jerrit Pruyn
Jason Marino of Imagine Photography
Though the majority of what we shoot on a wedding day is documentary, wedding portraits are often a big statement piece for us. This image is bold, sexy, and a little bit dangerous, which is exactly how we brand ourselves. It’s important the images you show match the clients you’re wanting to market to. We market ourselves as ‘killer wedding photographers for chic, modern couples’, and we want the work we show to have that impact the moment people hit our website. – Jason
Christine Yodsukar of The Yodsukars Photographic & Cinematic
Our brand is all about Celebrating Yourself! For our couples, that means feeling comfortable enough in front of our camera to embrace how beautiful, sexy, and confident you truly are. – Christine
Ashley Fisher of Ashley Fisher Photography
We love classic images that have great light and captures emotion, particularly of those people whom the couple finds important enough to share the beginning of their marriage with. When it’s all said and done, our photography is all about celebrating relationships and bringing our couples back to that first day, and I feel like this is an image our bride will love both now and fifty years from now! – Ashley
Annie Hall of Annie Hall Photography
To me, weddings are all about the people and the relationships, and I am there to document it unobtrusively and without interference. I found it incredibly inspiring and beautiful that throughout the hectic day, the couple still had shared tiny moments together such as this when they thought no one was paying attention to them.
With my brand being honest, moment-driven documentary photography, this image immediately resonated with me. And of course, black and white. – Annie
Tony Gambino of Tony Gambino Photography
This photo represents my brand because..
1. I love wide open spaces
2. The location is unique
3. It has that “wow factor” that I always try to capture
4. The clients appear affluent
Tim King of Tim King Photography
I chose this image because it highlights an important element that a lot of photographers don’t realize is something special about the times. Our clients often have “one last hurrah” of partying before moving to the next stages of settling down and making a family. The times with their friends of going out, having one too many drinks, or spending the night dancing your feet off are experiences to be celebrated and remembered especially into old age. Often times these moments aren’t documented because they’re frowned upon or looked at as “embarrassing” – but it doesn’t mean the couple can’t enjoy them privately. And plus, they’ll need evidence to prove to their kids that “Hey! We were cool at one point, believe it or not!” – Tim
Jeremy Chou of Jeremy Chou Photography
Having discovered my love for wedding photography in California, it’s only fitting that I love romance & light filled imageries. Naturally, I am also drawn to images that evoke a sense of calm & happiness. This image I selected truly represent everything I love about shooting in California. Soft, romantic natural light & beautiful subjects! – Jeremy
Tauran Woo of Tauran Photograaphy
I really like the idea that the wedding day is a delicate mix of reality and fantasy – I think this image captures both of these concepts rather well. I’d been to this location several times before, but when I arrived with the couple on this particular day, the lighting struck me in a new way and I immediately knew how I wanted to capture this scene. I take great joy in taking these little opportunities to create something amazing for my clients and exceed expectations. Hopefully viewers will immediately understand the spirit and uniqueness of my imagery, how much care and detail I put into my work, and to spark their imagination! – Tauran
Stephen Govel of Stephen Govel Photography
I selected this image to rep my brand because I think it shows how much fun we have on all of my shoots, how things tend to get a bit crazy, and how my clients trust in me and my ideas – the most important part. Running down a sand hill in your freshly re-styled wedding kit isn’t the easiest of tasks, but Winnie and Garry didn’t hesitate for a second when I suggested it. We then jumped in the ocean at the bottom of the hill, haha! – Stephen
Megan Kuethen of Megan Kuethen Photography
I’m a natural light photographer in love with sunflare and always looking to find (or create) that ideal moment between between my clients. I’m outdoorsy–as is my brand, and as are my clients–and always find myself shooting in rustic locations. This image is the epitome of my brand for those reasons, and many more. – Megan
Charmi Patel-Peña of Charmi Pena Photography
I love a romantic portrait. When the bride and groom are alone on their wedding day, there’s magic. But throughout the day, what I’m about is love, emotion, connection. When people think of my work, that’s what I want them to remember. I want people feeling emotional about images of people they don’t even know – and I feel this image hits that mark. – Charmi
Cass Bradley of Blue Sky Studios
In my branding, I attempt to stay clean/stylish/editorial in nature to attract my ‘ideal’ clients: couples who are glamorous, fearless and fiery having intimate/elegant weddings; Fellow adventurous spirits who adore life.
Though not dancers, Jess and Sam had taken ballroom dancing lessons and made an old hollywood-style entrance. This image was the final spin of that dance and I love seeing the joy not only on their faces…but on every one of their family and friend’s in the crowd. I want my branding to also convey ‘energy’ and my ability to tell a client’s story in an authentically elegant and beautiful fashion. For me—this image epitomizes this. – Cass
Callie Beale of Callie Beale Photography
I adore my images of Rachel because her energy and aesthetic closely align with my brand. Rachel was overflowing with joy, always excited to forsake convention for great photos and most happy under the spanish moss covered live oaks here in Savannah, Georgia. – Callie
Emilia Jane of Emilia Jane Photography
This image is from my first wedding at the Chicago History Museum, which quickly became my favorite local venue. I love the timelessness of the walk together up their stairs toward their new life, and the quietness of a moment stolen away from the reception to just be the two of them. – Emilia
Easton and Laura of LuRey Photography
Our style is really dark, dramatic and moody. People hire us to get the shots that look a bit surreal. We try to tell our clients stories in the most creative way possible throughout the day. – Easton and Laura
Melissa Wright of Melissa Wright Photography
Anke and Marius flew into Vegas with their son from Germany for a destination wedding. We spent the afternoon exploring Vegas and just capturing candid moments as they happened. It’s easy enough to do in Vegas, where anything and everything can happen!
I chose this photo as a representation of my branding because it’s natural and fun, simple as that. Oh, and Spiderman is in it which I think is pretty damn cool. I like to let the moment guide me rather than me guiding the moment. When I do that, this is the type of image that we get. – Melissa
Jen Rozenbaum of Jenerations
I chose this image because I feel it best embraces my life mission. I believe every woman can celebrate her unique femininity, shamelessly. For me this is such a shamelessly feminine image. It’s not a perfect image from a technical perspective but from an emotional one it nails exactly how I want a woman to feel when she is photographed by me. – Jennifer
Crystal Stokes of Crystal Stokes Photography
My most recent branding was literally built around this image. It embodies everything that I love from the lighting, drama, styling, and genuine emotion that it elicits. – Crystal
Trevor Dayley of Trevor Dayley Photography
The photo I chose is fun, adventurous, full of color and beyond the typical ‘pose and smile at the camera.’ All things I feel represent my brand. – Trevor