Every time I log onto my social media feeds, I inevitably come across a portrait or headshot photographer who posts an image from a shoot with a caption that starts off with the phrase, “I had a great session with…” and ends with a tag of the client’s handle and something like, “I can’t wait to shoot this person again!”

Two sentences – that’s it.

If you start to feel the itch to create a post like this, do yourself a favor and hit SELECT ALL on your laptop and click DELETE immediately, if not sooner.


Aside from the fact that the “had a great session with…” story model is hacky and been overdone for years, you’re making the work all about you and not about those you serve.

There is no meat on that bone for your audience to consume other than the picture itself.

Although that photo could be the greatest creation since the birth of the internet, it alone is not enough to win the attention of those you serve. Sure, it might garner a ton of likes and maybe even a handful of comments on social media, but the last time I checked, likes and comments aren’t enough to keep the lights on in your studio.

When you’re looking to create a memorable and referable photography business, the goal is to generate content for social media that creates value for your audience.


The first place to start is by writing stories that flesh out the why, what and/or how behind the creation of that specific image.

Since people in your audience want to know how you can help them specifically, creating social media content in this light illustrates your expertise by sharing your process to solve their problems.

Here’s some examples:



View this post on Instagram


As you can see, the final product that Suzan and I created is a magical headshot that conveys a lot of warm and confident aspects of her personality. . But, if you read the email that she sent me the morning of the session, you wouldn’t have expected this final product. . That morning, I sent her an email to confirm the time of the session and mentioned how excited I was to get her in front of my camera. . She mentioned how she was glad that I was excited because she hates pictures and wasn’t looking forward to the session. . Ohhhh, someone who hates their photo taken – man, I love that shit! . As a result, this session represents not only a way for her to create an image that she can use as a profile picture throughout all of her social media, but, it’s also an opportunity for her to surprise herself by ultimately enjoying the experience. . And apparently, that’s what happened, :) . After I exposed Suzan to my special – and colorful – approach to conducting a headshot session (i.e. non-stop direction and talking shit incessantly to inspire laughter), we came up with a slew of photos that she liked, but, this one was at the top of the list. . About an hour later, I received this one sentence email from her: . “Thank you John! It was so great meeting you. You made me look good – you’re amazing! And, it was fun.” . When you find a photographer that allows you to lose yourself in the present moment and just go with it, that’s when magical things happen. . Don’t base your decision on hiring a photographer solely on price – have a conversation with them and make sure that the rapport is there so that you can have a successful experience like Suzan did. . Speaking of headshots, is it time to update yours? Been holding onto the same one that you took with your IPhone at a holiday party 4 years ago? . I’ll jump off judgement mountain for one second and suggest that you DM me to set up a call and let’s see if we’re a fit to work together to update that outdated profile photo. . . . #yeahabsolutely #sharemagicalideas #headshot #businessheadshot #personalbrand

A post shared by John A. DeMato (@dematophoto) on



View this post on Instagram


Before you set foot in front of a camera to shoot your branded lifestyle portrait session, it’s important to understand how these photos will be leveraged in your social media feeds. . One of my recurring clients, @TedRubin, and I have conducted several sessions together and before each one, we strategize over the types of portraits he needs most in order to maximize the value of each image selected. . He constantly posts images that have text incorporated on his portraits, so, knowing that, I often shoot him justified either to the left or right of the frame – that way, the image is tailored-made for him to add some of this thought leadership into the post. . Are you someone who has incorporated text into your image posts? If so, do you find that these images resonate more with your audience? . If not, interested in capturing portraits where you are able to incorporate text onto your portraits? DM me to set up a call and let’s see if we’re a fit to work together. . . . #yeahabsolutely #contentcreation #thoughtleader #personalbrand #smallbizmarketing

A post shared by John A. DeMato (@dematophoto) on

By providing your audience context, you’re shining a light on the specific reasoning behind why you were hired to create this image in the first place…

…and it inspires them to envision working with you to solve their particular problems, especially if it’s relatable to the post they just consumed on your feed. That’s a foundational element to becoming memorable and referable in the eyes of those you serve.


Let’s say you have a beautiful portrait image that you want to share on social, but, aren’t sure exactly what type of story to share along with that image.

Pull out your phone, pad and pen or whatever method you use to brainstorm ideas and answer the following questions without worrying about spelling grammar or if the ideas make any sense.

Simply open to a blank screen or page and write everything that comes to mind:

Why did your client book you?

What is the purpose of this particular image?

What were some of the challenges that were brought up during the pre-session strategy?

  • What was their mindset going into the session?
  • How did you guide them to be out of their heads and in the present moment?
  • How did this location help serve your clients needs?
  • How did their expression in the photo help serve their needs?
  • Were there logistical/technical issues that you worked through to make this session happen?
  • Did you improvise the creation of this image? If so, why?
  • Did your client originally not like this photo, but, you convinced him/her of the value? How?

Once you have all of this written down, look through the notes and choose one of the answers to create your social post.

Why not all of it in one post?

Two reasons.

First, that would be one GIGANTIC social media post that no one will read. If you were to group all of this content in one self-contained story, that would serve you more effectively as a blog article because people are conditioned to invest more time consuming that type of content.

Second, the majority of these answers can be applied to pretty much any image captured during that session, which means you can create several social posts from one photo session without repeating yourself over and over again, and attach unique stories to each of them without repeating yourself.

So, don’t burn all your insights and analysis in one post when you can create a handful of posts that offer highly specific value over time.

Imagine repeating this process for every single session that you’ve conducted? Yup, that’s a ton of informative, entertaining and inspiration content. Rather than complementing a beautiful image with a two-sentence stock caption that doesn’t serve your audience, focus on offering them an opportunity to relate directly to the value that you offer by illustrating how your expertise will solve their problems around image content.

As a result of you sharing your expertise, they now have a deeper understanding of what goes into creating professional images and how you would help them get past whatever is holding them back from creating those professional images. As a result, who do you think they will turn to the moment that they are looking to invest in new portraits and/or headshots?

It’s pretty magical how that works out, let me tell you.