BRANDING MASTERCLASS: AKP BRANDING STORIES

Hello there! Today I wanted to mix things up with a little bit of a branding photography masterclass from the amazing Amanda Karen of AKP Branding Stories. Your image, and the images you use across every touchpoint is so crucial to creating unique, successful branding and Amanda is one of the go-to photographers around for this style of shoot. She’s brilliant to work with and I should know, we worked together on my brand photography towards the end of last year. She’s an expert in capturing your personality and telling your story through the shots she gets and she’ll always go the extra mile, which is why she agreed to answer all of my questions for this blog! Anyway, that’s enough of an intro, let’s find out more about what she does and who she is.

TELL US ABOUT YOU…

HOW DID YOU GET INTO BRANDING PHOTOGRAPHY, OR PHOTOGRAPHY IN GENERAL?

It’s the cliché story that photography’s always been a hobby, but after moving to London it became a passion. When we got married, I wasn’t ready to leave the wedding world, so I combined the two and the business was born. Since being in the wedding industry I’ve met so many inspiring businesses and from there had the absolute honour to create images that tell their story.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE SHOOT LOCATION?

It has to be London. There are just so many epic backdrops! One minute you’re wandering through grand architecture and the next you’re down the cutest muse or sitting in a super stylish café. That’s before you reach the amazing parks and green spaces on offer. It’s the perfect canvas, and for branding photography you’re never short of locations.

WHAT’S THE CRAZIEST SHOOT YOU’VE EVER DONE?

A styled shoot last year in the South of France. We were creating a moody beach shoot, so we were on the rocks with waves crashing in the background, a fabulous model and a gorgeous “table” set up on a large flat rock, for a romantic elopement for two. All of a sudden, a huge wave took out the table setting! The model and I leapt out of the way, saving the dress and the camera, but our florist ended up knee deep in water! The final shoot edit though was well worth it!

DO YOU GET EXCITED TO MEET AND HEAR ABOUT PEOPLE’S STORIES?

100%, it’s what drives me! I love hearing how people met, why they do what they do, how they founded their business, what their passions are, everything! And the more I know the easier it is.

TELL US ABOUT BRAND SHOOTS…

HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO HAVE A PROFESSIONAL BRANDING SHOOT?

So important. Showing who you are and the person behind the business gives your brand that personal touch. It allows your customers and clients to get to know you, and more importantly want to meet and work with you. They say a picture tells a thousand words, and with people scrolling through content quicker than ever, your images need to stand out. There’s no excuse for businesses to have poor photography, and clients will judge a business based on its website and imagery.

HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO TELL A STORY WITH YOUR BRAND SHOOT?

For artisan and independent businesses, it’s the whole focus of the shoot.

Telling your story enables your ideal clients to “know, trust and like you”, which is absolutely key.

That’s why branding shoots are more than just a headshot, thankfully! It’s so much more than your “about you” photo, it’s about creating content that enables you to tell your story across all your online platforms. From your tools of the trade and you working and creating, to a bank of images guaranteed to keep your Instagram fresh.

WHAT SHOULD I WEAR FOR THE SHOOT?

It all depends on what your business is and who your ideal client is. That’s not a cop out, you want what you wear to complement your brand, and that’s the key, not matching! You don’t have to go all out and wear your branding colours, but make sure they work together so when your images are on your website it’s one seamless story.

I have two big bits of advice here. First up, you still have to feel like you and be comfortable, if you feel awkward then that will show in the photos and it won’t be a true representation of who you are.

Secondly, unless you’re a makeup artist (and even then, you may want a treat) I would recommend getting your hair and makeup done professionally. They’re used to applying makeup ready for the camera so people look and feel like the best version of themselves (in a natural way), and you’ll also leave feeling pampered and relaxed, perfect for the shoot.

WHERE SHOULD I HAVE MY SHOOT?

Again, this very much depends on your ideal client and your brand. If you’re aiming for city slick, sex in the city vibe then you’re going to want to choose an area which reflects that, perhaps even a rooftop bar with a cocktail in hand. If your business is all about the great outdoors and you have a love of fluffy pooches, then perhaps a walk in the woodland or on the beach would be better.

ARRGGGGHHHH, I HATE HAVING MY PHOTO TAKEN, WHAT ARE YOUR TOP TIPS?

Firstly, you’re not alone, I hate having my photo taken too!

Get to know your photographer, the more you trust them, the more relaxed you will feel in front of the camera.

If you put your nerves to one side then I’m sure you will genuinely enjoy it. And that’s when the magic happens. But also, if you’ve been involved in planning the shoot with your photographer, you’ll know that the result will be just what your business needs and you’ll have awesome images of you doing what you do best.

TELL US ABOUT THE PROCESS…

As storytelling is such a huge part of our business, getting to know our clients is the first step of the process – before they even book.

​If I understand what drives them and the business values then I can recommend what to wear, where to shoot and any props that will tell that story. There’s no point just turning up to a shoot, with no knowledge of the client, that’s how you end up with soulless images that would never make the website.

Once the booking has been made, a Skype is scheduled, we share ideas, get to know each other, understand the brand and the ideal client and start pulling together the shoot mood board.

DOES IT HELP YOU TO SEE EXAMPLES OF THE SHOT STYLE BEFORE THE SHOOT – ON PINTEREST FOR EXAMPLE?

For me, it really helps, I’m such a visual person so if a client has an idea of what they are trying to achieve then they can share those ideas via our secret Pinterest board. I don’t copy poses or images directly (where is the creativity in that!) but it will further reinforce what we’ve discussed.

HOW MANY SHOTS WOULD YOU EXPECT TO GET FROM ONE SHOOT?

If it’s a standard branding shoot (1 hour), I would expect around 20-25 images, but this can change based on the length of the shoot, the number of locations and/or outfit changes you have. But it should always be quality over quantity, you want the very best images of you for your business.

HOW LONG DOES A STANDARD SHOOT LAST?

We have two offerings, one’s about an hour and a half, and in that shoot the focus is purely on creating “about you” images. The second offering is a “day in the life of” so it not only incorporates the images of you, but of you working / creating / meeting clients, as well as capturing contextual images for your social media, which effectively become your own bespoke stock images.

So there you have it. The first Branding Masterclass, done! Huge thanks to Amanda for all of her answers and you can check out all of her amazing work here: http://www.amandakarenphotography.co.uk/ If you have any suggestions for the next Masterclass fire them over, it would be great to hear from you all!

Nicki x

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