Creating your own awesome photographer branding is something of an artform. It’s made up of 2 parts skill, 1 part emotion, 1 part personality, half a tablespoon of luck, and a healthy dose of determination. Plus the courage to put yourself out there.

As something of a hobbyist photographer, I’m constantly amazed by the depth and scope of a pro’s photo work. And I keep wondering how I could elevate my hobby into something marketable, like the couple dozen big-name photographers out there today.

But then I realize that I lack some certain skills to make a living with my photography, and I definitely don’t have a photog’s brand developed. Both of those things are necessary to make a go of professional photography. Plus you need time and determination to perfect your craft and style in your field. Those I lack—especially while I’m building my own branding + web design biz.

So for now, I’m going to focus on how I can help photographers transform their brand into something eye-catching and noteworthy (while living vicariously through their eyes and photos).

The 5 Secret Ingredients for Awesome Photographer Branding

1. Your Unique Style

Photog branding is different than many others in that your photo style + skill actually generates a huge portion of your branding for you. In a completely-unique-to-the-arts way, a photographer is recognized more by their work than by their name or headshot.

Having a signature style or subject matter to your shots will do more for your branding and notoriety than a logo ever could—not to say that a logo and traditional brand identity isn’t important, because it is. My point is, put in the time, sweat, tears, and shutter-finger cramps to develop your photographic style into the best creative expression you can make of it. That way, when you go to have your branding done, you’ll have a solid foundation for it to build off of.

2. Your Emotional Connection

Right after your signature style comes the emotions your photos evoke. As with all art, appreciation is in the eye of the beholder when looking at a picture. As a creative, you’ve undoubtedly experienced the phenomenon of looking at a piece and feeling a wash of emotion overtake you. You become entrenched in the subliminal emotional dialogue of either the subject or the photographer.

This trait is sometimes a learned skill, sometimes a natural ability—but either way, it makes your subject matter more powerful, and helps translate your brand experience into an emotional connection with your audience. It’s incredibly helpful to your brand because people will remember you quicker after you’ve made them feel intense emotions.

3. The Personality Behind the Camera

An important part of any photographer’s branding is the personality you present to your clients. This can be your true personality, or it can be a persona you develop and wear like a well-fitting dress when you’re with your clients. Either way, people like to FEEL like they know the person behind the camera. It helps your clients relax when they’re posing or working directly with you, and helps you get that perfect shot.

Incorporating that same personality into your brand is essential so clients don’t get whiplash when dealing with you in person. If you’re a fun, friendly person online, but a sarcastic smartass in-person, your clients won’t dig working with you. Making sure that you present the same persona in your brand and photoshoots lets people feel like they’re working with someone they’ve known for a long time. It’s more authentic and leads to better reviews and referrals.

4. The Expertise of Working with You

Having complete confidence and expertise behind the camera puts your clients at ease and lets them enjoy the process of working with you instead of leaving them wondering if their photos will turn out how they hope. It’s a state-of-mind for them.

Just like you need to present a confident and calm demeanor with your clients even though you might be shaking in your ankle boots, your brand needs to project the same confidence in order to get those clients to sign up with you. Having a clearly defined skills expertise—like portrait vs. food vs. landscape photography—helps your brand stand out as an expert in your niche. It makes people trust your brand more.

5. Your Determination

When people look at your brand, they like to see that you’re actually doing what you claim to be doing. They look for regular updates to your portfolio or blog. They like to see that you’re active in your field and that you aren’t just doing this ‘on the side’. You can be doing it on the side, but they like to know that you’re also taking it seriously like your full-time work.

You have to be determined and dedicated to making your photography brand a focus in your life instead of just a hobby that you pick up and put down at your whim (that’s one of my failings as a photographer). Showcasing your brand as a priority in your life makes it more legitimate to potential clients, and will ultimately land you more gigs.

Putting it all Together

When you mesh all of those things I mentioned above into a cohesive brand look and aesthetic, you end up with awesome photographer branding. Each piece dictates what your branding will look like, sound like, and express to others—it’s all part of the whole.

Putting them together before you brand, or updating your old brand to represent them, is the difference between looking like everybody else and standing out from the crowd. Because let’s face it, there are tons of amateur and professional photographers pursuing the same clients you are. It’s up to you to present them with an awesome photographer and awesome branding they can’t say no to.