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Visual Ingredients: A Photographer Tries To Be a Baker


by Britney Gardner

What’s the difference between a pretty picture and an excellent personal branding portrait? A ton, as it turns out. But I think the general online landscape is missing out on the subtleties a good chunk of the time.

My good friend has a small painting of a cake in her office. She has a lot of knick knacks, so I never really noticed it until she pointed out the significance to me one day. It’s kind of her anchor, her reason for doing the work that she does.

You can collect ingredients to bake a cake and have all the right ingredients, and still muck up the cake. You can source the most amazing vanilla from Madagascar, eggs from organically-raised chickens who you spoon feed and the most pure of flour. You can lovingly transport each ingredient home. You can even sing to the cake as it bakes.

In short, you can do all the right things, buy all the right programs, and still not have a flourishing business. You need the recipe for the best cake. You need to see how much of each ingredient, at which point to add them into the bowl.


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The same is true for branding your business. When it comes to visual branding, you might even compare that to the final appearance of the cake. And if you’re completely inept when it comes to baking (like me!) then you’ll know what a deflated, ugly cake does to your taste buds. It shouldn’t taste any different just because it doesn’t look good, but somehow does seem less than delicious.

  • A great collection of branding photos have a few core ingredients.
  • The photographs themselves are professional (well exposed, framed and of good pixel quality)
  • They are set in an environment familiar to the potential client. The subject is dressed appropriately.
  • The collection tells a story
  • They show feeling and connection


Some of these are really easy to attain: hire a great photographer and invest an appropriate amount of money and you’re nearly guaranteed great quality for your photos. Finding a great environment is easy for some types of businesses, not as easy for others, but if you go for the right feeling it’s always possible to find a setting that matches it. Invest in a wardrobe stylist if you’re not sure about dressing the right way; the bonus is you’ve got outfits set up for future public appearances after this! A collection of images telling a story is not so difficult if you’ve hired a branding photographer that knows what she’s doing. As for feeling and connection, we talked all about that in my last article, so check that out if you’re struggling there.

All too often though, I see online entrepreneurs and local business owners alike using cropped iPhone images with your ex’s hand still awkwardly creeping in on the side. I see coaches with pixelated or blurry images splashed across their sites. I see a photo of a nurturing, soft-looking woman and later find out she’s kind of a badass in her coaching business.


Every one of those failings will cost you clients.


Don’t let easy fixes be the thing that sets up a barrier between you and the clients who could most benefit from your work. Before you set up your next branding consult, rebrand, or invest in a website redo, ask yourself if you’re showing up the way your best clients expect you to.


quotes from a personal brand strategist


If you’re not showing up the way you want right now, I’d love to connect with you. Are you ready to be seen and Boost Your Brand?





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