*PS. Below you will find an auto-generated transcript of this episode.
Arek Dvornechuck: Hey, what's up, Branding Experts? Arek here and welcome to On Branding Podcast. And today, my guest is Carolina Luna. And Carolina is a New York based photographer, but she's not just a regular photographer, she's a visual strategist and she specializes in personal branding photography. She draws from her experience in advertising background, and she employs this to her clients together with branding principles and brand archetypes to help them create personal brands that are authentic and distinctive.
Hello, Carolina. Thanks for joining us today.
Carolina Luna: Yeah, my pleasure. I'm happy to be here.
Arek Dvornechuck: Thank you so much. So today we are going to talk about personal branding and photography and how to take portraits and make photo shoots for personal branding. Can we start off with a simple question? Why do good photos matter? Can you just talk to us about the benefits of having a personal brand photo shoot?
Carolina Luna: Okay. Great question. That's the foundation. We wanted to have some good photographs the same way a good brand wants to have good logos, good colors, good aesthetics. Good photography will help a personal brand, a person who is the face of their business being recognized. So that's key for identification as for a brand, whose logo is key for a personal brand. Now the face of the person is very important because it helps to create that connection with the audience.
Arek Dvornechuck: So when we talk about branding we often refer to a logo as a face of our brand, right? But when we talk about personal branding, our face is literally the logo and that's how people recognize us, right? So it's extremely important to make a good first impression and you can do that by having a good photo shoot, right? Quality photos. So you're not just, you don't just take photos like regular photos, you actually help your clients to leverage archetypes. You help them find the right location, you help them dress well and organize the whole photo shoot. So can you talk to us a bit about how to prepare a photo shoot list, what to wear, what kind of outfits we should wear, what colors we should wear, because as we know, all those things matter, the colors, the contrast and so on, the background.
So can you talk to us a bit about that?
Carolina Luna: Yeah. Absolutely. When I work with a client for personal branding, I want to understand who that person is to be able to portray that accurately, right? Also, now we're going beyond just that person as a personal brand. We also wanted to know who the audience is, how they're going to use their photographs. Are the photos going to go on the website or are they looking for content for social media? Are they going to be using the photographs for a marketing campaign, for a book launch, for a book cover, for a book duster? What is the purpose of having those photographs done?
We wanted to not only capture the identity of that person, just like in a brand identity, we wanted to know the brand personality. But we also wanted to bridge and find the common things that will attract the audience that the person is looking to convert or to attract or to talk to.
So we start by having this brand discovery where we're going to discuss the branding foundations. Some of the brands that I work with already have brand manual, have a brand strategy so that conversation flows very easily, but most of the people that have a personal brand they really don't know what to do. They need that insight. They need that reflection. So we have the conversation about “give me a day of your life”. What do you do from the time you get up to the end of your day? So we might want to then create a strategy and the approach for the photo shoot. Some people are gonna just need some basic photographs such as the headshots for the podcast or for the summit, for a few basic profiles, but some people are gonna need a lot of content for the day to day posting to help them to tell stories.
Starting off with that discovery is key. And what happens is for most people, they're hiring a photographer. They don't know the distinction between a personal branding photographer and a regular photographer. So they might be receiving just beautiful photographs, which most photographers can do, but they're not really useful for branding because it doesn't really help to convey those memories that the brand is looking to create with the photographs it's not helping to connect with the audience and it's not really matching anything that they do online with their messaging and the storytelling of their brand.
So the first step will be to reflect, who you are and what impressions you want to convey to your audience and start crafting your photo shoot based on that.
Do you want to just create some signature photographs that's going to be for your website, for your basic marketing, or you want to have additional lifestyle photographs? The lifestyle photographs will be, for example, conveying what you do in your day to day life because that helps the brand become more relatable and help to find a common aspect of how they live their life and increase the speed of the know like, and trust factor, you know, because as brands bind with their audience based on their values and how they live their life. In the case of personal branding, how they live their lives is very important for the consumer.
Arek Dvornechuck: Yeah, it all makes sense. It's really interesting what you said that there is a distinction between, just regular photo shoot and personal branding photoshoot, right? So In the second scenario, if you want to tell a story you will want to tell a story so that you need to define your brand personality. You want to write down those things like, you want to tell a story like your lifestyle. What do you do on a day to day basis? Let's say, you're a professional, you meet with clients. Maybe you need a photo shoot in an office, right? Or something like that.
That depends obviously on the client, but you want to define your personality, you want to tell a story, you want to create some different types of photos, not just regular photo shoots so that the audience can relate and it could be more authentic and relatable for them, right? So I really like that you said that.
And another thing is that you mentioned that most of your clients actually need guidance with that first step, which is brand discoveries, right? Some of your clients will have some kind of a strategy deck or guidelines. Yeah. But most likely they will need guidance so you just run a discovery session with them, sit down, ask those questions. Who are you as a person? What do you want to convey? Who is your audience? What's the purpose of this? Of those photos? Where are you going to use those photos on the website on social media in a campaign for an event for a podcast, right? So all those things matter.
So you just gather all this information and... And then based on that, you come up with some kind of a strategy, right? So you can propose how to dress, what locations to choose, what type of photos we should take, close up photos with a certain type of a background and stuff like that.
So we've covered that. Can you give us a few examples, maybe of your past clients, like different examples? Maybe different industries so we can all understand what really matters when it comes to a specific industry.
Carolina Luna: I'm working mostly with coaches, entrepreneurs, and authors. For example, for a coach who has a program or has a brand that really relies on their personality to be the distinction between working with one coach or another. Again, we're trying to convey the value based photographs that show how they make decisions and how they go about their lifestyle.
So that's really key, no matter what kind of personal brand you have, I think the common denominator will be being able to convey your personality and who you are and how you operate in the world, because there's a lot of competition out there no matter what industry you are at, and people are making decisions based on if they like you or not because a personal brand most likely will be a one-to-one service or a service that will depend mostly on your, you know, whatever you are creating as a brand. I think instead of comparing different industries here, for example, I would say that the focus will be on creating a connection between the brand and the audience with the lifestyle. And how you make decisions and try to convey that in the photograph.
I don't know how else I could answer that for you.
Arek Dvornechuck: No, it's understandable, but maybe you can just talk from your own experience. I know that you work with coaches a lot, right? But maybe you've worked with different, let's say coaches in different spaces. Let's say there is a real estate coach or versus there is, I don't know someone in a graphic design space, right?
Coaching designers, right? So they would probably approach this differently, like a real estate agent that coaches different real estate agents would probably dress in a suit or something like that, right? You would want to convey this personality of maybe like a ruler or like someone super professional, right? When it comes to archetypes, right?
Carolina Luna: Okay. Awesome. Yes, I have worked with a lot of realtors, specifically with a company that invests a lot in the marketing and the personal brand of their realtors. In that case, we typically get a location, a house that's listed that's really reflecting the kind of ideal client that they wanted to attract, either it's a more traditional home or it's a bright and airy atmosphere. Then I advise them how to dress, of course, professionally because they're a realtor. So we talk about what kind of props to bring and what stories we're going to tell. We wanted to make them feel like they're giving a tour of the house to somebody who's looking at their photographs. And not just being the traditional, boring, straight up photographs. Of course, it is important to get some of those straightforward headshots. But it is mostly important in that industry for them to be able to differentiate themselves from the other realtors within the same company. And then we have clients where there are executives.
I work with the mergers and acquisition professional who has a huge network of clients and he's very active and influential, especially on LinkedIn. And he's a huge community builder and has different masterminds. For his case, then we had most of the photographs, he was dressed very professionally. The suit and tie were in New York City. We went to different, multiple locations, boardroom photographs, speaking photographs. So it was a very comprehensive kind of photo shoot that took multiple days and different events and locations. We also. took photos of him. He's a vegan. He lives a very healthy lifestyle, so we also had the photographs, conveying that with a healthy smoothie or food in front of him.
It really varies. It really depends. Some people are big travelers or the center of their culture, and the core and the values of their personal brand is their family and their legacy. So I have traveled to Michigan, for example, I have worked with a coach for many years. She's a branding expert and coach. And I spent December, Flew to her house to capture her in her own environment with her family. ' cause it was a big part of her personal brand and what she teaches legacy branding, that the family is at the heart of her brand. So we did capture that as well.
Arek Dvornechuck: Yeah, right. It makes sense. So it depends on the person and their values, right? Maybe they are family oriented. Maybe they're travelers. Maybe they're super professional and they're all business oriented. So it all depends on the person. So you are trying to dig deeper, ask them questions and then use your skills as a photographer and your experience in advertising to help them convey that idea and convey that message. So you can help them create a more authentic brand so people can relate to them, right? And they can convey those values, not just like a regular photo shoot, like a bland headshot, as you mentioned, right? But more, some personalized photos, custom photos to convey that message and convey their values and their personality.
So that's been great. And your website is CarolinaLunaPhotography.com, for you guys to check it out, you can check it out, you can see that there is a beautiful portfolio. You can see the photos Carolina took in the past. And if you want to work with her.
What's the best way, by the way, to connect with you? Is it LinkedIn? Instagram? I know we've connected on Instagram.
Carolina Luna: Yeah, Instagram. I'm active on all platforms. Instagram is easy to message. You can also reach out to me through my website, and I also have an opt in on my website. If you want to plan your photo shoot, you want to download all the steps and make your notes on how to plan your own. It's a free resource there for you.
And , again, thank you for having me here. It's a pleasure.
Arek Dvornechuck: Thank you so much. That's been great. We're going to link to your website. We're going to link to your Instagram and LinkedIn and other social media. So you guys can check it out and connect with Carolina. If you have more questions, if you're starting your own photography business, she can give you some tips or perhaps you want to work with her.
So that's how you can connect with her. Thank you so much. I appreciate that.
Carolina Luna: Thank you. My pleasure.
Arek Dvornechuck is a strategist and designer who helps brands grow by crafting distinctive brand identities, backed by strategy. Need help with your project?—Get in touch
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