In a visual, increasingly digital world consumers are bombarded every day with images and even the smallest business needs to be “seen”. I believe stock photography, while simple and cost effective when starting out, can really only take you so far – if your website, marketing material and social media continue to lack authentic images and show total strangers or generic products, then they’re going to lack impact!

My passion is working with solo-preneuers and independent, growing businesses, often small and medium enterprises, to help them tell their story visually and sit alongside their larger competitors by creating a library of professional images to promote themselves. Working with a variety of clients, I find small business owners often don’t know where to start and think they’re too small to work with a photographer but building an image library can be done little by little.

So I’ve put together my top suggestions for photographs every small business needs. Even just a little of each category will help you get your business story out there…

1 – You and Your People!

Don’t hide behind your brand or business name – people buy from people so a good shot of you and your team is really important. It can help build trust, move you from a faceless business name to a trusted advisor, particularly important if you’re offering a service and want customers to interact with you personally.  And I don’t just mean a classic headshot, lifestyle imagery showing you in your business environment and your favourite places can help convey personality and make your customers feel they’re getting to know you better.

commercial portraits florist, chef, female in business

2 – Your Products

It might sound super obvious but people buy what they see so show them what you sell! While i think there is a place for traditional products on a white background and maybe your suppliers already give you a great catalogue of these (I know some of mine certainly do) to use online, I believe nothing beats some tailored lifestyle images that show your products together, complementing each other, in-situ, styled to suit your business and brand, not just showing off someone else’s vision. 

product photography for gift retailer

3 – Your Process

Particularly in creative and artisan businesses I see a lot of focus on the end product – but often behind the products are producers or creators who are incredibly passionate about the way their product comes to life, the raw materials, the tools, the hand craftsmanship, the tiny details, the packaging, the signature service flourishes…. they talk about it so convincingly in person but it’s not out there to be seen. Want your product to be valued? Want consumers to pay for the premium your process deserves? Shoot it and show it! Day in the life, each stage of the process, behind-the-scenes…. show them all the work that goes into what you create.

florist preparing a bouquet

4 – Your Premises

Lose the uncertainty for your customers – show them what to expect when they come visit you… especially if you provide a service where comfort is important to your clients such as beauty, dentistry or hospitality. Did you know that Google My Business allows you to upload photos to your listing? Like a mini tour of your business – own it and take control of your potential clients’ first impression of your premises.

premises photos of dentist surgery and florist shop

Work on location? Roving mobile service? Selling online? No problem! Choose a location for branding photos that reflects your brand and vibe you want your customers to identify with… for me, my work-from-home office doesn’t reflect the way I work on location with my clients but a beach, or a park works – I’m always happiest by the sea and my ideal clients are those kind of people too so I show a backdrop they’ll identify with…

5 – Some Seasonal Scenes

Running a special promotion for Christmas? Offer products or services that change with the seasons? See peaks for Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day? It’s not just fashion that works in seasons. A  library of “hello {month}”, “hello {season]”, “happy {holiday}” scenes relevant to your business can help keep your social media on point and bring your customers along with you through the seasons, showing them what’s changing and tailoring imagery for your marketing material.

6 – Celebrations!

Launching a new product or service? Rewarding your people? Opening a new outlet? Charity event up? Pop-up? Got a competition winner or happy client? Don’t just celebrate! Why not show off the kind of business you are and share your culture with others via your marketing, or with trade publications or the local press? One of my favourite corporate jobs, for example, is coverage of some annual colleague appreciation events, a day out with a fun activity, where people from the business who are geographically apart most of the year all come together with an awards ceremony to recognise their achievements and my job is to capture and preserve the fun and special occasion for all involved.

7 – Social Media

Profile pictures, banners, icons – social media gives you valuable real estate for free so not only should you use it, but make the most of it! I’d say you can draw from a mixture of the six photo categories I’ve been talking about up until now to refresh your social media profiles but it doesn’t hurt to think about social media when you’re working on your business image library and factor in the quirks of their formats and dimensions into your shooting. For example: shoot some images in a wide, panoramic style ideal for Facebook covers, leave some space around a subject to make it easier to drop into the circles for Instagram profiles or highlights – don’t let poor positioning online spoil a great image!

facebook cover image for childrens portraiture

Eg: use a wide shot as a Facebook cover image

As a fellow business owner I’m all for saving money and doing what I can myself but I also believe strongly in calling in specialists where they can add value and deliver more than I can alone. I find many small businesses manage to show some products and celebrations themselves on social media but business owners tend to hide from the lens themselves or struggle to convey the skill and beauty of their processes because they can’t do that effectively alone. 

Think you might need some help to tell your business story? Read more about the small business services I offer here, or check out my last blog post to read more about WHY I work with growing businesses