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The Photographer’s Guide to a Unique Brand Identity

water color of man looking at color palletes at his desk

What's in this article

Struggling to capture your unique style in your photography brand identity? Feeling lost in a sea of generic logos and websites? As a branding design expert, I’ll guide you through the process, step-by-step, to create a brand identity that makes you shine. Let’s craft something that turns website visitors into fans.

What is a Brand Identity for Photographers

Think of your brand identity as your visual autobiography. It’s more than just a fancy logo and color palette, it’s the essence of who you are as a photographer, what you value, and the kind of clients you dream of working with.

A great way to think about it is Alex Hormozi, a business expert’s explanation on branding. “Branding is the deliberate pairing of things through an outcome”. What does that mean for photographers? Here’s an example:

  • Thing 1: Life’s milestones (Birthdays, graduations, weddings, etc.)
  • Thing 2: The action of capturing moments (Your photographic services)
  • Outcome: Lasting Memories (Warm, fuzzy feeling of looking back on captured moments)

By capturing life’s milestones, you as a photographer help create lasting memories for clients.

Image of a photogrpaher illustration taking a photo on the left and a photographer logo on the right with a double ended arrow inbetween them with text inside reading timeless moments

Some more examples of branding depending on your photography niche:

  • Headshot Photography: Capture headshots + Headshot photographer services = professional headshots
  • Product photographer: Capture products + Product photographer services = Increased sales
  • Wedding photography: Capture the big day + Wedding photographer services = Timeless wedding memories

Some people associate brand identity with visual identity so in this post, we will be focusing on the visual identity of a brand.

Why Do Photographers Need A Brand Identity?

The association of pairing the capture of life moments with your photography services as the solution desired outcome is why branding is needed if you want to be top of mind when someone is searching for a photographer.

When someone thinks “I want someone to capture my event so I can look back at it in the years to come”, you’d want your photography services to be top of mind right?

They’ll remember or search and pick a photographer specializing in capturing “life’s milestones” with beautiful photography.

Branding positions your photography business as the solution to reaching their desired outcome

3 key reasons photographers need to harness the power of a brand identity:

Helps You Stand Out

There are hundreds of photographers just 1 Google search away and standing out with a unique identity is what grabs their attention. Having a brand identity that connects with your target audience is what helps you stand out

Starts Building A Connection

A brand identity is an effective way to communicate your style of photography and the type of people you want to work with. It helps people see themselves in your brand.

Some looking for a light and airy style photographer is not going to connect with a dark and moody photographer.

Helps Build Consistency

I remember going to someone’s Instagram profile, then their website and it was a completely different vibe. It made me trust their website less because I wasn’t sure it was the same person.

Everything you create, from your website to your social media posts to your printed marketing materials, reflects your brand. A strong identity ensures all these touchpoints work together seamlessly, creating a close-knit and positive brand experience for your clients.

It’s that feeling of “Yes, this is exactly what I was looking for!” that keeps them coming back for more.

Here is a more indepth article on why branding is important for your business

What Does a Photographer’s Brand Identity Include?

Think of it as your brand identity toolbox, filled with the essential elements that bring your unique vision to life.

A photography brand identity includes these 4 core elements:

  • Logo
  • Typography
  • Color palette and
  • Photographic style

These 4 elements will set the tone for every touchpoint that a client or prospect has with you. It helps build on that consistency on all platforms and connection with prospects.

text that reads, Are you overwhelmed creating your own brand identity?

What Makes a Strong Photographer Brand Identity?

Think of a brand identity like your own personal style. You wouldn’t wear a singlet to a job interview, right? Similarly, your brand identity shouldn’t send mixed messages. It should be an intentional representation of who you are and what you offer as a photographer.

Be intentional with each element of you brand identity

A strong brand identity for photographers needs to:

  1. Stand out & memorable: if you see everybody else doing it then it’s a sign not to do it. Zig when others zag.
  2. Be adaptable: It needs to look good online as well as in print, on a giant billboard and a mobile screen
  3. Work together: Every element – your logo, color palette, typography, and imagery style – should work together in perfect harmony.
  4. Be Scalable: As your photography business grows your branding should be about to scale as well

Lastly, it needs to connect with your target audience.

A photographer who wants to attract business people wanting professional headshots but is using the wrong font, and the wrong color will be less trusted than the photographer who does.

a side by side comparision of a headline, text and button using different fonts
a side by side comparision of a headline, text and button using different fonts

Which of the above would you trust taking your headshot?

How To Build A Brand Identity For Photographers

This guide will help you establish a strong brand identity that attracts your ideal clients. Remember, your brand is more than just a logo, it’s the total experience you create for potential clients.

To get the most out of this article download the free Photographers Brand Identity Toolkit

Step 1: Define your vision

First, we need to figure out your brand’s purpose, who are you attracting? what industry do you want to target?

Don’t skip this step, you won’t want to create a brand that looks amazing but doesn’t connect with your audience.

Action steps:

  • Find your niche: Are you a wedding photographer, a product specialist, or a landscape artist? Specializing allows you to target specific clients and tailor your brand to resonate with them.
  • Identify Your Ideal Client: Who are you drawn to work with? Families, entrepreneurs, or fashion models? Understanding their needs and desires is key.
  • Capture Your Brand Values: What matters most to you in your photography? Is it capturing raw emotion, creating timeless imagery, or artistically showcasing products?
  • Embrace Your Unique Voice: What sets you apart from other photographers? Is it your use of light, your editing style, or your ability to put clients at ease?

Side note: When I started as a web designer I targeted dentists but I found it wasn’t for me, so I moved to e-commerce but that was way too much work for me alone and that’s where I found the sweet spot working with photographers. What I’m trying to get at is it’s okay to change niches later on in your journey

Step 2: Audit Your Current Brand Identity

By seeing where you are now, you can get an idea of what needs improvement in your current brand Identity. You might be thinking “I do not have a brand identity” but if you have a website and are on social media then you have a brand identity, it just might not be your ideal brand identity.

Now let’s look at your current brand identity and see if we can find any insights

Action steps:

  • Website & Portfolio: Is your existing website visually appealing and easy to navigate? Does your portfolio showcase your best work and align with your target niche? Is your current branding consistent on all of your online and print media?
  • Social Media: Are your social media profiles consistent with each other? Do they accurately reflect your brand personality and photography style?

Step 3: Audit Your Competition Too

Knowing what your competition is doing can help find out what works and doesn’t work, this will also give you ideas on what you can do for your brand.

Actions steps:

  • Research 3 – 5 Other Photographers: Look at photographers who target similar clients. What are their strengths and weaknesses? Do you see any trends? Are there any visuals that are industry-specific? What could you do better? What are you missing in your current brand identity? Do you notice a common tone of voice in the way they communicate to their audience?
  • Take screenshots of elements that stand out to you and save them for later, more on what to do with these images in the next step.
  • Find Your Niche Within the Niche: Even within your specialty, can you further refine your brand to stand out?

Pro tip: When researching color and fonts I use these 2 Chrome extensions: Whatfont? and ColorZilla, Whatfont, helps you figure out what font a webpage is using with just one click and ColorZilla can get any color reading from any point in your browser.

Step 4: Write Your Photography Brand Manifesto (Optional but recommended)

With everything you have gathered, write a short one-page doc that redefines your vision. This helps get a clear vision of your branding goals, who you wish to work with, and the aesthetic of your brand.

Without a clear vision, all of your efforts in building your brand identity might miss the mark in achieving your photography brand goals.

Action step:

  • Outline Your Goals: What do you hope to achieve with your photography business?
  • Describe Your Dream Client: Craft a detailed profile of your ideal client, including their personality and needs.
  • Define Your Visual Language: Describe the colors, fonts, and overall aesthetic you envision for your brand.

Step 5: Create A Resource For Inspiration

Once you have the top photographer websites that inspire you steal what works for them

Once you have the top photographer websites that inspire you, steal what works for them, and by steal I mean what Austin Kleon implies in his book “Steal like an Artist”.

Austin defines good theft and bad theft like this: good theft, honors, studies, steals from many, credits, transforms and remixes work that they “steal”. But a bad theft degrades, skims, steals from one source, plagiarizes, imitates, and rips off other people’s work.

As long as the work you produce is not a “bad theft” and transforms, and remixes from many resources into something that is your own, not your competitor’s work, you’ll be fine.

A page from Austin Kleons book 'steal like an artist' showing a table of good theft and bad theft
A page from Austin Kleon’s book ‘Steal Like an Artist’

Action step:

  • Mood Board Magic: Create a mood board that captures the essence you want to convey. remember those screenshots you took in step 3? Include them here as well as any photos, textures, colors, and fonts that align with step 1, your vision.
  • Align Style & Brand: Consider how your photography style (light and airy, dark and moody, etc.) complements the overall brand identity you’re building.

Pro tip: Use Pinterest for inspiration by entering “[your photography style, your niche, your ‘insert relevant word here’] aesthetic” and create a board to reference later. I use Canva’s whiteboard for dumping all of my inspiration and the best part is they’re both free

From Here, It’s Design Time!

Step 6: Design Your Logo

Your logo is what sets up the rest of your brand identity. Keep it simple and timeless, reflecting your brand’s essence. Simple but not easy.

Here’s my process for creating a logo:

  1. Mind Mapping: Open your mood board grab and on a piece of paper create a mind map. Write down everything that comes to mind based on your mood board, there is no right or wrong try and see if there are any connections that stand out.
  2. Sketch out 10 ideas: With those ideas that you got from mind mapping, sketch out at least 10 ideas. Once you have your sketches go do something else for 5 minutes or even leave it overnight.
  3. Pick your best 3: It can be your top 3 if you already see a winner pick that one and refine it. Create multiple variations for each one and then show them to the client or in this case, a friend, and see which one stands out to them.
  4. Vectorize it: This part may be a bit tricky if you are not familiar with professional design software, like Adobe Illustrator, you can always try and create it in Canva but keep in mind you will be very limited.
  5. Review and tweak: See what others think about it and make sure it doesn’t look phallic or like a swastika.

make sure it doesn’t look phallic or like a swastika.

For some reason when designing by yourself you get into a flow that blinds you from the obvious like what I mentioned above and this one design I created for a b2b e-commerce business. It was meant to be a mouse cursor launching but it ended up looking like an orca. I only saw this when the client pointed it out.

eshop launch blog logo
Do you see the orca?

Lastly, I’ll leave with a quote so that you’re not stuck in an endless loop of reviewing and tweaking your logo.

 ‘Art is never finished, only abandoned’

Leonardo Da Vinci

There’s a point when you have to stop and move on to the next step or thing.

Step 7: Choose Your Color Palette

Select colors that complement your photography style. Are you light and airy or dark and moody? picking a color palette isn’t about picking what looks pretty it has to be practical too.

by practical I mean it has to guide the viewers eye to what you want them to explore for example a

When I create a color palette I use the 60/30/10 color rule:

  • 60% for a dominant color for a strong foundation
  • 30% for a secondary color for variation
  • 10% for an accent color to add pops of interest.

This helps keep balance in your designs, keeping visual harmony and directing your audience to where you want them to look without overwhelming them.

This also streamlines the decision-making process of picking your colors, limiting yourself to 3 colors is a great start, but this is just a guide you can choose more than 3 colors.

Here’s how I use the 60/30/10 rule in my brand

how i use the 60 30 10 color rule on my website. has a reactagle 60% is my primary color 30% my secondary and 10% with 4 of my accent colors
How I use the 60/30/10 color rule

More resources that I use to help with color palettes:

  • Coolors – A super fast way to generate color palettes
  • Encycolorpedia – the easiest way to explore colors, by entering color codes, images and more

Step 8: Choose Your Typography

I find picking fonts the trickiest part when creating a brand. It should be easy to read, reflect your brand personality, and be timeless.

There’s always a new trending font that you see everywhere but disappears the next. Don’t jump on the band-wagon and pick something that will not look dated in a year or two.

To get started pick 2-3 fonts:

  • Primary typeface: for headings
  • Secondary typeface (optional): for subheadings
  • Body typeface: for the body of your content

Action steps:

  • Back to the mood board: See what other photographers are doing, you don’t have to start from scratch.

Resources to help pick your fonts:

  • Typ.io – reveals designers’ decisions with fonts they’re using and how they’re using them.
  • freetypography – as the name suggests, free fonts
  • typespiration – Inspirational free to use font combinations and color palettes

Step 9: Build Your Brand Guidelines

This is a simple PDF that makes sure everyone using your brand assets stays consistent.

For example, you’re collaborating with someone or a company and they need your logo to put on their platform, you send them your logo and your brand guidelines, that way they’ll know how to use your logo.

This makes sure your brand is used correctly everywhere.

Action steps:

  • Create guidelines for each medium it will be used in, for example, print, web, and video
  • Store your brand guidelines: make it easily accessible when you need to share it with your team or partners
Uxmal Cuellar's brand guidelines
Uxmal Cuellar’s brand guidelines

It doesn’t need to be that complicated a simple one page pdf is enough for photographers. You can download my brand guidelines here.

Step 10: Design Additional Elements

Every photographer has different needs and is at different stages of thier business so this step is optional. As long as you have your brand guidelines you can save this step for later down the track.

With that said, if you’re ready to use your photography brand identity across different mediums here is a list of ideas to add to a photographer’s brand identity:

Social media

  • Story highlights, reels, carousels, etc. Design consistent cover graphics for each of your post types
  • Testimonials post: create a template or multiple for you to copy, paste, and post your reviews
  • Banners for Pinterest, Linkedin Facebook, etc.

Client Communication

  • Welcome guide
  • Email templates
  • Pricing guide
  • Contract templates
  • Client questionnaires
  • Invoice templates
  • Portrait Release Forms
  • Watermarks
  • Thank you cards
  • Packaging

Marketing Materials

  • Business cards
  • Comp cards
  • Blog posts
  • Flyers/brochures

Bringing Your Brand to Life

While consistency is key, don’t be afraid to let your unique personality shine through your brand. Your clients will connect with your authenticity.

Remember, your brand identity is a living, breathing entity. As you grow and evolve, your brand should too.

Still struggling to create your brand identity? Building a brand identity takes time and self-reflection. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and your vision needs a nudge in the right direction, consider getting help from an expert! Explore what I have to offer below and let’s brainstorm how to transform your unique perspective into a brand that shines.

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