Should you use free image libraries or hire a brand photographer?

Be authentic, be visible, be on brand… phew!

It's exhausting, but I bet you hear these messages every day as a small business owner. With photography and imagery an essential aspect of your branding strategy and social media management, you may decide to invest in a photographer to help you get professional brand images.

If you do, what are the key things you need to know?

Every reputable brand has a consistent personality, as well as a visual appearance. Just as you wouldn't turn up to a corporate office one day wearing flip flops and a beach dress, the next day in heels and a designer suit, followed by jeans and a t-shirt the day after that - you'll send a confusing message. And as for your clients, they won't know how to talk to you or, even worse, won’t want to work with you. People don't want doubt; they want clear messages.

This applies to your imagery too. If you have consistent professional imagery that supports your brand values, your audience will immediately understand what type of business you are, your professionalism and your personality. If you use badly lit and blurry images for your business, people will assume that you don't care. But, on the other hand, if your images are clear, light and airy, showing you working happily at your desk or meeting a client, people will assume that this is how you do your job.

If you show images with your brand colours or your products in an inspiring setting, you're more likely to attract customers' attention. Again, you sell the aspiration, lifestyle, and personality, not the product or service.

You can take photos with your smartphone of course! But I would recommend investing in a professional branding photography shoot to get it properly done (which you will never regret by the way).

Here are some top tips:

  • Consider your brand story. What do you want the images to say?

  • Think about what you're wearing - clean lines, bold colours for bold businesses, and subdued for more romantic impressions. Also, include a spot of your colours in the background to highlight your brand.

  • Ensure your pictures have elements of your brand colours on a desk or shelf with white space around. Accessorising is a great way to visually communicate your brand through text messages, emails, website or social media.

  • Texture - Make sure your images have different materials, depth, angles etc. You will need to bring the props to make it happen. The photographer is not a magician.

  • Location - where is a space that you feel represents your brand? Is it your office, the park or in a hotel? How best do you convey your message through the surroundings

  • Choose a photographer who understands your style and brand vision and can deliver edgy brand imagery while ensuring your brand is consistent.

  • Do your research when choosing a photographer and check their portfolio to ensure they take images that work best for you and your brand.

  • Think about what you wear - you are the face behind your brand. What image are you selling?

One of my favourite brand photographers here in Singapore is Silke Dietz from Zebra Jojo. Because she specialises in brand photography, you’ll be sure to get images that tell your brand story and bring out the best of you and your business. If you sign up to her newsletters you also get great tips directly to your inbox.

If you're looking for beautiful portrait images for a brand that requires a darker, more mysterious tone, you could also check out Irina Nilsson.

Once you have your brand strategy, guidelines, and portfolio of clear branded images, it's much easier to complement them with other pictures from stock libraries or ones you take yourself. You can instantly see if it looks good together or if it's too dark or too light. Just put them side by side, and you'll know. It's all about balance.

You can buy or subscribe to wonderful support images via Moyo or Haute Stock. They deliver amazing stock shots at affordable prices.

Libraries like Shuttershock, iStock or Adobe Stock also offer a wider range of professional imagery if you need something very specific.

For additional free image libraries to complement your portfolio with texture, colour or otherwise - you can also take a look at Unsplash, Pexels or Pixabay for an enormous range of brand images. There you can search for images similar to your own or brand colours. Be careful not to use too many of the images from the stock libraries. It quickly becomes evident that the images are not yours and with that your authenticity goes out the window. But they are fantastic at supporting your portfolio and to make it last longer.

Having professional photography and imagery is an essential aspect of your overall brand and marketing strategy and growth. It also ensures you can always be authentic, be visible and be on brand!

Now, go and take a good look at your image library and make sure it’s amazing! If it isn’t - you probably should do something about it as it’s costing you potential new business.

Once it’s done - create a selection of images and make a before and after photo and you’ll see how big of a difference it makes. I would love to see the transformation. Tag or message me and I will be more than happy to give you some further suggestions.


Anna Seefeldt is your practical, straight-talking brand strategy consultant. She founded Pink Pineapple to help small business owners build strong brands that allow them to elevate to the next level and run successful enterprises. By collaborating with experts in supporting fields like designers and photographers, she has all your brand needs covered. Anna loves all things champagne, shoes & tea!

Join her with a cup of tea to share about your business needs by contacting her here!

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