Jessie Wyman is Brand and Product Photographer based in Boston, MA. In this episode, we’re chatting about her journey exploring different niches as a self taught photographer, advice for overcoming the challenges of pivoting your business, and how brand photography can help you stand out in a crowded market. Jessie also shares about the educational opportunities she offers for other brand photographers.
Jessie knew it was time to try something new when she began feeling exhausted by family and wedding photography. “It wasn’t fulfilling my soul,” she explained.
She decided to hold an event offering brand photography mini sessions. Even though the event wasn’t a huge success, she fell in love with photographing brands and decided to make the pivot.
When Jessie made the switch to brand and product photography, she faced several common obstacles, like trying to attract new clients and figuring out pricing. Here’s how she overcame them.
Even though she primarily focused on families and weddings before pivoting, Jessie was also taking on projects photographing dogs, seniors, etc. She had a fear of missing out on project opportunities once she niched to brand and product photography. Acknowledging that fear helped her overcome it and commit to pivoting her business.
For Jessie, her family and wedding clients were an entirely different market than her clients looking to book brand photographers. In order to pivot successfully, she had to figure out how to attract them.
To do this, she learned to speak the lingo of business owners who might hire her.
“I had to speak a whole new language because speaking to a business owner for their photography needs is totally different than weddings, families, dogs, all the other things,” she remembers.
Messaging and pricing have an impact on how potential clients perceive you.
We all go through the pricing struggle during the early stages of our entrepreneurial journey. Jessie says that she had to go figure out what to charge and build her packages all over again when she made the switch.
She aimed for pricing that “wasn’t too high or too low,” since she was just starting out as a brand photographer, but also needed to make a profit.
Jessie says that in addition to acknowledging her fear, trusting her intuition helped her to move forward.
If you’re trying to decide on a niche, she recommends asking yourself, “What do I want out of my business? What makes me happy? What parts of my business make me the happiest?”
Now that you understand how Jessie made her decision to pivot, you may be wondering: what exactly do brand photographers do, and should you hire one?
Jessie explains that brand photography is a “genre of photography that is meant to create images for brands, business owners, [and] personal brands that they can use to help build their own business.”
Some examples of brand photography include headshots, photos for Instagram and other social media purposes, and photos to use on your website.
For product-based businesses, this also includes getting real life photos of products for use in their online shop, social media, etc.
It is the brand photographer’s job to help clients by capturing “images that reflect their brand that are beautiful, are inspiring, that will…hone in on what their ideal client wants to see and what they’re attracted to,” Jessie adds.
It’s understandable that as a new business owner, investing in brand photography may not be part of your budget. However, because of the value it will add to your brand, Jessie recommends that you start saving for brand photos as soon as you can.
“If you…have any sort of online presence, I would say, start budgeting for it now.”
Just like quality website design, brand photography makes your business more professional and personable to potential clients. As a result, polished, beautiful photos will set you apart (especially in a crowded market!) and give you confidence when you show up as the face of your brand.
In the creative space, we all hear about showing up, being present, and serving well. Jessie says that lacking brand photos makes this more difficult.
“If you don’t have beautiful images, if you don’t have that extra confidence builder to show up, it’s going to be even harder for you to do that.”
At some time in your business, you’ll probably find yourself wanting a new brand and website design. As your offers, audience, and overall business evolves, this happens.
Initial thoughts in this situation are usually to contact graphic and web designers to discuss logos, color schemes, and website layouts. Jessie encourages business owners to remember brand photographers during the initial project stages, as well.
This allows the brand photographer to communicate with your designer before your shoot, to discuss colors, style, website layout ideas, etc. By doing so, the photographer can then make your photos even more tailored to your rebranding needs. This prevents you from winding up with a bunch of photos that won’t work well on your website.
As a website designer, I wholeheartedly agree with this advice, whether you are having your website custom designed or going the DIY route with a template. I recommend that all my clients and customers prepare their website content before moving on to the design stage.
As business owners, it’s common to want to focus on our products and services. I often hear people say, “It’s not about me, it’s about what I offer.” However, the reality is that people want to work with real people.
When you have show up and allow your audience to see your face more often, they will start to know, like, and trust you more. Then, they’ll be more likely to book your services or buy your product!
Sharing your personality can also help you to further attract your ideal client, and repel those who aren’t a good fit. Jessie calls this “pre-qualifying your leads.” Since your audience sees you on a regular basis, they already feel like they know you and are excited to work with you.