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  • Jeannie Doherty

The top 5 images you need working for you right

I would love to plant some seeds in your mind today around some specific marketing rules of the game. So think, Brand, Key Person of Influence, Profile, Content, Product Ladder, and the psychology of Sales. And today, Paula Brennan has shared some insights about the five images that you must have – images that you need right now in order to move the needle in your business.


Now, I could tell you story after story from eons ago, and even stories from yesterday around why and how this stuff works. All I'm asking you to do right now is read on and let it all soak, in order to help you do better in business.

Businessman in his working image shot

So, Paula Brennan is actually a personal brand photographer and educator who works with camera-shy business owners to help them show up more in their website and socials, and fills them with confidence to market themselves effectively. I reached out to Paula and I asked her to to be interviewed because she is a marketing ninja as well as a personal brand photography superstar, and, I know that what she has to share has the potential to help all of us do better in business.


I was actually on social media one day when Paula and all her beautiful marketing collateral popped up, and I was really impressed by what she does, but I was also really impressed by how she does her marketing! And so, I reached out to her and I said, who does your marketing? And Paula said, Me.


Paula Brennan: I'm a little bit of a marketing geek. I love marketing. It's kind of like my happy place. So it's wonderful that the confluence of my career of being a photographer for 23 years has kind of landed me in this space of this digital age, and in this golden age of marketing ourselves online where my two sort of special skills have converged at the right time – and now I get to help other people. I'm from the business time where you had to put an ad in the yellow pages, and whichever ad was the biggest one got the traction; the biggest and the most colourful and whatever side of the page was on. And now, we can position ourselves and we can actually take dedicated action— you can take the steps that that can actually get you and position you in front of the right target audience.

So, putting yourself out there as the face and the key person of the business – it's not about vanity and ego. For me, it's about CONNECTION and VULNERABILITY.


If you haven't read Brene Brown, read her stuff. Read Dare to Lead, a really important business book – vulnerability, connection, and the courage to step out from behind the curtain, and tell your story. And, this is a timeless rule of the game, my friends.


Paula Brennan: I think when it comes to stepping out and being in front of an audience and putting yourself out there, I think a lot of us make it a vanity metrics about the way we look and the way that we're received and, Will I get it wrong? And what I like to think of it is, it's more of a BETTER SERVICE to your clients and your potential clients – because that's what we're in business for. I think that it's doing people a good service if you can get out of your way and be PRESENT for them, and be in a place where they need you to be, be able to help them to look after them. And so if you can sort of push aside your own stuff, if you will, about doing this... Imagine your favorite client that you've ever worked with, the best client you've ever had and the biggest changes and the biggest impact that you've had in their life... Imagine if you had played small and if you'd hidden in a corner and you hadn't allowed them to be able to work with you to see you, to enjoy your gifts... I think that's doing a disservice to the world. I think it's doing a disservice to the people who need you. I know that it can feel uncomfortable, but if you can just put that on the shelf and just suspend that for as long as it takes to put up a post to record a video, and to do whatever it needs to do for you to reach that person, then I think you're being of better service to your community to the world had to hold. Now, jumping into the five brand image musts— the first one you're all going to know, and it's a really easy one to get your head around is, 1. Your profile shot, aka, the headshot Now, this does need to be a tightly cropped clear photo of your face, but most importantly, it's really important that it's recognizable so it looks like you that's SHOWING UP. Now, we've all had those instances where you've seen a photograph of somebody, and they've walked in for a coffee and you didn't recognize them because the photo was old, or it was too over photoshopped, or it just is not an accurate representation of them as a person and as of their personality. And so, I think it's really important that you make sure that this photo is congruent to the person who's going to walk into the room. That's just really important. However you want to be perceived is fine, but make sure that people can really feel you through that profile photo. The one that's usually repeated over and over on your social media profiles, through your website, your business cards – it's that same photo, so it needs to be really connected to you. It's confidently you, and it's confidently the you that you want to show up as in the world.

I remember when my first headshot from 13 years ago when I was starting my little bookkeeping practice, I don't think I'd long had a baby and I was out the front in the yard, and my sister took a snap of me and I look like hell! She just photoshopped me with an AI and I was just, who is that?!


Paula Brennan: Unfortunately, a lot of people are using AI and stuff on their phones now to start altering their entire features, and I worry it's just really false. It's not true, and it's giving a really bad perception of you as a business. It's like, hang on a second, who's this alien-looking creature on the phone that doesn't match this person that's coming in the room? We can all tell when photos have been overly doctored, so just try not to do it.

(Please have fun with AI, but not in the workspace.)


Paula Brennan: The next photo that I think is really important for any business owner to have is 2. The working-with-you shot So, work with me, work with you, whichever way you want to show it. It's really about showing people the environment that they will experience if they're coming to work with you. You kind of want it to feel a little bit like a fly on the wall I guess, but it still needs to feel welcoming, and it needs to feel environmental as well. When I say that, it can be in your office, it can be in your boardroom... It can be out on a work site, it can be you driving in your van to work. It doesn't matter— but you want people to get a sense of the environment that they're going to experience working with you in. And, make it a little bit realistic. Of course if it's taken on a photo shoot, it's going to feel a little bit fabricated, but you can easily hand your iPhone over to someone on your crew and get them to take a couple of shots of you, even working in your work environment, doing the thing. It's really helpful to be able to have that. These photos are fantastic to drip through your website, just to give a little bit more reference point to what the experience feels like to work with you, and they just help to break up the kind of monotony of text that can happen on a lot of websites. People are really visual these days, so it's great to guide them through and show them a couple of these different shots to be able to navigate through your website. They also make really good social media posts as well. Now, the next one that I want to share with you, and this might seem like it's a bit off business brand, but I think it is important as well to have: 3. A lifestyle shot on your business page This doesn't mean that you need to constantly be going out there and showing off with fancy cars and private jets and things like that. I'm talking about letting people in a little bit more into your world, so that they can understand what your values are. And values is a really big transactional decision-making tool whether you know it or not. A lot of times people will book you because they feel like family's important to you, or they'll book you because they know that you are respectful, or they're going to book you because they know that you're an honest person. And so allowing them to step just slightly into your lifestyle and what's important to you outside of work and showing that to them visually, I think that's a really helpful tool to differentiate you in the market, if people are just comparing you with another business. I love it when I go onto someone's business page and they've shared a photo of their family, or they've got a photo of them on their social media with their dog. Do you know little things like that just help me to get to know them a little bit better, and it really helps with that know, like and trust factor!

I have just been thinking about this one the most because it's something I think about a lot, and my team used to keep requesting for more lifestyle shots. I initially struggled with it because... it's more about my clients, and me showing up. And this is always at the heart of what I think about.


But, as I mention to my clients as well, it's about writing your origin story, which is a mini life story, because it's about connecting why you're doing what you're doing, with the person that you are. I'm a real advocate for putting your health first. I'm a passionate Latin dancer, and my clients get to see exactly that I do these things outside of work. They get to know me and my values because it's really important that our organizations vibe – and our vibe generally attracts our ideal tribe.


These days that it's the rise of PR and the death of marketing,

we need to give people the opportunity to get to know and trust us 24/7 online.


That's what they want. And when the pandemic hit, I can tell you right now, I've just done a talk on this topic: The big shift in consumer behavior. Our consumers now expect to get to know and trust us online completely, without having to pick up the phone, or send us anything. So it's like, are you the kind of person I want to work with?


(However, let's not try and please all the people all the time.)


Paula Brennan: The thing is, if I was going to hire somebody to work for me, if I could see that they're out surfing every other weekend with their kids and they enjoy a really good life, and I can tell that that's the vibe and the culture of the business and that they're not overworking their staff – they're not probably demanding that they work extreme hours and all of that kind of thing – I want to work with those people, because they're creating a great life, not only for them but also for their team. And the happy team working on my house or doing a project for me... I want to know that the people are happy turning up to work. I know that then, they're going to give me the best product as well. So it doesn't necessarily need to be about you, it's about sharing that part of you that it correlates with the values, and that it's going to attract and it's also going to repel certain audience that you want or don't want to to be working with. Some people aren't going to vibe with that and that's totally fine, but it's important too to understand that there can be boundaries with this stuff as well. Like, I'm going to tell this part because it's relevant to my audience, but I'm going to hang onto this part because that's my private life and it has no relevance to others whatsoever. Basically, I don't need to dump all of my life on you either at the same time.

I'll say it again, the big shift in consumer behavior post pandemic, but oversharing is not what we're looking for here. It's really about, I guess it's exactly what Paula said, just letting people in just a little bit because they want to be able to self-assess whether you vibe. After all, we only work with people we vibe with.


Paula Brennan: At the end of the day, your business is probably in competition with a lot of other businesses, but they're going to have their own specific clientele that they work well with, and the same over on the other side. I believe that there's enough work for everybody, but I think the more niche you can be with the way that you're presenting yourself visually with your brand, in order to be able to attract the right of people that you want to work with, the more definite you can be about who you want to work with and who you vibe with, and the much happier it can be to go to work.

And, there's people like Paula out there that can help all of us get that right. I know, for me, when I was told this is what you've got to do, Jeannie, it was like, I don't want to open the door to my life.


I'm an extrovert and I'm a sharer, but I don't want to open the door to my life.


But then, learning like you're teaching – there are professionals like Paula that can help us to get this right, instead of.. I'm online all the time, and I see a lot of oversharing and I've got to tell you right now, when I'm about to press go on a purchase, the overshare makes me press stop. So getting it right in that space is quite important.


Paula Brennan: And that's why it's important to have a tiny bit of strategy around your content, because I think a lot of people can just knee jerk it and then they just sort of post, because they feel like they have to. And a lot of my clients overthink things, and then a lot of the time they can spend hours writing content or trying to do things, and then never actually get it done because they're scared of getting it wrong. And then other people, they can overshare and just spew all over people. And as the audience you're like, Why? That doesn't matter! I don't care. That piece of your life is not relevant to me. And so I do think it's important to be doing a little bit of auditing on this stuff, and getting the help of somebody to figure out the beats of your story. The thing is, you personally get a little bit bored of those parts of your story, but some of it you just have to keep saying over and over and over again, because it's not the same audience all the time that's hearing you. People have cyclic relationships with you on social media. Some will stay with you for life, but there's still a lot of new people coming in and there's other people that are dropping off. So you've got to have a somewhat repetitive brand story messaging going out there, because there are a lot of different ways to tell the same thing. And you can use tools like imagery and video, obviously to keep reinventing it as well. Now, the fourth image type that I wanted to jump into is 4. The detailed shots We've all seen these sort of things. It's where you kind of hone in on the tools of your craft, or you hone in on details. These are great social media fillers, but they're also great to just use within your website to be able to press buttons, and guide people's attention to things. Let's say you are on the tools, and you might just get a photo of your hand pulling a tool out of a toolkit that simply can just be a page breaker, or a button link, or a navigator somehow that just, makes your page look really unique and specific, because it's tailor-made, personalized content. But, it also helps people to navigate through your content. Because at the moment, we're all very tired. Our bandwidths are very small at the moment. The easier you can make the customer journey to navigate through your content, the more it helps people to easily flow through. So we have the last image type, which is what I like to call 5. Your signature, or your banner shot This is what you would put on the side of a bus if you were going to put an ad on a bus. This is the one that really gives a good feeling, an overall feeling, an overall perspective of who you are and what you're about. And this radically shifts from business to business for some people. I've had some business coaches that their signature shot has been them standing in their board shots with their surfboard looking out over the ocean, because their whole goal and trajectory for working with their clients was to help them to have a better business that serve their lifestyle. The signature shot doesn't necessarily need to correlate exactly to the subject of the business, but it needs to attract attention, and it needs to really be on brand message about what you're about rather than necessarily who you are. It could be your entire team standing in front of a site or a bunch of trucks, or it could be you walking down the street. It doesn't matter what necessarily that photo is, but it really needs to attract attention for one, because that's what we're all about, and it needs to give me a feeling of what makes you unique and what your point of difference is. I saw a beautiful signature shot for a company the other day, and they are kitchen cabinet makers – and it was really interesting that the kitchen was way back in the background, but the center point of the focus was a mom sitting with her daughter doing homework in the foreground. And I was like, so what you're saying is that with that beautiful convenient kitchen, mom can have more quality time and it creates a more cohesive home. Clever, right?

This one's what I call a bit like the PRIZE SHOT. And I did an illustration years ago for kind of what the prize is really, around doing better in business. And it was an illustration of a guy in casual beach type clothes, on his laptop, with his wife and child in the background playing. And I showed it to a small group of people and one of them just said, I want that. That's what I want. That's what I want to be. How do I get it please?


I don't think it would always be the prize, but I think that a lot of times it's akin to, or linked to, or is the prize. I was thinking of a great client of mine that's in the air conditioning space and we worked a lot around the Why – and it's women, and it's families, and it's a cool home and it's keeping it cool. And a lot of the time, like Paula said about the kitchen, it's not about the kitchen, it's about what the kitchen gives us.


I had a sparky out recently and he's so fabulous. I love this sparky, and he did a little job for me right now. It was just nothing, but it gave me such joy as a woman. And that signature shot would be just like, a woman jumping in the air as happy as can be in her kitchen. I don't think trade is always really easy to grasp, and traders always turn up and try and give me the detail and I'm like, it's going over my head. I just want to be able to access my mini vac easier.


Paula Brennan: The signature shots too are from a creative perspective of coming into it, and I can't ever really tell you which shot that's going to be in a photo shoot. Oftentimes, you can't shoot for it because sometimes you're just looking through a collection of photographs, and you'll be there with the client and it's like, that's the one. That's what we both feel, where it's the moment where she just gets it and she looks super confident and she looks super comfortable in herself, and there's an energy. You can never predict it, or you can try to shoot for it, and then it turns up on a different part of the shoot. It's interesting, but once you're in a rhythm with somebody and you understand the vibe, you understand what they're trying to get across, and you understand their ideal customer because they know their ideal customer, then there's just a synergy that kind of happens in this content creation process, which is pretty cool.

And that's the creative space. So I work in the black and white of the numbers, which I love. Everything's just black and white: you're making money, you're losing money, you're on benchmark, you're not. And then, there's the creative space where I'm helping people do strategic foundations and I'm like, it's paint on a canvas.


We just start vibing over this thing and it's coming together and it's not linear. Certainly, the creative space is something that you have to be much more vulnerable in, which is always a challenge.


So a couple of things: First of all, I'd love to let everyone know that every single one of us finds photo shoots and video difficult. Whether you or me, and I'm someone who's very confident yet I'm in the fetal position doing this stuff like everybody else! But, here's something that Brene Brown told me and rocked my world and it is true. And that is,


Courage and fear exists together, not separately.


So when you pluck up the courage to do anything, like I did my first live Facebook video, some people would go, well, big deal. That's easy. Well, I think it's hard, right? So when you pluck up the courage, if you have a whole lot of fear and anxiety, please know that that is normal, and that courage and fear exist together, not separately.


And then lastly, if you'd like to reach Paula, simply drop into paulabrennan.com.au. They can help bring your brand stories to life, both in video and in photo shoots, and even in custom collections. And Paula also trains other photographers. So if you are a photographer or you've got a burning desire to be a photographer, you can connect with Paula to have a look at what she's doing in that space as well.


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