Taking personal brand photos—especially for a business that sells virtual goods—can be a challenge.
It’s not enough simply to look good. You have to identify and tell a story that a certain group of people wants to hear. And you have to tell it in a fast, eye-catching way that will make them stop scrolling and pay attention.
As a social media photographer, I’ve discovered there’s a little secret to taking attention-grabbing photos. It’s this: Sometimes, the photo doesn’t have to tell a full story. Actually, most of the time, it just has to stand out.
Here are 9 of 27 photos that every blogger, influencer, and girlboss should have in her photo bank, along with how to use them, and whom I’ve seen use them well. If you love these 9, you’ll really love the other 18! But more on that below…
#1 - Surprised
Everyone snaps to attention when they see a look of surprise! If you’re announcing a new product, a sale, or even a cry for help/advice, this image will be great for drawing attention in your followers’ feeds. Hilary Rushford of Dean Street Society has used this one many times, and you should consider it, too!
#2 - Oh, Hey There, Friend!
When we make eye contact with someone in a photo we embody their energy. (This is why some Nation Geographic images are so powerful!) We also experience chemistry in our brains when we see other people smiling that makes us feel more at ease. Put the two together, and you really draw in an onlooker to engage with your content!
Pull the “Oh, Hey There, Friend!” from your photo bank when you’re creating sales and opt-in pages—it’s like inviting the person on the other end to join with you in something fun and special.
Pictured: Raya on Assignment
#3 - The Big Leap
Because “flat-lay” or “top-down” photos are easy for most beginners (or for shooting on a smartphone), we see a lot of it in our Instagram feeds. After a while, it can be easy for the rest of us to scroll by these images without really seeing them.
Motion is harder to capture—which makes it stand out in the Instagram feed! People are more likely to stop scrolling and take notice of a photo in motion.
Since a “leaping” or jumping photo can pair well with an array of captions, it’s a great option to keep in your photo bank. Whether you’re using it for an ad or simply a “#LeapingIntoTheNewYearLike—” Instagram post, you’ll almost certainly get a pop of engagement from it!
#4 - Pretty Pondering
Want to boost engagement on Facebook or Instagram? Post a “Pretty Pondering” photo and ask a question! Whether it’s just for fun (“Pizza or Mac-and-Cheese?”) or you’re actually looking for insight from your audience (“What new podcast should I listen to on my roadtrip?”), this one will let your followers know: I want your thoughts!
#5 - Guilty Pleasure
A little mischief never hurt anyone! We all enjoy an ice cream, slice of tiramisu, or chocolate-covered strawberry now and again. Capture yourself experiencing playful, child-like delight, and invite your audience to feel like they’re enjoying a kindred moment of friendship with you. This shot is a great one to use for #FridayIntroductions or even to run in a Facebook ad.
#6 - Shh—I’ve Got a Secret
Got a segmented portion in your email list that always gets the best stuff first? How about a sale so good people will wonder if it’s too good to be true? Or maybe you want to write a “True Confessions” style post for your blog or Instagram audience, or a “5 Secrets to My Success.” The “Shh—I’ve Got a Secret” shot is perfect for all of them! Plus, who isn’t going to stop scrolling through their feed to hear a juicy secret? It’s a great engagement-booster!
#7 - On the Town
Standing, sitting, or strolling—there’s no wrong way to take an “On the Town” picture. Most personality-based brands see a burst of engagement when they share lifestyle-inspired posts that give a little extra glimpse into what the person is really like—where they live, shop, eat, work out, or even just go to relax and meditate. And increased engagement means increased exposure!
#8 - Pure Joy
Tossing leaves in the air, catching snowflakes, laughing with friends on the beach, or tickling the kiddos in the kitchen, “Pure Joy” is another lifestyle shot that invites your audience to participate in the best moments of your life, and imagine being right there with you. Take one for every season, and use it in your quarterly newsletter, or simply to lead off an inspiring social post!
#9 - You’re so FUNNY!
Laughter is the best medicine, is it not? And adding a little bit to your followers’ social feeds is never going to hurt anyone! Pair it with virtually any uplifting caption, run it in an ad, or simply use it to update all your profile pictures on all your social platforms. (The boring fake-smile headshot is so over!) All the cool kids are doing it!
Pictured: Holistically Inspired
Hello! my name is Alexis.
Coffee lover, day dreamer, foodie, and creative. Currently working and living in New Hampshire, I’m an eclectic mix of forward-looking and completely old-fashioned.