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madison thomson profile shot holding camera

Guest Interview with Brand Photographer Madison Thomson



I highly recommend listening to this guest episode with Madison Thomson – there’s a lot that couldn’t fit into this blog post that was just GOLD.

You can find her on Instagram or her website here!


What is brand photography?

Brand photography are the visuals used to represent your business. Let’s go over the different types of brand photography (because there’s more than one!) and what would be useful for doulas.

  • Lifestyle
  • Flatlays
  • Detail Images
  • On-White Product Images (like the ones you see on Amazon)
  • BTS Images (Behind the Scenes)


Why are brand photos one of the best things you can do for your business?

Brand photos build credibility. When you have professional photos of your product or your service it builds credibility. It shows that you are a professional and people are more likely to look through your website or product page. It can be tempting to fill your website or social media accounts with stock photos but it can also be limiting and potentially off-putting to future clients.


Personalized brand photos help you stand out amongst competing businesses.


Stay away from stock photos!

When I go into Etsy and go shopping, if I see something that has really clean looking professional photos, I compare it to the photos that aren’t very well lit, and it’s clearly somebody just at home taking a few quick photos of their product. Even if it’s a little bit more money, I’m more likely to go with the photos that look professionally done, because I think it’s going to be a higher quality product.

Even if that’s not true, my mind says, “Oh, they’ve invested in their photography, they’ve invested in their business, they’re going to be using better products, they’re probably going to have better customer service, they’re willing to work with me better.” versus somebody who’s just doing it on the side, I think, “Well, if they’re just doing it as a hobby, and they’re not really investing in it, are they going to disappear?” I’ve ordered stuff on Etsy and it didn’t come through because I ordered the cheap stuff instead of the higher quality stuff. My buying decision is based on the quality of the visuals. 


When I see better photography, it speaks to me a better experience. It’s a key indicator that someone has invested in their business. And so they’re treating their business like a business and the overall experience is going to be a lot better.


In the birth work community, trust is paramount. I talk about this a lot with my clients, but honestly, people aren’t going to invite you into their intimate and sacred birthing or postpartum space unless they trust you.

Trust means they need to know you. They need to know your face. Seeing real pictures of YOU, not some stock doula photo they see on everyone else’s websites. Seeing you is a HUGE green flag for them. 


Content is King

The first thing you’ll realize with your new business is that content is king! You need content/brand photos for EVERYTHING. And I seriously mean everything. Think social media, advertisements, marketing, website, emails, etc. You want and need photos for all of it so that people know exactly what you are offering. 

The first thing people notice is the pictures. Make those images count! Fill your social accounts with beautifully crafted flatlays or detail shots to catch people’s eyes. Have clean and crisp on-white product shots on your website to make it easier for people to see exactly what you are offering. Catch people’s eyes with your beautiful product.


Learn how to take great pictures with your phone with Madison’s free Small Business Phonetography course here!


Differentiates yourself from your competition. One huge plus of brand photography is the variety of shots and images. Talk with your photographer about what you want to capture and they will be able to give you amazing personalized shots. I love detail shots for this reason because they focus on the perfected and unique detail of your product. These shots focus on what makes you different and stand out among your competition. Again, having a variety of photos of your products, your business, and your story adds depth to your business and that people can take you seriously.

Like I talked about earlier, actually investing in good photos and not relying on the same old stock photography (because let’s be honest, everyone uses the same photos, there’s not a lot of options out there for birth workers), WILL hugely differentiate yourself from the other doulas in your area.


You have to spend money to make money.


If you’re going to treat your business like it’s actually a job, then you need to be investing in it.


Once I started treating my business as a job and investing in education, my equipment, my website, and my SEO… that’s when I saw the most growth. Once I got my business license and everything, it was like, “Okay, this is real, this is legal. I’m going to go forward with it.” That’s when I saw the biggest changes for my business.


If you want it to be a real job, then you’re gonna have to make investments in it, whether that’s in photography, in a website, getting your branding done, having your copy written for your website, having a virtual assistant that can help with like figuring out your marketing and that sort of thing. You have to invest in order to be able to make money. It’s just a fact with business.


Your brand is WORTH the investment


What kind of mental hang-ups would keep someone (namely doulas) from investing in brand photography? Let’s talk about it.


Which of these sounds familiar?


I’m worried about the privacy of my clients. How can I get pictures of me in the doula zone?

Some people, like myself, would be open to having pictures taken and published with my identity and face. Some people wouldn’t be comfortable, so I would just ask every single client until you get that yes. You can offer trading services for photos, which might be enough of an incentive for some people. Make sure to get a signed photo release form.


The money is just too much. I can’t invest that right now.

Well, how much does brand photography cost? It honestly depends. Madison’s packages (local to Fresno, CA) start at $450 and go up to $1400. Researching brand photographers in San Francisco was kind of insane; they were upwards of $2,000-$3,000. 

*side note*

It’s important to invest in a brand photographer, not just any photographer. Someone experienced in brand photography is going to make a huge difference in your shoot.


What if these brand photos, which instill trust and confidence, landed you just one client? It’d pay for itself! If you spend $450-$1,000 on brand photos, and you get ONE CLIENT (worth around $1,000) it would honestly pay for itself. You WILL get a return on your investment. AND for sure you’d land more than one client with these photos.


It’s outside of my comfort zone, I already feel really vulnerable in front of the camera.

Despite a lot of preparation for my last brand shoot, I felt really vulnerable during our last brand shoot a couple weeks ago. I’m 8 months postpartum and am nowhere near the same shape I was before Freyja, my youngest, was born. My stomach is pudgy and rolls over my jeans. My arms and legs are bigger than I remember. My acne has never settled down and was flaring up. 

These kind of characteristics actually make you seem more human to your ideal clients, and will be appealing to them. Showing that you’re a real person will be another way to bring trust into your relationship with a potential client.

This was literally something I had to mentally address and work through, so I totally get it if that’s something someone else struggles with. I’d suggest taking the time to address this kind of thinking. I personally use something called The Work by Byron Katie if you want to check that out.


So, answer this question:

Are you treating your doula work as a business or as a hobby?



How to prepare for your brand shoot

so you get the most out of it


Pick the right photographer! Maddie suggests picking a photographer with a website. Choose a photographer who has actually done brand shoots in the past, or who has at least invested in courses on how to shoot brand photography. It’s really different from lifestyle & family photography, and someone who doesn’t know what they are doing is going to waste your time and money.


Have a Pinterest board, or basically a wishlist of photos you want to have for your own brand. Prepare a prop list from the items used in these photos and bring them with you day of.


Plan your wardrobe so you have variety and outfits for both spring/summer and fall/winter seasons. *Have 2-3 outfits per season* Have your very favorite outfit towards the middle of your shoot. You’ll be warmed up 


Put it all into a google doc & print it out to bring with you. Here’s how to do that: put a photo per page with any details about wardrobe or props required. Print two photos to a page (so they are half a page), and group them by what outfit you want to shoot them in.


I highly suggest having a friend come as an assistant with you day of – they’ll manage the shoot, prepare props and wardrobe for the next shots, and keep you and photographer on target for getting the shots you want.


Last thing, have a party! Playlist it up and bring a speaker. Here’s the link to my spotify brand shoot playlist, but use music that makes YOU feel good.


The more you prep and know exactly what you want, the better your shoot is going to go.



My experience with brand photos

Our first brand shoot, I really didn’t know what I was doing. At the time I was focusing on serving mompreneurs, so seeing shots with my kids was important to me. Other than that, I had no idea what I wanted to do. I did it in my home, in one outfit, and didn’t prepare ideas at all.

The result was a shoot where I had great family photos, but only used about 5 for my business.

This time, I prepared a LOT more, and I’m fairly sure I got a TON of usable photos. I’m so happy with it and honestly… I’ve been looking at those photos every time I need a little pick me up. It has helped me treat myself, my efforts, and my business wayyyy more seriously (just the few sneak peek snap shots I have.)


Having brand photos is not just for your clients, it’s also for YOU.


You’ll see those photos and will have such a huge impact on how you treat your business. You’ll take yourself more seriously, and will be 10x more confident, I promise.



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