How to Market your Photography Business with Color
What can color do for your business’s marketing? Usually, after the photography, they look to see who took it and what the photographer is about. One of the main ways to paint a picture of who you are, what type of photographer you are is by the branding of your business. Are you calm and secure, or do you come across as aggressive and attention seeking? There is no right or wrong, it’s what is right for YOU that matters. According to the SBA, color can be a powerful tool in your advertising and branding needs.
What’s right for your photography business? The Small Business Administration (SBA) says color can increase brand recognition by 80%, and when you’re hired for your visual greatness the use of colors for your business is key! They practically hire photographers to help with the visuals, so your brand should be on point!
For clients where I am creative directing for their company, color is one of the first elements we examine. I ask what the intention of the brand is and how they hope the consumer will perceives them? Color makes a big decision in this process.
HOW CAN PHOTOGRAPHERS MARKET BETTER BY USING COLOR?
There are 2 main factors to using color for photographers. I am not talking about the color IN your photographs, more about the marketing materials for your photography business.
Keep your messaging consistent. Your Instagram colors should match the colors of your website and that of your other social channels. There are a number of apps to help your process, and one that I love is Canva!
Determine how you need color used in your business. Do you need color for a physical studio or just a website? Are you passing out postcards for a wedding show, business cards or trying to make a splash on the internet?
Bonus: What is your competition using? Do you like it? Do you find it effective? How can you take what they are doing and add to it for an even better marketing plan?
WHAT DO WARM COLORS SAY ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS?
Warm Colors: For the bold photographers not afraid to make a statement. They want to stand out, and scream LOOK AT ME!
Red: Red is great in increasing the heart rate and blood pressure. It increases appetite and often used by food chains. It’s also associated with sex, movement, and all things passionate. Red can be about urgency, and discounts so use this color carefully. Stop signs and sale signs are usually in red. You don’t want to be seen as discounted. We know that red will bring attention. Your usage of red and how/when/where it’s used will dictate if people see you as cheap thrills or passionate and sexy.
Who should use Red: Boudoir photographers, this is a great choice for you. You can dabble in the risque and have passionate images.
Orange: It’s a popular color in the online content world, but can have many similarities to red. It’s an almost red, a diet red…so close to the real thing but not really. Orange does not have the timelessness that red does, and currently very trendy. Orange can be used for optimism and cheery, but like red can have adverse reactions like caution. Caution is good: Get the offer now! That’s good caution. Caution can be bad also: Slippery when wet. Slow down. Use Orange sparingly.
Who should use Orange: photographers who love attention can use orange. Because orange isn’t really associated with sexy, you can use it for wedding photography although it goes against the elegant shades. If you’re in the wedding industry, I would say use orange as a secondary color. For people capturing musicians and helping businesses with their content, this is a great option! Family photographers you can also use orange successfully.
Yellow: Cheerful yellow can also help with optimism. It’s another warm color, very popular in the spring and summer. I feel that yellow can be seasonal and for those holiday portraits, etc… it’s harder to market yourself with yellow being the dominant color. Like orange, you can use yellow sparingly. Yellow won’t have the aggressiveness of red, but still pull the eye. Yellow can be seen also as innovative and idea generating.
Who should use yellow: Because it’s considering innovative and idea-generating, this is a great option for photographers who help with marketing businesses. It’s optimistic & warm, not aggressive like red and doesn’t scare the large business away. Again, use yellow sparingly, it can be a bit much for the eye. Yellow can also be a good option for photographer shooting family portraits. They’re fun and energetic, optimistic and sun shiny! Yellow can also be used for commercial photographers, as it can mean innovative.
WHAT DO COOLER COLORS SAY ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS?
Cool Colors: Often used by financial services, it’s hard to stand out but it’s very calming and safe.
Blue: The color of blue is effective in conveying that you are slightly more conservative in your decision making. Bigger corporations that especially go with finances use blue. It’s also a more masculine color. It stimulates productivity and provides a sense of security.
Who should use blue: If your customer is male, I would suggest blue. For weddings, the decision is often made by the bride and the same goes for family portraits. These are generalizations and of course, each family is different. If you’re a photographer who wants to shoot corporate portraits, help businesses with their marketing materials or work mainly with male decision makers then I would suggest blue. Are you looking to photograph graduation portraits? That’s generally a conservative shoot, blue is a good option there also. Are you looking to help a new fashion brand stand out? Skip blue. Using blue in your marketing doesn’t mean you’ll lose the female audience. It’s more about grabbing the bigger picture. The way you approach a client, present your work and the quality of work will really be the judge. Color is the scale tipper.
*BTW I didn't say blue males seem more productive and sane. That's how it's percieved and there are always exceptions. If you feel connected with blue, use it no matter what gender you associate with.
Green: Moving down the cooler color chain, green is about tranquility, nature and harmony. It’s no secret why environmentally friendly companies use lots of green and blue as well. It also is about balance and clean.
Who should use Green? I would say landscape photographers can use green and real estate photographers can use green. It’s about balance and tranquility, perfect for real estate photographers who want to help sell a nice home. On the large scale, I’d say those wedding photographers, family portraits and fashion photographers stay away from this color. It won’t hurt you but also won’t be a great asset. For those wanting to do landscape photography as a means of selling portraits or working with nature-based businesses, green can be a good choice.
Purple: Ah the regal color of purple which I feel people have a love/hate relationship with. Personally, I loathe this color and for no good reason. I just find it ugly but many find it useful for femininity and imagination. It’s used to convey wisdom, respect, and royalty. Beauty products use purple, especially those in the anti-aging world.
Who should use purple? If you’re creating graduation portraits or you’re taking pictures for weddings, this is a nice option. It says royalty (weddings), wisdom (graduates), and could be used for businesses successfully if your market is a slightly older population or largely female. Are you taking pictures for women in any capacity? Purple is good! Bachelorette parties, weddings, and even female based businesses could appreciate this branding. Not to say men cannot appreciate purple either, but again we’re talking generalizations. I still hate purple though. Anytime you see me using purple in my work, know that I lost a battle and had to compromise. If you want to charge more for your work, purple might help in that dept. as it is associated with regal and wisdom.
Pink: That’s the first color we force little girls to wear. It’s often used to market materials to females and in the bigger cities, men wear pink also. In the more conservative areas, it’s still largely reserved for women. Forcing pink on women can come across as insulting, so make sure that you’re using it with intention and thoughtfully. Putting pink on your cards won’t have women running into your studio.
Who should use pink? Well, photographers that do boudoir and wedding photography can use pink. Weddings are largely female governed and that’s who is making the decision. Pink is used in fashion, so if you’re a fashion photographer or someone taking beauty photographs pink can work in your favor. Do you photograph newborns or even bachelorette parties? It’s a good option. I’m not a fan of alienating either sex, and my advice would be to use pink sparingly. It’s a vibrant color and will be seen! For the male photographers, you can use pink to say that you don’t subscribe to social norms. It is a personal decision, but pink can work beautifully if you use it thoughtfully.
ARE NEUTRAL COLORS BETTER FOR MARKETING?
Black: Power, authority, strength, and stability are associated with black. It can also work as a luxurious color, heavily used fashion and probably the most common color for all of us. Our text and copy are usually in black.
Who should use black? You can use black heavily but I fear that’s trendy and not useful for the long haul. Black can seem overwhelming but who benefit from using black? Well, all of us can benefit from black. It’s a nice accent color. For fashion photographers, corporate photographers, school and beauty photographers you can use black. It’s really about what you match the color black with to help your photography business do well. People say that it’s male preferred but I say forget that! Ladies if you want to use black, use it and as much as you want. I feel business photographers should incorporate black somewhere in their branding. Wedding photographers I would use it sparingly because in some cultures it can be associated with death and endings. Remember a lot of times the parents are helping the young couple afford a wedding, and a traditional parent could put axe on your business deal. Fashion photographers, you can use black in your branding to make it bold. Baby photographers, you can use it for just the simplest thin lines to help another color pop more. Graduation photographers, corporate photographers and food photographers you’re good to use black. Sports photographers I would opt for a warmer color that screams reaction, action, and passion. You don’t really associate sports with luxury.
White: The innocent white is pure, clean, also high-tech. You’ll see the medical industry using white often, so do cleaners and all things technology. Apple computer is the key example! Large white space can also insist on creativity, clean slate.
Who should use white? Do you do product photography? White is so great for you because you’re probably working with lots of tech gadgets (innovation), cosmetics (clean). If you’re taking wedding pictures, white is a no-brainer and largely used by wedding photographers. Photographers who take pictures of newborns use white heavily. Are you working with many corporations, white is a great option for you. Like black, almost anyone can use white. And just like black, it’s HOW you use it and what dosage of white is used that helps you brand properly.
Gray: Solidarity and prestige are good for grey. It also suggests old age but use it sparingly. Depression and despair can associate themselves to grey also. You can mix silver with great or do a little shift, and the feels change to high-tech and wealth. Grey is a great tone-down color. Are you using red or pink? Grey can bring down some of that excitement and help you tone it down.
Who should use grey? Anyone can use gray/grey color in your branding. If you’re working with seniors or an older population, use it sparingly. Men who want to use what are considered “feminine colors” by some can use grey to mix it up a little. If you’re doing headshots, weddings, corporate work or even product photography grey is good. If you’re working in foods, maybe opt for warmer colors that are more appetite inducing.
Brown: It’s that earthy tone, great for nature photography. Brown suggests organic, honest and authentic.
Who should use brown? If you’re in an area that is based around nature, brown can work in your favor. For example, an LA wedding photographer would likely not use brown as much but someone in Seattle can! If you’re shooting things based around nature, brown can work. Are you taking pictures of weddings that are heavily in woodsy areas and non-traditional couples are your base? Brown can work but that’s a very tight nice. If you’re shooting sports that are based around the mud, brown can be good. For example, if you’re shooting mountain biking, maybe brown can work. Brown shouldn’t be the first, second or third choice for most photographers. I feel the same about brown, the same feeling I had for purple. Brown is great for outfits but for branding? I don’t see how photographers can benefit from brown colors. Feel free to change my mind in the comments below.
HOW TO BUILD YOUR FASHION PHOTOGRAPHY CAREER?
If you're looking to build on a fashion photography career, I want to share my books the I wrote this year and it has already helped countless people! They went to #1 on Amazon for digital photography and fashion photography.
When I picked up my first camera, I looked everywhere for a book to give me all the steps to build a career as a professional photographer. That book did not exist so I decided that I will take over 10 years of experience photographing the biggest names on this planet, and put it all in a book for others to learn! If you are interested in building your fashion photography portfolio, I urge you to consider these books. They are vital to having a successful career because the books walks you through every step necessary. Get the books by clicking HERE.
HOW CAN I LEARN MORE PHOTOGRAPHY TIPS?
Well...I'm so glad that you asked!
I didn't have a lot when starting out. I did wish though there was a community to help me, encourage me and share ideas with me. That's why I created the following communities to help your photography gain momentum.
INSTAGRAM: My Instagram is where it all started. Join me and the rest of us there! It's called @HowtoPhotograph and we post daily tips on photography, the business of photography, how to start your photography career and more. I also post IG Stories and now IGTV.
PRIVATE FACEBOOK GROUP: This is my newest extension and I love it! My PRIVATE Facebook group is exactly that, private and filled with great people. Every day new people join and all of them go through a questioning process. You must promise that you will be respectful and not spam. Hang out with us, ask questions or post your questions. I am very involved in that and contribute also. Also on Thursdays, we do a really cool and free photography portfolio review. The whole community joins and gives notes to those that want to post images. I'm also usually involved in that. Join us!
NEWSLETTER: Do you want to shadow me on set? I pick from my newsletter sometimes. Do you want to work for me, or one of my friends? I sometimes hire from my newsletter. Do you want freebies for workshops, tutorials or big discounts? It's from the Newsletter first! If you can handle 2-3 emails a month...this is for you and your email is always safe with me. Click here to join for free!