We were excited when we got the opportunity to interview Mallika Malhotra who is a brand photographer at MikiFoto + Co. Mallika is passionate about photography and wants to ensure brand’s are doing all they can to create a visual strategy that will really represent their brand to consumers. Mallika gives us some great advice for visual strategy and lets us know her journey as an entrepreneur.
So, tell us a bit about you and what you do?
I help women entrepreneurs move from invisible to impact through storytelling, branding, and photography. I am passionate about empowering women to finally be the face of their brand and share their message with confidence. I also published a book called, The Brand Photography Playbook: The Insider’s Guide to Planning Your Photo Shoot and Building a Stand-Out Brand. It’s a comprehensive guide for entrepreneurs, answering all their questions about brand photography and walking you through how to plan a successful photo shoot.
When and what made you decide to become a brand photographer?
I have been in the photography business for 10 years but began specializing in brand photography 3 years ago. I love working with fellow women entrepreneurs and learning about their business challenges. I started doing headshots at first but learned quickly that my clients needed more storytelling images to stand out and create real depth to their brands.
Being an entrepreneur is hard but rewarding, what is the biggest challenge you faced and the biggest reward you have gained?
I am a mompreneur (I have three sons aged 15, 13 and 8) so balancing a business, family and home is very challenging. There never feels like there is enough time to do everything. And when you do one part really well, something else falls through the cracks. So if my biz is booming, it seems like my family is eating a lot of take out :(The biggest reward of being an entrepreneur is the flexibility and freedom to fulfill my passion. I love that I can create a business on my own terms and grow it at the pace that fits my lifestyle.
Why is a visual strategy important to the success of a brand?
Visual storytelling has become a powerful tool in connecting with our audience and communicating our message. In order for our brands to stand out in today’s noisy marketplace, we need a collection of strong, storytelling photos in our marketing. From websites to email to social media, we need brand photos that tell our story and dive deeper into the many layers of our business. Visuals that create emotion, trust, connection and interest.
What are some crucial mistakes you see brands making in their brand photography and how can they rectify them?
1) A headshot isn’t enough to tell your brand story. Sure, everyone needs a good professional headshot but it won’t communicate the depth of your brand. You need to be strategic and share the different layers of your business. Your audience needs to have a full picture of what you do and who you are. This visual storytelling will not only make your brand more memorable but can also inspire action.
2) Do the strategic work before your brand photo shoot. Before you take a single pic, you need to get clear on your story, your message, your target and your positioning. This information is critical in the visual strategy of your photo shoot. Brand photos have a distinct purpose and intention for your business. Don’t just show up to shoot but instead take the time to review your product suite, your marketing efforts and future goals.
What are three golden rules for a brand visual strategy that you would advise to your clients?
1) Quality does matter. The photos you choose to represent yourself and your business are making a huge impression on your audience. Are you a professional or an amateur? Are you trustworthy? Do you look like someone worth hiring? If you are constantly posting selfies or creatively cropped photos or poorly lit DIY pics, you may be sharing the wrong message. The more professional your photos, the more you will be seen as an authority or expert.
2) It’s not just about pretty pictures. Brand photography is so much more than posting glamour shots. It’s about creating depth in your brand and building connection and a relationship with your audience. It’s about storytelling. It’s about sharing information. It’s about differentiating yourself. The goal of these images is to help your viewer visualize your message, your process, your products and services more clearly.
3) Know your story and share it. Don’t hide behind your logo, products, services, clients and portfolios. Get clear on your message and put yourself into your marketing. When you show up in your visuals, you become the connecting point to your business. People do business with people so it’s time to show up and be the face of your brand. Customers want to see the heart of the brand (you!) and learn about your mission, your movement, your manifesto.
I see you ran a capture your brand challenge, will you be running any more of these?
I am running a Capture Your Brand photo challenge right now and just started a free Facebook group called Brand Confidential. If there is interest, I will definitely plan more of these photo challenges.