Best branding photography in Manchester by

“I’ve met Andrew before, so I was very comfortable with him taking the photographs. He certainly has a knack of making people feel relaxed and special from the get-go – this makes you smile all the more.”

**BREAKING NEWS – 2022 Northern Power Women – Power List**

We’ve just been notified that Helen Tonks has been selected to be added to the 2022 Northern Power Women – Power List. You can read more about Northern Power Women here.

Warrington's Best personal brand photographer - justheadshots.photoHelen Tonks is a supporter of people, adept at business growth and improvement, and with her infectious enthusiasm she’s a real inspiration and perfect role model for other start-up and established business owners. But Helen’s key quality that shines through when you meet her is her down-to-earth, approachable nature.

Cheshire's Best brand photographer -

I first photographed Helen in 2019 when she needed headshots for the multi award-winning company, Hydraulics Online, that she co-owns with her husband. Fast forward a couple of years and Helen is once again my client, but this time the brief is very different.

Paying it forward: A new direction

Since 2004, Helen has pushed her vision forward and been the driving force behind the global success of Hydraulics Online. Like many other business owners, Helen surrounds herself with a network of trusted advisers.

Manchester's Best personal brand photographer -

“Paying it forward has always been important to me, it’s just in my DNA. I’ve also invested a lot in my own self-development over the years and met some fabulous people along the way as a result. I know that my business journey would have been a lot more difficult if it wasn’t for my network.

Helen’s self-confessed obsession with continuous improvement, coupled with her nurturing quality and desire to encourage others as a relatable role model led her to enter Hydraulics Online for its first business award in 2017 sponsored by the Manchester Metropolitan University Business School. The company scooped the award – and this marked the start of Helen’s wider relationship with Manchester Met that has flourished ever since.

A new brand

Liverpool's Best personal brand photographer -
Four years on, in the summer of 2021, the triple-accredited Manchester Metropolitan University Business School approached Helen asking if she would support their delivery of the Government’s Help to Grow Management Programme. The team there had clearly recognised Helen’s skillset as a mentor and small business advisor. Consequently, and fortunately for lots of people who will benefit from working with her, Helen made the decision in 2021 to launch her very own company, InspiresMe Consulting.

“I’m so excited to have stepped out on my own alongside my ‘day job’ at Hydraulics Online and to be able to support others in business. Being that trusted confidant, sounding board and guide when mentoring others, and seeing them grow both professionally and personally, is something I get so much pleasure out of.”

Warrington's Best personal brand photographer -

The InspiresMe Consulting Website

While Helen understands that she will remain busy through Manchester Met on the Help to Grow Management Programme, referrals and gaining clients through the use of LinkedIn, she was keen to create her own InspiresMe Consulting website for two key reasons:

• It is an opportunity for her to express herself and tell her story.
• It provides a vehicle for people to get to know her before meeting her.

“Even though it’s my own company, when working for Hydraulics Online, I’m more of a cog in the wheel, playing an integral part of its success. But with my new business, there are no cogs, it’s just me. I want people to be able to look me up online outside of LinkedIn and Hydraulics Online and to have the chance to learn even more about the ‘real’ me and, crucially, see the person and personality behind my professional achievements.”

Brand photography to capture the heart and soul of her business

Liverpool's Best brand photographer -
Unlike her previous headshots it was imperative for Helen’s new set of photographs to be reflective of her own personal brand. They had to echo her new business venture flawlessly. They had to enable people to get to know her before the first meeting. They had to stand out – and the only way to achieve this was to embrace, capture, and showcase Helen’s authenticity.

What is brand photography?

Liverpool's Best brand photographer - justheadshots.photoBrand photography encapsulates the essence of a business. And as Helen provides an intangible service, every photograph must reflect what she does in a way that truly resonates. While there is definitely a place for brand photography for companies that have a physical product to sell, it really does come into its own for businesses that offer non-physical services such as coaching, mentoring, HR support, etc.

Warrington's Best brand photographer -

For those who are new to the concept of brand photography, this is a short list explaining why this specialist collection of photographs is so important to boost your marketing strategies:

• They tell your unique story.
• They empower you to connect and build strong working relationships with people on a deeper, more meaningful level.
• They enable you to showcase your values.
• They allow you to show your genuine self.
• They highlight your personality.
• It elevates your brand and makes you stand out.
• Your clients get to know YOU.

And as people are attracted to visual content over written content, demonstrating your authenticity without words influences their perception of you in an instant.

Manchester's Best brand photographer -

Did you know that if you don’t make a good first impression – even if this first impression is through a photograph of ourselves – it can take up to seven months for someone to change their mind that first impression?

Here’s how we worked together

Firstly, I asked Helen to explain exactly how she wants the individuals that she’ll be working with to feel. This enables me to gain a complete understanding of her new brand.
Chester's best personal brand photographer

“I’m happy when my clients feel relaxed in my company, understood, supported, inspired, motivated and energised to take action.”

To help Helen achieve her mission, it was my aim to capture her personality, trustworthiness, competence, and confidence. It’s crucial that she looks approachable, friendly, and genuine in every shot, so she always makes a great first impression.

Well thought-out locations:
Cheshire's Best brand photographer - justheadshots.photoI needed to find a setting that fitted the bill perfectly. It just had to be at the Manchester Metropolitan University and at Clockwise’s new Manchester centre. Helen contacted the university direct and once agreement was granted to use their premises, I visited to research the buildings and the grounds. Clockwise is one of our regular clients and I wanted to use their new Manchester Centre as I knew it was just perfect for Helen’s personal brand. This enabled me to assess which areas would provide the best locations for the photographs based on backdrop interest and lighting.
Liverpool's Best brand photographer -
A collection suitable for all marketing collateral: To provide Helen with variety, I took the decision to take some shots inside the university, in the atrium of the business school and outside at St Peter’s Square. Some locations were perfect for showing Helen in action speaking with a client, other locations were ideal for walking shots, and others for ‘face to camera’ shots.
Real-life situations:
Cheshire's Best brand photographer -
As Helen is going to be working with people, it was key to have an ‘extra’ in some of the photographs. The person I chose was the perfect age for someone who has just left university and about to take their first step into the world of business – one example of somebody who would undoubtedly benefit from working with Helen to access her knowledge and experience.
Assisting Helen to present herself perfectly: Understanding how Helen wants her clients to feel when working with her, and knowing exactly what her business is about, is key to enable myself and my make-up artist, Nicole, to capture the real Helen – the person her clients will build a strong and healthy working relationship with.
The lighting: Getting the lighting right is key to ensure that Helen remains the highlight in every photograph. The perfect balance of brightness and darkness is an essential component as they impact on the mood, tone, and atmosphere of the final shot.

I see other photographers who claim to offer a brand photography service, but all they succeed in doing is taking a selection of photographs which follow the same repetitive format for every client where the only difference is the face of the subject. Using the same locations, the same props, the same look over and over again does nothing to help an ambitious individual grow and develop – it only makes them blend in with their competitors.

Every decision I made for Helen’s brand photography session was a conscious and relevant one to help Helen achieve her vision and goals. They showed Helen for who she is. And she, like everyone else, is as individual as a fingerprint.

On site at Manchester Metropolitan University

Liverpool's Best brand photographer -
On the day of the shoot, we arrived at the Manchester Met, with a copious amount of kit.

“As I knew he would, Andrew came prepared. Lenses, lighting equipment, reflective silver umbrellas – you name it, and it was there. This gave us more scope to choose the best locations, although Andrew favoured the places that had natural light, the lighting still needed to be corrected to make me the focus on the picture.”

The clothes and makeup

Cheshire's Best brand photographer -
There are a lot of bright lights involved when you have your photographs professionally taken hence the need for make-up and clothes that work well with the backdrop.

Nicole, my makeup artist, accompanies me on my shoots and listens to what the subject wants carefully. Equipped with bags full of high-quality products and decades of experience Nicole applied just the right amount of makeup to brighten Helen’s smile and enhance her natural features. It was essential that Helen was to present herself as being truly authentic.

“I’ve never pretended to be something or someone that I’m not. On the day I didn’t want to be over-styled or for my face to be altered in any way with filters. To me, being and looking authentic is everything in business.”

The second key reason for having makeup professionally applied, is that it makes people feel good about themselves. And when someone feels good, they ooze the best version of themselves.

“I had never done a shoot like this before, so I packed a suitcase the night before knowing that Andrew and Nicole would be on hand to help me make the best decision on the day. Before any shots were taken, I laid out all the clothes and they helped me to select the outfits that they knew would work best.”

Poses and Facial expressions

Liverpool's Best brand photographer -
It’s hard for anyone to look natural when told to smile. This is why the ‘getting to know you’ stage of the planning is critical, the more you know someone, the more at ease you are in each other’s company.

“I’ve met Andrew before, so I was very comfortable with him taking the photographs. He certainly has a knack of making people feel relaxed and special from the get-go – this makes you smile all the more.”

From the other side of the lens. I instinctively know how a photograph will come out. Any tension, for example, will show the subject as being nervous or a bit uptight. It’s up to me to tell the person in front of the camera to ‘relax your shoulders’, ‘hold your chin up slightly’, ‘look to the side slightly’ and so on.

“Andrew gave subtle instructions throughout the shoot to help me strike the best poses and it soon became second nature. He also took the time to show me the shots as we progressed, and I couldn’t believe how natural they looked – not one was overly staged. The direction he gave me was really effective and I’m delighted with the results.
Warrington's Best brand photographer -
“The photographs capture the real me perfectly. They look like me, just more polished, more relaxed, and on a great day! I’m even going to have a couple of the photographs framed to have in my home.”

Helen’s brand photography

See for yourself the end results. Here’s a link to her new InspiresMe Consulting website.

Are you looking for photographs to mirror your brand personality?

Feel free to get in touch and let’s chat about your requirements. You can book a free phone or Zoom consultation. And if you do decide to go ahead with your brand photography, I promise you won’t be disappointed. You’ll receive the same experience that Helen did:

• A pre-shoot consultation.
• I’ll identify the optimum location, make all necessary arrangements, and visit prior to the photoshoot to establish the best areas.
• Advice on what to bring on the day.
• Professional makeup.
• Guidance throughout the shoot to make you look your best and to put you at ease.
• A selection of edited high-quality brand photographs to use on your website, social media accounts, and printed material.
• In addition, I can advise on the best shots for different marketing media too.

Cheshire's Best brand photographer -