Business + Marketing

Six-Figure Wedding Photography: The 3 Building Blocks of Branding For Your Ideal Client

March 27, 2019

By Ashley Beasley

© Luke and Ashley

Over the last eight years of owning our photography business we have learned many valuable lessons, but the biggest may be understanding what it takes to build a solid brand with great reputation and value. Our approach to branding has contributed majorly to the success of building our six-figure business.

“Branding” has been a big buzzword for a few years now. As creatives, it seems that our photography peers are rebranding everywhere we look, whether it’s going from big wedding to small elopements, refocusing from destinations to local business or expanding a team from a single shooter to a collective. While many believe our understanding of a brand is limited only to the physical components that we see, solidifying the scope of a brand is about so much more than choosing pretty designs, colors and fonts for your website.

When we first started our photography business back in 2011, we thought branding was all about having a good logo—we spent so much wasted time and money on trying to get the right logo for our business. We then took that same mindset and tried to get the “right” website (and here’s what we eventually learned about making our website a true reflection of our brand).

It wasn’t until about 2016 that we finally began to understand what a brand was and why it was so important to get it right. We learned that a brand is a feeling that is evoked when a customer interacts with any part of your business. It is what sets your business apart from your competition.

Discovering our brand’s voice and identity (and subsequently, finding the right direction for business) took some time and effort. It all started with asking ourselves three questions and digging deeply in our responses. Some of these were not easy to answer; some of the answers have evolved over time. (In that vein, we recommend going back to these questions every year and rediscovering the honesty behind your responses.)


Our beginning does not look like anyone else’s that we know. We did not pick up a camera as teens and fall in love with photography. Our passion and desire were born out of desperation. We were $86,000 in debt and facing bankruptcy. We started our photography business so that we could begin to tackle our debt and get out of the mess. Four years after starting our business, we paid off all of our debt.

However, we soon found ourselves stuck. During that time, we discovered Simon Sinek’s TED Talk on “Start with Why.” For companies to have long-term success, he says, they need to know what their why is first. This was a tough question for us, and it took a lot of inward reflection to answer it. Our why went from paying off the bills to running a profitable business that could sustain us.

What we came up with was that we wanted our business to be not only the sole source of income for our family but also to be used as a reflection of service and contribution to our community. We thrive when we get to serve those around us, and we wanted our business to reflect that. Our why became something that felt we were born to do: to serve others in excellence and use our entrepreneurship to help others.

Before you do anything else with your business, before you design or purchase that next logo or pick your favorite color, take some time and answer this: What is your why?


Like most photographers when we started, we marketed to the masses. And this is okay—we had to. Our why was to get out of debt, so at the start we would take anyone and anything that we could get.

However, as our business evolved, we realized that we could get more selective and that not everyone was the right fit for us, nor were we the right fit for everyone. We had to understand who our ideal client was, and then we had to learn to speak to them directly.

I took this pretty literally. As a visual person, I needed to create a client that I could visualize and connect with easily. I created a fictional story about a couple. It went in depth on how they met, where they work, what they do in their spare time. I even created fun little bitmoji’s for them! This activity helped form this couple in my mind. They have an identity that I can relate to.

Knowing who our ideal client is has enabled me to speak directly to them. Their names are Ryan and Kayla, and I use Ryan and Kayla as a filter. Whenever I post or share anything, I always ask, Would Ryan and Kayla like this? If yes, then I post. If not, then I scratch it and try again.

For example, Ryan and Kayla love dogs. When deciding on what image to choose for the homepage of our website, we went with one that showcased a bride and groom with their dog. Because of this one image, we have booked several clients who are dog lovers because they related to that big image that greeted them as soon as they reached our website.

I encourage you to try this out. Take an afternoon and visualize a story about your ideal client. Write it down. The more detailed you can get the better.


After finding the why and ideal client, the final step is covering our message. Our message stems back to our why. As photographers who always want to serve others and give a positive contribution to our community, we kept this in mind when we began to form our voice. We decided to choose three words that would encompass our brand as a whole: Beautiful, joyful and authentic.

Just as we use our ideal client as a filter, we also use these words as a filter when we share anything online as well as in person. The images we share reflect those three words, and the word choice we use to communicate to current and potential clients on our platforms reflect those three words too.

If you find yourself struggling to find your brand’s voice, then we encourage you to take some time and come up with three words to describe your business. Ask your friends, past clients and those around you for input. Choosing these adjectives might be the most natural part of the whole process.

The most important point after all of this is to know that your brand is going to evolve. It’s going to change as you change, and that is a good thing. Build a strong foundation on understanding your why, know who you’d like to speak to and get clarification on your brand’s voice—these three elements will make the inevitable evolution of your business much smoother.

 Ashley Beasley and her husband, Luke, are a photo duo based in Virginia who run their own education platform called Luke & Ashley Education. Each month, Ashley is breaking down the stepping stones to becoming a six-figure photographer. She last wrote about easy SEO to help your photo business grow.


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