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  • Writer's pictureEmily Marcella

Over the top or minimalist? Using Abundance and Scarcity to Convey Messaging in Your Brand Photos

Scroll-stopping photography is always the goal when it comes to personal branding photos. When you find just showing up in your feed isn't cutting it, it's time to turn to props to stop the scroll and get your message across.

As I've traveled along my brand photography journey, I'm learning abundance and scarcity plays a big roll when it comes to props. Each, when used well, can enhance the brand message you're trying to get across.

Look at these two photos. They include food as a prop, yet the message each are trying to convey is different.

The photo on the left is a beautiful tablescape put together by Asha who is The Kitchen Fairy, a Northern Virginia Private Chef and Event Designer. Her table invites guest to gather around, share fresh food, eat, drink, and enjoy the company of each other. Look at these shots and tell me if you get that sense.

The Kitchen Fairy's mission is word-for-word to 'Assist in the pursuit of living life to the fullest, to gather, feast and be well'. Wouldn't you agree her brand photos convey that brand message?

If she put together a table with two minimal place settings, a water glass each, one loaf of bread, a small bowl of strawberries, a tiny little vase of would not get the sense of fullness, or that it's a gathering, and you're certainly not feasting.

Her brand messaging requires that she takes an abundant approach with her props. As we prepared for her session, Asha painted a vision of a whimsical setting, a table that lured in guests and encouraged them to stay, marrying farm to table with celebration.

How to Achieve Abundance with Props in Your Brand Photos

To achieve abundance with props, you will need to put forth the effort and resources. Look at your inspiration photos you saved on Pinterest. When you find one that shows the level of abundance you'd like to achieve, get to counting. Take inventory of what's in the shot that you like. Count, or estimate, the items you see. Then take that research and apply it to your own brand photo planning.

You may catch yourself thinking what you're planning is way too much. Usually, there's no such thing. Yes, when you see all your props in your shopping cart or gathered on the counter it may look like too much. But once you (or your photographer) arranges them taking into account composition and layering, the amount will begin to make sense.

(PS, save the receipt if there are items you didn't use and they can be returned; no sense in being wasteful)

Let's take it down to the bare minimum and talk about scarcity with props. Utilizing less can send a powerful message.

Now if we take a look at the image on the right from above, we see the opposite. It's a simplistic image pouring out product. No scenery in the background, no faces in the photo, just the product and a few tomatoes.

A little background about this photo. Carissa of the Beauty Navigator and owner of the Hair Hub in Warrenton, Virginia, is a hair stylist who walks with her client on their hair journey to help them get the hair style they love. She also advocates for high-quality clean products.

In this shot, Carissa is pouring Davines Nounou shampoo. This shampoo is formulated with Fiaschetto tomatoes to nourish hair. So our creative brains said let's get a shot of this clean product literally being poured onto tomatoes, as if the product was turning back into the ingredient because that's how natural it is.

The intention was to communicate the simple high-quality, clean ingredients in the product. Taking it a step deeper, this is also a reflection on Carissa's approach to being a hair stylist. She provides quality straight-forward service to her clients while being conscientious of the environment.

Of course, we didn't have an entire session dedicated to creating one image. Allow me to share a few more from her session where we used a scarce approach to props:

Taking the simplistic scarce approach with props leaves the message front and center along with creating images that pop, aka stop the scroll. Carissa can then take these clean simple images and pair them with her written content to knock her content marketing out of the park.

How to Achieve Simplicity with Props in Your Brand Photos

To achieve scarcity with props, it really could not be easier. Think of what's essential to your brand message and take it down to the basics.

For Carissa, she's a hair stylist and wanted to create images that highlighted her talent to create Pinterest-worthy color, styling with hot tools, simple clean products, and stylish hair products available in her shop.

A couple suggestions if you go the minimalist route - invest in nicer on-brand props. Want to use a pair of scissors? Opt for the sleek gold scissors over a pair you've used since you got into the industry. Unless you have a strong brand message for the super old pair, you want your simple props to pop and grab attention. Also, composition, body language, and photo quality will carry the weight with simplistic prop photos. Be sure to work with a photographer who's ready to get creative with you.

What Brand Message Are You Trying to Illustrate?

Your brand messaging will largely dictate whether you take an abundant or scarce approach to props. What picture do you try to paint for potential clients? Think about where they are when they want to hire you and what problems they're trying to solve.

Allow me to speak in some general terms to see where your business aligns:

General brand messages that are supported by the abundance concept include:

  • Value, both Intrinsic and Extrinsic

  • Luxury and High-End Service

  • Free-Flowing Creativity

  • Generosity

  • Indulgence

General brand messages that are supported by the scarcity approach:

  • Simplicity

  • Exclusivity

  • High-Value

  • Limited Availability

  • Transparency

Preparing Your Props for Personal Brand Photos

Props are intended to enhance your photos and help tell a visual story. So think about the story you're trying to tell. Work with your photographer to discuss your brand messaging, mission, and values, to see whether you should take an abundant or scarce approach with your props.

Either direction you choose, abundant or scarce, it is important to note that the written content you pair with your brand photos will help drive the message home. Social media captions, blog content, and website copy will all help reinforce the message you're conveying in your brand photos.

Ready to get creative with your props at your next brand session? Let's get creative together. If you're in the DC area, drop me a note and let's start your brand photography journey.


Brands Included in this Blog Post

The Kitchen Fairy in Warrenton, Virginia

The Beauty Navigator in Warrenton, Virginia


About Emily Marcella for Creative Brands

Emily Marcella is a Northern Virginia Brand Photographer serving personal brands and creative small businesses. Emily has a three-part approach to brand photography - together we plan strategically in order to shoot creatively and generate images that allow you to market intentionally.



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