Branding Photography For Career Pursuit Magazine

What is Career Pursuit?

Career Pursuit is a magazine for spouses, families and those exiting the UK armed forces. It's a one-stop shop for career advice, help and tutorials as well as useful information for those in the military community. Being attached to the forces is hard, and so the release of the new Career Pursuit website is going to make moving with the forces a whole load easier.

A commercial headshot photo of Helen Massy, Editor of Career Pursuit Magazine holding a coffee cup whilst wearing a white top and jeans
Helen Massy, Editor-in-Chief for Career Pursuit

How did Career Pursuit start? 

The business is owned and headed up by Helen Massy. Helen's a military spouse and together with her husband have 3 young children. Prior to meeting her husband, she was a medical professional, but as a result of becoming a military spouse, she was not able to continue that career without having to live apart from her husband. She and her family, like many more service families, decided to commit to moving around with her serving partner and gave up her clinical position in the NHS.

By leaving the stability of a fixed abode, Helen adjusted her career into medical copywriting and now has a successful writing business as an author for medically related blogs and publications around the world. On the way to this successful career, she experienced a quagmire of problems that came as a result of being 'posted' with her husband's work. As their family relocated from the UK to Germany, the Falklands and Canada, she realised there was no centralised resource for military spouses who needed to find the information and resources they needed to manage their family lives and careers. So, by putting her writing skills into action she set about creating Career Pursuit.

Scroll on two years and with two issues now available, she's created a professional publication which is available for free online and within every family and career support establishment within the UK's tri-service network. She'll also post a copy out to those requesting it if they get in touch.

Not one to stand still, Helen’s next step has been to build a team and develop a website so she can publicise the magazine and its benefits more widely. This has also included additional, more timely information on events and recruiting opportunities for the military community. Having already found and developed the website layout she then needed to get some appropriate images to compliment her brand. That's when she turned to me.

What is branding photography? 

Before we get into the details, here's a quick intro to what branding photography is and why Helen decided it was important to her and her business.

Branding photography is a specialised form of photography that focuses on capturing visual content which aligns with a brand's identity, values, and messaging and can have a profound impact on brand perception and customer engagement. It is a crucial tool for small businesses looking to establish a strong online presence, build trust with their audience, and differentiate themselves in competitive markets.

It involves creating a set of images which tell a story about a business, its people, products or services and places they operate in. The photos that are taken are carefully curated to evoke specific emotions, resonate with the target audience, and consistently represent the brand across various marketing channels.

Why is branding photography important in modern digital marketing?

There are a number of reasons why businesses choose to undertake branding photography. Here are some of the most important:

Professionalism and Credibility

Branding photography helps small businesses present themselves as professional and trustworthy entities. High-quality images create a positive first impression and instill confidence in potential customers.

Unique Brand Identity

Through branding photography, a small business can establish a unique visual identity that sets it apart from competitors. Consistent visual elements create brand recognition and make the business more memorable.


Images can convey a narrative that words alone often can't. Branding photography allows small businesses to tell their story, share their values, and connect with customers on a deeper emotional level. The human brain is wired to listen to stories because narratives offer an efficient and engaging way to process information, make sense of the world, connect with others emotionally, and learn from shared experiences. This innate attraction to storytelling has been crucial to human survival and social cohesion throughout our evolutionary history. Why would you not want your brand to tell a story when its main role is to connect with it's client-base?

Engagement and Social Media

In today's digital age, visual content dominates social media and online marketing. Eye-catching visuals from branding photography are more likely to be shared and engage the audience, leading to increased brand visibility. It's expected a professional organisation will convey a professional image.

Improved Website Experience

High-quality images on a small business's website enhance the user's experience. They can showcase products or services in the best light, reducing bounce rates and increasing the likelihood of conversions.


Consistency across a brand’s photography ensures that all marketing materials, both online and offline, maintain a cohesive look and feel. This consistency reinforces the brand's image and messaging.

Competitive Advantage

Small businesses that invest in professional branding photography often outshine competitors that rely on generic or amateur visuals. This can be a significant competitive advantage, especially in crowded markets.

Trust and Authenticity

Authenticity is a prized quality in today's consumer landscape. Well-executed branding photography can portray a small business as genuine, relatable, and human, fostering trust with the audience. 


Branding photography can be used across various marketing channels, from websites and social media to print materials and advertisements, making it a versatile and cost-effective investment. And if produced using professional camera equipment it can be scaled up to look good on any size of display - something which mobile photos can, and often do struggle with.

What was the photography requirement?

As Helen’s website had already been designed and her branding pack was available this gave me lots of information about her brand. Each page on the website had a box to fill and each image would correlate to particular text on the page.

By knowing this, we knew the number of images required and the context of the content shown in each image. We just needed to connect the dots. 

The first stage was to understand what style of photos Helen liked. Although the website was mostly done by this point, a photo style can complement the website style or it won’t. The page’s overall effectiveness will be affected by how well the images match.

I like to show my clients a range of images with different styles so they can visualise how theirs might look. To do this, I searched the internet for something which might suit me and then created a mood board of all the examples. 

As it happened, Helen came to me with a selection of images which she’d already found and showed me what her vision was. This made things even easier. This saves time, cost and ultimately shortens the process of getting to the final product. 

A screenshot of a photographer's mood board including collaborative comments from the client and photographer
Putting together a moodboard for Career Pursuit's new website

We then set about exploring images which would fit the content. While Helen had some idea of what she wanted to have on each page, the specific copy wasn’t available when we started. However, we knew what each page title would be so we could infer some of the content themes and ultimately the images too.

This all went into our mood board and after a few rounds of comments we settled on a selection of images we knew would be helpful. These went into our session shot list.

‍Other considerations


We realised through producing our shortlist that there’d be a need for other people to act as models in some of the photos. Therefore, we needed to understand where those people would come from. 

Helen had a reasonable network of friends and colleagues who were local to her in Shrewsbury. Likewise, I have a list of individuals who have signed up to be models in instances such as this. The difference came down to the anticipated expense. Helen’s friends would be happy to help their friend in need in exchange for coffee and cake (my kind of repayment plan), whereas those on my list are available for a fee. Bringing those friends to the Lake District was not an option so we agreed to find a location local to Helen’s office where we could take advantage of her network.

A copy of Career Pursuit magazine is seen next to a man sat on a beanbag
Career Pursuit magazine

She was also fortunate to have previously visited a photographer’s studio for an event. The studio, called Highly Flammable Studios in Shrewsbury is a flexible space with numerous rooms and room styling which has been designed with photographers and videographers in mind. It would allow me to build a number of different scenes quickly to provide variety to my shots without too much effort. It even came with some additional lighting equipment; it was perfect. Helen booked the studio, recruited some friends and set to work finding the right cakes and treats.

As she also had hoped to be joined by her business partners, we decided some outdoor shots were also good to have. Shrewsbury would offer plenty of aesthetical outdoor spots, particularly on a warm spring day, as was forecast, and so we’d head down to the local parks and riverside areas to capture some casual individual and group shots to offer additional variety to what she needed. 

Photography Project Overview‍

Helen needed at least 20 images broken into the following groups: 

  • Headshots of Helen
  • Headshots of her team’s executive board members (2 pax, possibly 1 more if she could make it)
  • Group shots of her target audience within a co-working environment
  • Images of the magazine in use
  • The magazine positioned within the kind of scenes it’d be read
  • Some in-studio product shots of the magazine on bright/bold coloured backgrounds matching the brand’s colour scheme.

In reality, she’d get a lot more than this (and ultimately did), however, this was the minimum to fill all the gaps she had in the wireframe for her website. The additional images gave her redundancy for those on the website, some for PR and social and a few spares in case there were ones with facial expressions or perspectives she didn’t like. 

Helen Massy, Editor-in-Cheif of Career Pursuit magazine sits with a copy of the magazine at her desk
Helen Massy, Editor-in-Cheif of Career Pursuit magazine

What can happen at this stage, but wasn’t the case here is a need to manage my client’s expectations and align that with their available budget. As you’ll see as you read on, there’s quite a bit of planning and research that I do for branding projects, especially those with some different genres of image being requested (for instance, headshots, location shots, in-studio, outdoor images, product shots etc). This all takes time and so, while it’s great to be able to produce all of these it’s not always possible. 

In order to help meet a client’s budget but also achieve the quantity and quality of images they need, being prescriptive of what kind of shots are truly necessary and which of those have a lesser importance level can be helpful to work efficiently. This can be achieved by some other photographers by just charging by the shooting hour and ‘what you capture is what you get’ but that is less likely to meet the desired shot list in its entirety. I prefer to work with more direction and maintain efficiency throughout whilst ensuring each client gets exactly what they ask for. 

The Shoot

On-location Branding Photography

Time’s always short in these kind of sessions. A client needs to feel like they’re getting value from what they’re seeing the photographer doing (and not just standing around chatting, drinking tea) and the photographer should be using their time efficiently to get things done. The last thing Helen would want is for me to come back to her to say we’ve squandered the time and not achieved all the images we’d hoped to because we were faffing. 

Having said that, there are some things which do take a bit of time and can’t always be overcome without a bit of elbow grease. In this case, it was logistics. While I’m not averse to carrying my equipment over a distance to get to a shoot, it helps if there’s parking nearby and that’s not always the case in Shrewsbury. Being an old market town there are lots of narrow pedestrianised streets where no cars are allowed and this makes carrying kit a bit of a challenge. Consequently, this time eats into the day at both ends. 

Secondly, setting up lighting. In most cases, I’d have brought an assistant to set up each shot, manage the shoot program and find people/props from what’s around to reduce the time I have to spend doing it. However, to meet Helen’s budget this wasn’t possible. I’d just have to do it myself. 

Career Pursuit's Editor-in-Cheif, Helen Massy
Outdoor business portraits

Helen’s models arrived and were keen to be involved. Being local business owners themselves they had brought their own working equipment, were making phone calls and chatting like they would if this were their own co-working environment. This was great. And so, while they got into the swing of things I let them get on with it. The most natural shots come when there are no photographers around so I blended into the background as much as I could to allow them to do this. They soon relaxed into things, did what was natural to them and it also gave me some time to set up my next shots in a different part of the studio. I think the results speak for themselves, as all the photos look very organic and this was what we were after. 

The one thing we didn’t have was any men! Most of Helen’s contacts were female and the few chaps she thought might have been available weren’t. Therefore we were a bit short on the male dynamic which makes a huge difference to a website’s branding if it suggests it’s not supporting everyone in her target audience. 

Fortunately, the studio’s hostess came to the rescue with a cunning plan. She headed off down the street and went and found some! Soon after, she returned with three gentlemen from a local co-working space who were more than happy to feature in Helen’s photos. 

After the internal shots were complete, all but Helen’s business partner, Jess, went to a nearby park and took some individual and group shots. We found a park nearby and, while avoiding footballs, ice cream chaos and small children running into shot, we secured a selection of different images for the Career Pursuit website.

And this endeth the session. 

In-Studio Product Photography

A few days later, I set about taking the images for her product shots. These are images of her magazine on bright-coloured backgrounds in various handheld positions. 

Because of the nature of the images i.e. those requiring harsh shadows to contrast the image against the backgrounds, I decided upon a 2 light setup. One to light the scene and a second to create the shadows. 

In a few frames, I needed to recruit a helper to hold the magazine, however, this was largely done in my home studio with no one else but me and a remote trigger to take the photo. 

A copy of Career Pursuit is being held by a hand having pushed through the contrasting yellow background
On-brand product photography

The results

Having edited the images - with very little time being required (a sign of getting things right ‘in-camera’), I uploaded Helen’s images to a private gallery for her to see. As you can see below in her Trustpilot review, she was delighted with the results.

I run a magazine and therefore regularly need new branding photography and editorial photography. As a company, we've worked with Al for a few years now to help bring our brand and magazine to life. He is detailed, professional, and dedicated to ensuring the brief is met. We couldn't be happier with the photography Al has provided and we will be continuing to work with him as our in-house magazine and branding photographer going forward. I highly recommend his services.

Helen has since launched her website and you can see it for yourself here. As you can see, combined with a professionally designed website, the final result is superb. Clean, informative, not distracting but attractive to its reader's eyes, guiding them towards the information that’s available. 

A page from Career Pursuit's new website including photography from Al Topping Photos & Film
Helen's new website including her branding photography
A headshot image of Helen Massy in situ on the new Career Pursuit website
Helen's portrait images in situ
A screenshot of the new Career Pursuit website using images from Al Topping Photos & Film
Having a selection of images gives Helen's web designer choice to find the perfect match.

You get a strong understanding of the level of professionalism the business has, as well as an introduction to the business which builds trust with its audience and differentiates itself in its market. 

This is just one of the many commercial branding projects I’ve taken on over the last few years. It had a modest budget available and yet within that I was able to provide Helen with over 40 highly personalised images (twice what I quoted for). 

Each image was tailored to meet her brand guidelines, where possible, and there were a handful which would be left over for her to use on social media or in any other printed or digital channel to help promote the business. 

If you’re having a new website created, have had new staff starting, or have decided to update your company’s brand in any way, then you really should consider getting some professional photographs taken just like Helen did. 

It'll cost you next to nothing to find out, just a phone call and you'll know if it's for you or not.

Hit but button below to get started and I look forward to speaking soon.

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Portrait image of Lake District photographer, Al Topping Photos & Film
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