How to create authentic brand photography

For over two decades, David Hares has specialised in reportage and lifestyle photography, working globally with a diverse mix of brands including British Gas, Cancer Research UK, Lord’s Cricket Ground, Rolls Royce and Vodafone.

We caught up with David asking what we can do to help create authentic brand photography. Here are his five top tips.

Find the emotion
Capturing an emotion on camera helps to create an authentic image. Emotions also build a stronger connection with audiences. These emotions can be obvious, like a big smile, or someone laughing. They can also be a quieter emotion like concentration or listening.

Lord’s © David Hares

David recalls “while working with Lord’s cricket ground capturing the emotion of tournaments like the Ashes, we started off using models as there was nervousness around using real people. After working with the client for a number of years they allowed me to shoot real visitors, which brought positive and often unexpected results”.

The recent ‘This Girl Can’ campaign for Sport England is a great example of how emotions can be used to stand out and make a connection with your audience. The campaign was developed to promote sport amongst women to encourage higher participation. Launched in 2015, the campaign persuaded nearly three million women to get more active. Photography focused on one character in the middle of an activity, showing the stress and strain of a hard workout, or a face of concentration whilst in the moment.


Start planning photography with a focus on the story. What’s happening in the scene? Where is the location? It is a true reflection of the audience you want to connect with.

David talks about allowing people the space to carry out a natural activity. On a recent shoot for property developer L&Q David photographed real residents going about their daily lives. With just a few prompts he had a couple preparing a meal in their kitchen and a family with young kids reading together. Allowing people to feel comfortable will help produce more natural and believable emotions.

L&Q © David Hares

On a location shoot capturing the Summer Solstice at Stonehenge, the story wrote itself. Driving rain, 5am. Hardly anyone showed up. On the face of it, not what David was expecting, but none the less created a true and authentic photograph.



Stonehenge © David Hares

Build a connection with your subjects
When working with people, it is important to build a rapport with them before you start shooting. Start with a conversation. Building a connection will help relax your subjects, build trust and make them appear more authentic in front of the camera. This applies to models as well as members of the public who agree to be photographed.

Start with a mood board
A mood board is a collection of found photography that represents the photography you are intending to create. Your mood board helps everyone involved understand what is being asked on them. Share your mood board with your subjects and talk through the different components you are looking for. This can include the situation, the story, the emotion you are looking for, any props that might appear, and the composition of the photograph.


Capture the moments in-between
Authentic photography feels like the every day. Sipping a coffee, walking and talking, eyes closed enjoying a relaxing bath. Think about a real-life situation where you will be able to capture those moments. David’s commission with Heathrow Airport is a good example of capturing the positive experience of travel, from walking through the vast open spaces, grabbing a bargain in duty free, or killing time in the lounge.

Jon Scott


Jon Scott

Creative Director

Jon is Creative Thinker & Founder of Thinking loud & clear. Jon helps build strong brands that create positive change. That positive change might be increasing membership, increasing customer loyalty or gaining a competitive advantage.

Email Jon

Connect with Jon on LinkedIn