As a Sydney photographer to the stars who has built her own brand around her creative works, Zahrina Robertson understands better than many of her peers the importance of the visual element.
Robertson’s clients include Hollywood stars Arnold Schwarzenegger and Brooke Shields, businessman Sir Richard Branson, entrepreneur Tim Ferris, author Dale Beaumont, and Australian thought leader Christina Guidotti.
“I had a real epiphany in recent years around how I can do things better, differently, and creatively, in the realms of what I do,” Robertson told Catherine van der Meulen in a podcast interview for TradeSquare.
Moving from ‘stock standard styles’ of photography to expanding into video and working closely alongside clients has helped them get their message across more visually.
“The key elements of building a brand is being visible, and being chosen,” she explains. “So being visible through imagery and video – what you're all about and how you're being perceived in your business – this is all part of my thought leadership and how I help people.”
Through her business Zahrina Photography & Video, Robertson helps entrepreneurs, speakers, leaders and businesspeople create images and videos with the goal of getting them online visually.
“I like building the confidence of people to get their message across. Instead of just mechanically developing products, I'm looking at brands holistically.
“I'm passionate about helping people a bit more deeply than just turning up and doing their branding. They go through a process with me about what their brand is about, and why it's so different and how I see it differently, and then how I curate it and then produce it.”
When Robertson went into business she worked to curate everything she does based on three key pillars: being visible, being chosen and being known. “I guess it gave me opportunities to be on podcasts for over 10 years and to be interviewed, to write and be published – all these sorts of things don't happen by chance. That is a key element in building a brand.”
Go back to your values
Robertson advises businesses to go back to their core values when shaping their branding.
“Look at just three things that you want to showcase about your business.”
Authenticity is critical today, she says, so presenting yourself and your brand with the best storytelling images or video is very important. Using images from stock libraries does not do a brand justice.
“Unfortunately, people can see right through that sort of image nowadays... I've seen people with images they buy and put up there like a teenager, where there is a real disconnect between the image and the brand, with who they are as business people. It's such a mismatch that it's off putting.
“I've evolved as a photographer, to include a lot more variety and to help my clients be seen more regularly and authentically. Storytelling is critical in this day and age, to connect with people.”
Robertson also sees video as increasingly important in the marketing mix. “Video content is where it's at.”
One of her great inspirations is Oprah Winfrey.
“She does it well. I love her because she's a woman who has great imagery that showcases who she is, and the use of the imagery is done well. Then you've got videos that are done well, that’s storytelling. When you look at a person like that, who is globally known, you can see that there's no hiding with the imagery.
“I take what I see – I guess in the style of Oprah Winfrey – and I help people with their personal brands, with imagery and video. But it is important to know that as a personal brand you don't have to be Oprah Winfrey, to make an impact in this day and age.”
You can listen to the full interview with Zahrina Robertson here.