How to Pick a Name for Your Photography Business

One of the biggest challenges many people face when starting their own photography business is - picking a name!

Let us be clear, the answer is not going to be straightforward for everyone. A part of the experience of picking the perfect business name is having those sleepless nights, brainstorming sessions, and thinking long and hard about how you want to present yourself to people looking to hire a photographer. 

Fortunately, we have a great deal to say when it comes to choosing a photography business name, especially because we experienced an evolution in name selection and branding ourselves! 

How to Pick a Name for Your Photography Business

Should I Use My Own Name?

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One of the first questions that comes up in just about every discussion about a new photographers business name is: should you use your own name?

There are many great and successful photographers out there that do this, and frankly there is no right or wrong answer. 

Prior to becoming Hand and Arrow Photography Co., Jes was operating as a sole proprietorship under her own name and trade name - Jes Savard Photography. There was a period of time during the winter of 2016 and early 2017 where she really began to question if this name would limit her ability to grow in the future. Around this time, she had decided that she wanted to take photography into the real world as a fully functioning business - which means going through a lot of paperwork to set up as a limited liability company (LLC) and needing to know confidently what she wanted to call herself. Add into the mix the simple fact that Chris would also join up with her, and it became clear that a name change was necessary. 

Before we dive into the reason why we made this decision, let's think about some of the pros and cons that could come with using your own name as your brand. Just remember, these are not exhaustive lists, but core things we thought about before changing our name:

Pros -

  • A person's name is easy to remember
  • It makes choosing a name easier - it doesn't take a lot of thought to think of a business name when your own name could be it! 
  • For someone who doesn't want to set up a legal business entity, operating under your own name is the norm
  • There are many success stories of people using their own names as company names out there

Cons - 

  • Having just a single person's name as a photography business name seems limiting if you want to expand to offer other services or hire new employees
  • Choosing a different company name can be difficult, and sometimes seems like an impossible task

As is pretty obvious, our list of pros for keeping the business naming simple exceeds the number of cons. But, there is more to these lists than meet the eye. Our cons carry a lot of weight - and because we decided to work as partners, and have hopes for growing our business and expanding one day, we felt it would be difficult to just operate under Jes' name. It lacks the character that a brand name like Hand and Arrow has the potential to have. 

Of course, don't let our experience dissuade you if you are wanting to use your personal name. While writing this article, we can't help but think of huge brands that were built on a person's name. Tommy Hillfinger instantly jumps to mind in the world of fashion, and Jasmine Star in the photography industry. 

Why We Decided Against Using Just Our Names

For us, our first con was critically important in deciding against using just a personal name.

We want our brand to represent more than just us, but not overlook our involvement in it.

We started to think about many really successful brand names, and how often simplicity is the best policy. Thinking about major retailers like Wal-Mart and Target, it is obvious that you can build a successful brand around a simple name - and that your name can both attract and detract certain clientele.

How did you choose Hand and Arrow Photography? 

We get this question a lot when we meet with new prospective clients, and it is a fun question for us to think about over and over as we continue to refine why this name suits us. 

While some of you may be hoping for some grand revelation that happened in the middle of the night, after days of lost sleep, the truth is much easier to digest. Jes decided to get a new matching tattoo with her best friend based on some sketches they had seen. Can you guess what the tattoo is of? The main features are - a hand and an arrow! 

It is from this simple thing that our brand name was born, and we continue to think over just what a hand and arrow can symbolize. 

Pick a brand name that can expand with time!

If you decide using your own name as a business name is not for you, then you should seriously consider looking for a name that you feel has the power to expand with time. Hand and Arrow Photography works well for us because we feel that we can dig for further meaning within these words. It probably doesn't help that Chris' has a background in Psychology and Philosophy, which has sort of lent to him thinking about things over and over again, and always trying to go a little deeper each time. 

Of course, there is more to a business than just a name. In many ways, it is just a foundation on which you can build a house. The foundation is of significant importance, but it is not the end-all-be-all when it comes to actually selling your house. Everything from what you sell (so think: portfolio quality and cost), how you treat people, how you carry yourself, and so on help determine if you will have success - not just your name. 

OTHER CONSIDERATIONS WHEN CHOOSING A PHOTOGRAPHY BUSINESS NAME

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As we write this, we keep running back through our memories in search of remembering every detail that went through our minds during our company naming process. The thoughts can often seem scattered, so this section will feature just a few of the smaller points to note:

  • Business logo and other graphics. One of the key elements that helped to shape the direction of naming our business was actively exploring logo ideas with different names. This was made easier due to Jes' extensive graphic design background, which allowed her to mock up some logos quickly.
    • Being able to envision a logo that fits the image you are trying to convey is a big part of the battle. Even a name that is super simple, or maybe even kind of dumb, can be made very interesting with a good logo.
    • Branding goes beyond just a logo - you can work up other graphics for your website and print advertising mediums (like business cards and flyers), as well as the stylistic choices you make with editing.
       
  • Know your target audience. Think about the type of client you are trying to attract. Now, think about the type of things they might enjoy. This is a pretty abstract thinking exercise when you try to utilize the information that comes from these thoughts in order to produce a company name, but it's something you may find useful - and for sure, something you should be, at least, considering while thinking about how to name your photography business.
    • Certainly, some names are going to be effective at drawing a really wide range of people, while others may trigger some people to be put off. This may be most useful in sort of "extreme" niches of photography as an example. For example, a hypothetical photography business called "Gun and Flag Photography" probably is aiming for a very specific audience like US military members, whereas a name like our own allows for a much broader audience to find it appealing.
       
  • Brainstorm with friends and family. This one is simple. No company exists independently from other people. While we certainly love some of the freedoms working for ourselves offers, we are constantly in contact with clients (new and old!), wedding venues, and other vendors. During our photography business naming process, we actively sought feedback from friends and family, which helped give us a glimpse of what the public opinion might be of our name.
    • Just remember one thing - your friends and family like you (we hope), so might give you a nicer response than your average person. The feedback can still be useful for sure, but approach it with some skepticism, and be prepared to ask them questions like: "What do you like, exactly, about the name?" or "What does it make you think of or feel?"

CONCLUSION

Having a positive impression of your business name is one of the best feelings in the world. Based on meetings we have had with clients, whenever the topic of our business name comes up, it leads to some entertaining conversation as we get to discuss more about ourselves; and also get to dig into the mind of our prospective clients a little more when we ask them what it makes them think of. As business owners, seeing someone take interest in our business enough to ask about the name is pretty significant.

Picking a name for your photography business is a mixture of serious work, and maybe a little bit of luck. It is one of those things that may not immediately come to you, but you will know it when you see it.

Hopefully the information presented here on how to pick a name for your photography business will help you get on the right track, and choose a name for your own photography company!

Have you picked a name already, or have some ideas you'd like to throw out to someone? Feel free to leave a comment below and we'll have a nice chat :)