The endlessly fascinating part about creative businesses is just that -- their creativity. And, at the end of the day, your version of what it is to be creative is what you are selling. So many of you have incredible websites, blogs, marketing collateral, etc. You are constantly investing time and money to keep it all up to date and relevant to your potential (and existing) clients. Yet, when I look a little deeper, I see that very few of you actually own your brand. By that I mean you are borrowing images and statements of your work from other people in order to tell your story. The best example is of an interior designer or event designer using the images from a photographer not hired by them (i.e., the commercial photographer or wedding photographer) to display their work to the public. Most often these photographers are friends or even vendors and there is little or no financial cost.
However, there is a huge cost to your brand. First, you don't own the images and your use of them is subject to the photographer's discretion (or largess). More importantly, you do not control the ultimate statement that is being made by the image. By definition, it is a derivative use and most likely will not have the same point of view the next time. For instance, if you are an event planner, one client might want a photojournalist style, while another a more formal staged look.
Your brand is your story and you should be the one telling it. That means paying for someone to document your art as you want the world to see it. And the more you document, the more stories you can tell. Yes, this will cost you money. However, if you are serious about building a leveragable brand, then it is an investment you really ought to make. The larger your portfolio of images, video, renderings and other representations of your art, the easier it will be for you to move beyond your core, because of how compelling and consistent your story will be.
On a technical note, you need to own the images of your work and have the right to use them as you please. If those images get commercialized, you can agree to compensate the producer of the image at that time. However, you need to make sure that the producer can not ever stop you from using the images and that they can not ever use them without your permission.