The art and aim of photographing people comes in all different forms and with lots of different names. They also all have a different purpose and speak to a variety of customers.

My goal is to help you see the opportunities you as a business and a brand, have in positioning and presenting yourself in your individual market through visuals. That’s why I started this series of highlighting different aspects of brand photography and brand videos. A couple of weeks ago I told you about how you can stand out with a brand or promo video. But let’s take a step back and look at brand photography today.

Personal Branding vs Headshot Photography – What’s the difference?

Personal Branding Photography is a term photographers like to use, assuming everyone else understands what that means. To non-photographers it might actually not be that clear though. Because then there’s also Portrait Photography and Headshots. Isn’t that all the same? Well yes, kind of. But actually no…

Let me explain….

Headshot photography

What is it?

The name literally describes what the subject of it is: A headshot is a photo of a person showing their head and shoulders. Headshots are usually what you would use on LinkedIn or other social media profiles. It’s a portrait of a single person. That’s it.

Headshots are also sometimes called business portraits. However, this term (business portrait) can equally be used to describe a business as an isntitution rather than just a single person.

Forbes wrote an interesting article about the connection between headshots and your brand: Make Sure Your Headshot Matches Your Brand

Who is it for?

Since headshots can be used for any online presence, there’s literally no restriction to who this is for.

For an entrepreneur or a business, a headshot is a great option to get photos on a smaller budget as the session is shorter than most other photo shoots. On the other hand, it’s also a chance to get team photos for your company if you’ve got a team around you. Getting them done in the same session or by the same photographer means it’s easier to make them all look similar which shows consistency.

What's the best location?

There’s no right or wrong location for headshot photography. The background can be fairly non-descriptive as with this kind of photo, there doesn’t necessarily need to be any relation to where you are or what you do.

What about posing?

Headshots are portraits showing a person’s head and shoulders, which means there is usually very little posing required. Far more important than the actual posing is that your photographer can make you feel relaxed. The portrait will reveal it if you’re tense or uncomfortable because it’s so hard to hide strong feelings like those.

Your photographer should be able to place you where the light is most flattering and help you find a position that is comfortable to you and looks good on camera.

How long does a session last?

Headshot sessions can be as short as 15min but rarely exceed 45minutes. The aim is to get a handful of good shots to be used across your online presence and a number of social platforms but it’s not aimed to give you a large bank for various images. That’s where (personal) branding photography would come into play. I’ll talk about that next…

How much does it cost?

Pricing varies from photographer to photographer but headshot sessions are usually not more than a couple/few hundred GBP – although it can be more expensive with high-profile photographers. A headshot session is a good option to get professional photos done for a smaller budget without having to compromise on quality.

My headshot sessions are priced at £175. You can find more info about that here.

To learn more about the importance of a professional headshot, have a look this article on linkedin.

Personal branding photography

What is it?

As a small business, you are your brand – and that’s what’s being portrayed in this kind of session. The images that can be created during a branding session, help you differentiate your business from others by showing who you are, how you work, what you offer and the value you give to your clients and customers.

We live in a very visual world where it’s important to show what you do in a professional way. Being visible as a brand can be daunting and scary but people don’t connect to a brand name, they like to connect to another person. And if we’ve learnt one thing from this crazy year that is 2020, then it’s the importance of small businesses and our own impact in keeping those businesses alive.

A brand photo shoot is more than just a headshot session. This is where you can show your workspace, how you do the thing you do, your processes, your uniqueness and how you work with your own customers and clients. It’s a peek behind the scenes of your business.

Most small businesses offer things that can be classified as a luxury – nobody needs new earring, spa treatments or handcrafted coffee mugs. But that doesn’t mean those things are useless or unimportant. It does mean though that what you sell – no matter if it’s a product or a service – needs to be presented properly. Badly photographed products will never look as high-class as they might be in real life which will impact the perceived value to your customer.

Being visible as your brand’s face also proves authenticity. You want your customers to trust you to be the right choice for them and being a faceless business name can never replace a real person.

Who is it for?

Branding photos are for a business or any person that represents a brand.

I’ve just finished reading a book called “The Freelance Introvert: Work the way you want without changing who you are” where author Tom Albrighton explains the meaning of a “brand”. I thought this quote would fit in here quite well:

“A brand is the sum of all the thoughts that people have about a product or organisation. So in a sense, every freelancer has a brand, because their clients and prospects will inevitably form some impression of them, and hold it in their minds. Personal branding is about deliberately shaping that impression.”

So whether you are a freelancer being hired for projects or run a (small) company, you are your brand.

What's the best location?

Photos that represent your brand or business should be taken at a meaningful location. That could be your workshop, your office,  your co-working space or any other favourite place you like to work at. A branding session usually includes showing what you do and how you do it, as well as a few headshots and portraits away from what you offer your clients and customers. The portrait aspect of this can be taken at a non-related location as long is it’s only aimed to show the face behind your business. Everything else should very much represent your brand or business.

For a headshot session, you can go anywhere. For a personal branding photo shoot, the location is much more important though. The idea is to use a place that’s connected to your business to show what you do, where you do this, how you do it and who you do it with/for. This will always be most authentic and convincing in a location that matches your message.

Examples:

  • A graphic designer works at home at their desk or in a co-working space.
  • A dancer performs on stage.
  • A coffee shop grinds their beans in a specific corner of their shop.

What about posing?

The aim of your personal brand photo should be to represent you and your business in an authentic and relatable way. That means the posing aspect should be minimal. However, that doesn’t mean that there’ll be no direction or rearranging of anything – but this would be done in a natural way to reflect the reality of how you work, but there should never be any instruction to do things that would not naturally happen.

The photographer’s job is to use the best available (or artificial) light and position in the given surroundings and work within the restrictions of the chosen location while you as the customer/subject/brand go about your business.  Therefore, posing would be more classified as direction.

How long does a session last?

Branding sessions can be as short as 30min but those will include a very limited output of images. A good length for this kind of session is 2-3hours to allow a few outfit and location changes.

Depending on the number of different scenes and content that need to be captured, as well as the size of your team and your work, brand photo sessions can take as long as a day or even more in individual cases. Full day branding sessions are more suited for businesses that have very little or no images but need a library to use over a longer time period or when products and services completely changed and your previous images are not representative of your offerings anymore.

How much does it cost?

Personal brand photography is generally a bit more expensive than headshots due to longer session – there’s just more content that needs to be captured. Most photographers offer different packages with their session fee, depending on what you’d like to walk away with.

Ultimately, a brand photo shoot is more of a nice-to-have rather than a must-have but can definitely increase your profile online. So if your business is struggling for money, this might not be the first thing for you to invest in. It is, however, something that every business should consider at some point – even if it\’s “just” to have something to show your clients on Social Media like Instagram and Facebook, let alone your website. After all, you can only sell what you show.

Portrait Photography

Well, portrait photography is really just an umbrella term for “photos of people”. Headshots and brand photos both fall into that category. Even families photos are technically portraits – which is why this can be so confusing.

And that’s why it’s important to know what you are looking to get out of a photo session and what you want to use the images for. I hope the breakdown of headshot photography and personal branding photography in this article made things a little clearer.

Conclusion

The clearest distinction between headshots and personal branding photos is the amount of the subject shown in the photo as well as variety of images. So based on what you want to have captured, where and how you’d like to use the images as well as your budget, one or the other will be a better fit.

It’s very common that a client asks a photographer for “headshots” but is actually hoping to get a number of full-length body shots or a number of different settings and location. The photographer should be in a position to advise what kind of session would be best for this client.

What I offer

Since I offer all sorts of people photography, I have a few different packages that all fall into the category of portrait photography. I offer shorter headshot sessions as well as two different packages for branding photography as well as brand video. I’ve talked about how a promo video – or brand video – can make your business stand out in a previous post.

Want to know more? Read about my Headshot and Personal Branding Photography here or check out my blog post about brand videos for businesses.

If you’re interested in booking your own headshot or personal brand session, get in touch with me to start a conversation:

Let's have a chat

Not quite ready to chat yet? No problem, why not browse through my branding portfolio first?