If you’re within the entrepreneur and small business bubble of Instagram, then you’ve probably seen the phrase personal branding photography thrown around in a hashtag or two. Personal branding photography is a service that more and more portrait photographers are offering these days, but what exactly is personal branding photography and how does it differ from your typical business headshots?
Personal branding photography is designed to capture the face(s) behind the brand, whether that be a single business owner or a hardworking team. With social media, it’s now easier than ever for brands and businesses to connect with their audience, but in the past couple of years our media literate consumers have outgrown a lot of the traditional outreach methods. Nowadays people want to SEE and get to know the person(s) behind the brand instead of following a faceless business account, which is why personal branding photography has become so popular.
Personal branding photography affords you the opportunity to reveal your personality and articulate your brand’s voice. Unlike traditional business headshots that mainly just strive to establish your professional integrity, and as a result, can come across quite one-dimensional in my opinion, personal branding photography will strategically account for your brand’s goals, style, and defining traits. Because of this, personal branding photography can look different for everyone based on your brand: A luxury real estate agent’s sleek and modern studio-based session will be unlike a yoga instructor’s serene and warm beach shoot.
Though stylistically the sessions can vary from brand to brand, my own personal branding photography packages are comprised of different types of brand photography. The first is branding headshots, which are headshots captured in a lifestyle setting appropriate to your industry, and/or in front of a styled backdrop. Branding headshots are valuable for anyone with professional career goals in any industry and make great additions to your LinkedIn profile or the “About Me” section of your website. With branding headshots, you’ll have a variation of close-ups and full body shots, and we’ll play with different posing techniques from more traditional methods of directly addressing the camera as well as intimate candid moments that we just “happen” to capture.
The second style of personal branding photography is lifestyle. Lifestyle personal branding photos include close-ups and full body shots, but what separates them from branded headshots is the intentional use of props, set decor, and more casual or candid posing to tell a story and reveal something about yourself. Whether that story be specific to your offerings, or maybe you’d like to divulge a more personal side of your brand, lifestyle photos have an authentic, editorial look and feel.
The third style is behind-the-scenes, which are, you guessed it, an inside look of you getting down to business whatever that may be: working on your laptop, throwing pottery, or styling someone’s hair. You’ll have a variety of close-ups and full body shots, with minimal poses addressing the camera since these photos are mostly in-action shots.
The fourth and final style I capture are the brand details. These are often close ups or flat lays of props or products that align with your brand, so they usually don’t feature a person as the main focal point.
Depending on your package choice, we’ll either just be focusing on branding headshots or a combination of all four styles. Another component of personal branding photography is your brand identity looks for your session.
A brand identity look is a strategic presentation of yourself utilizing clothing, accessories, makeup and hair styling, or in simpler terms, you can think of this as one complete styled outfit. This brand identity look also informs props, set decor, and the type of personal branding photos. Depending on your package selection, you may have anywhere between 1-4 brand identity looks to shoot for the day.
Coming from a theater background, I like to think of brand identity looks as the roles we play within our business and brand — sort of like that meme where small business owners joke about all the various hats they wear day-to-day from social media manager to accountant to customer service. For your selected brand identity looks, you want to be strategic about the roles you present to your audience. What will they connect with the most? What defines your voice the best? For some, capturing the “bad ass CEO” role in a sleek black power suit is the way to go, while others might want to get more personal with their look and show off their role as a “family first business owner” capturing them at home in a casual and comfy linen set.
Let’s take a look at a personal branding session I did with Melissa Crastnopol from Soultions Mindset Coaching and Travel Consulting, and how we broke down her session into different looks and personal branding photo types:
For this session, Melissa went with my Gemini package and we chose three brand identity looks to capture in one studio location.
1.) Brand Identity Look #1
The Look: The Modern Professional
Type: Branding headshots
Our first look involved no props and mostly more traditional posing addressing the camera, which is why I’d consider this series branding headshots. Since Melissa offers one-on-one coaching to other young professionals, we decided this look could be a more modern approach to professional attire.
2.) Brand Identity Look #2
The Look: The Trusted Coach
Type: Behind-the-scenes and brand details photos
Our second look captured Melissa in her role working directly with her clients. Since her services are remote, we wanted her perspective clients to get a glimpse of what it may look like to work with Melissa on the other end of the phone/computer. We aimed for a look that came off as a mix of professional, trustworthy, and approachable.
3.) Brand Identity Look #3
The Look: The Familiar Friend
Type: Lifestyle photos
Our final look aimed to show off a more personable side of Melissa. It’s important that her clients feel that they can be vulnerable and honest in their sessions, so we wanted to capture the role Melissa plays as a confidant and cheerleader. For this series, we set the scene of the familiar situation of going over to a friend’s house to either vent about your struggles or share exciting news. We decided her styled outfit and posing for this set of photos would be a little more casual so that you could really envision Melissa in this role.
Though these were just a sampling of the stunning photos we captured for Melissa’s session, you should be able to get a sense of how brand identity looks and the various types of brand photos work together to create what we call personal branding photos. Whether Melissa chooses to use these photos on her website, in Instagram posts, or even on her professional profiles, she’ll have plenty of options to choose from depending on her intended voice and outreach goal.
If you’re considering personal branding photography, submit an inquiry so we can chat about how this might best work for you!
view more blog posts