What’s the difference between headshots and branding photos? And which do I need?

These are questions I get asked a lot, even more now since our marketing and communication channels have become ever more personal. 

First, here is my quick description of how I differentiate these two types of photography:

The headshot

A headshot is a single image, usually head and shoulders only, that shows your face to the world. A good headshot will be clear and well-lit, eyes looking at the camera, as if you were meeting someone for the first time.

When I shoot headshots, I take a variety of angles and poses to give you several options to choose from. Then, you’ll get one final high resolution image to use on all of your business correspondence.

Brand photos

Branding photography is designed to create a folio of images that represent your brand.

Branding photos include traditional headshots, as well as what I call “lifestyle” photos. Lifestyle photos can be dressed up or more casual, and include in-action shots, shots of you interacting with your product or business tools, and even detail shots representing your brand and your business lifestyle.

I think of these as a cohesive library of images to choose from as you tell the story of your business and communicate more about who you are personally to your clients.

Your final branding photo gallery will provide months of content for all of your marketing channels, including your website, blog, and social media. 

Which do you need?

Now that you know the difference between headshot and branding photography, here are five questions I ask my clients to help them determine which is best for them. 

1. Do you work for a company in a job where your role is more behind the scenes?

If so, there’s a good chance a headshot is the way to go. You need an image to go in your email signature line, and to post in the online or internal company directory, but one good, well-lit, engaging headshot will probably serve you well.

If, however, you use social media for your personal passions and projects, where it’s important to grow a community of online followers or even friends, then you still may want to consider a branding session relating to your outside-of-work activities.

2. Does your ability to do your job depend on your visibility to clients? 

In other words, are you in a business ownership or sales type role where you are continually communicating with your clients and potential clients? 

If so, I recommend a branding session as a way to extend your reach, keep yourself visible, and communicate with clients even on the days you don’t see them in person. 

Since you don’t want to share the same photos day after day, having a library of images to choose from is the easiest way to share unique, branded content on a regular basis and keep you top-of-mind with your customer base.

3. Do you need to build trust with your clients online?

If the answer is yes, a personal branding session is the way to go. Showing your face regularly on social media is one of the best ways to build trust with potential clients. 

Having fresh, updated photos of you going about your day, interacting with your products or with other clients, or even sharing some of your personal life are great ways to showcase your expertise, create trust, and build stronger relationships.

People buy from people they know, like, and trust, so the more you share of yourself, the more you increase the know-like-trust factor!

4. Do you have a personal brand?

In this day and age of social media marketing, people often have what is referred to as a personal brand. In other words, people recognize you personally and are loyal to you because of who you are.

Here are some ways to determine whether you have a personal brand: 

If you’re a solo-preneur, or own your own business, and people do business with you because of you, you probably have a personal brand. If people recognize your name and trust you as an expert in your field, you probably have a personal brand. If you regularly communicate with your audience, and they look forward to hearing from you, you probably have a personal brand. If people refer you to others because they like doing business with you, you probably have a personal brand.

Think of a personal brand as a business asset — the more you build it, the more valuable it becomes.

And because people are so visual, personal brand photography is one of the best ways to help grow a consistent and recognizable personal brand. 

5. Do you find yourself struggling to post unique social media content online? 

It could be that you don’t have enough images to pull from, in which case a personal branding session is one way to jumpstart your social media and content marketing campaigns. 

Ever wonder how your favorite blogger or Instagrammer posts such amazing content every single day? The secret is they create all of their visual content just a few times a year, then pull images from their own personal branded photo library during their regular workdays.

If you choose to do a branding session with me, we’ll make a list of the different ways you want your clients to get to know you, and specific shots that will go with specific content you want to share.

Want to talk about how you write blog posts while sipping oat milk lattes at Aviano in Cherry Creek? Let’s walk to the coffee shop and take some action shots that are true to life, plus we’ll also craft some details shots of you working on your laptop, and of course we’ll also curate a well-lit photo of your favorite coffee drink.

Now that all of these images are in your brand photo library, you’ll be able to pull from them on the daily to keep all of your content fresh and new! 

If you’d like more information about personal brand photography, or headshots for your entire team, please head over to my contact page and let’s connect!

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February 13, 2020

Headshots vs. branding photos: which do you need?

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