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Personal Branding vs Headshot vs Portrait – 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, actually no…


Personal branding photography

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


Who is it for?

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

Most of my headshots photos are taken at my home based studio in Weehawken, NJ.

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. Exampl

  • A graphic designer works at home at their desk or in a co-working space.

  • A dancer performs on stage or in a dance studio

  • 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. My job as a professional portrait photographer 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?

A good length for this kind of session is 3 hours to allow a few outfit and background or 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.


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.

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. For this reason, all y headshots are done at my new Jersey home studio.


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 with professional hair and makeup rarely exceed 2.5 hours. 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.


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. This is the reason why, at Daisy Rey Photography, I always have a pre-shoot consultation with my clients. It helps us prepare your session and get the best out of it.


I hope the breakdown of headshot photography, personal branding, and portrait photography in this article made things a little clearer.


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 portraits, headshot sessions as well as two different packages for branding photography. If you would like to know more or schedule a free consultation click here.

Want a sneak peek of a personal branding session? Click here

Want a sneak peek of a portrait session? Click here

Daisy