headshots or personal brand photography?

Updating your image & wondering if you need headshots, or personal brand photography?

I receive a lot of enquiries from people who need new portraits. Whether they are changing jobs, pivoting in their careers, or starting a new business. Often, they have heard of Personal Branding Photography and they ring to enquire about it. Sometimes it turns out that they are only really imagining a great headshot. And they really aren’t aware of what is achievable with personal branding photography. So i spend a lot of time helping people answer the question of whether they need headshots or personal brand photography.

what exactly is a headshot?

Often people contact me because they want some portraits for their website’s About page, (the second most-visited page, after the Home page). Or their LinkedIn profile, and sometimes dating profiles. Basically, what they need is a headshot.

A great headshot is essential these days. Whether you are employed by a big company, are in front of a project or really, just working in the modern world today. We all need portraits, showing them at their best, to use on websites, social media, for press releases, etc. So that you can ensure that the version of you people see, is the best version of you. And, so you can control your digital identity.

Generally, headshot photoshoots are straightforward. They can be done in a studio, your office, or on location, and take a couple of hours at most. Often, they comprise perhaps two or three changes of clothing or accessories to give a couple of different looks. And often, that’s sufficient for people who are part of a bigger companies. Or who just want a couple of decent photos for a dating profile or LinkedIn profile or other social media profile.

And HOw are Headshots different from Personal Brand photography?

In contrast, personal brand photography is really so much more than just a portrait. Though portraits will form a part of this shoot, it’s about communicating the story of your personal brand.  Now you can do a lot with a headshot, but they do not tell a complete story. For that, you need a personal brand photoshoot. This is especially true for entrepreneurs, content providers, really anyone who has their own website or brand presence on social media.

A personal brand photo shoot is usually a half day or full day photo shoot with changes of location.  Normally, this would include being photographed at your place of work: your office, studio, workshop, kitchen. And it endeavours to show not only your product and/or services but also a complete story of you. Including your personality, your hobbies, passions and values. 

You will no doubt want to showcase your products. And you may want to feature yourself working, making your products or providing your service and the creative process behind that. Additionally, you may want to show concepts, such as efficiency, integrity or creativity. And finally, you will likely want to show yourself engaging in your hobbies and downtime pursuits. Showing your audience what makes you uniquely you, not just a person who provides the service or product. 

Tapping into your personality is important because with personal brands, the lines are blurred between where ‘you’ stop and your work begins. For example, if you design yoga kit or accessories, your PB shoot will show your product. And it may show you creating your product. But likely it will also feature you practising yoga. This is because it was your passion for yoga which drove you to create the product.

Or, you have an organic dog food business inspired by your experiences as a dog lover and owner. So you will likely want to include your dog in that shoot. As well as the kitchen where it all started and the park where you walk your dog.  Or if you are an architect, you might have portraits with your drafting board (or computer). And on a building site, in a high vis jacket and hard hat. Or in front of buildings you have designed, or that you admire. Those are just three examples but they illustrate what is achievable with a personal brand photoshoot. And to explain the difference between personal brand photography and headshots. 

Finishing touches

There is also of course stock photography: images which represent your band but which are not portraits. Such as the desk where you write the books, with a beautiful fountain pen and notebook or your laptop. Or it may be the product you created, or the dog you made the dog food for. When you commission a PB photoshoot, consider whether you would like stock photography to populate your website and social media. My guess is yes.

So, to reiterate: a personal brand photoshoot is much more than just a headshot, though headshots may form a part of your personal brand shoot. It’s a curated, planned photoshoot with a lot of planning and creative direction behind it. And it features many facets of your work and life to fully convey your brand story.

As to which one is right for you and your business, I hope this has provided some clarity.

For more information or to make a booking for Personal Branding Photography London, or for other professional photography services in London, please contact us at our West London Studio on info@serenabolton.com or on +44 (0)7415 792499. Or click here to fill out a contact form.

“Photography through the lens of a storyteller”



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