Personal Branding: When do you need more than a Headshot?

Headshots have become an integral part of our visual marketing. For clients and business connections to recognize you is an essential part of doing business, particularly with much of our work being done virtually today. By definition, a headshot is focused exclusively on someone’s face and is cropped to just the head and shoulders. They typically include a neutral background and eliminate context of locale. Lighting is soft and even, avoiding dramatic shadowing.

Headshots are an excellent tool for a company that wants to create a consistent look throughout their staff. They cast a polished and professional light, helping to make a good first impression when clients visit websites, social media profiles, or view printed advertising such as signage and flyers. An excellent headshot photographer can capture your personality through facial expressions but based on the composition, is limited in their ability to customize the meaning to reach a target client base. Its audience is more universal. Personal branding can produce similar results to headshot photography but narrows its aim to a more specific visual identity.

Personal branding photography uses your personality and your brand’s identity to define what makes you and your business unique. Rather than aiming to blend in with a clean neutral look, it strives to set you apart. It highlights your niche in the market and speaks directly to your target client. This narrows your client base but, as I have discussed in previous posts, that is key to creating a successful brand and reaching your ideal clients.

How does Personal branding photography accomplish these claims? Through applying color psychology, body language, locations and backgrounds that add meaning, wardrobe selections based on your brand’s visual identity, and distinct lighting choices that can convey the right mood in your images.

Envision for a moment, if you will, images of the clothing company Free People. If you are familiar with the brand, a young woman, in an outdoor setting, with a bohemian attire and the light of a golden sunset light probably came to mind or some similar variation of this picture. This visual identity has been reinforced in every image they produce and has been carefully planned to send a consistent message. This identity is no secret, it is listed right on their website, “a 26-year-old girl, smart, creative, confident and comfortable in all aspects of her being, free and adventurous, sweet to tough to tomboy to romantic. A girl who likes to keep busy and push life to its limits, with traveling and hanging out and everything in between.” When you can narrow your brand down to to your ideal client and then customize your photography to this target, imagine how powerful your own branding could become.