Ahhhhh headshots. Funny enough I really hate the word “headshots.” It’s always carried this stuffy, corporate and dare I say (even though I know it’s not alwaysssss true) boring connotation for me. That’s probably partly because while growing up, the headshots I’d see around were actually stuffy, corporate and boring. We’re talking a white or grey studio backdrop, classic lighting and a suit or snazzy business attire. (That or it was an actor’s headshot in black and white with dramatic lighting and funky angles). Tada. Headshot. I know I’m not alone on this. And that’s partly because photography for branding and business purposes was a somewhat limited need since headshots were just for website pages that showcase a company or firm’s team members. The other photography businesses needed were for traditional print advertising.
These days, thanks to social media and the fast rise of online marketing and small solopreneur-type businesses, headshots and imagery in general is becoming critical to business and thankfully, much less boring. Consumers want to know the who and why behind the brand, now more than ever. And that has all brought about the need for personal brand photography (super buzzy word right now, I know, but it’s buzzy for a reason).
But still, quite often, I get business owners coming to me asking for headshots when, after some digging, it turns out what they really need is personal branding photography. So let’s talk about the difference between headshots and personal branding photos.
As a note, every photographer will define things a bit differently but in general when we’re talking about headshots, we’re talking about portraits of someone with the purpose of introducing or showcasing that person. Typically, waist up and with a simple backdrop leaving the focus on the person. Headshots are for putting the face to the name and used to present yourself in a professional manner.
To put a face to the name
Just about everyone could use a nice headshot. Especially business owners and their team members. But even job applicants or students or anyone looking to fill their instagram and facebook profile images with something of quality.
But when talking about brands and businesses, headshots are great for profile images, introducing your team members or employees perhaps on “about us” and “meet the team” webpages or throughout social media. Again, the purpose is to put a face to the name in order to humanize and create a person-to-person connection. As humans, we’re drawn to eyes and faces. That will always stand out on a page and captivate our attention significantly more than just a written name.
Headshots are perfect when your goal is to simply introduce someone.
Personal branding photography takes headshot photography to the next level and introduces another layer of storytelling and messaging. We have the who behind the business with headshots. With personal branding photos, we’re now introducing the why and telling a bit more of a story.
The term “personal branding” signifies that you are the brand and therefore not only does the purpose of branding photos include putting a face to the name, but it’s also important to set yourself apart by telling the viewer something about your personality and style, what your business is, does or values and to help attract your ideal clients.
Personal branding photos are much more intentional and therefore more sophisticated and creative than headshots. The environment, action, poses, prompts, etc. in the photos are all thoughtful elements of the story you’re telling. In my mind, headshots are always a type of image you’ll get during a personal branding photography session. But headshots are not always personal branding photos.
To put a face to the name AND tell a story.
If you are the brand or the main who behind the brand or business, you need personal branding photos. While headshots will be thrown into the mix, if you’re looking to create connections and attract ideal clients, convey messaging and stories about your brand and what you do and stand for, then you need personal branding photos more than you need just headshots. Personal branding photoshoots are a great way to show your audience what you do, how you do it, showcase your personality and personal style and to let people in on the behind the scenes of the business. These photos can be used across your website and social media, for printed media and marketing materials, in advertising and more.
While headshots are perfect when your goal is to simply introduce someone, personal branding photography is needed when your goal is to attract ideal clients and develop deeper connections and followings in order to ultimately convert and sell.
More often than just headshots, what many small businesses and brands need is a personal branding session. I talk often about the know, like and trust factor in marketing and to summarize, headshots get your viewers to the “know” part while personal branding photos allow them to move beyond just knowing you so they can “like” and “trust” you.
Now that you have a better understanding of the difference between headshots and personal branding photos, use the button below to read more about how to prepare for a personal branding photoshoot!