The key differences between branding photography and headshots

In the world of professional photography, two terms often interchange but serve different purposes: headshots and branding photography (often also referred to as personal branding photography). Both serve important roles in portraying individuals or businesses in their best light, however, the subtle differences between them significantly influence how they’re used and the results they produce. In this blog we will discuss the contrasting features of headshots and branding photography.

What is headshots photography?

Headshots are popularly used portraits, especially on social media platforms like LinkedIn, spotlighting an individual’s face, often from the shoulders up. They aim to encapsulate the essence of the subject, highlighting their personality, professionalism, and approachability. Traditionally associated with actors, models, and corporate professionals, headshots have evolved to serve a broader spectrum of individuals, including entrepreneurs, freelancers, and social media influencers.

Portrait Headshot Left, Branding Photo Session Right

What is branding photography?

Unlike headshots, which focus solely on individuals, branding photography takes a step back to craft a visual narrative that tells the story of a brand. It goes beyond showcasing products to capture a brand’s identity, values, and culture through imagery. Branding photography helps a brand become visually recognizable, professional, approachable, and trustworthy.

This comprehensive approach involves capturing various elements such as headshots, lifestyle photos, abstract product images, and behind-the-scenes glimpses. While it requires more time and planning than headshots, the result is a diverse gallery of images that can be utilized for marketing and social media purposes, providing the client with a rich visual library to enhance their brand presence.

branding photography

How to know which one you need?

Determining whether you need headshots or branding photography depends on your specific goals and the nature of your endeavor. If you’re an individual seeking one or two quality photos for your professional profiles or portfolio, headshots are likely what you need. They’ll effectively capture your essence and present you in the best light, whether it’s for LinkedIn, a personal website, or promotional materials.

On the other hand, if you’re representing a brand or company without a cohesive gallery of professional branded photos that authentically represent your brand for marketing or social media purposes, then a branding photography package is the way to go. Branding photography will help you establish a visual identity, enhance brand recognition, and effectively communicate your brand’s story and values to your audience. It’s about crafting a narrative that goes beyond individual portrayals to encapsulate the essence of your brand and its unique offerings. So, whether it’s about showcasing yourself or your brand, understanding your needs will guide you in choosing between headshots and branding photography.

Tips for headshots and branding photography

Tips for a Good Headshot: The goal is to create one or two good photos to highlight the individual in a professional way. Some things to keep in mind:

  • Focus on the Face: Ensure the subject’s face is the focal point of the image, capturing their expressions and personality.
  • Clean and Simple Background: Opt for neutral backgrounds that don’t distract from the subject, keeping the focus on the individual.
  • Professional Lighting: Well-lit images enhance the subject’s features and convey a sense of professionalism.
  • Natural Pose and Expression: Encourage the subject to adopt a relaxed, natural pose and expression that reflects their personality and approachability.
  • Consistency: Maintain consistency in style and composition if capturing headshots for a group or organization to present a cohesive image.

Tips for a Good Branding Photo Gallery: The goals is to get a large variety of photos that go well together and fully represent the brand, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Representative of Brand Identity: Ensure the imagery reflects the brand’s identity, values, and colors, creating a visual narrative that resonates with the target audience.
  • Versatility and Diversity: Include a diverse range of photos that showcase different aspects of the brand, from product shots to behind-the-scenes glimpses, catering to various social media and marketing needs.
  • Professional Lighting and Composition: Just like with headshots, well-lit and carefully composed images enhance the overall quality and professionalism of the branding photo gallery.
  • Storytelling through Imagery: Each photo should contribute to telling the brand’s story, conveying its ethos, culture, and uniqueness.
  • Consistency in Style: While diversity is important, ensure there’s a cohesive visual style that ties the entire gallery together, reinforcing brand recognition and identity.

Lifestyle Branding Photography for a Chicago Real Estate Broker

Headshot rates versus branding photography pricing

In terms of pricing, headshots and branding photography follow divergent paths. Headshots, with their individual-centric focus and standardized style, typically come at a more affordable range, usually costing a few hundred dollars.

Conversely, brand photography entails a comprehensive process involving strategic planning, extensive time commitments, and intricate post-production work, leading to significantly higher pricing, often starting in the range of a few thousand dollars. Factors such as the complexity of the brand narrative, number of locations, duration of the shoot, and post-production editing requirements influence the cost. Despite the initial investment, businesses recognize the long-term value of branding photography in establishing a strong visual identity, enhancing brand recognition, and connecting effectively with their target audience across various marketing channels.


In summary, while headshots and branding photography both fulfill professional imaging needs, they diverge in their objectives and applications. Headshots concentrate on individuals, striving to capture their essence in a few quality photos, ideal for personal profiles and portfolios. In contrast, branding photography expands to narrate a brand’s broader story, crafting a cohesive visual identity that resonates across marketing and social media platforms. Recognizing these distinctions enables individuals and businesses to select the most suitable approach to meet their specific requirements, whether it’s presenting personal professionalism or shaping a brand’s identity for effective audience engagement.

Thanks for stopping by! I’m Mariya, a Chicago photographer specializing in branding photography. If you’re looking to create professional photos for yourself or your business feel free to reach out, if you’re just browsing take a look at my instagram for inspiration and ideas here!

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Hi, I'm Mariya! I'm a Chicago branding and family portrait photographer. Thanks for stopping by, I hope you've grabbed a good cup of tea or coffee as you browse through the blog :)