The Difference Between Headshots and Personal Branding Photos

You may be wondering the difference between headshots and personal branding photography.

If you’re an entrepreneur or small business owner, or if you’re a photographer thinking about offering brand photography, this post is for you.

When you’re building a brand and a business, you need photos. Plain and simple. However, when you’re looking into getting photos done, you may come across different terminology and jargon.

You may see headshots. You’ll come across brand photography. And also there’s personal branding photography.

So which one do you need?

Which one is right for you?

Well, in this post, I’ll be explaining the differences between headshots and personal brand photography so that you can make an informed decision about what would be best for you in your stage of business.

What are headshots?

Headshots are, as you might imagine, a photograph of your head and upper body. When most people think of headshots, they probably think of an actor’s headshot, a photo on a business card, a LinkedIn profile photo, yearbook photo, or a website “About Me” page photo.

All of these are correct. However, with modern branding and modern headshots, this can also pertain to a lifestyle headshot.

By my definition, a lifestyle headshot is a photo of your face, but also incorporates more of the background – so that it’s not limited to a photo taken on a paper backdrop.

I find that lifestyle headshots are better suited for people building personal brands compared to corporate professionals or those just needing a new LinkedIn profile photo. Above, you’ll see two examples of lifestyle headshots.

Either way, a headshot is an important asset to have as an entrepreneur, small business owner, or professional in your industry.

Headshots and personal branding are related, but not the same thing.

What is Brand Photography?

Brand Photography by my definition is a library of photos for a business or brand that showcase a holistic picture of the business. In other words, these are the marketing photos a business can use to promote their products, services, and offers.

style consultation pivot to branding photography

Brand Photography can encompass working with big name brand companies as well as smaller one-woman operations. Another term for brand photography (before “brand photography became a recognized term”) is commercial photography. This probably conjures ideas of big company photoshoots for ads, magazines, and more.

I believe that every business needs brand photography in some capacity. Whether you’re a Fortune 500 company or a solopreneur, having visual assets (aka brand photos) will enable you to market your business with confidence, make a great first impression, and ultimately make more sales.

What is Personal Branding Photography?

Personal Branding Photography is a subset of brand photography in my opinion. It takes brand photography and specializes it further to personal brands.

What is a personal brand? Think of your favorite celebrity and influencer type personalities.

Think of Oprah, Marie Forleo, Amy Porterfield, Jasmine Star, Jenna Kutcher, Glennon Doyle, Jen Hatmaker, Nicole Walters, and more.

All of these women have a personal brand. BUT, you don’t have to be famous or well-known to be a personal brand.

In fact, I believe that building a personal brand is the most effective way to create connection, build trust, and increase sales from your client base.

Personal Branding Photography is more personality driven in nature, showcases the business owner beyond the business, and creates relatable, empathetic content for your audience to connect with.

What’s the difference between brand photography and personal branding photography?

For me, I tend to definite the difference between brand photography and personal branding photography as this:

  • Brand photography is for businesses that focus on product or service sales.
  • Personal branding photography is for businesses building a personal brand and selling to their communities.

Like I mentioned before, personal branding photos fall under the umbrella of brand photography. I believe that personal branding focuses on the business owner first, then the offer.

Brand photography focuses on the business or products first, and then the founder is secondary.

*these are my definitions*

When should I get a headshot versus a branding photoshoot?

So the question remains, should you get headshots or a personal branding photoshoot?

I recommend headshots to corporate professionals and those only looking for a simple photo for LinkedIn or a website bio section. By this definition, the headshot is photographed on a backdrop and includes from the shoulders up.

Personally, I offer “lifestyle headshots” which means that these are NOT photographed on a backdrop, but rather in a setting – whether outdoors, in an office, studio, or home.

Lifestyle headshots are more relaxed, approachable, and relatable.

When should I book a branding photoshoot versus headshots?

That leaves the question, when should you book a brand photoshoot?

If you need more than a headshot and need more of a suite of photographs that tell the story of your brand, you need a brand photoshoot.

If you are building a website, leveling up your social media, launching a product or service, starting a podcast, rebranding, and more, you should book a branding photoshoot.

A brand photoshoot will give you the most comprehensive collection of photos to use throughout your marketing.

You can finally stop piecing together semi-decent selfies and subpar smart phone photos hoping that they look “professional” enough.

There’s a time and a place for having a “homegrown” and approachable presence.

But when it comes to your first impression to a “cold” audience (aka people seeing your business for the first time), you want to put your best foot forward.

Brand photos and personal branding photos can help you do that.

Other helpful resources about headshot and personal branding

Headshots or Branding Photos: Helpful Things to Consider

9 simple steps to create headshots that aren’t boring

How to Make Your Headshots More Fun

How to Add Personality to Your Personal Branding Shoot


If you are a small business owner or entrepreneur in the North Dallas area, including FriscoMcKinney, Prosper, Celina, Plano, Little Elm, and more – and you’re looking for a branding shoot with a photographer with a proven planning process in place, I’m ready to chat!

Step 1. Get in Touch – click and contact today

Step 2. Discovery Call – we’ll chat about your business and your vision for brand photos

Step 3. Book your Shoot – if we’re a “match” let’s get you on the schedule and start planning

I’m Catie, and I’m a personal branding photographer for female business owners who are ready to stand out online and increase their impact and income.

I'm based in North Dallas, serving the greater Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. Here at Catie Ronquillo Photography, I provide strategic marketing photos that will help you grow your business.

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I'm Catie! Brand photographer based in the North Dallas, Texas area.

I work with busy women CEOs who crave more thangeneric stock photos to promote their business. You want an effortless strategy to connecting with your ideal clients through personal branding photography




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