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As any type of creator, business owner, or person online, head shots are a must. Yet, so many times I see folks simply taking head shots and not thinking about ways that they can uplevel those photos and turn them into personal branding photography. Why just have a nice photo of yourself when you can have a nice photo that always reinforces your personality and helps folks get to know you and your business?
I always recommend that people bring multiple outfits to a branding session. (Honestly, I recommend this for every session I shoot, regardless of what type of session it is. Options are key to getting more longevity out of your photos.) This doesn’t have to be an entirely new outfit, although it certainly can be. If you are shooting somewhere that is limited in terms of bathrooms or changing areas, then you can wear a neutral shirt and pair of pants and then change it up with a jacket, jewelry, shoes, and anything else you can layer on top.
I’m going to say this a lot in the post, but the key is to choose something that feels like you and that clients would actually see you in. If you don’t generally dress in business casual, then don’t wear it for your photos. However, if you’re never without a great blazer, then you should incorporate those into your session!
Now, you might be thinking that your wardrobe changes depending on the client and/or the venue. I totally get that. While a lot of my sessions are outside sessions for bloggers and influencers, I do occasionally do something that calls for a more dressed up wardrobe. This is why I say to bring outfit changes. Make sure to bring a more casual outfit and a more dressy one. Then you have options! I have one photo of my on my homepage and then a different one on my About page, which gives me a chance to showcase two slightly different outfits and vibes.
Before we get too far into discussing props, I just want to say that props should be used sparingly. A little goes a long way. Think of a few main things that make sense with what your business does and just bring those. This is not a scenario where you need a new prop for every pose. Keep it simple and make it make sense.
For my photos, I always bring my camera. Sometimes my camera bag and sometimes my laptop. Generally, I don’t even use those. Currently on my website, I have one photo with a camera and one without. That’s for head shots. If you are doing an entire branding session, then you might want to expand your list of props. Especially if you want content where it looks like you are ‘working’.
If you have something that has your business’ name on it, I always recommend bringing it. Even if it just a business card. Those photos are always useful to have.
Choosing a location can sometimes be a daunting process, but I encourage you to boil the process down to two key considerations 1) lighting and 2) vibe. Think about what background might make sense for you/your business. If you generally meet clients in an office, it might not make sense for your photos to be outside. If you never meet with clients in an office, then an office background might not make sense.
For me, I never meet with clients in an office, so it would look really weird for me to have photos taken in an office. It would be an inaccurate representation of my brand and the experience of working with me. Most of the time I work shoot with clients outside, so my photos are always outside and in a pretty natural setting.
The main goal of the session is to show your personality. That’s what transforms a head shot into personal branding photography. While your outfit and your props and your location all help add to the vibe of the shoot, the most important thing is that you be yourself. When people look at a photo of your on your website, they want to get a feel for YOU.
Brainstorm what words you would want people to think when they look at your photos and your brand, overall. Combine that with your personality and you get what your photos should capture. You should also think what experience you want client’s to have when they work with you. Use these photos to help convey that. If you like to laugh with clients, show that. If you’re a bit more serious, show that too. This post isn’t about telling you how your photos should look, it is encouraging them to make them look like you.
For example, I love to laugh with my clients. Joking, singing, smiling, are all part of working with me. I might not be a good fit for someone who is looking for a more toned down or serious experience. So when taking my own branding photos, I am always smiling and am usually mid-laugh. Helping to set these expectations early will people make their own decision about whether or not they are a good fit.
Upleveling your head shots should be easy and fun! Think about what you want to convey and make little tweaks that will make a big difference! These photos, just like anything else you post, is a way to help reinforce your brand and help folks get to know you!
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Hi, I'm Dylan, a photographer in the Philadelphia Metro Area. I love iced coffee, red wine, and am always up for binging Gilmore Girls or Parks and Rec..