June 15, 2020

Branding Session vs. Traditional Headshots

Woman stand and smiling at camera holding a laptop

I often see people mislabeling brand photography. Since brand photography requires a strategic plan and also time + monetary investment, it’s important understand what to expect when you’re booking a session. I’m breaking everything down with definitions, an explanation of each type of session, and some photo examples from different sessions. So let’s get started!

*I’m outlining how these session generally work within the industry, however, many photographers have different packages and strategies for how they work with clients. It’s important for you to research what you want and make those expectations clear to any photographer you choose to work with.

 

Branding Session vs Traditional Headshots:

Brand photography: photos that are focused on a brand. They generally highlight key elements of a brand whether that’s people or products. Last week’s blog post gives a breakdown of what brand photography is and why it’s important.

Traditional headshots: portraits that are focused on a person. They are generally close up images of a person used for professional profile images on websites, social media, corporate pages, etc.

From those definitions, you see that there is definitely overlap between the two. You can take traditional headshots during a brand shoot and you can also take images that feed into your overall branding photo collection during a headshot session.

Details about the sessions:

My branding clients receive a custom collection of images that help them tell their brand story. We start with a very detailed questionnaire about their business. Then, we spend time on a strategy call discussing how to create images that serve all areas of their business. On the day of the session, we usually spend about 4-5 hours crafting their collection. We plan 3-5 outfits along with relevant props and various locations. A branding session takes strategic planning to create a distinctive and diverse set of images. I typically deliver 150 to 300 images to branding clients.

For traditional headshots, clients bring one outfit and a few props that are relevant to their line of work. We shoot for about 20-30 minutes in one location and focus on clean, close-up shots of their face as well as any images that can accent their website well. I typically deliver about 15-20 images to headshot clients.  

 

Photo examples:

Here is an example of a branding session for a health and fitness coach. Tamara wanted images to highlight her tagline of “Running. Recipes. Rosé.” We incorporated a vineyard, office shots, cozy lifestyle images, and every little thing that spoke to her ideal clients. You’ll see there’s a ton of variety based on our different locations and Tamara’s different outfit choices.

Next, here is an example of a headshot session:

Manali and I did a quick headshot swap while we were hanging out a few weeks ago. She already has a collection of images that serves her brand well, but she wanted a few shots that would be fun for Instagram and her newsletter. Generally, headshot swaps aren’t defined as branding sessions because they’re usually quick and focused on capturing a small, spontaneous set of portraits.

One more headshot example – Brooke is a virtual assistant and she needed a few shots to put on her new Facebook page. We spent about 20 minutes photographing these outside of a coffeeshop and we used her laptop and hot cocoa as fun, relatable accents.

I hope this breakdown made it a little easier for you to understand the difference between investing in a full branding session versus getting some quick headshots taken. Both sets of images will benefit your business in really important ways, so don’t be afraid to do what is best for your brand! As always, my inbox is open and I love answering your questions about branding photography- feel free to reach out!

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