Business headshot photography and personal branding photography. What’s the difference?

Featured blogs, Personal branding guides

Before investing in your headshot or branding photography, learn about the differences and find out which one’s right for your business?


People buy from people

In our digitally connected world it’s more important than ever to create a great first impression. Taking control of your personal brand is essential if you want to communicate a consistent message that connects with your target audience.

Many business owners will use headshots and personal branding photos in different situations, depending on their marketing objectives or where the images are being used.

So let’s dive in and take a look at the differences.

Business Headshots

Relaxed black and white headshot of lady with long hair
Headshot with CEO of Wiltshire based charity
Headshot of female business owner
Headshot with female member of management team of Action on Addiction
Headshot of middle aged man wearing a summer hat
Headshot of female business owner in black & white

What’s a headshot?

You’re probably familiar with the term headshot photography. It’s your head and shoulders business photo that shows you looking your best.

You may have a few versions of your headshot on social media, your website or your email signature. Think of your headshot as a visual handshake. It allows people to connect with you quickly and put a face to the name.

A headshot is usually tightly cropped, showing your head and shoulders or a slightly wider image cropped midway down the chest.

Whatever style you choose, it’s essential you’re at the heart of the image and all the attention is on you.  Your eyes should be looking at the camera, engaged and in focus.

Good lighting is important too. Most business headshots will use soft light, reducing harsh shadows and delivering great skin tones.

Make sure your headshot “pops”

When we’re scanning a website or a social post, you only have a few seconds to grab the reader’s attention. So if your headshot is cluttered or distracting you won’t get the immediate connection. Keep it simple.

You can achieve this look in lots of different ways. You can use a plain white, grey or black background or simply choose a background that has a colour contrast to the skin tones in the image. You’re looking for a colour or lighting contrast that helps your image jump off the page and connect with the reader.

If you have a moment, have a look at all your headshots wherever they’re being used, and ask yourself…

  • Do they show you looking your best?
  • Are they consistent?
  • Do they “pop”?
  • Do they connect with your brand?
  • Are they images you feel proud to share?

When should you use a headshot and who are they best for?

Headshots are perfect for profile pictures. The focus is on you with very few distractions.

They’re ideally suited to social media platforms, such as LinkedIn with a focus on business to business communications.

Social media platforms will limit what you can show on your profile picture. If you take LinkedIn as an example, they recommend a square 1×1 crop, 400 x 400 pixels. You don’t have much real estate to play with. So this isn’t the place for a wide image with lots of detail in the background – once it’s uploaded you’ll lose all the details and the connection you were looking for.

Headshots are also great when you want consistency. If you have a board of directors or you’re showcasing your team, by photographing with a consistent style the headshots are easier to view and more engaging. You can also present the same style across your business, keeping everything on brand.

How could personal branding photography help your business?

Get the free guide and I’ll show you 6 ways personal branding photography can help you grow your business

Personal Branding Photography

Female business owner reading and relaxing in Georgian gardens
Personal branding photo of Bath based independent bakery
Headshot of young charity manager bu Nick Cole Photography
Confident business woman in bright blue dress

What is personal branding photography?

Put simply, it allows you to combine YOUR images with all of your other marketing activities to reinforce your brand message.

Wikipedia’s definition of Personal branding is


The practice of marketing people and their careers as brands. It’s an ongoing process of developing and maintaining a reputation and impression of an individual, group, or organisation.

How does a personal branding photo differ from a headshot?

In our headshot example above, we’re creating an engaging image focused on your head and shoulders. It’s typically a profile picture and we want a quick connection.

With personal branding photography we’re showing your ideal client who you are and what you do, while being consistent with your brand.

The images you show are just one element of your personal brand, but it’s essential those images sit comfortably with your tone of voice, your branding and the copy on your website.

You’ll show a little more personality too

Your photos will include more context with a sense of place, along with elements that show what you do. You could show a client interaction or images of you at work in your studio or office space.

Stylistically we also have more scope to make you stand out from the crowd. Your personal branding photos should feel very personal, because they tell a story about you and your business.

Earlier I mentioned that people buy from people and these are story-telling images that reveal more about you.  They allow your ideal client to get to know you and make a connection. Subconsciously they’re saying “I think we’d get on, we’d work well together”. You’re starting to build connections and making it more likely a new client will reach out and get in touch.

Commercial Photography Bath Wiltshire and Cotswolds

So when should you use personal branding photos and who are they best for?

Personal branding images are perfect for small and medium sized businesses where you or your team are an integral part of the service you offer.

If your clients will connect and work with you directly, and the personal relationship is an important part of what you do, then personal branding photos are perfect for your business.

They’re great for creatives, health instructors, financial advisors, business coaches, virtual assistants or any profession where you’re an intrinsic part of your brand.

If you have a few minutes, have a think about your business and how you could showcase what you offer through personal branding photography.

What makes you stand out from your competitors?

Maybe my free guide will help? Download it below!

How could personal branding photography help your business?

Get the free guide and I’ll show you 6 ways personal branding photography can help you grow your business