Austin Bennett

Headshots and Portraiture and Personal Branding…OH MY!

Ok look I’m sure many of us are kind of thrown when we start researching photographers. It seems like EVERYONE is a photographer and can handle different types of photography. There’s some truth to that. As photographers we have to be versatile to keep the cashflow inbound but for your sake let’s talk a little bit about some of the terms you might see on say, my website or other portrait photographers websites. Have you ever wondered what the difference is between them? My goal is to clear up those buzz words. The definitions I will present for your consideration aren’t gospel or doctrine, they are according to me: A headshot, fashion and personal branding photographer.

What is a Portrait? To me a portrait is now kind of a general term for a picture of someone’s truest essence. It gives the viewer a glimpse into who this person is. A portrait typically has an emotion or narrative attached to the image. Think of graduation portraits-those pictures of your graduate in cap and gown or the family portrait. The term portraiture is kind of the umbrella of the next two buzz words that I’m sure you’ve probably heard around the water cooler.

Portrait of Madi Dewalt

Headshots are more business driven. Traditionally the headshot is framed with just the head and the shoulders. As simple as that sounds so much more goes into putting your best face forward. The headshot should show your eyes, a clean jawline, some shoulder and an expression. Approachable is a common theme in expressions. 

Headshot of Actress Ashley Renee Morales

The goal of a headshot is to add a visual layer of representation to your marketing footprint. In this day and age savvy entrepreneurs and influencers are leveraging social media to make sales. What does every social media account have a spot for? A profile picture. We want to show the world we’re professionals so that starts with a picture that shows comfort and availability right there in that profile box and on our website. Actors, entertainers, models: I didn’t leave you out. We both know how agency’s love up to date headshots.


I know what you’re thinking: “Ok so how is personal branding any different from a headshot and a portrait?”

I’m so glad you asked! To me personal branding imagery sells you as the leader of your product or service. The photo adds context through the creative integration of props and story telling. It takes the general rules of portraiture while communicating to your audience who you are, what you do or where to conduct business. Imagine a picture of you holding your product or a tool you use to serve your clients. These types of sessions could also integrate various looks for actor comp cards. They are framed a little more loosely so you could use the image with copy, or graphics, on it without obstructing the picture. We call this negative space but that’s not too important to remember right now, I’ll remember it for you.  Think of personal branding photography as the perfect balance between the laws of advertising and portrait photography. Make sense?

Photographer Mailani @mai_oh_mai poses with a camera to communicate that she’s a photographer.

There you have it. I hope that helped to clear things up. To review a portrait is essentially a photo of a person that integrates an emotion or a narrative. A headshot is a picture of just the head and shoulders of a person and is kind of the window to the subject’s awesomeness. A personal branding photo is the combination of a portrait and a headshot and is used to brand one’s self through various marketing techniques. I can do these ala carte for you or I can combine them into one session and we can really rock and roll. Tell me in the comments how you would like to be photographed.


The Brennan Session

I met Brennan Alexa shooting content for Winam Studios and knew almost instantly I wanted more time to freely create with her. That instinct became a reality and we created some amazing portraits. She just kept giving me amazing looks and we’re both very grateful we did this session. I’m looking forward to the next time our paths cross.

Brennan’s headshot look one

She transitioned to a second look that stole the show.

One of my favorite from the set.

Brennan in a gorgeous portrait. These looks just kind of unfolded as we shot.

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