Do I Need a Full Branding Session or Just Headshots?

May 14, 2023



I get a lot of inquiries for branding photography and I often hear business owners ask if they really need a full branding session or if they just need headshots. Without knowing the intention of your investment, there isn’t a clear cookie-cutter answer. So what is the difference between a headshot session and a branding session? Honestly – lots. The biggest difference that clients can tell right away is the scope of work.

What’s the difference between a headshot and branding session?

A headshot session is done either outdoors or in studio, takes under 20 minutes and results in 2-5 professional LinkedIn approved headshots. Nothing more and nothing less.

A branding session on the other hand is as diverse as the clients who book them. Ranging from half-day to full-day sessions, a branding shoot is tailored to capturing images of the client(s), their workflow and their offerings with a focus on what their target audience is likely to be drawn to.

Here’s photos I took of Ashley Dearing from Dearing Media – one is a traditional headshot and one is from a lifestyle-branding shoot we did.

Do I need professional photos to run a business?

I don’t like to ruffle feathers but sometimes we all need a little tough love – I firmly believe that professional headshots are the absolute minimum you need to start building your business photos.

Consumers are far more likely to buy from a business they feel a connection with. The best (and easiest) way to build connection fast? Show up for your business. Personify your brand with headshots of the owners, staff, heck – even your favourite delivery drivers. Make it easy for people to connect with you.

What session is best for my business?

Unsurprisingly, this depends on the needs of your business and your individual budget, goals and commitment to your marketing efforts and brand voice.

When to book a headshot session

  1. If your marketing strategy relies solely on in-person tactics and you don’t show up on social media, write blog posts, or purchase out-of-home (think billboards) or display advertising.
  2. You have already done a full branding session and you just need an updated headshot or two.
  3. You’re a new business owner and can’t justify the budget for a full or half-day branding session.
  4. You’re a student, contractor or job-searching and you need a professional photo to represent yourself to prospective opportunities but you don’t have a brand with guidelines to follow.

When to book a branding session

  1. You’re a new business looking to set the stage for showing up for your business.
  2. You’re already established but want to level up how show up for your clients more authentically, more effectively and in a way that converts more leads into customers.
  3. You’ve previously had (a) branding session(s) done but you’ve since expanded, added/changed offerings or you’ve used your current assets to their full potential.

I recommend that my clients without a developed brand look into working with a brand designer to solidify their values, their visual identity and their strategic marketing. I personally hired Madeline from East and Eve Creative Co. to create my brand identity and having clear guidelines makes showing up easier and more consistent.

If you have no clear target market, brand guidelines, visual branding or a marketing strategy, I recommend booking a lifestyle shoot for 1-2 hours and invest in a half-day or full-day shoot when you have a more permanent brand that isn’t likely to change too much in the next year.

Who should I hire for my chosen session?

For a headshot session, choose any photographer who creates work that you find flattering, that you like the editing and that you mesh with on a personal level.

For a branding session, take all of the previously mentioned factors into account, but more importantly, you need to find someone with a strong background not only in photography but in marketing. Bonus points if they are deeply familiar with brand development or advertising.

I don’t want to be the bearer of bad news, but your branding session isn’t about you and your wants. It’s about speaking to your clients in a way that makes them feel intrigued, makes them feel like your message was crafted specifically for them and makes them trust you enough to invest into the idea, product or promise you’re selling.

I’m sold on photos – what now?

I love to create effective and intimate branding imagery for my clients and would love to learn more about you and your brand. Book your free 30 minute consultation call here.

Why choose me? I have over a decade of experience in marketing, SEO, advertising, sales and content copywriting. I live and breathe creating on-brand imagery and content for brands and organizations. I started with my own food blog Maritime Glutton, and have worked with brands like Tourism New Brunswick, Parks New Brunswick and Wabanaki Maple since 2020.

Not convinced? Check out some of my branding clients below:

Farm to Table New Brunswick

Move with Meg

PMQ for Two

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