Branding photography can seem less concrete than other types of photography, especially when it comes to personal brand photography. It’s about your business but it’s also about you. Plus there are so many types of brand photos—from the flat lay of a latte to lifestyle photos of a social media manager doing yoga—that can all fall under the personal branding photography umbrella. So yeah… confusing.
To understand how all the types of personal brand photos connect, it’s important to understand their unique purposes. Commonly recognized photography types like events, weddings, graduation shoots, and family portraits are all meant to capture and memorialize a moment in time.
But brand photography is all about the future. You’re telling potential customers a story about you and your products so that they can start to visualize their life once they buy into your work.
Showcasing your products, services, location, and personality require many types of personal brand photos that work together to tell your story.
Six Types of Personal Brand Photos to Know
Flat Lay or Close Up
You’ve seen the signature spread of items from above—a perfectly plated cheeseboard, a color coordinated desk layout, those hard-to-resist cooking instructional videos. These are all examples of what’s called a “flat lay.” It instantly gives any product or object a modern, Instagram-y aesthetic. And it’s also a convenient way to showcase many items at once without them blocking each other.
They’re a type of close up photo but not all close ups have to be flat lays. A simple, well shot image of a product from a “normal” angle can work just as well. The best brand portfolios includes a mix of the two.
What if I don’t have a physical product?
For personal branding, you might not have “products” to showcase in this way. But even if your personal brand sells a service, you can use the flat lay or close up to your advantage by using these methods to showcase the tools of your trade. Think laptop for a freelance consultant or a woodworking bench with carving tools for a woodworking instructor.
Headshots and Team Photos
We’re all familiar with headshots or team photos. They’re in our LinkedIn profile pictures and the “About Our Team” pages of websites. They have a simple purpose: show people what you and your team look like. But they should also showcase a hint of personality. It’s like a visual introduction. It should make people feel like they know you a little and want to meet you all at once.
Many people opt to take their headshots in traditional studios but for serious personal branding, this is a mistake. Headshots and team photos taken in front of blank backgrounds lack personality and interest. They feel out of context and outside of real life.
A great headshot is interesting to look at and shows you in an environment that’s natural to you.
Lifestyle photos are the personal part of personal branding. These types of personal brand photos tell potential customers something about who you are, more than a simple headshot. They could show you doing a hobby, spending time with family, or sipping drinks at an upscale location.
You can go almost anywhere with lifestyle photos but they should always relate back to your business or business values in some way. A natural medicine practitioner might use a photo of her doing yoga to portray the concept of holistic health. A real estate agent who sells family homes might share a photo of himself with his kids. And a business consultant who promises to help clients make it big could feature themselves leaning against the hood of an expensive car.
Potential customers should think, “They’re just like me.” Or even, “I’d like to be more like them.”
If your business is attached to a location, you can use location photos to showcase its interior, shoot your vibrant shopfront, or share the gorgeous view from the patio. Like a headshot for your business. You want them to feel connected to your space and want to be there.
What if my business doesn’t have a set location?
Not every business operates out of a brick and mortar, this can be especially true for the entrepreneur types who need personal branding. But that doesn’t mean location can’t be part of your shoot.
How else is place connected to the work you do? If you’re selling services to local businesses, it can help to showcase local scenery or the downtown area that most of your customers are coming from. If your work involves other peoples’ spaces, like real estate or interior design, share photos of the ideal spaces you help your customers achieve.
At Work or At Desk
Do you work in an office or from home? Are you all about a chaotic, creative workspace or are you neat and organized? Are you all business or all smiles? Use at work and at desk photos to communicate what you do but also how you do it.
This could mean an artist painting in a wild workshop, splattered in colors. A freelance consultant sipping coffee at a cafe and writing in a notebook. An accountant checking a computer at a neat and organized desk. A consultant excitedly pointing to a white board filled with ideas. You want people to get a feel for the uniquely “you” flare you bring to your work.
Action and Interaction Shots
Action and interaction shots are closely related. Both show a customer’s relationship to your business. And some photos may be both action and interaction shots.
Action shots primarily show your customer’s relationship to your product. They should showcase your product or service in use.
Examples include a model wearing clothes or accessories in the real world, someone lighting your premiere scented candles, or an athletic man drinking from your aerodynamic water bottle.
What if I don’t have a physical product?
You can still think creatively about action shots. Showcase what your customers will be doing with your services. Did you help them get clients? Show them shaking hands to close a deal. Are you a fitness instructor? Show a client with arms raised in Rocky-like triumph at the top of a hill.
Interaction shots are related to action shots and can be similar to at work shots. But the key difference is that they showcase the relationship between you and the client. This is not quite the same as showing the relationship between the product and the client.
An interaction shot tells a customer something about how they’ll be treated and the quality of service they’ll receive. It’s a financial advisor holding a door open while they welcome a client into their office. Or a smiling freelancer meeting with a client over tea and scones.
What if I don’t meet with clients face to face?
For entrepreneurs whose work is 100% digital, there are still creative ways to show interaction. Shots of you smiling on the phone, going over a document on a video call, or even writing thank you notes—all of these tell viewers a story of how it feels to work with you.
Why it’s Important to Understand the Different Types of Personal Brand Photos
A great brand photographer knows how to capture all six types of personal brand photos. But the two things you know more about are you and your business. If you understand the purpose of each of these six photos, you can become an active collaborator with your photographer, guiding them to the best themes and scenes. And you’ll also know when and where to use them if you’re trying to achieve a specific purpose
Good luck on your personal branding journey. Remember the goal is to tell a complete and enticing story about you and your business. So don’t hold back on sharing all the interesting bits and pieces that make you you!
For more on brand photography…
- Can Any Photographer Do Brand Photography?
- How Can You Build Trust With Brand Photography?
- Making Behind the Scenes Content Work for Your Brand