Be Brave – get that Personal Branding Photoshoot

Preparing for a personal branding photoshoot involves several key considerations to ensure that the images accurately reflect your personal brand and appeal to your target audience. Whilst I will share some practical tips you need to consider, I will start with one less tangible than many of these suggestions below: BRAVERY.

You need to be brave to get new photos done. 

I have worked with hundreds of business owners over the years, and I have yet to meet one who said – awesome, let’s get new headshots done. They are often done grudgingly, where everyone feels awkward and rushed. Often we put off getting photos taken for years and then when we do, we don’t put enough thought into what we might want from our photos, where they will be used, and what we might wish to say them to say – without them saying anything at all.

We are the biggest barrier when getting great personal branding shots taken

But the biggest barrier is us. We get in our way and just can’t get past putting ourselves out there into the world in such a permanent way.  

Let’s overlay that with a few other thoughts

  • You’ve aged
  • You’ve gained weight
  • You’ve lost weight
  • Your hair is a different colour (hello grey!)
  • You think you need to look edgier, more fun, more professional, more “put-together.”

It doesn’t matter, but you’re unhappy with your appearance. I know; I felt all of those things myself. I am quite a hypocrite when I spend so much time encouraging people to put themselves into the online and offline world to help them market their businesses.  As a woman, these things are pretty confronting, even if you realise that this is conditioning, that men are allowed to age in the timeline that their body ages, we are not. I have struggled to face up to this conditioned reality. It took time to settle into grey hair ( yep – what a ridiculous sentence to type!). I took time to relax and lean into my photos – in a way that I don’t need to when I see myself in a video or even when I record a video.  Photos capture a moment in time that stamps the reality of how you are right now. 

However, the point of getting fresh photos done is not actually about you at all; it’s about introducing yourself to your prospects in a way that showcases who you are and helps you build a connection with them. Marketing is never about you – marketing is about positioning yourself, your products and your business so that they connect with your customers. 

And often, we need to be brave to do that. 

  • Yes – I am now on the other side of 50.
  • Yes – my hair reflects the reality of this age
  • Yes – my skin reflects the reality of this age

And yes – photos now lock that in, that this is me, evidence of years of wisdom, business experience and knowledge. But they also lock in my approach: adventurous, engaged, confident. 

So, what must you do to get this show on the road once you get out of your head and out of your way?

Tips to plan your personal branding photoshoot

You should discuss many of these points with your photographer; they must be in sync with what you are trying to achieve with your imagery. This needs to go beyond “I want a series of headshots” or a “series of team shots around the office”.  Branding photos like this are an investment in your business, so invest wisely. 

Objectives and Brand Message: Understand what you want to achieve with your photoshoot. Think about your brand message and how you want to be perceived by your audience. Your photos should align with your brand’s values, personality, and objectives. For me, we played with the idea of adventure and endeavouring to showcase some little tools of the trade in my world of digital marketing. You also need to be mindful of where you might use your photos. Include a mix of portrait and landscape shots. In addition, you need to think about having ‘blank areas’ or backdrops that will suit text overlays for social media posts, website banners or email marketing headers.

Target Audience: Consider who your target audience is. Your images should appeal to your target demographic: corporate clients, creative industries, or the general public. I usually speak to b2b businesses, especially in the professional service space or female-led consultants and thinkers – so my imagery is a mix of corporatish – I don’t wish to come across as a hip young creative; I do this deliberately so that I appeal to my people and don’t scare them away. I speak my clients’ language, so I want to look similar to them – with a dash of creativity that suits my industry.

Wardrobe and Styling: Choose outfits that reflect your brand and the message you want to convey. Your clothing should be professional, fit well, and meet industry standards. Over the years, I have deliberately purchased work clothes that align with my brand, colour or style. This means that no matter when I do a video or take a quick selfie, I am, more or less, always on brand – the clothes I buy are my uniform. So when it comes time to choose outfits for photos – I have a bank to choose from. Make sure you choose a few outfits – these photos will last a long time, and you don’t want to only have shots of you in the same shirt! If you are worried about clothing choices and the budget allows, get a stylist ( or a stylish friend!) to help you choose or shop!

Location and Background: Select locations that complement your brand. Whether it’s an outdoor setting, your office, or a studio with props, the background should not distract from you but rather enhance your brand’s story. My photographer helped me choose a location that was an excellent fit for my photos, as I work in multiple locations. The co-working space we chose had a variety of areas, rooms and styles that worked well. When you select a location – or even if you are having shots taken at work – think about the variety of shots needed and what physical spaces you have to work with ( meeting rooms, reception areas, lunch areas, offices, hallways, plants, lights, chairs).

Photographer: Choose a photographer who understands personal branding and can capture the essence of your brand. Review their portfolio to ensure their style aligns with your vision. Discuss your objectives, target audience, and brand message with them to ensure they can help you achieve your desired outcome. Only some photographers can do personal branding shots – different from normal portrait photos – so ask them to see their personal branding work ( not just headshots). They must be creative thinkers, both on board with where you are coming from and helping you with your thinking. My photographer was great regarding this. We had many conversations about my needs, locations, mix of photos, and use of photos.I also have found this invaluable when working with photographers for my clients. Photos can be much more than a conga line of headshots, even in a professional environment. Securing a suite of shots from around the office plus the team will significantly change a website’s look and feel. In my experience, you can also see a lift in engagement and conversion on the site. This is what great photography can do.

Posing and Expression: Think about the image you want to project. Your facial expressions, posture, and pose can significantly impact how your brand is perceived. I found this very tricky. Let’s just say I tend to look more on the serious side, even if I am not feeling particularly serious on the inside. My photography paid attention to my stances and expressions, helping me stand at the right angles ( which were not necessarily comfortable at times!) to get the right outcome.

Props and Accessories: Consider using props or accessories that relate to your brand and can help tell your story. These should be chosen carefully to enhance the photo without overshadowing the subject. I took a series of items with me, and again, over the years, I have deliberately selected objects that align with my business and my brand colours.  Specifically, I packed up a ceramic hashtag, a little paper plane ( representing travel and adventures), an IPAD, my phone and a backdrop which is in my brand colours and reflects the idea of scaling a mountain – which has a dual meaning of going on an adventure and also coming to grips with digital marketing, which for many businesses can seem like you are scaling a mountain!If you have merchandise, you might find that some of these items should be in your photoshoots – if they don’t align, I would question the quality or appropriateness of your merchandise!

Makeup and Hair: Professional hair and makeup can significantly affect how polished and professional your photos look. This will also help you relax into your shoot. If you feel glamorous and put together, that will come across in your photos. This meant the day was long for me, getting ready at 7.30 am, but I knew I needed makeup that would stay on without fuss. Make sure you consider the weather. Unfortunately for me, the day of my shoot was scorching and humid, so my hair decided to look and behave in a manner of its choosing. So – choose a day that is neither hot nor cold – as Goldilocks says, just right.

Post-Production: Discuss your preferred editing style with your photographer. Ensure the final images are retouched naturally and align with your brand’s aesthetic. You want to be you – so resist the temptation to have things airbrushed away. You’re not a Kardashian; be authentically yourself, wrinkles and chins included.

Usage Rights and Deliverables: Understand what you’re getting from the photoshoot, including the number of images, format, and usage rights. Ensure you have the right to use the photos for your intended purposes, such as social media, your website, and marketing materials. This is part of your contract with your photographer, so understand what you get.


By carefully planning and considering these aspects, you can ensure that your personal branding photoshoot effectively communicates your brand’s message and resonates with your target audience.  Trust the process and trust in the expertise of the photographer you choose.  With some pre-planning and organisation, your photos will be a terrific reflection of you and your business and a valuable content source. and if you need a pep talk to get on with it, reach out for a mentoring session.



Leanne O'Sullivan

Digital Sherpa & CEO
I help businesses grow through strategic digital marketing.​ I am the founder, CEO and Digital Sherpa of Adventure Digital – a marketing agency based in regional NSW, servicing clients all over the Australian eastern seaboard. I’ve made it my life’s mission to help you grow a sustainable, enjoyable and profitable business.

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