The Difference Between Headshots and Branding Sessions | Nashville Branding Photographer Dolly DeLong Photography (Updated 2023)

The Difference Between Headshots and Branding Sessions | Nashville Branding Photographer Dolly DeLong Photography

What is the difference between headshots and a personal branding photo session?

One of the most common questions I get asked as a personal branding photographer is this:  “What is the difference between headshots and personal branding sessions?”

It’s a great question!

Quickly, a headshot session is a simple and short session where we’re focused on getting you 1-2 professional headshots for you (or your team) for a professional profile. A branding session is more than headshots – much more, in fact! It’s a longer session or day that’s focused on creating visual content for your small business. We make sure to create content that can be used on a variety of platforms and different places instead of a lone headshot that you can use. You can absolutely market your business with your headshot, but there are limitations. A personal branding session is the way to go if you’re looking for more long-term content. 

photographer sits at desk during Nashville personal branding session

Personal branding sessions can tell more than one storyline about your business. 

During your branding session, we have the chance to document you in a variety of settings and experiences. Maybe that’s showing how you work from home but also how you work 1:1 with a client or maybe what you do with your dog on days off. Because we have more time, we can create content that will allow you to share those multiple lines. By planning ahead, we know that there are parts of your business that need to be on display beyond a nice headshot and can capture those accordingly. These sessions will allow you to create more connection points with your audience as your share your content. 

copywriter holds book stack sitting on couch during Nashville branding session business owner shows client designs on laptop

Personal branding sessions are personalized.

I know that sounds like kind of an obvious point but think about it. We all live and run our businesses online these days. If you’re sharing the exact same photo or graphic as the business owner down the street, how are you standing out? Personal branding sessions allow your story and personality to come through to your ideal audience. This allows your business to stand out because people are getting to know you! There’s something powerful about showing exactly who you and your business are!

Plus, when you REALLY dig into showing off the personal side of your business (in a professional way of course) you WILL start attracting your ideal clients and the clients who truly want to work with you! I know you’ll also repel people too (and that’s okay because you don’t want to work with a client who is a nightmare to work with due to personality differences and/or unmet expectations).

Personal branding portraits can be used all over the place! 

Because we capture such a variety of images, your branding photos can be stretched out and used in more ways. You’re going to receive more images in more outfits, locations, and setups so that means you’ve got WAY more content to use. I always ask my clients if they have specific needs in mind for these images. Maybe you need something with a lot of white space for your website hero image. Or maybe you need more vertical images for pin graphics. Whatever it is, we’re going to try to capture it for you. And, if you’re smart about it, you can purposefully plan your session to include images you might need in the future. Think about launches, seasons, or big moments in your business!

copywriter pops champagne on patio coach tosses pillow in the air during branding session

A Bonus Tip: How to use your branding portraits (and headshots) strategically

An important note to add is this, your headshots and branding portraits overall should not just be used to update your profile pictures and professional bios (which are all good) BUT if you are just using them to update your headshots only…well, you are missing out on a huge marketing strategy for yourself!

Branding photos (both headshots and your branding portraits) should be used in strategic ways to market your business (as mentioned in the previous point above) but, if you think about it, you are using YOUR branding photos to market YOUR business (thus creating income for yourself)! That’s HUGE! This is a step that many business owners fail to think through, not because they are dumb but because they have A LOT on their minds already, and thinking through how to market their new images may be at the backburner of their thoughts!

Here are some examples to think through:

So when you are planning out your branding photos (or headshot session) think about WHAT future marketing visuals you will need for:

➡️your email marketing (newsletter)

➡️your LinkedIn or whatever professional platform you are on

➡️Your social media channels

➡️any marketing materials for any future launches

➡️what about website updates?

So with your branding photos, I want you to go into your session with a GAME PLAN, a STRATEGY, on how you are going to use these portraits not only to update your professional profiles but now you know you can use them literally everywhere to consistently market your business. Consistency built over time builds trust with your viewers. And trust? Well, that’s a great thing, because trust over time brings in new clients and customers! You WANT that!


In the end, headshots are a better fit if you need one image for a professional profile and that’s about it. But if you’re trying to build a brand, personal branding photos will serve you better in the long run. They’re going to capture more of who you are behind the business. Plus, they’ll provide you with a variety of images to use everywhere you need them! It’s a good option when you need to create a lot of content regularly! 

Ready to ditch your boring headshots and update your professional profiles with personalized branding portraits? Let’s talk! Click here or the banner below for more details!


Ready to plan your branding portraits? Grab this free Guide to plan the session you’re dreaming of!

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what is the difference between headshots and a personal branding photo session?

Meet Your Friendly Nashville Branding Photographer & Systems + Workflow Educator

a dad mom and toddler son are all smiling at eachother at a lavender farm by Erin Fox photography in Nashville

Dolly DeLong is a Nashville-based branding photographer and an educator who educates other creative business owners on all things Systems and Workflows (so think backend puzzle pieces of one’s business, that’s her jam!)  Dolly loves serving business owners with her strategic & bold photography.  And, she also loves educating other creative business owners on how to set up systems and workflows that will ultimately help them save time in their business-she does this by producing weekly blog posts and weekly podcast episodes on The Systems & Workflow Magic Podcast. 

She has a heart for serving the larger business community. Dolly shares her knowledge of tools like Dubsado, Email Marketing, and Business Systems with new creative business owners & family photographers in an encouraging and supportive way because she believes that anyone can find joy in automation! Plus BONUS: Systems is where the MAGIC happens!

Dolly’s faith and love for her family motivate her to help other business owners find the joy and freedom she’s found in running a successful small business.

Whenever she has a spare moment, she enjoys watching TV (i.e. Survivor), loves eating way too many sweets, and listens to podcasts while running or walking. To work with Dolly DeLong Photography LLC, fill out her contact form here.

Interested in learning how to best automate a part of your creative business but have no clue where to begin? Check out to begin your automation journey today!

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