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What is Personal Brand Photography?

Welcome, Photographers!

I'm a brand anthropologist, photographer, and marketing manager based in Michigan. 

I create training for photographers to learn the basics of branding strategy so they can serve their clients with excellence and strategy.

Melissa Dusette is Owner of Golden Wolf Photography

Personal Brand Photography Training Using Real Marketing Strategy.

Are you overwhelmed by the “BE A BOUTIQUE! SELL WALL ART! FIND A NOVELTY! JUST ATTRACT BETTER CLIENTS!” courses, emails, ads, imagery, and testimonials out there?

Or have you dipped your feet into brand photography but sat across from your client, asked them about their brand or what they'd like to see, and heard "I don't know," or heard crickets? 

You do not need to jump through hoops, but you cannot 'wing' your way through personal branding because your client will not return when their images aren't designed with the basics of marketing strategy.

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The 9 Steps
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I’m here to guide the independent-minded, no-nonsense photographer and bring you through the door to personal brand photography at your own pace. Learn about personal branding and the marketing mojo you need to know, set up a successful shoot, and thrive again.

You don’t ever need to worry about your client being disappointed because you don’t quite understand branding or what exactly you’re supposed to be shooting. The personal branding consultation doesn't have to be that hard.

My 9 Steps to Personal Brand Photography Planning have helped hundreds of personal brand photographers nail their brand strategy for their clients to outclass their competitors and learn it all on their own terms. 


Welcome home!

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I'm here for personal brand consultation help and photographer training. You don't have to 'wing it' anymore! 

Personal branding consultations are your main tool in gathering all the details you'll need to successfully set up a strategic personal branding shoot for your clients. By following the 9 Steps in the Consultation Key, you can be sure that you're gathering every detail, using the best marketing strategy, and setting up your shoot with nothing left behind.  You can be sure that your image content will align with your client's goals and messaging, and your client will experience the benefits immediately. 


Personal Brand Photography is the visual representation of a brand or individual. 

Go here if you're looking for information on general personal branding!


Personal brand photography is called the "new modern-day scorecard." Here's what you need to know:

AUDIENCE PERSONA: This is a marketing term used to describe a profile of a fictional person that represents your ideal customer(s), including their demographics, preferences, and likes.  It's used to tailor messaging (and images) directly to them to elicit an emotional response and create more brand loyalty and purchase actions. 

BUYERS JOURNEY: The buyer's journey refers to the way in a potential customer learns about, takes action, and makes purchases with a brand. You use the buyer's journey in personal brand photography to communicate with every type of customer and moving them through the following stages:

  • Awareness: the customer has no previous or little knowledge of your brand or services. They don't know yet that they need you. To reach this customer, you need to communicate that you understand their pains.

  • Research: the customer finally sees that they have a problem or need, and have begun to research potential purchase options or companies. This is when they'll Google your brand. Make sure they see you as a thought leader by sharing research or case studies.

  • Decision: the customer has made a decision to purchase. They understand what they need to solve their pain points, and the brand needs to show how they stand out among their competitors. 

STORIES: The most popular and effective organization for personal brand photography lies in the telling of distinct and purposeful stories surrounding the brand and the audience persona. 

COLOR PSYCHOLOGY: The way in which color is used in personal brand images to communicate tone, style, and emotions.  Grab your free guide to color psychology here! 

BRAND STATEMENT: the overarching 'mission statement' of your brand, including your vision, core values, style, tone, and how you differ from your competitors. 

HUBSPOT CERTIFICATION: A valuable marketing certification that indicates that a personal brand photographer has marketing training and certification to strategically create awesomely effective brand photos. Don't skimp on this.



Personal brand photography is a popular field of photography that captures images for brands.  Forbes calls it the 'great differentiator' and as companies become more digital, digital entrepreneurs become more and more numerous, the work from home culture becomes more popular, and social media becomes more  important to consumers, this field will only become more in demand. 



The photography is where customers can connect visually with a brand. Make sure a brand knows who they are and who their ideal audience is to create strategic visual stories to drive their sales, engagement, and reputation. 

The best way to assure that you as a photographer can deliver stellar results for your clients? Work with your client to nail down their brand identity, create amazing stories, and organize and plan your shoot using the Consultation Key and the 9 Steps to Personal Brand Photography Planning

With a good understanding of these aspects, your photography quality and reputation will improve and your clients will achieve their goals as a direct result of your skills. 


The 9 Steps to Personal Brand Photography Planning

To plan a successful personal branding shoot using real marketing strategy, follow the 9 Steps to Personal Brand Photography Planning:


  1. CLARIFY BRAND. Starting with the basics, help the client break down and refine the basics of their brand identity. One of the additional values of hiring a qualified brand photographer is the ability to walk through a client's brand so you both understand it better. How else can you know what kind of photos your clients need? It's never your job to be a client's marketer, but you can improve the quality of your images and the long-term success of your client relationship by understanding and using some basic skills of marketing.  The Consultation Key can also guide you through this process. Let this be your value.  Stand out from your competitors.

  2. SET EXPECTATIONS. You can instill trust with your client by having a conversation and writing down your client's goals.  How will they be using your images? Social media? Websites? Flyers? Is there anything they feel strongly about including or excluding? A brief review of the rest of the process will help set expectations and put the client's nerves at ease.  Remember, instilling trust goes a long way with small businesses and entrepreneurs. They are relying on you!

  3. INSPIRATION. What brands do your clients aspire to? Who are their direct competitors and how can your client's brand identity set them apart? Make sure you communicate this somehow in your brand images. 

  4. DEFINE AUDIENCE PERSONA. Identify your client's ideal customers' wants, needs, lifestyle, likes, and demographics so you both can have an in depth understanding of who will be viewing the images and how you can connect emotionally with them the best.

  5. ALIGNMENT. Make sure all of the brand details, goals, and expectations are in writing and both client and photographer are on the same page. This way you can instill that trust again and you'll both be inspired in creating those stories and shot lists.  Communication is #1 here.

  6. STORIES AND SHOT LIST. What elements of their business does your client want everyone to know? How can you show these stories visually? Write down and agree on those stories and list your shots so you'll both be prepared for the big photo day!

  7. LOCATIONS. Start to brainstorm a list of locations so you or the client (make sure you both agree on who's doing this!) can begin the process of getting permissions, reservations, and planning. 

  8. PROPS. Every element of your photo is important in communicating a story and message, so start to prepare a list of unique and strategic props that can bring interest to your photos and connect emotionally with those audience personas. Color psychology is key here.

  9. OUTFITS. Something seemingly inconsequential like this can bring a lot of additional value when time is taken to think strategically about it ahead of time. Colors, style, tone, locations... outfits can be the final ZING! that that grabs the audience's attention.

    If you need help walking through the 9 Steps with a client, the Consultation Key is here for you.



Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

  • WHAT IF MY CLIENT DOESN'T WANT TO REVIEW BRANDING? The best way to stop this mindset in its tracks is to set expectations for your process and expertise right out of the gate.  Before your client signs the contract, make sure their objections are catered to in writing. You are a professional and it's your job to get the most effective images for their goals and brand.  Without delving into a discussion about it and planning a story shoot together, the quality suffers. It's important to communicate the high quality of this process, otherwise you'll get push back and end up with coffee shop/laptop photos, which won't do anyone any good. Your client won't return.

  • WHERE CAN PERSONAL BRAND PHOTOGRAPHY BE USED OUTSIDE OF SOCIAL MEDIA? Anywhere there's a brand...personal brand photography shows up in LinkedIn profiles, website features, blogs, printed marketing collateral, books, email signatures, and even resumes.  Each has specific facets that can alter your photography shoot, so it's good to understand the breadth of your client's use before you take any photographs.

  • HOW IS PERSONAL BRAND PHOTOGRAPHY DIFFERENT FROM A HEAD SHOT? Head shots are modern portraits with the focus on someone's face. Personal brand photography encompasses the whole of a brand when done effectively: a way to show a customer where they want to be and how to get there through visuals.  It includes aspects of brand's passion, style, tone, colors, goals, and is always authentic.  

  • HOW IS PERSONAL BRANDING PRICED? There are many ways to go about pricing and it depends on your region, competition, and size of your clients' businesses. The quarterly billed (and shot) year-long contract is the most efficient in terms of pay and workflow. I recommend 125-150% of what you charge for family or wedding portraits, but trial and error and experimentation will work to your favor as you discover what patterns work best in your area of the woods.


Pros and Cons of Personal Brand Photography

PRO: Personal brand photography benefits the photographer immensely.  They generally find more stable work through renewing contracts, more pay through the specialized knowledge needed, less push back from clients on digital photography files, and an open network of small businesses who need brand photographs. 

CON: Personal brand photographs, by function, must remain no attribution needed with free commercial use. You must be ok with letting your clients use and edit your images in any way they see fit, without giving you credit.  You're there to capture the brand as the secret hero backstage. Some photographers might find this difficult to adapt to.

CON: Effective personal brand photography relies a lot on the front-end relationship and work with the client. They have to be on board with brand identity work and shot list planning.  Set your expectations up front and make sure the client understands that you're a leader in your field because of your detailed work. The quality of their images will suffer if you as the photographer can't get them to cooperate.

PRO: However, if you can get them on board with your process, the client often learns more about their own brand from the consultation exercises. This also acts as an added benefit of working with you rather than with competitors.  You as the photographer will get more trust from them in kind as an industry leader because you know how to use your marketing basic strategies. And with the client's emotional and time investment, their excitement for the photos grow because they know what kind of stories they'll now be able to tell for their brand!


How to Become a Personal Brand Photographer

There are lots of ways you can get into personal brand photography, but all paths require the following:

  • EDUCATION AND TRAINING. Grab the Consultation Key, check out books on marketing strategy, find an expensive class, but you need to understand how personal brand photography differs from the families or weddings that you're used to shooting. There are both technical and strategic facets you need to keep in mind.  A certification from HubSpot increases your reputation and gives your marketing strategy knowledge a boost as well. 

  • MARKETING. You'll need to update your own marketing collateral (websites, listings, etc) to include personal brand services.  Send the news out to your email lists, network, scream it, whatever works! People need to know that you're now including this awesome niche in your menu. 

  • PRICING. Decide an initial plan for your pricing based on your regional market, competition, and goals, and be prepared to flex it as you learn and take on your first clients.

  • PRACTICE. It takes practice being confident working with marketing strategy and getting clients to talk like this, so be excited and let practice get you there! Be prepared to offer discount sessions to practice the consultation and shoot process.

  • FIND CLIENTS. My first advice is always to reach out to those in your existing network- think about who you already make appointments with.  Dentist? Stylist? Fitness Coach? Physical Therapist? Anyone who takes appointments could benefit from personal brand photography assets, and you already have the preexisting relationship to get a head start on that trust.


Resources for Personal Brand Photography



In closing, personal brand photography is becoming ever more prevalent in every area of the world as we all become more reliant and connected with digital technology. Likewise, the increase in small businesses and entrepreneurs means that personal brand photography services are more in demand than ever before. 

However, it takes some preparation to become a personal brand photographer because there are some key differences between this niche and family portraits or weddings. It also involves some knowledge of basic marketing strategy to really take those effective, striking photos. Working with your client in a detailed consultation will ensure that both your reputation and their images are better than ever.


Where to From Here?

If you have any questions about the personal brand photography business that isn't answered here, you can check out my blog and sign up for your FREE Marketing in Photography Master Class.

The Consultation Key and the full personal brand photography guide, Breaking In, are available here.  You can also grab a copy of the free Definitive Guide to Personal Branding here.

Reach me:


Phone: (734) 210-1548

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Definitive Guide to Personal Branding

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