Personal brand photography: Everything to know and why you should invest

Take your online presence to the next level with brand photography

We all know how essential marketing is to a brand’s success. Strong visuals like a creative storefront display or eye-catching graphics can attract customers. A brand photography session is another way to strengthen your business identity.

Realtor Jennefer Folsom

Did you know Beyonce has an archive with hundreds of thousands of photos and countless hours of video from her career? She is one of the most prolific archivists in our lifetime. All that content keeps her connected with her MANY loyal fans. She also uses it to grow her community even more.

Guess what? It works! People can’t get enough. They want to know her, know what she’s creating, and get a glimpse into daily life.

So, what do you and Bey have in common? You’re both your own brand. Take a page from her book. Let your clients see the face behind the brand.

 “When done well, storytelling can do wonders for a business: turn a brand into a legacy, create a robust marketing strategy, generate profit, and win the loyalty and affection of audiences, to name just a few.” – Celinne Da Costa

What to know about brand photography

In this article, I’ll walk you through:

  • What is branding photography
  • What to expect during a brand photoshoot
  • Where to take brand pictures
  • What to do with your photos
  • The time commitment
  • Pricing for branding photoshoots
  • How often to update your picture

What is brand photography?

Branding photography is a way to communicate the core of your business through images. Simply put, it involves creating a series of pictures that showcase the people behind the brand, the product or service being offered, the production process, and the overall experience of the service. It includes photographs of the space where the product is created or consumed or where the service is experienced.

What’s the process of creating a branding photoshoot?

branding photography

The first step to creating dynamic brand photos is to sit down with your photographer to bullet point defining elements of your brand’s story. Like an interior designer or a therapist, asking questions and acutely listening are essential in identifying the best way to tell a brand’s story. I’ll ask questions like: How did you get your start? Where do you do your work? How many people are involved? Is there a mission statement? Do you have a brand style board (often the case if a brand works with a graphic designer)? 

In addition to these straightforward questions, I might ask more abstract questions like: What music do you listen to most often when you’re alone? What’s your favorite clothing store? How do you picture your dream home looking? 

These questions help refine a path forward for your branding shoot. Based on your answers, I’ll create a shot list and summary to identify your photoshoot’s artistic style. For example, a Pilates instructor might want bright, backlit images that feel natural, intimate, and inviting. In contrast, a personal trainer for a bodybuilding competition might want high-contrast images with enhanced definition, gritty settings, and a more intense vibe to their images. 

Where will my brand photoshoot take place?

branding photos

I’ll determine if these pictures are best created in your space, my studio, or location during the getting-to-know-you period. It’s human nature to want to see where the magic is made, so I always encourage clients to have their photos taken in their natural environment. Whether a therapist in their home office, a baker in their kitchen, or a yoga instructor in their studio, letting your audience peek behind the curtain develops trust and fosters intimacy with them. However, the studio is an excellent option if you don’t have a place you feel comfortable sharing with the public. With beautiful light and a blank canvas, you’ll have abundant flexibility to create images for your brand. 

What to do with your brand pictures?

It’s become quite popular for people to be interested in the story behind their products. They also love to know how and where they’re made.. These intricate details give brands a unique character that customers enjoy. The photos can be utilized in various ways, such as websites, social media, and newsletters to promote your work and share your images.

How long does a brand photoshoot last? 

branding photos
Jenny Just – Co Founder of PEAK6

The amount of time required for creating your branding photos will depend on the scale of your vision. If you are working alone, you may only require an hour or two to capture your content. However, larger businesses looking to revamp their online presence may require a half-full day or more. All brands need professional photos of their leaders, workspace, and demo photos that showcase their creations and location. For instance, a dermatology practice should have pictures of their staff, workspace, demonstration photos, and essential products or devices used.

When you work with me as your photographer, we’ll start by talking one-on-one to create a game plan. We’ll brainstorm a shot list and discuss what sort of vibe you want to convey.  This consult will help determine how much time we’ll need to budget. Often, photographers offer an hourly rate, a day rate, or pre-arranged packages at a bundled price. 

You also should consider a retaining fee with your photographer, which would cover additional photoshoots on a monthly or quarterly basis to create updated material–idea growing and maintaining a community of fans.

“Fans, true fans, are hard to find and precious. Just a few can change everything. What they demand, though, is generosity and bravery.” -Seth Godin, Marketing Strategist and co-creator of the Ted Conference.  

Why hire a professional photographer for branding photos?

Phone cameras have greatly improved, making taking stunning photos at your fingertips easier. However, capturing great content requires more than just a good camera. A professional photographer understands how to create a collection of images that are visually cohesive and reflect your style and personality. Factors such as lighting, background, lens choice, setting, movement, and post-production all contribute to the final product, taking your photos to the next level and creating a unique and captivating set of images. 

How often should you update brand pictures?

branding photography Chef Michael Ponzio - Portrait Photography.
The frequency at which you create new content determines the need for updating your professional images. If you are the product, regularly updating your images is advisable to keep your audience engaged with new developments. The same applies if you create new work regularly. You may consider hiring a photographer on a monthly or quarterly retaining fee to have updated material. If you frequently generate new products like a ceramic artist or baker and require new photos on the same background, you can hire a photographer to advise you on a setup that you can use independently while still hiring them for more complex scenarios.

How much does branding photography cost?

If you want to strengthen your reputation and connection with your audience, consider investing in professional photography. The cost of these services can vary, with hourly rates starting at $600 and full-day rates going up to $4,000.

Interested in a session? I would love to connect with you and learn about your work! Contact me here or see more portrait examples here. I would love

Indoor Photography: 11 Chicago Indoor Photo Locations Guide

Indoor Photography: Chicago Photo Locations

There are a lot of things to love about Chicago, but our winters are not one of them. Now you might think that you must wait out the cold weather before you can take those ideal pictures you’ve been envisioning. But guess what! There are some amazing indoor photography locations in Chicago where you can shoot your perfect picture. From indoor greenery to stunning architecture, to quaint and cozy and artsy, there’s an indoor Chicago location to fit your photo needs. To help you out, I’ve pooled together a list of some of my favorite photo spots, including a few iconic landmarks and some lesser-known hidden gems.


I’ve also included a quick guide for each spot,  summarizing highlights, what it’s good for, and ease of access (on a scale of 1-5, 5 being the most difficult).

Highlights: Great natural light, greenery, and pretty good access.
Good for: Family, Engagements, and portraits. Requires permits for special events, e.g, weddings.
Access: 3

Like many on this list, this indoor photo location doesn’t “officially” allow professional photography, but with a bit of discretion and courtesy to other guests, you can take advantage of this indoor oasis.  Built between 1906 and 1907, this is one of the largest conservatories in the nation. Designed by renowned architect  William LeBaron Jenney, a.k.a. the father of the American Skyscraper, this 4.5-acre greenhouse is a masterpiece of landscaping designed beneath an equally breathtaking glass structure. Stepping inside from a gray, dry, freezing January day feels like you’ve been transported to an exotic destination full of verdant pathways, earthy aromas, and layers upon layers of stunning greenscapes.

Highlights: Natural light. Architecture.Covered outdoor section.
Good for: Family, Engagements, and portraits. Requires permits for special events, e.g., weddings.
Access: 3

chicago union station wedding photosAvoid rush hour and you’ll hear your footsteps echoing off the limestone walls of the Great Hall. Designed by one of Chicago’s most famous architects Daniel Burham in the Beaux-Arts style, it reflects the predominant architecture throughout Chicago. Inspired by Roman and Greek forms, you’ll find plenty of cornices, arches, and pediments to pose in front of for a classic, timeless background. The skylight ceiling creates soft, even light, diffused by the limestone walls harvested from quarries in neighboring Indiana. If you do run into issues taking pictures inside, head to the entrance on the west side of the canal where you’ll find cover from wind, rain, and snow among rows of columns.


Highlights: Natural light. Architecture, Unique Backgrounds.
Good for: Natural Family, Engagements, and portraits. Requires permits for special events, e.g., weddings.
Access: 4 (call ahead)

Chicago Art Institute No others on this list even come close to the sheer amount of natural light pouring through the mostly glass modern wing of the Chicago Art Institute.  A favorite among local photographers, with colorful artwork and skyline views that make for a perfect opportunity for silhouettes, it’s no wonder. Just know, access can be spotty. Like many locations on this list, discretion is key. Have a plan B, just in case. Or better yet, check out location #5 or #7.

  • 4. The Chicago “el”

Highlights: Uniqueness, grit.
Good for: Uniqueness, Engagements and portraits. Transit authority takes their job seriously. Pictures on the platform are discouraged.
Access: 3

For those who want a little extra grit and character, look no further than the Chicago “el” train.  There are dozens of stops with eight different transit lines and trust me, not all are equally photogenic. To help you out, I’ve picked three of my favorites.

  • 95th Stop on the Red Line. In 2017, Theaster Gates transformed the 95th Redline stop into a hub of art and music, creating custom-installations pieces and bringing in a rotating DJ on Mondays and Fridays.  Conservatory Stop or Rockwell Stop
  • Conservatory-Central Park Green Line Stop: Green and white station houses make for a lovely background.
  • Rockwell Brown Line Stop. This might be the most charming of stations on the “el.” Its unique street-level single platform is situated in the heart of Ravenswood Manor shopping district. There’s a beautiful glass mosaic inside the station and the exterior feels very quaint.

Highlights: Natural light. Architecture.Covered outdoor section.
Good for: Natural Wedding, Engagements, and portraits. Requires permits for special events, e.g., weddings.
Access: 3

Chicago Cultural CenterWalking beneath the 38-foot Tiffany Glass Dome designed by J. A. Holzer feels like being inside a scene from a fairy tale story. The Chicago Cultural Center is a breathtaking five-story building with neoclassical Italian Elements. You’ll find plenty of backgrounds to pose against from winding staircases with intricate detailing to echoing hallways and arched windows.

Highlights: Natural light. Architecture.Covered outdoor section.
Good for: Wedding, Engagements, and portraits. Requires permits for special events, e.g., weddings.
Access: 3

When conditions are gloomy outside, take refuge inside The Drake Hotel’s north-facing entrance off Lake Shore Drive. You’ll find an ornate staircase between gray stone walls and warm, glowy crystal chandeliers. The revolving doors also offer another fun, unique spot for engagement or portrait pictures.

  • 7. Bars, Coffee Shops, and Restaurant

chicago indoor photography locationsFor a low-key vibe when the weather’s not on your side, you can always retreat to any number of local bars, coffee shops, or restaurants throughout the city. If you time it right and keep a low profile, most places are pretty chill about letting you take some photos, especially if you buy a thing or two while you’re there. To play on the safe side, call beforehand and ask about popping in during off-hours.


Highlights:  Indoor vintage space with unique backgrounds.
Good for: Engagements and portraits. Best when you make an appointment. Permit cost: $150.

In the heart of Chicago’s hip West Town neighborhood, you’ll find a 60,000 sq foot second-hand furnishings space like no other. Inside feels more like walking through a well-curated art installation space with salvaged relics thoughtfully arranged in a way that makes you want to re-furnish your entire home.  One of Chicago’s favorite event spaces for alternative weddings and edgy events, you can take a chance at snapping pictures on Saturdays and Sundays when it’s open to the public, or otherwise have space to yourself starting at $150.

chicago indoor photography locations

Highlights: Natural light. Hip, vintage.
Good for: Wedding, Engagements, and portraits.
Access: 2

Tucked inside the walls of the Chicago Fine Arts Building, The Dial bookshop on the second floor is a picturesque scene with floor to ceiling windows and a small labyrinth of bookshelves. Unlike other bookstores, this one has an open, airy vibe. But don’t worry, it still maintains that scent of used books.

Also, full disclosure, this isn’t The Dial–this is another bookstore in Lincoln Park.

  • 10. Southport Lanes

Highlights: Fun. Unique.
Good for: Engagements, family, and portraits. Requires permits for special events, e.g., weddings.
Access: 2

chicago indoor photography locations

For a day-in-the-life location check out Southport Lanes.  This four-lane bowling alley is a classic, fun spot for families and couples. Skip the posing here and let your natural reactions come through. You won’t regret it.

Highlights: Natural light. Architecture. Covered outdoor section.
Good for: Wedding, Engagements, and portraits. Requires permits for special events, e.g., weddings.
Access: 2

Embrace the retro vibes inside Bubbleland Laundromat. The black and white checkered floor and fluorescent lights feel like an instant time warp. Just don’t forget your bubbles!

There are so many more places around Chicago to explore and consider for your photography needs. I’ll keep this updated as new ideas pop up. If you have any suggestions, leave them in the comments below. If you’re interested in booking your own portrait or engagement session, contact me here, call 402-304-4057, or email

For a few of my favorite outdoor photo locations, check out the links below:

Then when the Chicago weather warms up, here are a few other photography locations I love:

  • Millennium Park for Family Photos: With its amazing collection of architecture, displays of art, and beautiful landscape design, Millennium Park is an excellent place to capture moments of time with your family.
  • Downtown Chicago for Engagement Photos: Iconic Chicago backgrounds make for unique photoshoots, whether it’s walking along a bustling street, or that solitary spot at the Observatory, or along the water’s shore with the city in the background, there’s bound to be the perfect spot for your perfect engagement photo.
  • Montrose Harbor for Engagement Photos: Bluewater, ships in the harbor, greenery, and the Chicago skyline all give Montrose Harbor great vibes that will make your pictures extra special.


Plus a list of my top 20 favorite Chicago places:

  • Headquarters Arcade Bar – Fun, arcade bar
  • Beatnik – Morrocan decor and lush greenery
  • Scofflaw – Cozy, Southern Formal
  • The Freeze – Throwback vintage ice cream and hotdog stand
  • Tied House
  • Mason
  • Ferns Coffee Shop – Electric and vintage.
  • Plein Air Cafe – French workshop inspired. Bright, white, light.
  • The Original Pancake House – Throwback retro.
  • Three Arts Cafe – Ornate and opulent.
  • SuperDawg – Casual, retro.
  • Fat Rice – Hip, Asian-inspired.
  • Three Dots and a Dash – Fun Tikki Bar
  • Fulton Market Kitchen – Eclectic & artsy
  • The Whale Chicago – Art Deco, old Hollywood
  • Etta – High ceilings, open, industrial
  • Bang Bang Pie and Biscuit – Cozy, Farmhouse vintage
  • The Warbler – Mid-century modern, art deco
  • Lonesome Rose – Mid-century modern, light and airy
  • The Hampton Social – California, beach-inspired

Chicago has limitless places to photograph memories. Bad weather? No problem! Our grand city has got you covered with many indoor locations to get you that idyllic picture. Good weather? Of course, that’s not a problem either. With our urban, lakeside, and greenscape areas surrounding us, you’re sure to find an ultimate spot for photographic perfection.

If you do take photos at any of these Chicago locations, I’d love to see what you captured. Feel free to share @maggierifeponce on Instagram. Happy photographing!

Editorial portrait shoot in the South Loop

This portrait shoot of Eric below featured his stunning condo in the south loop of  Chicago.  It was such a perfect setting for both these corporate and casual portraits.  After snapping the first series of pictures,we headed outside for urban, editorial style portraits beneath the Chicago El tracks. I love collaborating with clients!  Eric was open to many suggestions, from clothing to locations. We’re so thrilled with the final outcome!

Chicago wedding photography

Teachers twist, bend, and stretch for bikram yoga photos of their beloved practice.

Bikram Yoga Photos for Chicago yoga studio

This is the fourth time I’ve worked with the staff of Bikram Yoga River North Studios.  I first encountered the studio while shooting this assignment for PopSugar. The following spring, Owner Mike Frayer asked me to come back in to capture bikram yoga photos of staff members, then called shortly after with another request for pictures of merchandise.  By the time I walked into the studio for the shoot below of staff members modeling the various postures of the Bikram Yoga practice, I felt like I was returning to old friends. It’s a pleasure to work with such nice, talented, and fun people, not to mention inspiring!  I took myself to the gym the very next day!

bikram yoga photos

bikram yoga photosbikram yoga photosbikram yoga photosbikram yoga photosbikram yoga photosbikram yoga photosbikram yoga photos


Katelyn’s Senior Portraits

It’s a little surreal for me to post these pictures–I used to nanny Katelyn when she was seven years old!  Now, ten years later, she’s a senior in high school, full of confidence and overflowing with charisma.

Jennifer and Jason- Promontory Point Engagement Session

Jennifer is a self-proclaimed romantic. Halfway through the shoot, I had to stop and ask, “Did you read love stories growing up?” She smiled and said, “Yes” and that she loved fairy tales. I had a feeling as I photographed her and Jason–they were just soo romantic! I love how tender they were with each other.

I had such a great time capturing them “cuddle” (Jennifer said I may be the only professional who can get away with telling clients to “cuddle up.”)  I’m looking forward to the wedding this Saturday!