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The Top 2 Approaches to Taking a Signature Photo for Your Website

If you are the face and voice of your brand or the key reason why people choose to work with your company, then people need to see you and know what you look like.

You can’t hide behind your work, or bury your photo on the About page of your website.

You have to truly step forward and allow yourself to be seen.

The best signature photos tell a visual story of who you are. They allow your visitors to almost feel like they know, like and trust you in a single glance, paving the way for a deeper level of connection and relationship. And they align with your message, your brand and how you want to show up.

There are two primary approaches you can take with your signature photos:

Approach #1 – The Transformational Leader

The first approach is all about capturing your core essence and your energy.

This is approach is taken by a lot of transformational leaders who have a personal development, conscious business or spiritual component to their work.

One of the best ways to capture someone’s essence and energy is by focusing on them – their eyes, the expression on their face – and stripping back anything that could distract from them like this portrait of my friend Sage Lavine.

Sage’s photographer caught her in a moment of spontaneity with her head back and her mouth wide open in a smile that allows us to connect directly with her. The shot feels natural and authentic, rather than posed or contrived.

The focus is on her.

Not her clothes.

Not her accessories.

Not her background.

But her.

The first set of professional photos I ever had taken for my business — that I used up until recently — were actually done in a hotel room at an event. I didn’t plan for the shoot or have a professional hair and make-up artist come in.

I connected with a photographer at the event – Alannah Avelin — who really put me at ease.

The focus of these shots were on me, not my clothes, not my accessories, not the background, but me – the look in my eyes and the expression on my face.

Approach #2 – The Lifestyle Leader

A second approach is to focus more on lifestyle and fashion then your core energy and essence.

This approach is taken by more celebrity entrepreneurs who dazzle with their style and sophistication. In this approach, where you are and what you’re wearing become almost as important as who you are.

Here’s an example from Marie Forleo. This glamorous woman is a trendsetter. Her tribe admires her and they also want to be like her — they want the clothes… and the lifestyle… and the personal stylist.

So photos of Marie Forleo tend to be wider shots that showcase their clothes and environment as much as they showcase them. Oftentimes, the more well-known you become, the more interested people are in your clothes, your environment or who you’re with.

These are powerful cues that convey status and bestow credibility, while playing into people’s curiosity about your life.

Another example of this is Kevin Nations. Kevin is a well-known business coach who promises to help his clients make $50K and up a month. In other words, one of the key elements of his personal brand is the results he promises his clients. So his signature photo showcases him in an immaculately tailored suit.

His suit, his stance, and the determined look on his face all send a clear signal of wealth, power and prestige. These signals inspire entrepreneurs to make high-end investments to be part of his elite mastermind and to have the privilege of attending events at his house in Vegas, which he refers to as Spa Nations.

Right now I’m in the process of relaunching and my new site design requires a full-width photo banner on every page, which lends itself more to Approach #2. So my new photos showcase my energy and personality while positioning me in a real world environment to provide more depth and context.


Approach #1 – If you decide the focus needs to be on you – your energy, the expression on your face — then I recommend going the route of Sage Lavine and having your photographer take a single portrait of you that feels more spontaneous. More of a close up or head and shoulders shot where you are the primary focus of the image.

Approach #2 – If your physical appearance, your lifestyle or the big results you promise are more important or if you need big website banners, than try a wider environmental shot that provides more context or a series of photos that show different aspects of who you are.

Let me know in the chat which approach you prefer for your signature photos. What visual story do you want to communicate? Is it more about your core essence and energy or your clothes and lifestyle?

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Love it? Hate it? Let me know...

  1. Donna Lynn Avatar
    Donna Lynn

    Great pointers on how to decide what you need and how to get what you want. Perfect timing as I’m building my website from the starter version only a few months ago. Thanks!

    1. Marisa Murgatroyd Avatar
      Marisa Murgatroyd

      Nice! Congrats on updating your website.

  2. Brad Reed Avatar
    Brad Reed

    Thanks for sharing this with us. Great content.

    Alannah Avelin is a personal friend of mine and I have watched her work and seen the AMAZING photos she’s able to create that really capture the person’s essence!

    I look forward to working with her to capture my new look the next time she’s visiting her family just down the road.

    Approach #1 is likely what we’ll use.

    1. Marisa Murgatroyd Avatar
      Marisa Murgatroyd

      I love Alannah too and recommend her wholeheartedly!

  3. Leesa Ellis Avatar
    Leesa Ellis

    Great article, Marisa. I’m going with Approach #1. It’s all about authenticity in my work as an Angel specialist and intuitive so I will speak with my eyes – the window to the soul 🙂

    1. Marisa Murgatroyd Avatar
      Marisa Murgatroyd

      #1 is a fabulous approach! You can’t go wrong with that….

  4. Adrian Avatar

    Excellent point making Marisa like all ways, I will go for the #1.

    1. Marisa Murgatroyd Avatar
      Marisa Murgatroyd

      #1 is good for you Adrian. Just make sure to feature your jewelry on some real people.

  5. Sheron Chisholm Avatar
    Sheron Chisholm

    Thanks Marisa, good article. My home page was just finished a while ago with TFN, which I’m sure you are aware of. We used a stock photo because I didn’t have a photo. Option #1 is a good choice for me. So can it been added in the banner later when taken?

    1. Marisa Murgatroyd Avatar
      Marisa Murgatroyd

      Sheron — Yes, of course we can do that 🙂

  6. Hinda Avatar


    I love all your pictures. Every idea and solution you have is great! You are too cute and such a dynamic person. I respect all you have to offer. For me, I wish I could work with you or study with you. I bet everyone tells you that! Thanks for being you and giving me courage to do what ever I want to do. I take all your teaching in my heart and learn to be a better person.

    Say hello to Maury. You guys make s great couple. I honored to be a part of your tribe.

    Blue skies & sunny days,

    Hinda Bartoli

    1. Marisa Murgatroyd Avatar
      Marisa Murgatroyd

      Hinda you are a sweetheart. I’m glad I can help.

  7. Hinda Avatar


    Also I like approach #1……… However, one must have a photo that will be the true picture and attractive enough to show who you are. But first one needs to be really confident and own that picture, of course! IJS……☺️

    1. Marisa Murgatroyd Avatar
      Marisa Murgatroyd

      Yes, it’s true. Your photo shows your confidence and beliefs about yourself.

  8. Deva Avatar

    I’m right now connecting with a photographer… So very timely. My focus is getting older(ish) women healthy- exercising, eating well… Etc. so I’m thinking action shots- weights, running, some sort of working out- showing I’m in. Great shape AND 60… My energy is also goofy and noisy- so a little of that too. Whatcha think?

    1. Marisa Murgatroyd Avatar
      Marisa Murgatroyd

      Definitely! Approach #2. Capture more of your goofy personality and the context of working out…

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