3 misconceptions about designing a personal brand

3 misconceptions about designing a personal brand


There’s been a lot of talk in recent years about how we all must design our personal brands. When the term, “personal branding” first started to be used more often a dozen or so years ago, I admit I was unimpressed. Personal branding sounded like it must hurt!

personal branding isn't cattle branding and it doesn't hurt

Misconception #1: Personal branding is something outside of you thus, inauthentic

In my sometimes too literal brain, I imagined cattle being lorded over, herded into bovine torture devices, and being mercilessly branded by cowboys. The cowboys were oblivious to the pain they caused the poor passive animals. “Personal branding” evoked a powerlessness and unwillingness on behalf of whatever it was that was being “branded.”

Everything about the concept felt overly complicated and flew in the face of my ideas about “just being yourself.” 

People being reduced to logos, colors and fonts, and cookie cutter headshots appropriate for their industry, made no sense.  I quickly dismissed something as lofty sounding as “designing a personal brand” as a bit too egocentric for my liking.

Turns out I missed the entire point.

And the truth is, as I would later discover, is the opposite!

What personal branding really is

My friend, Tonya Leigh of The School of Self Image described personal branding this way on her podcast:

“A brand is the way an individual is perceived by those who experience her. In business your brand is your promise to your customer. In personal branding, I believe your brand is the promise to yourself.”

I kind of love that.

lana schlafer book author and life coach

Lana Schlafer, author, Manifest that Miracle

In fact,  “personal branding” has been around a lot longer than the term, the Kardashians, or  even I have been. (Think about people like Cleopatra, Napoleon, and Nelson Mandela.)

Recent client, Lana Schlafer, author and former life coach, described her recent personal branding photography session this way: ” I totally felt like I stepped into a new future version of myself.”

Which leads me to my second misconception about personal branding:

Misconception #2: You need to be famous to have a personal brand. It’s not like I’m Oprah or Meghan Markle!

Maybe it’s my age showing, but who was I to need such a thing?

Yet it turns out designing a personal brand is by no means just for the famous.  Your personal brand affects how you are perceived by everyone around you, from your children to your co-workers to your clients.

A well-designed personal brand can help ensure you are showing up in your life how you want to show up. It can even help you make decisions: Want to know whether to buy that pair of shoes, where to go on vacation, or… aha… which personal brand photographer to hire? Decide based on your personal brand.

By being deliberate about designing your own personal brand, Tonya explains, you get decide how you see yourself.

And since how you see yourself is creating your entire life, why not define yourself on purpose?

Misconception #3 Personal Branding is optional

Instead of always trying to  “fix” yourself, instead shift that energy into creating the next version of yourself, Tonya says. Create your brand or others are going to create it for you.”

In other words, if you. don’t take control of your personal brand, people will fill in the blanks because that is what our human minds do.

Where a personal branding photography session fits in

The photography sessions I create are transformational and creative on many levels. I work closely with clients ahead of time to design a shoot that will best showcase them. Many things go into the recipe, such as wardrobe and location choices, as well as overall look and of the final photographs. In the end, the photographs will reflect them as the people they are becoming, both in life and in their businesses.

richmond, va influencer personal branding shoot

Meghan Eggleston, health, wellness and life coach

Now I’m curious, what steps are you taking this week to design your personal brand? (And as a result, the life you want for yourself ?)

Need any help figuring this out? I’d love to help you. My transformational personal branding photography sessions include an initial brand assessment and the possibility of additional coaching after your receive your photographs to ensure you optimize the possibilities for how and where they can be used. Everything is customized to meet you current needs, wherever you are in your journey.

I know as a solo-preneur or small business owner you’re used to having to mind many details. My sessions allow you to let go of them with confidence. By the time your photography session rolls around, we will be so prepared that you are free to simply show up. The time will have arrived for you to fully step into the open and be pampered and cared for.  The future version of yourself is now! 

PS – I work out of my gorgeous studio in Scotts Addition in Richmond, VA –  but also travel to meet clients across the country (and coming in 2022 to dream destinations!)

Tonya Leigh is a font of wisdom and inspiration on these topics. Her podcast, The School of Self Image, is one of my favorites!

You can listen to her podcast on personal branding here.

Ready to discuss your own personal branding shoot?

Lifestyle Personal Branding Photography and the Pivot

Lifestyle Personal Branding Photography and the Pivot

In this video about I talk about the addition of lifestyle personal branding photography to my offerings. It’s my first time talking to the camera for any length of time and at first anyway, I was pretty darned proud! I took the plunge and put it up yesterday on Instagram and Youtube.

Then, as is normal for pretty much all of us, I started to question my otherwise sane first appraisal. One of my most constant inner critiques, got all annoying, making me question myself. Do I look okay? Do I sound okay?

Devolving quickly into, “For heavens’ sake AM I okay?”

The short answer is, of course I’m okay! (And yes, it’s true: I’m better than “okay.”) Another day, another day of going with the flow of my better instincts and not letting pesky inner critique hold me back from doing what I want to do.

Yet still the writer/editor and 50 something in me, couldn’t resist making the transcription a bit more reader friendly and on point. Excuse a few very long sentences. (Apparently, video loans itself to run on sentences). 😉

So here you go: 

As you may have heard, I’m making a pivot towards adding lifestyle personal branding photography to my client offerings. It’s not really a full pivot; it’s more of an addition. I’ll still be creating portrait sessions with my clients,. But by adding these more lifestyle-type photography sessions, outside of the studio, I’ll be better able to offer exactly they need.

Whether it be headshots, business or creative portraits, created in studio, or more lifestyle-oriented photographs, I’ll work with my clients to show them in their element, their various facets, and doing what they do.

As has always been a part of what I do for clients, the “what do I wear” part of the experience is important – particularly after so many entrepreneurs have gotten used to… ahem… dressing down while working at home. Pajamas, anyone? A personal branding photography session, now that we seem to be on the upswing from the pandemic, means it’s time to start dressing up again, and do it up a little — to get out in the world and dress like the person we are on the inside — or more importantly when it comes to personal branding — the person we aspire to be.

I’m looking forward to being able to really serve people with their personal branding photography needs, I work with mostly women, but I love photographing men too. Men’s photos often have different branding needs that as for all of my personal branding clients continue to evolve.

To sum it all up, I’m looking forward to being able to off my clients the whole package of whatever it is that they have dreamed of, wanted, and/or needed that to fully express their personal branding in their lives and their businesses.

Keep an eye out for lots of new content that will probably look a little different than what you have seen from me so far on my website and social media accounts.

I’m looking forward to getting back to my studio in Richmond and sharing the photographs from my sessions in New York. I was so lucky to be able to photograph these beautiful clients!

Missing Call to Action! My bad!

In this video, I went on way too long and ended up cutting it in half.  Never would have guessed I had so much to say, but I guess since I’ve been thinking about it for the whole pandemic, I had a lot to say!

I may or may not share the second half later. In any case, you may note there is no “call to action”.  I’ll put one here:

I’m curious to hear from you if you’ve taken the plunge into doing video to reach out to your clients? I’d love to hear your tips and experiences!

A non traditional Mother’s Day celebration and reopening

A non traditional Mother’s Day celebration and reopening

 As I planned my Mother’s Day promotion celebrating the “traditional Mother’s Day,” I kept coming up a bit empty.

After all, we’ve been through a global pandemic and there’s really been nothing like it in my lifetime to shed light on the things that are most important in life.

These two questions have been on my mind when it comes to reopening full-time:

  •  How about if Mother’s Day was celebrated for a whole month?
  • Then more importantly, how about if my Mother’s Day special, wasn’t JUST for mothers?

I know it may sound strange. But you all may already know this about me: I sometimes think too much. 🙂 And over the years, as much as I love these shoots, a part of me has always held back a bit on going all in around a traditional Mother’s Day celebration. Why?

It’s because Mother’s Day for many  is… complicated. The reality is people’s stories are as complex and unique as the people themselves.

While these questions would still apply:

How about if this Mother’s Day you could give the Moms in your life the experience of feeling beautiful & celebrated? While giving her (him, them?) a gift that everyone will treasure for years to come?

Perhaps this one should too:

How about if you could give someone important to you – whom you have missed seeing over the past 14 months, and yourself — or maybe just yourself — the experience of feeling beautiful and celebrated?

Because thankfully, after 14 months away from (or perhaps even living on top of) each other, it’s time to reemerge as the changed people we invariably are, and mark this moment in time, and celebrate.

Mother’s Day — THE DAY — is Sunday, May 9.

Non-traditional Mother’s Day can be celebrated every (and any) freaking day. 

My Pandemic Reality

On Sunday, May 9, I won’t be with my own grown daughters for the second year in a row. This isn’t really news. They are grownups and neither live nearby. I’m not saying it shouldn’t be celebrated if it works for you, but for many, a traditional Mother’s Day celebration is best suited for families where everyone is living under the same roof (or at least in the same town.)

As far as how the pandemic has affected my little fam, my beautiful son-in-law, lost his lovely mother to Covid-19 last May. We are all far from being over this.

Then I didn’t see my younger daughter the whole time she was 24. I saw my older daughter for a brief camping trip to West Virginia back in September. Now I’m finally planning on hitting the road and seeing both of my daughters and their significant others in June!

Getting back to living life more fully

Yes, getting back into life and business now that I’m ready, is a little … scary?

I was booked out months in advance before COVID-19 hit, and now I’m looking a a wide open calendar. Celebrations didn’t happen; travel plans were postponed.

But the time is upon us now to get back in the swing of things, as the new people we’ve become.

My invitation to you is this:

Whether you are a mom or have ever had a mom ;), I’m inviting you and your favorite people to join me for a special celebration session this May at a super fantastic price.

I can’t wait to photograph you! Limited spots available (and remember I would love to photograph you and your faves beyond May, whenever you can manage to wrangle them together. 🙂

Learn more here  and reserve your spot  or call me to discuss at 804-822-2653

And yes, you qualify. 🙂

traditional family portrait

My family

Margo has achieved Masters level status in The Portrait Masters award and accreditation program. Her studio is based in Richmond, VA.

Margo on The Portrait Masters

We cannot display this gallery

Get Focused on and Exposed: Reintroducing the “You are A Work of Art” Project

Get Focused on and Exposed: Reintroducing the “You are A Work of Art” Project

Our studio motto at Margo Millure Photography is, “You are already beautiful. You are already enough. You are a work of art.” Something about now being well into the second half of 2020, the year of a global pandemic and overall really challenging year, I’ve decided it’s time for me to come clean. The reason I started the You are A Work of Art project way back at the end of 2019 was to celebrate the strength, beauty and wisdom of women through photography and their stories.  But as in all of what drives me to do what I do, including relaunching it this week, there’s a bit more to it than that.  Here are just a few images from the project thus far: We cannot display this gallery  I’ve always said that for almost all women, being photographed is an act of bravery. To use a couple of photography metaphors (that are used so often they aren’t really metaphors), to be photographed, we have to allow ourselves to be focused on. We have to risk exposure.

I see you there

richmond virginia portrait photographer Margo millure

This is me, photographed by a photographer I greatly admire and trust, getting exposed and focused on 😉

Over the years, I myself, have cleverly tried to outsmart the steely truths of the camera lens. I have stayed stubbornly behind it, where my profession has kept me safe. I’ve left rooms because of it. I’ve fake smiled and hidden behind people for it. We always think we are alone in our pathos. Yet rarely is that true.  

We are each beautifully unique and uniquely beautiful (but we also have “stuff” in common)

People who come to me to be photographed are a diverse lot. Each person truly has their own  beauty; the result of age, shape, and experiences; of their different opinions on everything from the politics to nail polish. Yet to various degrees and in different ways, each has been shaped by ever evolving, media driven, ideals of how we as women are “supposed” to be.  So while the You are A Work of Art Project may be about telling individual stories through photography, it is also about debunking some of that and instead seeing what we have in common. In this time of extreme division, I want to pull everything back to an important truth: that we, as women, are far more alike than we can imagine. Crazy?  Perhaps! The thing is, I know that what I do for women through the entire experience of photographing them is more than simply giving the idea of “real beauty” lip service. 

Once and for all, just say “no”

The You are A Work of Art project is a logical extension of what I do.  Putting the spotlight (yep  – another photography metaphor) on a group of beautiful, unique and brave women is my small way of changing societal and cultural ideas about what real beauty is. It’s my way, one step at a time, to help us internally get better at saying “no” to all the daily dose of bunk we’ve been fed over the years about how we’re supposed to look and be… … a path to risk being seen by the photographer as the beauty we already are.

Risk seeing the things in oneself that aren’t what’s been deemed Vogue cover ready in any given decade. Who are these women, anyway? (not a real question)

If anything the past four months have taught me that there is no time like the present 😉 . And that includes getting past our closest held and most persistent bugaboos.  I am looking forward to photographing this group of women – to helping them get just a little more over themselves, to the other side of whatever might be stopping them from moving to the next beautiful thing that life has in store for them. Together, let’s do this! We’ll have a blast and maybe, it will even change the way you see yourself. The price is $199 to secure a spot in #YouAreAWorkOfArt project, and includes day-of hair and makeup styling, the session, and personalized reveal where I will gift you a copy of your favorite image. ($645 value). I’m regrouping and have lots more planned, details of which are a work in progress! (BTW, we’re that too.) To learn more and apply: You are A Work of Art Project To learn about the Signature Session  
But what do I wear!?!

But what do I wear!?!

What to wear for your photoshoot and the portrait photography styling consultation

The styling consultation can play an important  role in the success of a Signature Session and the overall client experience.

When it comes to the stage of planning what to wear for your session, this is when things start to get fun whether…

… you have a closet full of designer duds or your drawers flow over with Target.

 … or are working on becoming more minimalist in both life and wardrobe, yet you still secretly want to raid a closet full of impractical only-to-be-worn-once, fancy items. 

… perhaps one more than one occasion, you’ve been called a “total clothes horse”.

… if your idea of dressing up is changing from sweats into a pair of jeans.

patty hmua richmond va


This is a time for us to start getting to know each other. I’ll offer you a cup of tea. We’ll talk wardrobe and a little hair and make-up. I’ll ask you questions. You’ll ask me questions.

With 3 – 5 wardrobe changes, I’ll encourage you to consider your different facets. To consider who you are today, who you aspire to be, and who you dream of being, perhaps?  A mix of casual, chic, and epic, maybe? How do you want to be remembered by your loved ones?

professional woman personal branding



How to get started in planning your photography session wardrobe

I encourage you to bring in some images you are inspired by. Follow me on Pinterest and we can even start a private shared board to start sharing ideas if you’d like. 

No worries if you don’t have time for all that though! How I work with each client will take on its own shape.

portrait photography richmond va



During our time you’ll be able to check out my studio wardrobe and we’ll both see what captures your fancy. You may try on a couple of things, so we can figure out what best captures your unique style. 


You will leave your consultation with some easy styling tips up your sleeve as well as both a Style and Beauty Guide with more inspiring images, timelines, and advice. I’ll follow up our meeting with an email with some more links and ideas for shopping or renting something for your shoot.

margo during session in scotts addition studio

And for those moments when you come face to face with your closet and everything becomes a big blur, I’m only a phone call or text away!

When you are ready to talk about your own styling consultation give me a call! I love working with clients to plan their wardrobes for their sessions! It’s a wonderful chance to get to know each other, get excited, and eased into the process.

Planning is the key to a fun and relaxing shoot!

Why we resist being photographed. Why we shouldn’t.

Why we resist being photographed. Why we shouldn’t.

Do any of these sound familiar?

“I’m not photogenic”
“I need to lose weight”
“Of course I want photographs of my children, but why would I want them of me?”
“I’m too old”

If you’ve got an excuse, believe me, I’ve heard it. And whenever I hear the words come out of a new client’s mouth, it actually makes me kind of sad.

exist in photos at all stages of your life

Why sad? Because as women we are our noisiest critic. We say things in our heads that we wouldn’t say to our worst enemy. We don’t treat ourselves well. We put our needs behind those of everyone else in our lives, sometimes to a fault.

But the truth is:

You are beautiful now. You deserve to have incredible portraits of yourself. You deserve to exist in photos. You deserve my personal branding and portrait experience!

Stepping up and existing in photographs shows your loved ones what it looks like to love yourself. It is a priceless gift. Plus they will cherish the portraits of you for years to come.

elegant mother daughter photo shoot in front of fireplace.

Here’s what I say to clients when I hear any of the above reasons they resist booking a shoot:

“I’m not photogenic” ~ I don’t believe in the concept of “being photogenic.” It is my job to connect with you and guide you during your photo shoot. Doing so will make you feel more beautiful, confident, and relaxed. When you feel this way, you inner light shines, allowing me to capture those moments when your inner and outer beauty converge. Then when all is said and done, your portraits may even change the way you see yourself.

“I need to lose weight” ~ The feeling of needing to reach the ‘perfect weight’ will hinder you only as long as you allow it. The truth is posing and lighting are everything. Do I believe that the camera can add 10 pounds? Yes, but I also know that the camera can take off 10 pounds (and yes, that’s before any Photoshop.) I will take photographs that will help you see yourself at your best and the way your loved ones see you.

mother daughter photoshoot on a favorite sofa.

“Of course I want photographs of my children, but why would I want them of me?”~ Having a portrait of your mother or grandmother, is something that every child will sooner or later understand the value of. Don’t make it difficult for them to find them!

But I totally understand wanting photographs of the family too. This is why I always encourage clients to give themselves the experience of the Signature Session. Then towards the end of the shoot, we’ll bring in the kids, dad, and maybe even a whole extended family for a few amazing portraits. I’ll capture the kind of shots worthy of being hung on the wall and treasured for generations.

“I’m too old” ~ Just because women over thirty aren’t well represented in the media, doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be well represented in their own lives. No matter what your age, having beautiful portraits taken is a way to love, accept and honor the amazing person you are today.

Remember: “You are already beautiful. You are already enough. You are a work of art.”

Now give me a call and let’s get you in front of the camera. I promise you will not regret it!

You may also enjoy reading Wisdom from a few of my favorite women who didn’t put off being photographed