Ash Hope - Beyond Personal Branding Photography

Ash Hope is a a Facilitator for Corporate Health and Wellbeing programs, Mentor and Ashtanga Yoga teacher. Her passion is to inspire people to a healthier and happier life. 

Needless to say the whole photo session was full of inspiring moments, zen and of course fun. The highlight for me was having Maxi on set - Ash’s beautiful dog, who made the whole experience even more unforgettable. 

Unfortunately, not long after our photo session Ash told me that Maxi had to be put down due to a severe illness. I was devastated. Especially in moments like this you realise photographs hold a much more bigger meaning and value and I know Ash will treasure these shots forever. 

I’m grateful for being able to capture the special and unique bond between Ash and Maxi. 

I asked Ash about her experience in the studio and why she decided to come to me in the first place. 

A photo can express much more than words can say. I personally connect much quicker with a persons photo than reading through a long biography. The intention to get my photos professionally taken, was to create a connection between me and the person who looks at the photo. I was looking for photos that reflect who I am and what my business is about. I will be using the images for my LinkedIn profile, Social Media and will also integrate them on my website. They also will come in handy for publications like articles, etc. 

Important to me when choosing a photographer was the quality of the images and how the look and feel of previous work aligns with what I want to achieve. I wanted to feel comfortable with the person I work and on the same page in regards to the outcome. 

Ksenia was recommended to me after searching a little while for a photographer. I liked reading through her blog and after learning more about how she works I was keen to talk to her. We instantly connected on the phone and I felt very comfortable with her. Ksenia is very open, helpful and has a super positive attitude. The combination of talent and skill with her awesome personality made me chose her over others. 

Like most people that don’t stand in front of the camera every day,  I also get self-conscious and very critical of myself. Meeting Ksenia in person before the photoshoot and taking some time to talk about the desired outcome and concerns helped me to feel very relaxed on the day. My dog Maxi was also invited for the photoshoot which added another element of fun to the day. 

As for the overall personal branding experience, Ksenia was very helpful in preparing for the session. She considered the branding colours of my business and helped with outfits, accessories and backdrops to make everything fit and align with the look and feel of my business.
She put a lot of thought into creating images that feel natural and show personality. I also loved working with Nicole Groch who did my Hair and Make-up. Knowing that she uses high-quality products that are all vegan and cruelty free made a HUGE difference to me. I don’t normally wear much make-up, but felt great with what she did and her products are amazing. 

Ksenia went above and beyond and looked after me (and my dog Maxi) so well. There was a lot we had planned for the day, but the whole experience felt never rushed and Ksenia managed the session very professionally. 

The photoshoot was fun and I really enjoyed it - even though I am not a camera girl. But the most enjoyable part of the session was the time leading up to the shoot. Spending time on myself to get pampered, to get my hair and make-up done and to enjoy being looked after was very nice and nurturing.  A good reminder how to practice self-love as a woman and to embrace femininity. 

I highly recommend Ksenia for business portraits but also just to have some nice photos of yourself. It is totally worth it to invest the time and money for the experience and capture some beautiful and memorable moments of your life. 

Thanks so much to Ash for this truly beautiful testimonial and for trusting me in capturing your branding portraits together with Maxi. He is now running happy in the doggy Paradise.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart. 

Personal Branding Photography for an Online Business

When I first met Kerstin at our pre-shoot consultation, I knew straight away she would light up the studio because of her very positive energy and infectious smile.  

Every time I get an online enquiry, I always call my potential clients to build that connection and see whether I am the right photographer for them. It was slightly different with Kerstin: I couldn’t call her as I was in Milan (Italy) shooting runways and backstage during Milan Fashion Week, but I had no doubt we would be a great photographer-client match only by judging on our brief e-mail exchange. And, gosh, I was so right. 

Most of my photography clients are Melbourne based and work with local target market. Kerstin, on the other hand, is based in Melbourne Bayside, but she works purely online and the majority of her clientele are women located in Europe. Kerstin promised me, though, she would be expanding to the Australian audience in the near future. 

Kerstin’s very successful online business ”No Diet Journey” (don’t you just love this name!) is about ”helping women transform their relationship with food and their bodies”. She loves ”seeing women getting out of the struggle with their body and food and discovering their beauty and strength”. Kerstin helps them ”gain body confidence and loosing the extra weight through intuitive eating”. 

She has very well designed nutritional and mindset programs and conducts all the sessions via Skype.

The most inspiring thing for me is that she travels the world and can work literally from anywhere. Isn’t it anyone’s dream? Mine, for sure :) On a side note, Kerstin motivated me to go to Bali at the end of March and work from there at a co-working space together with like-minded creatives from all over the world. I am certain it will be a fantastic experience.

In terms of personal branding photography, Kerstin’s brief was to get vivid, playful and natural images reflecting her beautiful personality. She was willing to use the images on her Website, Landing pages, Products and Social Media (some of the artwork below). 

If you are curious to know more about Kerstin’s experience with me and the final result, please keep reading. 

“Since I have an online business and that’s the first thing that people see, when they find me, it was important to me to have professional pictures taken that capture my spirit and what my business is all about. 

I was looking for someone professional and fun, that looks after their clients, takes their time and is able to capture the personality of their subject and relative business. From the first moment on I was drawn to Ksenia’s website, and when I did a little research, I loved all her pictures that she took of other other clients.  Also, what other clients wrote about the experience and how good they felt with Ksenia, made me choose her.  

I was scared of not being natural in front of the camera, but it was just so easy with Ksenia behind the lens: she helps you a lot and makes you feel comfortable and beautiful

I really enjoyed the whole process with Ksenia from beginning to end. I was writing her about an appointment and even though she was on a job in Europe, she got back to me immediately with all the necessary information.
We had an initial face to face consultation, where Ksenia answered all my questions and where we planned the whole shoot. She understood immediately what I wanted my photos to be and had great ideas and inputs. 

Before the session she made sure that I was prepared and got everything I needed, including different outfits in line with my branding and some edible props to incorporate into our photo shoot. 

The ‘big’ day was one of the most fun days ever: my hair got styled and I got a full make-up done*. It was just what I needed to relax before the photo session. The fact that you don’t have to take care of those things by yourself was really delightful.”

*I can’t be thankful enough to my dedicated and very talented hair and makeup artist Natasha Yev, who knows exactly how to make all my clients feel and look their best. Make-up is an indispensable part of the whole experience. It makes it easier for clients to chill while getting pampered and gain more confidence in front of my lens. 

“Ksenia assisted me with choosing my outfits (she has a great sense of style, coming from fashion background) and brought a couple of dresses she thought might go well with my brand.
The whole shoot was fun, easy-going and playful. Ksenia makes everything so perfect and you just feel like a star. 

In the end I had so many amazing photos to choose from,  I almost couldn’t decide. I loooooved the outcome - it really exceeded my expectations.
The final edits were absolutely stunning. 
I felt like a Queen! 

I’d totally recommend Ksenia, because she is the best. I had taken pictures before and nobody put so much care and love into the whole process than Ksenia.”

This kind of testimonials from clients like Kerstin simply light up my heart with joy and fulfilment. It is the real reason why I absolutely adore my job! I know I keep repeating it all the time, but it’s true and it comes deep from my heart. 

If after reading this blog you wanted to connect with Kerstin and follow her amazing journey around the world, head to her website:, Instagram or Facebook

When is the best time to invest in personal branding photography?

When a business owner starts thinking of investing in personal branding photography, one of their main questions is when would be the best time to do it. 

In my experience - the sooner the better. Ideally, it should be done concurrently with developing your visual identity: website, social media channels, graphic design, marketing materials such as business cards, brochures etc so that the photographs can match the personal brand style and feel. 

That was the case of Katie Anderson - owner to Eleventh Element Kinesiology, who got in touch with me when she was developing her personal brand. 

In my business I am the product and people come to see me, so it’s important that get an insight into who I am so how I market myself is crucial to my business.”

For me as a photographer, apart from understanding Katie’s personality and her business, it was key to know the style and colour scheme she was going for. Hence, it was very helpful when Katie sent me a draft of her brand identity developed by Creative Order - a boutique brand agency from Melbourne. 

Keeping the colour palette in mind, we carefully selected the right outfits and props and agreed to use white brick wall background at my St Kilda studio that works great for these occasions. Katie’s  natural make-up and hair were done by the talented Lisa Rathgen who flawlessly interpreted Katie’s comforting and down to earth personality.

Before meeting Katie, I have never heard about Kinesiology. So after some research, this is a simple definition I found on Kinesiology website:

Kinesiology is a non-invasive method, using precision muscle feedback and body awareness that can help you to reduce stress and pain, improve performance at school, work and home, in sports, in relationships, and promotes health and well-being. It helps one access the inner knowing and find again the power of choice in one’s life. Kinesiology allows you to take charge of the way you relate to the past, your present circumstances and the future.

Being a complex science, part of Katie’s brief was to incorporate some action shots to help better communicate what she does. To achieve this, I have arranged a model (thank you Claudia) and we set up a pop-up Kinesiology space at my studio to remain consistent with lighting and style. 

It was a really enjoyable shoot and I learned a lot about Kinesiology, too, which is a bonus. 

Katie’s experience in a nutshell:

I wanted someone who could make me feel comfortable during the shoot and help bring out my personality to accurately reflect who I am and Ksenia was amazing for that! I literally did choose Ksenia over someone I had already booked because I could see how passionate and dedicated she was to her work.  

My main concern was the fact that I wouldn’t be comfortable or happy with the images because of my own insecurities, but Ksenia really helped bridge that wall to get an end product I’m happy with.

Ksenia was really thorough to help me understand what was expected of me and what I needed to prepare for the shoot and went above and beyond to do her own research and help select outfits. The shoot was fun and throughout the whole process Ksenia was dedicated and always accessible and helpful right to the very end selection. Amazing!  

The highlight for me was working with Ksenia who has such a beautiful personality and passion for her work that you can’t help but feel excited.

I would recommend her to everyone.

Katie has just launched her website that I encourage you to check if you ever wanted to try one of Katie’s sessions. She is truly amazing at what she does. You can feel her calming healing energy. 

Renee Giarrusso and the importance of Personal Branding Photography for your Business

I recently met Renee Giarrusso at a Bayside Women in Business networking event where she was the speaker of Self leadership, Communication and Leadership Branding
for Impact
. Blown away by her energy, I was immediately drawn to her.
Several months later Renee approached me to shoot her personal branding photography. I was absolutely thrilled! Inspired by Renee’s personality and business mindset, I couldn’t say no! 

After our photo shoot I have asked Renee several questions about the importance of investing in personal branding photography as well as her experience in my studio, which I am extremely happy to share below.

About Renee and her purpose:

What lights me up is growing and developing individuals and teams within organisations and businesses.
I love building Limlitless Leaders and Limitless Teams resulting in organisations that flourish.
I do this through speaking events, tailored workshop and coaching/mentoring programs specialising in communication, leadership, influencing, sales effectiveness & mapping motivation for performance. 
We have run thousands of programs across 24 industries at all levels of management, within multi-nationals and medium to large size businesses and organisations. 

I believe we all have the potential and possibility to achieve anything we set our mind to and I’m obsessed with providing the tools, support, and insight to make this happen!

Why is personal branding important for you and why did you decide to have your business portraits taken? 

Personal branding captures the essence of the real you and what you offer and how you solve people’s problems. It is what sums you up, what people see, feel and hear when your name/business comes up! They represent me to my existing and potential clients, many I may never have met. This is all they have to go on apart from what people say and the results they may have visibly seen. Personal branding photographs have to capture my energy, passion and who I really am and how I really look. Nothing worse then meeting people who look nothing like the images presented of them. They need to be relevant and up to date and above all, real and authentic. They are what people relate to on my social media, website and other collaterals.

Personal branding is so vital in portraying the essence of you are and what you do for your market. 

As a thought leader as an individual I am big part of the brand and therefore I knew it was time to refresh it and my business, myself and my clients and my offer as it has evolved. It’s been 5 years since my last branding photos and I as I’ve changed and progressed I knew it was time to update! 

Where are you going to use your personal branding images? 

The images will be used for an upcoming book and for future books I am writing. I will utilise some of the images to brand my fortnightly blog. Social media is imperative to my brand and my business and the images will used across all platforms including: Linkedin, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Special thanks to my social media guru Nia Mc Martin who has been utilising all the images in these posts.

Brochure on our signature program will also include images and we will refresh our bio and speakers pages along with our website

What made you choose Ksenia over other photographers for your business portraits? 

I needed to see their work and capability. What was also important to me was someone like Ksenia to understand my brand, my energy and what I was looking to capture in a natural way. I also wanted the session to be fun and an experience that wasn’t a chore but time to play and be so the essence of me was seen and captured.

I love Ksenia’s energy and edginess along with her professionalism and obviously the great work that she does. She’s personable, made the day fun and put me at was just to be myself and take the session lightly, although I did bring 42 outfits!!!

What were your main concerns before the photo session? 

What clothes to bring as I’m an alternative thinker and couldn’t decide, so all 42 outfits came along. I’ve never let anyone do my make up and hair, so I was bit nervous about that, but Lisa was amazing. Also being able to switch off and be present for the shoot with so much going on in my business, I felt a little indulgent, but know how important branding is and what the results could be for my message and business.

How was your overall photographic experience with Ksenia?

From day 1 all interactions went seamlessly. Ksenia was extremely thorough and got me thinking about the look and feel of the shoot weeks before the actual session. I sent her a few photos of some of the outfits as I love colour and wanted to capture my high energy and passion so the photos weren’t one dimensional. The actual session was great and an hour in I started to relax, good music, great coffee and I felt real rapport with Ksenia and the camera. Her styling was great and she was so invested in every photo and look. Ksenia even organised a piece of fabric in my branding colour to use a backdrop, a great over and above initiative! 

I am delighted with the photos and how natural they are. They were shot in natural light with subtle edits and Ksenia kept true to what I asked for and over delivered on this.

I want photos that resemble me, I don’t want to be that person you meet who’s photos do not represent them or even how they look. 

The final results are fantastic and I have a repertoire of looks and expressions to choose from to use within Social media, bios, my website and keynote presentations.  

Ksenia has exceeded my expectations. From the way she interacts, her follow up and above all her profound ability to capture the energy and presence of who you really are. She’s a quality person and a professional in what she does.  

Any highlights?

The popcorn shoot! A few people call me popcorn due to my high energy levels and passion and Ksenia purchased a bucket of popcorn (that I kept eating :)) and we used this in a prop for some action shots. It was later in the day and I think it kept both our energy, laughter and fun up!  

I will and already have recommended Ksenia’s work and will continue to do so. Her capability and passion as a photographer is second to none. She makes the experience enjoyable and every interaction has provided me with a brilliant customer experience which results in the session and the results exceeding my expectations.  


I am extremely grateful for this beautiful testimonial from such a strong and inspiration business woman. I am truly lucky (and I do work hard for it) to do what I love and will continue delivering only outstanding experience to my clients who in most cases become friends in life. 

Click here to read what other clients say about their experience. 

Update: last week I attended the launch of an inspiring book “Leaders of Influence” (Samantha Jansen Publishing), where Renee was one of 6 authors with her own story and what Leadership means to her. I am so happy when my clients are very successful and reach their business and personal goals. Well done, Renee! 

Victory Day: Portraits of Elders at a Nursing Home

May, the 9th - Victory Day over Nazism in World War II in the former Soviet Union countries, where more than 20 million people lost their lives on the territory of the ex-URSS only. 

As the War ended in 1945, there are not many Veterans left, that’s why it’s so important to honour this day by commemorating those who perished, and being grateful to those who survived and gave future to our generation. 

This year (2018), talented writer and journalist Sarah Bendetsky, together with her Community Organisation Subbotnik, organised a beautiful celebration for “many veterans, Holocaust survivors and ‘children of the war’” at Montefiore Nursing Home in St Kilda (Victoria, Australia).

I wanted to pay my respect to the Elders by having their portraits taken and gifting them with a keepsake archival print. I set up a mobile studio* and had about 2 hours to photograph 32 residents before the beginning of a heart warming concert organised by other volunteers. 

It was one of the most beautiful and unforgettable experiences I’ve had in my entire photographic career so far. Hearing all the heartbreaking and courageous stories from the War survivors was simply unbelievable and extremely touching. Their eyes said it all. 

There were a lot of hugs, tears and immensely emotional moments. 

A week later I came back with the prints from an artisan professional lab I use for all my printing work and handed them to all the Elders I photographed. The response was simply overwhelming. Everyone was hugely grateful and happy to get their own archival portrait and eventually pass it on to their relatives. 

What can I say.. I’m blessed to be able to do the job I adore and also give back to the community. 

Below is the selection of some of my favourite portraits. 

Not long ago I found out Norman passed away and this photograph was used for his memorial.

*Special thanks to the wonderful ladies:

- Giorgia Maselli for her precious help in setting up the mobile studio 

- Hanna Wollan for the backstage snaps

- Michelle Barton @ MCB Studio Backdrops for her beautiful timeless hand-painted backdrop 

Modern Fairy Tale in Rome

When things are meant to be, they will be. 

This is exactly what happened a year ago on July 3rd in Rome, Italy.

Anastacia and Sasha are a gorgeous Russian couple currently residing in London. Last year they were travelling around Italy for a week with a two day stopping in Rome for Anastacia’s birthday. 

So… a month earlier, I receive a Facebook message from Anastacia enquiring about a couple photo session in Rome. Why in Italy, you would ask? Because many people know I usually go back to Europe once a year and get booked for several photo sessions while I’m there. This timing was perfect this time: I was actually going to be in Rome for 2 days right for Anastacia’s Birthday. What an unthinkable coincidence!

Our idea was to create a romantic and glamorous portrait love story in one of the most picturesque locations in the world. I was incredibly thrilled about it as I absolutely adore these dream photo sessions. It’s like being in a movie. 

I organised very talented local hair stylist and make up artist (credits at the end of the post), we chose the style and just went with the flow, which is my favourite way to shoot. 

For those who have been to Rome in July would know - it’s always crowded and really hard to get the ‘perfect’ shot that is also close to iconic locations like Trevi Fountain, Colosseum etc. To overcome this challenge and get the best light, I made Sasha and Anastasia wake up at 4.30am with Hair Stylist and MUA arriving to their hotel at 5am. Fortunately, the Hotel’s position was in walking distance from most of the sites and we only had about 2 hours to create magic before the tourists started to flood in.

This is the result of the first part of our shoot… Scroll down to see what we did in the afternoon.

Since Sasha and Anastacia booked the best hotel in Rome, they really wanted to use it for the second part of our photo session. When I saw some pictures on Google, I couldn’t believe I would be shooting there. Any photographer would tell you it’s an absolute dream location and I was stoked I could be apart of that dream. 

Anastacia brought a stunning custom made dress especially for the occasion. While shooting, I could imagine myself being in a James Bond movie. I still get goose bumps when I think about it.

Today is Anastacia’s 30th Birthday and I can only wish the best to this girl and her partner Sasha. Despite spending only several hours together in Rome, we connected really well and it didn’t feel like work at all for me. They were so easy to photograph due to being authentically fun, loving and a little bit insane. What a perfect combination! 

I am immensely grateful to both of them for placing their trust in me to create beautiful timeless photographs and making me part of their love story. 


My beautiful clients: Anastacia and Sasha (Insta @a_a_london)

Make-up artist: Serena Scalbi (Insta @serenascalbi, FacebookSerena Scalbi Make-Up”)

Hair stylist: Silvia Cimino

Photographer: Ksenia Belova (Insta @ksenia_belova_photography, Facebook Ksenia Belova Photography)

Day Location: Piazza di Spagna, Fontana di Trevi, Collosseo, Fori Imperiali - Rome, Italy

Night location: Grand Hotel Plaza - Rome, Italy

Happiness is..

I met Sara and Luca several years ago and we clicked straight away. They are such a radiant, joyful and brilliant couple. 

We did this portrait photo session when they rescued their fur baby Creedo, who is one of the cutest and cuddliest dogs I’ve met. During the shoot I really wanted to show their unique connection, simplicity and love for life.

We decided to do some portraits at my then home studio in Brighton and then headed to Brighton  Beach to get some fun and more natural shots. 

It didn’t take me long at all to get the desired images, as these guys are so easy to photograph: they are super fun and natural in front the camera. I let them do whatever they felt like and I was just following with the camera (insert: in all the most awkward photography poses to get the best shots).

It’s been two years since this photo session and many things have changed. Creedo is a now a teenage super-trained dog (but still very cuddly) and these two lovebirds have gone through amazing transformations in life and soon moving to Bali to pursue their dream. 

I absolutely love hearing beautiful stories from my clients. I feel honored and deeply grateful for being part of their journey by documenting very important moments in their life.  

I am simply in love with what I do. 

Rewear It - Ellements Editorial

I’m very happy to announce my 2018 editorial, published in Ellements Magazine, is finally out. 

The title of this editorial is “Rewear It”, The idea was to show you don’t need the latest fashion garments to create stylish outfits. Everything used in this series is stylist’s own. Love how Oksana mixed and matched different pieces to give it a sporty-chic vibe. 

Scroll down for the unpublished images and team credits. 

And here are some shots from the same series that didn’t make the cut. 

It wouldn’t be possible without my wonderful girl’s team:

♡ Model: Johanna Fredelius @Brazen Models

♡ Hair and Makeup: Lisa Rathgen

♡ Stylist: Oksana Zubaryev 

Bethany’s Personal Branding

Bethany Williamson is a very talented landscape architect, who came to me for her personal branding images due to starting her new venture in a freelance world. 

Instead of classic corporate head shots, we opted for clean and natural looking branding portraits, revealing Bethany’s friendly and approachable personality.

I generally prefer shooting at my natural light studio in St Kilda, as it’s a more comfortable environment for my clients to get their complimentary professional hair and make up* done and sort out all the looks (outfit changes) during the session. However, for Bethany’s photo shoot we did a mix of studio and park location in order to incorporate some images in the nature. 

The choice of outfits is something to be considered before every branding session. In this case, we didn’t want it to be too formal, but smart-casual and professional. Soft and plain colours usually work best as they don’t distract from the client. In my opinion, clothes should compliment the look and not dominate it, unless it’s a very particular outfit that is part of client’s personality. 

What a delightful shoot it was overall: we kept laughing all the time, which definitely helped Beth overcome her camera shyness and created a great portrait experience. 

*Special thanks to one of my dedicated HMUAs Natalie Yev who is so good at her natural and fresh makeup. 

Here is a lovely testimonial from Bethany after her photo session: 

“You can tell as soon as you meet Ksenia that she loves what she does! She made me feel relaxed straight away and worked with me throughout the shoot to get the best shots. 

I had such a great day and laughed the whole way through and I feel like she captured the exact feel I was hoping for.”

Also, Beth has just officially launched her beautiful website Make sure you check it out! Here is a sneaky peak. 

I am so grateful, that clients like Bethany choose me for their branding portraits and let me take part in their personal and professional growth. 

If you would like more information on the personal branding sessions, feel free to contact me here. 

Venice dream bridal shoot

I do not shoot weddings (at least so far), but I did a DREAM bridal portrait session last year in Italy in the most romantic place on Earth: Venice. Yes, you heard me well: I was photographing this stunning real bride Marta several days after her wedding. She loved her spectacular dress from Fausto Sari Atelier so much, so she wanted to wear it for one more day and have a photo session all for herself. My idea was to give this shoot a fashion editorial feel and making Marta feel like a professional model. Even though we didn’t have an editorial team, I still think we did well. 

Needless to say, it was an absolute dream shoot for me. Getting lost in the small streets of Venice with such a beauty and two amazing assistants (thank you so much, Meson and Lollo) was priceless. The funny thing was, that all the tourists around thought Marta was a model and we are shooting a bridal campaign, so every time I found a great spot, 2 minutes later we were surrounded by crowds of people taking photos. It was kind of entertaining, but slightly distracting, mostly for Marta, as she is not used to being in the center of attention like this. 

We only had less than 2 hours for the preparation and the actual shoot before it started to rain. Well, we did catch a bit of rain at the very end, but essentially we didn’t care. 

These are some of the final images. Isn’t Marta absolutely gorgeous? 

As you see, you don’t have to be a model to have beautiful photographs of yourself. 

I’m very excited that these archival prints will be treasured forever by Marta and her husband Marco. Happy life, guys!

Would you like to book a dream photo session with me anywhere in the world? Let’s chat ;) I’m always open to new challenges!

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