If you know me, you know my appreciation and love for the camera and photography. It's role in my life and the lives of my clients has been transformative in supporting people in narrating their life stories, and giving a platform for change and healing. Today, I continue to enjoy working with people while incorporating the arts and staying behind the camera...
Until it was time to update my headshots. The panic, the questions, the worries, oh my! After a few moments of mindful breathing and affirmations (I kid not), I reached out to schedule my first shoot in years. Like many, I've had iffy experiences and was weary of whether I would ever find my "one" photographer.
I was introduced to Liz McEachern Hall, a Boston-based photographer through a mutual acquaintance months back. From the initial email to her supporting me with the details in between, my experience with her exceeded my expectations and, if I may say, rejuvenated my perspective of who I am and how I want to present my self to the world. As a female solopreneur and speaker, it was important to me that the photos not only display my best smile and coifed hair, but that they speak louder than words ever could about my inner being and who I am. I am over-joyed by my life's work and I wanted my photos to tell that story. Below are some of those photos.
I invited Liz to share some of her top tips on how to prepare for a shoot and capture your best self on camera. We hope you enjoy.
Written by Liz McEachern Hall, September 2018
You have probably heard the old saying, “No one likes having their picture taken!” It may be old but it is still certainly very true! I much prefer being behind the camera than in front of it! And most of the time I think my clients really would prefer to change places with me during our session! But getting your photo taken is somewhat of an essential in our social media, internet connected world. Especially for solo-preneurs: you ARE the face of your business. For therapists, like Victoria, I think this is even more important. Your job (and by natural extension, your passion) is helping people overcome difficult feelings and situations in their lives and make sense of the world around them and their place in it. You can type until the cows come home (yes, another old saying!) but being able to place an accompanying photo with your words can be an important opening connection between you and your future patients.
I love working with women - but we are our own worst critics. When I’m photographing women of all ages, I want them to try and silence that critic, even just for the time we’re together. It makes all the difference in their final photos and makes our session fun! Yes, having your photo taken can be fun!
WHAT DO I WEAR?
Ideally it’s advantageous to have 2-3 different outfits on hand. One look can create a business-like image (helpful for photos at conferences, professional publications etc) and the other(s) should be more relaxed and informal. Dress in a way that makes you feel like yourself and allows you to bend and stretch. Your photographer may have you move between sitting and standing poses, or walking towards to camera, for example. If you don’t stand or walk well in heels, then flats would be a better choice. Your headshot is normally from the top half of your body, so people will be none the wiser as to your choice of footwear. And you’ll feel more at ease and confident as you stand or walk through the pose. Keep accessories to a minimum - simple (and meaningful) pieces of jewelry don’t have to take center stage to say something about you. Feel like changing outfits is too much? Wear a simple dress or blouse skirt in neutral colors and bring along a couple of different blazers, cardigans, or even a wrap. You can swap them out along the way to create a different look.
HAIR + MAKE-UP?
Some clients make a hair appointment the day of our session for a specific or more polished look than they could create at home. If your hairdresser isn’t available and you want to do this, an appointment at a place like Dry Bar is just as good for a simple blowout and style. There are various locations around the city and beyond. Don’t get a haircut right before your session. I had one client who liked the photos we took but didn’t love them because the hairdresser cut her hair a little too short and she felt it didn’t look like her at all. We rebooked for another time when it had grown out a little and she felt much better about the end results. Doing your hair at home? Keep it simple and something you would do everyday. You can always start with it up and finish with it down for some variations in the photos. If you operate with a full face of make-up every day, then I am envious of you - I am useless at applying make up!! However if you do want make-up done (and you don’t normally wear it), then request a lighter application all round. Often places apply it with a heavy hand (especially if they know you are getting photos done) and more often than not I have had clients show up and say they don’t feel like themselves or comfortable. I’ve been in this situation and didn’t love the photos that came out afterwards.
WHAT SHOULD I LOOK LIKE?
Ask yourself what it is you want to portray in the final photos you receive. Warm? Personable? Caring? Concerned? Professional? Approachable? It’s hard to feel these when you’re self conscious in front of the camera! Give yourself some grace and a 10 minute warm-up. I even do this for myself! My first shot isn’t going to be the best of them and I usually need a short time to get into the groove. Be yourself. It’s OK to make jokes, talk about your last embarrassing moment, where you would rather be right now, even your pet peeve about something! Your photographer should be warm and friendly, chatting as if you were just meeting for a coffee or a glass of wine. It’s their job to bring you out of your photo-shell and feel more at ease with the whole process. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about posing or how you’re looking. Or to speak up if you’re not comfortable in a location or a pose.
WHERE AM I?
A valid question at any time! :) But this applies to the location of your session. Are you a therapist with an office downtown and specifically serving clients in the corporate world? Then spending an hour with a photographer in a nature setting probably isn’t going to work for your website. Do you incorporate a holistic approach to some of your work? Best if your location isn’t extremely urban or brick and mortar centered. Are you comfortable being photographed with other people around you? If not, consider finding a large park with some quiet areas, a time of day where the neighborhood is a little quieter, or taking it indoors to your office (if that fits your style) or apartment/house. Another option (which I have yet to try but want to) is using a site like breather.com. They have plenty of office space/regular rooms for rent by the hour in most cities. Some companies use them for meetings and off-site events, others use them as a quite space to work or relax. Many of them have different aesthetics and some that would definitely work for solo-preneurs in the therapy field.
If someone asked me one thing with regards to what they can do for their photo session, I would have to say: BE YOURSELF. Whatever that means for you, clothing-wise, location-wise, know what will make you feel most at ease (or even a tiny bit for those of you who a really camera shy!) and then work with your photographer to build on that throughout the session. And don’t be afraid to comment after the session is over and you have some images to peruse. I still find myself with anxiety about whether or not a client will like what I have created for them, and receiving feedback (both positive AND negative) helps so much for professional growth. Getting headshots is a two-way street. Trust your photographer and most important trust yourself. You are in this industry because your passionate about what you do and about serving others. That’s a genuine feeling you can’t fake and that will come across in your final photos!
Here's how you can get in touch with Liz:
Three Twelve Photography
Today's seeds are tomorrow's flowers. Seeds for the soil is a blog dedicated to sharing information and giving support on topics pertaining to growth through challenge and mindful living. This blog is for anyone curious about self-discovery and supporting others in living their joy.