How do I know what to wear or what style I should aim for?

My clients usually ask me what I recommend that they wear. I always answer the same way – wear what you always wear. By which I mean, not your pyjamas and favourite Queen t-shirt with the holes in it, but dress how you would dress if we were going to meet up for the first time. Not too over the top in your best dinner suit & bow tie but enough of an effort that you don’t look like you just rolled out of bed, know what I mean? I will happily help you pick your clothing; you can send me photos of your outfits and I will give you my (honest & helpful) opinion!

If your hair can be done once & then never need touching again, great! (i’m not jealous at all). If it tends to look a bit wild OR floppy as the day rolls on, bring with you the necessary hairbrush/comb/serum/spray to keep the hair-situ from going pear-shaped. Also, bear in mind that it is much easier for you to color your hair in real life than it is for us to get someone to Photoshop it afterwards.

If you never paint your nails, don’t start now but make sure they look clean & groomed. If you only usually wear light makeup, stick with that but bring your makeup bag with, in case you need to re-apply.

Jewellery can be a really fun addition to your images, and often adds an exciting pop of color & texture, so if you wear it, bring a few choices with you so we can pick together!

We want to see the real, authentic YOU; not the ‘you’ that we have been seeing in your old & very overused headshots from your job back in corporate 10 years ago. We want to see quirky-you, fun-you, brilliant-you…

How can the shoot be timeless enough so I can use the images for a while?
Great question! This really depends on the length of the session you book. Why? Well with the Starter package, you will have 2 different outfits whereas with the Full Monty package, you have unlimited outfit changes. And location-wise, you’ll have one location in the Starter package and as many locations as we can manage with the Full Monty package. So obviously, you’ll have a lot more variety of looks and styles if you book a higher personal branding package.
What can I use these photos for and how?

Here’s a few ideas for you! Ready?….

Your website, social media platforms, newsletters and e-blasts, press releases, event announcements, new offerings, to refresh your profile photo regularly, sales/landing pages, your Bio for speaking engagements, printed material, marketing pieces, business cards & Podcasts ….

Personal branding photography is about telling YOUR story to your potential & current clients; it’s about recognising & honouring the best of you and what you do in your business.
Your images will show your audience what you do, how you do it, what makes you unique and what it really feels like to work with you. Before that first phone call or meeting, your clients will understand who it is they are connecting with.

Are there certain styles of photos standard for a branding shoot- aka regular headshots, ones with empty space for words, more casual/more formal?

Yes! We will go through everything that you might possibly need to get you started in building up your photo library. The LinkedIn profile picture, the banner photo for your Facebook group with plenty of empty ‘white space’ in the background, the headshot for your book cover, a whole host of different facial expressions that you’ll use to accompany your future blog posts. This is why we discuss what ‘stories’ you want to tell about your business – because by analysing your ‘stories’ we are able to bring to life all the different aspects of you & your business that we want to convey.
We will keep a record of all these ideas in your ‘Shot List & Prop List’ and every time one of us has a new idea we can add it to the document.

(Missed the memo on what a ‘story’ is? Allow me to explain..)

A ‘story’ is simply a series of images that showcase all the different aspects & facets of you & your business. Think back to all those times when you have created content and scrambled to find suitable images to illustrate your point. Now imagine how easy your life is going to be once you have a whole library of suitable images, created especially for you & stored in an easy-access folder on your hard drive.

I will also be creating a Pinterest board where I will save images that I think are relevant to your session – I am generally looking for inspiration for poses, angles, props & a general ‘feel’ with regards to the images that I pin. The board is for both of us to use so you’re also welcome to pin away & add anything you think could be useful.

What if the weather is bad?
At some point in the process, we will decide on a location together, making sure we have an indoors backup in case of bad weather but secretly praying to the Weather Fairies that we can shoot mainly outdoors. I will keep an eye out for updates to the weather forecast & may make location changes at the last minute to ensure that we aren’t shooting in bad weather.

I’m just not photogenic; my face always looks weird, I don’t know what to do with my hands and I just feel awkward AF

There’s no question that having photos taken can be challenging ; but you may have also noticed that they have become a hugely important part of having a strong personal brand.

You want to look professional and approachable, funny, but not too funny, cool, but not too cliched, different and yet also just incredibly, very much YOU. Ok! no wonder you are feeling awkward & nervous AF about the whole thing.

I have clients who have come back to me multiple times for new images and even though each session gets much easier for them, they still get nervous before each one. A case of the butterflies is totally fine, but full on nervous breakdown is really something that we are going to try and avoid.

So are you ready to try something new before your next personal branding photo session? I have a bunch of different ideas that I think are really helpful, but this is my top top tip for you:

Work on building trust with your personal branding photographer!!

Speaking from personal experience, there’s nothing more awkward than turning up at a photo session, meeting your photographer for the first time and being expected to interact with a total stranger. You are meant to instantly relax and be ‘you’ in front of their camera. They will most probably start running through a bunch of instructions “fold your arms”, “cross your feet”, “tilt your head” “no, not that way, the other way”, without any warm up whatsoever. Guess how those photos are going to look?

Do we think that perhaps this is why you end up feeling awkward?! And perhaps this is why photos end up not looking like you? Why they seem all stiff & without your spark of personality?! Plus, your photograhpy session should be a fun experience & one that you’ll want to repeat. It shouldn’t be blood, sweat & tears. Unless they are tears of laughter.

Call it a hunch, but I think the reason why you have a negative association with photo sessions and are convinced that you are Awkward AF is probably not due to anything that you’ve done wrong. Chances are there’s been a lack of prep work & ‘getting to know you’, a lack of getting to the root of who you really are & what you really need from the photo session. Plus it’s important to me that I am constantly checking in with my client and being mindful of the fact that this is really unnatural and it is my job to put them at ease and help them relax into it every step of the way.

I see my clients in a way that most others will miss and in a way that they hadn’t imagined they could look. I show them a perspective of themselves & their special ‘thing’ that they wouldn’t usually see. (I will also capture some Awkward AF photos because I am capturing your expressions in split seconds at a time and you can’t be completely awesome in every single frame. You might do something with you hands, blink, purse your lips, who knows?! (Give yourself a break for goodness sake, it’s allowed! ) Last time i got my photos back from a shoot, I looked at them over and over. And the more I sat with them, the kinder I was to myself and realised there were some quite quirky ones that I liked and would actually use, because they show people who I really am.

And I am not just saying this so that we can have the happy Hollywood ending BUT, some of the MOST awkward people I’ve had the pleasure to photograph, have ended up having so much fun & have forgotten themselves so much that I’ve had to snap them out of their gleeful stupor and point out that their session is in fact OVER!

I don't like my smile - do I have to smile?
I hear you. I have a squiggle that appears under my nose when I smile. I used to be so self conscious about it that I never wanted to smile for photos, and when I laughed, I used to cover my mouth (I still do that from time to time, out of habit)

And then I mentioned it to a bunch of friends at a party & they were all confused “your what?” They had no clue what I meant. Then I pointed to it, they all said “Oh right, yeah” and then we moved on (apart from one friend who still makes fun of it 🤣)

I’m saying this in the hope that maybe you’ll allow yourself to release this/let it go next time you’re having your photos taken. It’s hard not to judge ourselves, pick ourselves to pieces, but if you need to have photos taken, how much nicer would it be if you could just try something different & go easier on yourself? It doesn’t mean the negatives thoughts won’t come, just that you’ll choose to turn them down and not pay them any attention or let them consume your energy.

Imagine if you could look through your pictures after your photography session & remember how much you embraced it; how much you laughed and let yourself go, how engaged and creative you felt; how you fully enjoyed it.

The way our bodies/faces look is not key. It’s not nothing. But if you want your photos to be real and authentic. You dont need to fix any part of you for your photos and you dont need to hide. Yes you will brush/blow dry your hair, put on lip gloss, maybe polish your glasses, but you also need to believe that who you are is okay & enough. Who you are as a person is the key. Your character, your personality, your soul is the key. Your people love & connect with you for who you are somewhere deep under the surface. And I see that soul magic shine through in photo sessions time & time again.

How many branding photos will I get?
This really just depends on the amount of time we have. It varies obviously but as a rule of thumb, you’re looking at about 45 for the Starter package, approx 120 for the Upgraded & around 400 for the Full Monty Package. If the photos are good, you’re not looking bonkers and your eyes aren’t closed, then they are yours for the keeping.

The people that I work with are hard-working entrepreneurs & business owners and they are all busy people. So I don’t want to cost them more time by making them select their favourites from their gallery – they simply keep them all. Simples!

Can you make me look thinner?
I have a story for you..

We went on a family vacation and I took my big grown up camera with me to capture all the beautiful sites & sights. While we were in Italy, a place I have dreamed of visiting for many years, I asked my daughter to take some photos of me. Her tasks were to pose me at flattering angles (the right angle can make a crazy difference), get me to relax, smile naturally and look good (I’m not at all demanding)

The thing is, I’m not thrilled with the way I look at the moment. But the OTHER thing is, this journey back to my goal weight is going to be a long one by the looks of things, so meanwhile I really needed to do something about my issues with having gained weight. I needed to be kinder to myself and to reframe my thoughts and words.

My mantra became “I have fat, I am a soul” (may seem weird to you, works for me). A reminder that things happen to our bodies, but who we are inside is still the same. The way people connect with us on a soul level hasn’t changed at all.

And when I look at this photo of me, yes I am aware of the extra kilos that are currently accompanying me. But I am working damn hard on it & I have stopped being angry with myself for it because it hasn’t happened due to anything I did. When I look at this photo of me I can also remember that I was having a great day, I was feeling free & happy, I was having fun with my daughter & I was so very grateful to be on that incredible vacation.

You have fat, but you are a soul. A beautiful soul. And that will ALWAYS shine brightest of all.

I have never managed to relax whilst having my photo taken. How will this time be any different?
The first thing we are going to be doing during your photography session is just chill. I do not expect any great works of art to be created within the first part of our session; we will be taking the time to settle in, relax & make friends with the camera. It’s not a natural situation to be in, so we will ease you into this. Let me know what’s the best way to do this – for some it will be a great music playlist, for some it could be chatting about their company and what they do, others may enjoy a game of ice breaker (E.g., what’s the scariest thing you’ve ever done for fun? Who would you pick to be on your team in a zombie apocalypse?)

I aim to have you look as natural as possible and any posing that I may ask you to do will really be a bare minimum. I am careful during our session to factor in time for taking a break (I am pretty darn good at judging when you need a break – it’s one of my secret powers.)

As we progress, I’ll show you a selection of shots from the back of the camera so that you can see how well we are doing & hopefully relax more, trusting that it’s all going ok (despite all your worrying about the session & almost cancelling on me. Yes, mind reading is another one of my powers.)

By the time we are finished, you should have shocked yourself by forgetting that you are on a photoshoot, ENJOYING your time with me & being sad when it’s coming to an end.

What about people staring at us?

Oh I promise I totally understand this! (I didn’t want people looking at me walking down the aisle on my wedding day! 🤣)

As an Introvert plus a pretty shy person who has learned tools to come out of her shell, so I understand this feeling. If my client expresses this feeling to me, we will start our session with an exercise where we create a safe space where we no longer care who sees us and what they think of us! (sounds weird but it works!) Basically, don’t worry, I’ve got you!

How long does it take to get my photos? Where will you be posting them?
If you signed a model release for your photos to be used online, I will post a sneak preview from your photography session within 24 hours. Sometimes (with your permission) I’ll post to Instagram stories from my phone during the session and then afterwards I’ll post 1 or 2 from my camera to Instagram & Facebook & tag you.

If you have chosen The Full Monty package, we will work together to create your 1-minute, customised personal branding social media video clip, showcasing a particular service/product that you would like to promote online.

I usually aim to get your personal branding photos to you within 7-10 days. I know, super fast, right?!