Every time I see this photo, it drives me a little crazy. A few months ago, I was offered an amazing opportunity to work with Stacy Pierce Photography. She wanted a few lifestyle photos to add to her portfolio and I wanted more professional looking shots for some upcoming blog posts I had planned.
It was supposed to be a win-win!
I remember the photo shoot like it was yesterday. It was a gorgeous Sunday afternoon in springtime. The sun was shining, but it wasn’t too hot. The location – a tranquil, tree-filled park that seemed like it had been dropped smack-dab in the middle of a bustling town square – was nothing short of perfect. I was so excited.
I arrived with three outfits:
- The one I’d chosen to wear to church services earlier in the day, and was still wearing.
- The one that most represented the way I dress on a daily basis.
- And, the one I’d bought at the last minute and neglected to try on beforehand. (I know, I deserve major side-eye for that one! The fit of the shirt was so bad that I won’t even post that photo).
Before I go any further, let me make one thing crystal clear: I love, love, love my photos! Stacy is an incredibly gifted photographer and she was so much fun to work with.
So what was the problem? In a word: me.
I had not planned properly for my photo shoot. So, only one of the three outfits that we shot that day – the one most representative of my everyday look – was actually appropriate for use on my blog. I had blown an awesome opportunity to get some professional photos and I felt awful about it.
When I look back on that day, I realize that I made some huge mistakes. Improper planning was just one of them. If you’re working to build a brand, regardless of whether its a style blog, consulting or business services, or basket weaving, then you should know that image is everything. And, it starts with the way that people view you.
I didn’t take the time to think through the impression that I wanted to leave with people. Believe it or not, your clothing choices can speak volumes about the type of person you are. I think fashion designer Miuccia Prada said it best, “Fashion is instant language.” Because the looks I chose were inconsistent, my message was unclear.
My greatest takeaway, and one to keep in mind for every photo shoot going forward, is to dress with intention. Your style of dress can be a powerful extension of your personal brand. It can either diminish or bolster your authority, your trustworthiness and even your authenticity in the eyes of the people you want to impress the most.
My goal that day was to come away with photos that embodied the SisterLadyGirl promise of providing DIY personal image strategies for busy boss ladies. That’s why I chose the look featuring the jeans and the blazer. It’s stylish and very easy for anybody to replicate.
The truth is I let my excitement about the photo shoot get the best of me. It caused me to lose site of my end goal. To help you avoid the same mistakes I made and get picture perfect results, here are five things you should do before your next photo shoot.
- Create a vision board: Having a visual representation of your style can be really powerful. You can include anything you want on it such as art, fashion photos, pictures of yourself, colors or just about anything that truly moves you. It might also be helpful to choose images that convey a mood or word, rather than an outfit you just want to copy (even though that’s fine too).
- Have your makeup done by a professional: You’ve heard the saying about putting your best face forward? That’s never been more true than during a professional photo shoot. Lucky for me, the photographer had me covered on this one. But it wasn’t something I’d given any thought to. But I will from now on.
- Have your hair done: Ditto on everything above, with the exception of having professional help. Not everyone needs it. The biggest thing here is to look like yourself. You certainly don’t want someone to tell you that they don’t recognize you in your pictures. Your trust factor will plummet. Where hair is concerned, I’ve always found that a little polish goes a long way.
- Pay attention to the details: When people see your photos, they’re creating their own internal narrative about you. You can help them gain some additional insight into who you are, and in some cases, find common ground. Don’t overlook the potential that small things like jewelry or even nail color have to help you make a powerful connection.
- Think through how you will use your photos: Are your photos for personal use or will they be used to build your brand? Your choices should be functional and well-suited to the situation. If you need to move things around, now’s the time to do that. Let the ideas percolate and stay open to the possibilities.