Can you make me look younger?

Of course I can, but are you sure that’s what you want?

None of us are as young as we used to be and it’s pretty common for someone getting a Professional Headshot taken to say something off-the-cuff about photoshop when we start the shoot.

That’s a pretty normal, self-concious reaction to being put under the lights.

But some people are serious: they want me to make them look younger.

Of course with Photoshop, anything is possible. But remember that a Profile Image is all about establishing trust. With age comes experience, wisdom and pragmatism. All good things for a professional in a service industry.

Also remember that at some stage, if you get your marketing right, this potential client is going to meet you in the flesh. If they discover they’ve been mislead by your profile image, how much more will they trust you?

Most of the work on an image is done in camera: lighting, posture, presentation, expression and engagement. I do just enough finishing in photoshop to make sure you look ‘your best’.

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What does your profile photo say about you?

My favourite part of LinkedIn is the ‘People You May Know’ page: a gallery of mug shots of everyone and anyone who has a connection to someone you’re already connected to.

A picture tells a thousand words.  So what do you see when you look at all these faces?

Who looks professional?  Who’s presenting themselves in a way consistent with the core values of their business.

Who do you trust?

Ultimately engaging with potential clients on-line is all about creating trust.  Whether we like it or not, people form judgements about you when they look at your profile picture.  It’s a skill we learn in early life and an important part of human relationships: ‘sussing someone out’; ‘reading a face’.

A good profile image can do that for you.  It’s more than ‘just a headshot’, it’s your opportunity to make a good first impression – and you never get a second chance.

So next time you’re perusing the ‘People You May Know’, look at your own profile image and ask yourself if it’s serving you as well as it should.

I shoot professional profile images on location and in the Studio.  We can discuss whether a formal or informal portrait would work best for your business and we’ll shoot a range of images so you can choose the best expression and presentation to camera.

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Special Selfie

A few strands came together yesterday:

After ripping my oldest white paper background in half on-site on Wednesday, I needed to check out a couple of studio paper backgrounds that I’d been given by another photographer.

So I hoisted the stand and unrolled them to see what they were like.

First off, after you got through the inevitable dirty bit at the bottom, the white one was actually in better shape than my old one (and much more there).  Result.

Then there was a black one.  Never used black.  It’s a little bent but most of it is good.

I wanted to see how the black would look.  There’s no one around to model it.  We’ll do a self portrait then.

Cue the second thread: I’ve been thinking about a self-portrait for a while.  Wondering how I’d like to photograph myself.  It is a very challenging task for a number of reasons:

  1. No one really likes pictures of themselves.  No one normal anyway
  2. I do this a lot for other people.  I know too much.
  3. I know lots of ways to take a portrait and have considered the whys and wherefores of each option.
  4. I know how small things change the way we read a face in a still image.  I know the work I put in to get that right in other people.
  5. I think way too much about this kind of thing.
  6. With all of the above, I expect to be judged by my own self-portrait (maybe I’m actually judging myself)

So all in all, it’s just not happening.

I’ve had a few ideas but not really progressed them.

Moreover I’ve enjoyed looking (and secretly mocking) other photographers’ attempts to do their own job on themselves.  Mysteriously, the majority seem to involve hiding behind a camera: “I’m a photographer, I must have a camera in my image”.  It seems to be some kind of rule.  And some photographers love rules.

Buy Why?  Does the camera define you?  Why do you hide?  When you look at the profile images on LinkedIn, why so only the photographers include their tools?  You don’t see dentists holding drills.  It’s rare even to see musicians holding instruments – and those that do don’t hide behind them.  So what’s the story?  Is it a secret code?  Some even hold them like they are some kind of weapon!

To me it demonstrates a woeful lack of comprehension of exactly what it is a profile image does.  From the people who should know the most – but maybe it’s just me that thinks about this stuff.  Maybe the other guys just take the photo.

But the arrival of the black background and 15 minutes spare finally started me off.

Perhaps it’s the complete randomness that got me started:  I never shoot on black; I hardly ever use studio light.  I’d imagined my self-portrait to be completely typical of my best work (soft natural light, shallow focus, blurred contextual background, engaged expression) and this was the exact opposite.

Of course the wasn’t much time and the wireless remote release wouldn’t work (again) so it’s just a very simple start with a plan for future iterations (which is very me): black background, one light, prime lens, self timer.   I only took a couple and some were out of focus (because of the self-timer thing).

And I need a hair cut.

But it’s not bad – considering the subject matter.

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Professional Profile Portfolios

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After many years of visiting Fota House and Gardens, I finally got to take photographs inside the house itself.

It was set up for a session to take a series of profile images for musician Sophie Creaner.  Sophie needs a range of images to provide to media and organisers of concerts to promote herself and concerts in which she’s playing.

So rather than setting up a shoot just for a particular concert, we shot a range of images with different styles and settings so she has something for every occassion.  We included headshots and I’ll end up delivering versions in black and white and panaoramic crops so that she has a lot of choice.

It was a great location for portraits and as usual Sophie was a pleasure to work with.

A Portfolio Session like this is a very cost-effective way of generating a stock of professional images for on-going promotional work.  Don’t leave it until you’re being asked by press or PR for an image for a deadline tomorrow: take the time to plan the setting and layout of your images to present yourself in the way your clients will react best to.

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