You are your business, and your business is you. Your brand is you and you are your brand. What does your brand say about you?
Professional photography is a brilliant medium for communicating brand messages. It’s immediate, and our audiences are well versed in reading images as we live in such an image-saturated world. When creating professional portraits I believe the process should be collaborative between you and your photographer to get the best results in terms of accuracy and authenticity.
You need to be proud of these images and they need to portray you the way you want to be seen.
What do you want to say about yourself? Who is your audience? Do you want colour or black and white…why? These are some of the questions I asked Natasha Vanzetti in her quest to achieve a collection of professional portraits that she could use across lots of different spaces over the course of time. She’s in the process of building a business where she is the key player, so people will be coming to her for her personal knowledge and expertise. She is writing a book to be published shortly, and her online space is now live.
She wanted to portray herself as fun, colourful, professional, not toooo serious, but a lovely person that you can trust. She had her hair and make up done the day of the photo session and brought several fabulous tops to switch between. All the tops were different from each other, all possessing a little flair and sparkle.
She said she would be wearing punchy colours and that she wanted the final pictures to be in colour.
The National Gallery of Australia was selected for the location.
The buildings are all neutral-coloured concrete which is great for letting her colours sit forward in the pictures. It also offers lots of unexpected lines, shapes, forms and textures – and awesome light. The sculpture garden there offers greenery too, so I knew we would have lots of possibilities for great backgrounds that supported her look and would not compete.
In pre-planning we covered off what she wanted to achieve. What she’d wear, where we would shoot and the sort of volume of pictures she was after (about 30).
We had it all sorted, I had a camera (ha!), memory cards and a clear brief to work to. The only challenge left on the table was a slightly nervous Natasha to contend with. We are just not used to having photos taken that really capture our soul. Even just getting a quick snap is hard sometimes! I’m a firm believer that what you give the camera is what you give your audience, so I coached Natasha to think past the camera, and to focus her thoughts towards her audience. She took the coaching very well, and we laughed and chatted our way around the National Gallery of Australia with ease.
The photos here are her final collection, you’ll notice the change of clothing along with the change of mini-locations. Initially I looked for the best light for her face, and the right background to serve as the canvas. Then I mixed up the angles, camera orientations, close up, far away, compositions to give good range. We also played with different smiles from close-lipped-warm-eyes right through to big-cheesy-fun.
Every so often we stopped to look at the back of the camera to see the range we were getting. This instant feedback was great for Natasha to gain the extra confidence she needed to get herself over the line.
An example of composition and camera settings: Most of the picture is what we call negative space in the biz. This is a blank area containing minimal detail that a graphic designer can play with later when inserting text and graphics. The lines and form in the background behind Natasha creates some interest, but it’s out of focus so that the viewer’s eye stays where it should – on what’s most important – which is Natasha.
Personally my favourite place in the session – Natasha was well warmed up by this stage, so relaxed. That lush green glass just looked amazing with the light back on the steps against the sparkle in her shirt. It all comes back to her eyes and she is just yummy in these!
Natasha’s initial body of work contained about 200 captures.
My next job after the photo session was sit down and go through them. I selected only the ones for her to see that ticked the box for authenticity in terms of her expression and posture. They also had to possess a little magic in terms of composition, lighting etc. This should be part of what your photographer does for you – they select the best for you to see and there’s a good reason why each capture you see has made the cut.
Post production was also applied, in Natasha’s case we kept the ‘look’ quite clean, and true to life. So when she first saw her images, she was seeing them in their final form.
The idea for a collection this large is that she’ll have a range of images in her tool box to suit every purpose depending on the mood and context. From the formal head and shoulders for LinkedIn, to a book jacket portrait, to an article in a newspaper, to marketing collateral like fliers, to her business cards, to her website.
Each image is precious and the collection must last a few years. We find the final set together.
This is why I won’t leave you to sort through 200 captures in an online gallery. It’s all part of the service of getting your professional portraits collection right.
Natasha pulled it off brilliantly in the end! About a year of planning, and she nailed it.
Great work Natasha – images you can really be proud of….good luck with your 2013 endeavours!!! And thank you for entrusting me to help you communicate your brand message in your professional portraits. I think you’ll get a lot of mileage from them.
‘Thanks Beth, I LOVE them! I had such a fun afternoon and can’t wait to see them bring my new business to life.’