I recently went to Birmingham, Alabama, to visit my daughter and had the pleasure of meeting Gretchen Birdwell, who is a photographer in the area. Gretchen did a photoshoot of my daughter and me, which was such an inspiring and wonderful learning experience. I decided to share some tips so you all can learn the importance of using photos to build your personal brand.
The music playing in the background helped me relax and Gretchen made sure I was comfortable and feeling beautiful and special in front of the camera. I learned the many ways of camouflaging certain parts of the body to look my best. For instance, positioning my chin in an outer motion to create a younger appearance, as well as standing in a way that makes my body look long and lean. I also posed in my own natural ways to show the real side of me, instead of restricting my poses in the photos. Of course, lighting and background is important in any shoot, so Gretchen was prepared with the correct backgrounds that would work with our skin complexion.
It was totally a rewarding experience. The best part is that I felt so beautiful and she made me look even better. You can see the behind the scenes video of our photo shoot here.
All my personal brand photos online and in my newsletter were taken by Gretchen Photography.
You can check out more of her work and information about her here.
I decided it was time to take new photos since my style has recently evolved. I wanted to show a different, more fun and business casual chic side of my personality. My main style has been a classic and professional look and I decided to extend my brand to a different side. The clients I serve not only include professionals but also non-working, work from home and retired women.
Photos tell your story better than any written word. People want to see what you look like or what you do before they contact you. It helps them connect to you better. They can even get a glimpse of your character from photos before they talk to you. Did you know you can sense a natural or a fake smile just by the picture and whether you are trustworthy or not? If you are an artist, you should also show your painting or photos of you in the studio. All of these techniques help to build your brand. Make it easy for your audience to see you at a glance and learn what your brand is all about.
Studies also show 43% to 75% of employers check social media prior to hiring and everyone should invest in putting his/her best foot forward online.
If you are no longer in the job market, but are running a business and sell any type of service or product, it’s critical to have your website with a picture included.
You will know it’s time for new photos when your current ones don’t represent all of who you are anymore as well as your core values (which is your total brand). You should have a mixture of headshots and candid photos that represent your brand. But headshots are typically the images you will use as profile photos. If you’re one of those that tried to crop a friend out of your picture to use for your profile or you’re still hanging on to that old school photo wearing shoulder pads and teased hair, you don’t need me to tell you it’s time to refresh it up!
It all boils down to people are being exposed to 5,000 marketing messages daily. Everyone is trying to figure out who they can trust and photos help answer the question. Looking at a picture will project who you really are.
What your photos say
Profile pictures provide both “open” and “hidden” hints.
“Open” hints are the messages that you deliberately choose to communicate in the picture, in other words, the impression you project. If you take a picture with a hat, this could be your signature style and project that you are a hat person.
“Hidden” messages are the ones where people see the underlining image of what you cannot hide. For instance, if you take pictures at distance it may give a hint of security. If you are tilting your head and smiling, you project dependence. When you stand with your hands crossed below your chest area, you look like you are in a position of power. Make sure to take the photo in a pose that represents your brand to project the impression you want to present.
I recommend taking getting professionally photos that are not staged but reflect your personality and brand. If not, the desired impression will be weakened and not trustworthy. Show movement in the photo, for example, looking away from the camera or standing and shifting leg movements to show the real you. Photos that are too staged do not represent the real you. You want to show your business and fun side in the photos. People are looking for others who are authentic and they can trust. This is the real bottom-line of why photos are so important.
In conclusion, here a few simple do’s and don’ts to building your personal brand with photos:
- Photos that are badly lit, or out of focus or of poor quality
- Don’t use stock photography
- Tell your story with professional photos
- Post regular content with good quality images
- Post photos that will start a conversation with your audience
- Invest in a good quality set of photos that build your personal brand (a professional photographer)
Join the conversation! I want to hear from you. Respond to any of the questions below.
Are your current photos due for a refresh? If you are planning a photo shoot, do you know what colors look good on you? Do you know what type of photos and poses to take that represent your brand?