If a picture is worth a thousand words, what are the photos from your last personal branding photoshoot saying about you?
While you’re thinking that over, I have a confession: There have been moments where I’ll spend hundreds (or thousands) of hours researching and teaching myself before I even think of asking for help.
Can you relate?
If you’re like me, you’ve gone down a Google rabbit hole a time or two to solve a problem or find the answer you’re seeking.
Which is precisely why I wanted to ask you about your brand photos. I want to save you the millions of clicks it took me to finally plan out the personal brand photoshoot I so desperately desired.
And you don’t even have to ask for help. Just read on below.
The Back Story
About ten years ago, I was at a point in my career where I had recently taken the next step as a partner at a software startup. It was surreal and, given my background, a dream come true! However, I quickly realized at the age of 24, I had a lot to learn about business and the psychology behind it.
After clicking around on LinkedIn, I realized I needed to start showing up digitally. One of my first action items was to have a professional headshot taken.
Back in 2009, selfies were nearly impossible. Well, good ones at least. And having a friend take a picture just didn’t provide the look and feel I wanted. Browsing prospective client’s profiles, I knew there was only one option. I needed to hire a professional photographer.
That first set of shots was great! He even took a few full-body photos. I was so proud, and let me tell you, I stood out. Especially for a 24-year-old! I was looking good, extremely professional, and in my mind, beautiful, and classy. That alone was priceless.
Then, something happened I wasn’t quite expecting, people started responding to me (digitally) differently. Seasoned professionals were engaging with me much more than they previously had.
That’s when it clicked for me. It’s not about spending the money to have someone take a picture for a status symbol.
It’s all about perception.
Perception Is Everything
Are people perceiving you in the way you intended for them to on the platform of your choice? Different platforms should yield a different perception.
In having this conversation with my peers, I’ve quickly realized there are a lot of misconceptions around the importance and the power of the right photo for the right platform and presence.
There are two things I want you to take away from this article, and one of them is understanding the power of perception per platform.
I loved my first set of headshots so much that I used the same one for eight years. Yes, you read that correctly, eight years! The thing was, he did a great job capturing me and, since I hadn’t really aged in appearance, it seemed logical.
As my branding hustle began to take shape, however, I knew a change was due.
Time To Pivot
Before Toshiba’s annual conference in 2018, where I was the keynote speaker in six sessions, I decided to have a new shoot done. Seeing the same old headshot over and over was getting old fast.
The thought alone of a new shoot with a new look for my personal brand was exciting. I could barely contain myself. I also made a stop at Ted Baker to complete the transformation. Of course, new suits, dresses, and shoes like a boss-lady!
Little did I know, this was my springboard into personal branding.
That photoshoot—and the accompany event I debuted it at—was a hit! It felt amazing having a fresh look, new headshots, and being able to present myself in a way that fit my current lifestyle and headspace. I was relentless in promoting Toshiba and myself on LinkedIn during and after the event.
It turns out that a lot of people noticed my new headshot. I received hundreds of comments and DMs pertaining to just that! Admittedly, I was on cloud nine for a few weeks afterward.
But, once the high wore off and my wheels started spinning, I couldn’t stop thinking about the engagement trends. I was up around 5,000%!
That’s when it clicked: For years I had spoken to my audience and inner circle about being the CEO of your own brand. I also had strived to impact others, especially foster youth and aspiring young women, on a regular basis as my passion. With this recent makeover and newfound confidence, my passion finally had a path. I would create a personal brand that could not be ignored. I would use my brand to fulfill my passion.
After relentless research and conducting several interviews, I chose a branding firm that best represented me at the time. Keep in mind that before I went on my mission of a million little clicks that brought me to where I am currently.
Countless strategy sessions and Zoom meetings later, we charted a path to my personal brand that encompassed everything from photoshoots to YouTube videos to a website, social media, and hard copy design. Given my recent success with new headshots (photoshoots) and social media, I gravitated towards these the most.
They wanted to paint me realistically, not just the businesswoman, but Maegan as a whole. This included a photoshoot with several different looks. Content vertical wise, envision Grit and Grace, Company Ambassadorship, Modern Tech, Gardener/Cultivator, and Causes/Social Impact. These verticals, ultimately branding pillars, hadn’t taken form yet but were in the making.
Given that this was a completely new experience for me, I didn’t necessarily have a foundation to prep against. I prepared about 15 outfit variations, planned for multiple styles of hair and makeup, etc. It cracks me up now but had you seen me the day of, you’d have thought I had the Tasmanian Devil inside me.
All around, it was a great photoshoot. I felt a little out of place and insane to have embarked on the journey, but in the upcoming months, it was the leap of faith I needed to take.
Unlocking The Photoshoot Secret
With all the prep and planning that comes before a photoshoot, we often overlook the part that comes afterwards: Reviewing the hundreds (or thousands) of pictures taken during the shoot.
What should have felt like an experience that was rewarding in ways words can’t articulate—I was finally showcasing my true personal brand—just didn’t. For me, sifting through all those images was like completing a 10,000-piece puzzle. Except there was one piece missing.
It drove me nuts!
It led me to a dark place where I was feeling all the emotions. The branding team couldn’t understand where I was coming from. My friends didn’t understand either. Before long, the experience turned into a creative wall, and my motivation was completely gone.
For me, when I have a vision, my mind operates at insane speeds connecting every dot you can imagine until I have a holistic masterpiece created. Then, it’s time to execute. And this was simply a roadblock to execution.
All the foster youth, organizations, and aspiring women I had planned to impact positively had been let down. It was so bad that I temporarily lost my best friend. And that’s when my million little clicks started. I disappeared into more rabbit holes than any sane person would during one life over the span of about six sleepless months.
Slowly but surely, the creative clouds parted, and it began to click.
I realized it’s not the different outfits, poses, or hair and makeup that result in the perfect representation of you. It’s the multiple perspectives from multiple people that matter. This was the missing puzzle piece to properly paint my masterpiece and fulfill the different content verticals I had mentally curated for my personal brand.
Since this epiphany, I’ve partnered with four additional photographers for several photoshoots. The results have been staggering, and I can’t wait for you to share in similar experiences.
Sure, I had to walk through fire to find that one missing puzzle piece, but as it turns out, I was actually fulfilling my passion for helping you.
Get Your Shoot On
I navigated my photoshoot frustration and made those million little clicks around the Internet so you wouldn’t have to.
Don’t go crazy on Google trying to figure out how to best prep, plan, and execute your next photoshoot. Learn from my mistakes—and save yourself tons of time (and headache)—by grabbing yourself a copy of my eBook, A Complete Guide to Planning a Personal Branding Photoshoot.
I poured my heart and soul into this project to empower you. I know you’ll find the answers you need to everything photography, branding, and photoshoot-related within its pages.