I recently had a branding shoot for my website and so that I have some professional headshots ready to go when I am next asked for one.
I have known for a while that I needed some professional photos of me to use. It was part of taking this blog, Lovely Local Indie and my freelance services to the next level.
It is so important for small business owners to be visible. It’s basic psychology. People buy from people. Potential customers need to see you, the brand owner proudly showing off why your business is great. I often tell this to the small businesses I help with my social media coaching – and it was time to actually take my own advice!
So far I used selfies that I’ve taken myself, other shots that people have taken on their camera phones and the odd bit of professional photography that I had done for family occasions. Whilst I love those photos, since transitioning the blog into a more commercial project and launching more business services both as a freelance writer and helping small businesses develop their social media, I’ve increasingly realised that I didn’t really have any suitable photos of me in a business context. I needed some professional quality, beautiful images of me as a business owner that I could use to market my business.
I’d known this for a while but there were two main things holding me back. The cost and how I actually look. For a long time I just wasn’t earning enough money to justify the costs involved for a professional shoot. Then I was so busy with other projects that it just got put on the back burner.
Why I picked Helen Rowan Photography for my first professional branding shoot
In the new year I met up with Helen Rowan, a local photographer for coffee. We had followed each other for a while on social media. It was so lovely to chat to a fellow female Chesterfield creative about running a small business, the challenges of being self-employed and so on.
We got on so well, and I found Helen such easy company that I booked a branding shoot there and then. (Just in case you are wondering, I paid for the shoot and am not under any obligation to write this. I always declare ads properly – and this isn’t an advert – just my reflections of working with someone I really rate).
Props in brand colours
I was familiar with Helen’s work so already knew she was a very talented photographer. What I hadn’t realised is what great ideas she had. As part of her branding photography service Helen offers styling advice. I had already created a branding kit for Lovely Local Indie and this was really useful to send to Helen to form the basis of our discussion. She suggested incorporating some of my brand colours into the shoot and I think this worked fabulously.
I incorporated these colours using flowers and my manicure. Because the whole focus of Lovely, Local Indie is championing small Derbyshire businesses I wanted to source some of these props from local brands that I rated.
Helen suggested a print as a brilliant way of picking up some of the brand colours. I searched for hours and hours to find something suitable. Eventually my friend Lauren recommended the perfect solution!
[AD] Jude River Design on Etsy not only sell Derbyshire and Peak District specific designs but the colours could be completely customised. I paid for these and took advantage of the long running ‘3 for 2’ offer. However, the owner Jules kindly slipped in an extra print as a gift so technically this is an advert.
[AD] I was already a fan of Derbyshire based stationery retailer The Paper Collective. They sell really high quality, functional, beautiful stationery in a huge range of colours. Laura kindly gifted me some notebooks and a pen in brand colours. She was able to match my brand colours perfectly.
[AD] Anastasia at Perfect Peaks Patisserie kindly offered to make some macarons in brand colours. It was at this point I realised I was taking things a bit far. But I also can’t resist a macaron! And Anastasia’s are so delicious, and they provided a great post shoot treat!
Another source of the pre-run up anxiety was worrying about how I would look on camera. I am at my all time heaviest, I’m starting to find grey hairs, wrinkles etc… I think lots of us can identify with the unease of being in front of the camera. This was another reason I kept putting off having the shoot done.
But these photos weren’t about me looking great. I don’t have any illusions about what I look like, but I also know I need to ‘show up’ and be visible for my business to be a success. I am not a model but nor am I trying to be. I’m just a person with something to say.
I think as women we put so much pressure on ourselves about our appearances. That pressure also comes from society, the media, each other, family, nasty trolls… the list goes on! But actually the most pressure I put on myself comes from myself. And I’m trying really hard not to stand in my own way.
I booked in to have my make-up done by Amy at The Sanctuary. I knew Amy and trusted her to make me look like the best version of myself. I loved the make-up. But just being in her calming presence did me the world of good and helped ease my anxiety.
The shoot itself
Helen has a very professional studio in her back garden, completely separate from her house. It’s easy to park (which proved important as I had several bags of props and outfit changes).
I don’t think many of us are truly comfortable in front of the camera. I’m certainly not. I’m very conscious of my size but we had discussed more flattering poses and shared a Pinterest board of the type of images we were going for.
I loved that Helen listened to my ideas and vision but she actually had better ideas. She was brilliant at directing me and telling me how to pose without feeling like I was being bossed about. I didn’t feel overly awkward. Helen is also really, really nice and I felt completely comfortable with her.
I am thrilled with the results. Not because I think I look particularly great but because together we created some high quality images that accurately reflect me and my brand.
I offer a range of freelance writing, influencer marketing and social media support to small businesses. If you’re interested in working with me, please click here for more information.
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