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Personal branding photography helps you grow your business image with a library of custom photos that showcase who you are and what you love, so you're irresistible to your potential audience.

You're a business professional and you realize you need high quality images of yourself to use in-house and online, perhaps even in print. But you HATE stodgy, corporate looking head shots.They lack soul and don't tend to communicate your passion. What do you do?

Call me, of course. I’m thrilled the corporate head shot is being replaced by images that showcase your personality across an arc—YOU as boss lady. YOU as master gardener. YOU as dog lover. Whatever your story as a woman or man, you can more effectively convey that story with professional portrait photography that captures your life and style. You can then parlay those images to brand yourself in a polished way that enhances your business, career and personal goals.

According to the Huffington Post’s ( ) Tanya Boggs, “Investing in high-quality, authentic photography is required if you want your visuals to play a crucial role in delivering the personality of your brand. Much like eating, we shop with our eyes. We make many purchase decisions based on first impressions. And buying is often an emotional decision more than a practical one. Therefore, your branding is about influencing the way consumers think about you and your business or product. As a result, personal branding photography can have a huge impact your business and your bottom line.”

Boggs even goes so far as to entitle her piece: “9 Ways Personal Branding Photography Can Massively Grow Your Business.” No ambiguity there—she clearly believes in its importance. You can read the full piece here:

The last several years have seen an explosion of personal branding trends in the United States. Businesses of every size, kind and service are more aware now than ever that friendly branding and relatable marketing are the cornerstones of their success. Marketing budgets now commonly include professional portrait photographers whose job it is to photograph the folks behind the company and make them look approachable, like the man or woman next door. That means unpacking what makes you tick and finding ways to show that visually. Once the images are created, you have a suite of pictures to use everywhere, which saves you and your business time, money and the frustration of never having great photographs you’re proud to show off.

Again, the obvious goal is likability, because people do business with people they like. The not so obvious goal is intentionally controlling your visual image to better tell your story.

“Branding on a business-level is common, but today branding is becoming just as important on a personal level. After all, you might work for a business that works with other businesses, but it’s people working with people and that’s what makes business relationships valuable.” Quicksprout

So what’s involved with creating a personal brand that works? I call it the Step by Step Personal Branding Design. Here’s how it works in my photography business. After the initial inquiry, I meet you personally at your place of business or home. I want to see you in you own surroundings, where you're most comfortable. I take this time to observe the details: colors, furniture, art style, personal mementos, etc. I ask a lot of questions in conversational ways, because I want to establish a baseline in my mind. Unlike corporate photographers who typically set up their gear and snap away at an entire office in a day, I’m focused on one, possibly two, individuals at a time. And I want to take in everything about you--as much as you're willing to share.

We then talk about styling in great detail—wardrobe, hair and makeup, surroundings & backdrops, message. It’s my job to nail the message visually, and all those elements contribute, each in their own critical way. Finally, we discuss the ways you want to use your images. With all this information, I can plan across multiple platforms with an idea of what would work best for each and map your session accordingly.

Here’s an example from a recent personal branding session, which actually doubled as business branding. Mark Power needed fresh marketing materials for an upcoming workshop he was leading. He and his wife have a vocal coaching business which they operate on their property in the woods, in a refurbished structure with rustic finishes. The business and studio are a labor of love between them and we wanted to feature that heavily in his images.

Mark has a great personal style we highlighted in his session, and we aimed to coordinate his styling with the environment. A suit or anything other than what he wore would have looked out of place. The backdrop here is a wooden pallet wall that Mark and his wife, Kathleen, worked hard to create. It’s beautiful, weathered and perfect for these images.

Custom photographs like these can be used in unlimited ways: on websites, print materials of all kinds, reports, newsletters, social media, business cards—anything you can imagine. Mark and Kathleen opted to use theirs in a custom digital magazine I created for them, along with some custom written content I also crafted, which you can see here:

When you get to a place in your career where you say to yourself, “It’s time to build my brand,” you want to hire a photographer who will take the time to listen to you and ask the right questions about your goals. You can also hire a personal branding agency, which will likely provide the photographer. Local photographers are always best because they’re able to clue in on nuances having to do with speech patterns and clothing that someone not from the area might miss. For example, a Dallas photographer will have very different expectations of styling than someone from the Pacific Northwest. Dallas tends to be the sort of city where people dress up on a daily basis, whereas the PNW is laid back and very casual. And this gets to the most important quality of good personal branding images: being genuine.

“The more obviously a brand is a copycat, the more the audience will call out the perpetrator for it,” says Goldie Chan, contributor to Forbes online. She also says, “Creating the right personal brand will not only help you be known in your field and consistently land work but it could be the difference between ‘who are you?’ and ‘thank you for being here’ in your career.”

Read the entire article here:

Personal branding is becoming industry standard for serious professionals who want to convey focused messaging to their individual markets. They understand the best way to do that is through solid, beautiful images that are intentional and well thought out. Images that show who they are, rather than text that tells who they are.

Like I said in the beginning, when you’re ready to take that step, call me. I can’t wait to help you show your story so you, and your business, can grow.

Reach out to me at




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What's better than wallcrawling? Read on to find out.

So, it’s Friday afternoon and you’re stuck in traffic. Behind you, alongside you, as far as your eye can see, nothing but other people in their cars, going nowhere. All you and your fellow escapees from the grind want to do is GET HOME. And you wish you had some sort of superpower to eject from your seat, leap across all the cars, and land gracefully (in a killer Lycra bodysuit) at your front door. But there’s no such thing as superheroes and certainly no such thing as superpowers. Don’t be ridiculous.

Well…maybe not the sort of superpower that leaps tall buildings, but perhaps there are other superpowers. And maybe everyday folks like us have them, but don’t think of them as special, like the ability to breathe under water, a la Aquaman. But maybe we ought to.

Let me share a recent experience with you.

I’d received an invitation to talk to some kids at a local school about being a photographer. The guidelines were simple: twenty minutes, share what I liked about photography, and why I chose to pursue it. Pretty standard fare, as presentations go. The one caveat was this: the class was comprised of special needs kids so I had to be sensitive to that and tailor my talk accordingly.

Twenty minutes wasn’t enough time to get into anything complicated, so I knew I’d have to find the most immediate link between the kids and me and not meander down the gear head path. So what did we all have in common that could start a conversation about the importance of photography?

And then I realized that there’s not a soul left on earth who hasn’t heard of Superman.

Like almost every kid, I grew up watching superheroes save the world with their special powers. The idea that an ordinary looking person can do extraordinary things with hidden strengths is not new. The sentiment has been attached to the human psyche for millennia. But the concept for the Marvel universe is relatively modern and it never fails to intrigue. Batman saves Gotham City with cool tech toys while being tended to by a British butler. Clark Kent (as Superman) and Ironman save the world, too, the former disguised as a lowly reporter who’s actually the savior of the universe; the latter because his haughty ego was taught a lesson and he now wants to serve humanity rather than create weapons to destroy it.

But what do superheroes have to do with photographers?

The day of my presentation, I went armed to the class with cookies and one of the new instant cameras (link here) from Fuji, loaded with film and several extra film packs. Both are available here for purchase on Amazon. The kids were enthusiastic at my arrival, and immediately upon entering the room, I noticed one young man was wearing—if you can believe it—a Superman T-shirt and cape. My inner kid fist pumped a silent YEAH!

Because my last name is so unconventional, there was some initial debate after the hellos as to its pronunciation, with one of the girls nailing it spot on right away, which is tough to do. The niceties out of the way, I launched into my discussion.

“You guys,” I said. “Let’s talk about something interesting. Who here likes superheroes?”

The boy in the Superman T-shirt got excited, and shared a high wattage smile that lit up the room.

Everyone raised his/her hand.

“Superheroes?” the kids asked, confused about where I was going.

“Yup,” I said. “Let’s name some.”

So we ran through the popular list.

Then I asked, “What do superheroes have?”

Kids: “Superpowers.”

Me: “What’s a superpower?”

Kids: “Special stuff they can do, like climb walls.”

“Yeah, that’s a good one,” I said. “Can everyone have a superpower or only superheroes?”

There was mixed reaction. One young lady said that she thought other people besides superheroes could have superpowers. Maybe.

“Well,” I said. “I’m here to tell you that I have a superpower.”

Mixed reaction.

“Who knows what it might be?” I asked.

Some speculation ensued among the kids. The teacher, an absolutely wonderful man we’ll name Mr. C., raised his hand and said, “Freezing time.”

(Dammit. This dude stole my punchline).

“Yes,” I responded. “I freeze time. What does that mean? Anyone want to take a guess?”

Lots of heads shaking ‘no.’

“It’s like this,” I continued. “I have a dog as a kid. I love this dog. We’re best friends. Together all the time. But I grow up and the dog gets old and one day, the dog dies. And I’m heartbroken. But I remember that I have photographs of my dog. So I gather them all and spend hours every day looking at them and I recall all the special things about my dog and all the fun things we did.”

I paused to take a breath, because I got a bit choked up.

“I can see her clearly in my mind,” I continued. “Smell her wet fur after a swim, feel how soft her ears were when she came home from the groomer. I’m there with her again. And because of those photographs, my best friend isn’t really gone. And that’s why I take pictures of people. So that they’re never forgotten and so that their lives are always honored.”

Several kids offered that they, too, had dogs, and whipped out their phones to share photos. A discussion of breeds and names followed. But I needed to stick to the twenty minute rule.

“I brought some goodies with me,” I continued, to bring the conversation back on track after the photo sharing moment. “Cookies and a camera so we can take each other’s pictures and you can share my superpower with me.”

I walked to the large carton I’d brought with me which contained my props. There was a general murmur of appreciation about the cookies. The instant camera was new to them, although I grew up when they were all the rage in the seventies, and I looked forward to using one again in this context.

“Who wants to go first?” I asked.

By then, most of the kids were standing around me (I think because of the cookies), so I made sure the camera was turned on and handed it off to one of them, followed by a brief run down of how to find the light when you want to take a photograph of someone. Then I turned them loose and watched.

At first they were shy about how to use the camera, but Mr. C., helped them figure it out. They took individual photos then spread them out one by one on the desk next to me to watch them develop, laughing as the images came to life. Finally, they handed the camera back to me and I took a group photo of them all and let it do its thing on the desk alongside the others. Afterwards we talked briefly about the fact that now they had a collection of memories they could hold and look at to remember this day and cookies to make it a sweet memory.

Vintage Polaroid instant camera and prints
Vintage Polaroid instant camera and prints

There were lots of giggles and I think the kids generally had a good time. It was nostalgic for me and reminded me of my own school days. As I left and said thank you to the class for having me, I was filled with a feeling of great satisfaction that I had perhaps managed to connect with the kids and given them something to think about.

I later learned that the class was quite enthusiastic about our time together, just as I’d been. In fact, it was one of the most satisfying things I’d done since starting my photography business back in 2012.

And it stayed with me for several weeks afterwards because the experience had forced me to think in ways I wasn’t used to. The entire time I’d been in business, I learned about gear, technical lighting, shadows, gradients, Photoshop, my camera specs, the art of making portraits and all the million, million things about business that make every entrepreneur crazy. And I knew in my heart why I did what I did, but I’d never been challenged to articulate it in the precise way I had for the kids in that classroom.

Photographers generally do not have a mandate to save the world. But we have superpowers that go far beyond that: we make the intangible tangible and capture it for all time. Wedding photographers photograph love, captured in moments during the most important day in many people’s lives. Other photographers capture innocence and hope through newborn photography. Still others capture ambition, via head shot photography. I photograph women and men of every age who want a high touch experience and legacy portraits, so I guess you could say I capture self-love.

“Freezing time” is not just a superpower for photographers. It’s available to anyone who picks up a camera. Photographs create a living, breathing pictorial of life that says: you were here, you were loved, you mattered. And they’re all that will be left of us once we’re gone.

Just like I said to the kids about my dog: photographs bring back loved ones. You can relive precious, even forgotten, moments by holding their image in your hands. You’ve frozen the time they were here and that you were lucky enough to be with them. You documented a legacy for all future generations.

You want to be a superhero? Take a picture.

Now, where’s my cape?

List of superpowers.

#new #superheroes #Marvel comics #fuji #photography #superpowers

Product Review: the new Fuji instant cameras are cute and fun, easy to use right out of the box.They make ideal gifts for kids who want to play with an inexpensive camera and get instant gratification while they watch the film develop. By and large, it's a pretty good little camera for that purpose and only that purpose. Great stocking stuffer, birthday gift, etc. My only complaint is the film quality, although I really had no expectations, because I purchased the camera specifically for this presentation and not for everyday use. Prints are small (about 2"x 3") and not as large as the vintage Polaroids were. And they tend to be on the blurry side, with the images rendering darker than the actual scene. But again, no expectations.

Inspire: to fill someone with the urge or ability to do or feel something, especially something creative.

I don’t know about you, but when I feel creatively sluggish, it’s usually because I’m not inspired at that moment. I don’t really subscribe to the notion that artist’s languish about until the mood to create arrives. I rather believe that once I start the work, the inspiration follows. But sometimes the ideas in my head stay there unless another person takes the baton and adds her/his talent to help bring my project to life. This is the beauty of creative partnerships and, not coincidentally, the secondary meaning of the word inspire which is to “breathe in.” A creative/creative partnership then is literally the thing that fills your proverbial artist lungs with air.

Alison, one of my favorite people to photograph. This was for a custom cycle shoot we worked together on. Bonus: her winged eyeliner is just the best.

You’ve heard about painters and photographers and their muses, right? Well, let me tell you about mine. I met Alison seven years ago, before I even knew to take my camera out of auto mode. I was shooting a series for a local clothing boutique and needed a hair and makeup artist for three models, each with different styling, over the course of several months. Alison was recommended to me by the boutique owner, Carol. So I gave her a call.

We spent about three hours on that phone call, as I rambled on about my lofty goals for this project as a (newb) photographer while Alison listened intently, occasionally interjecting a kind “Oh, wow” with a confident, contralto voice tinged with a hint of gravel. Bless her heart, she must have thought me mad at the time, but she graciously gave me the space to share my thoughts, a trait I would experience over and over again through the years.

She agreed to do the hair and makeup artistry for the first model of the series at no cost, so I could judge if we would be a good collaborative fit. I would handle all the wardrobe styling, sets and locations plus the photography. We agreed to meet on the day of the shoot, slightly ahead of the model’s arrival. I was excited, as I felt very grown up—I had a “team” of sorts, just like the big dog photographers in New York and Los Angeles. I can say that now in amusement at my naivete. But at the time I was filled with blind enthusiasm for this series of shoots and I wanted to nail all the images, although I had no idea what I was doing.

I met her at the boutique. She sported a retro vibe with dark curls and deep red lips and sported tattoos. She exuded such genuine warmth, I couldn’t help but feel…inspired, uplifted. She moved through the model’s hair and makeup with an ease and skill that was breathtaking. And when our model emerged from the dressing room in the first wardrobe piece, I got teary because Alison had realized in actual fact what I had had in my head mere hours ago. It was exhilarating.

The shoot went very well, even as a newb pretending I knew something about posing, direction, lighting and the million, million details that go into a shoot. But, God be praised, I managed to get some very fine shots that I still love to this day. We finished the boutique project which I felt was a great success and the images are now framed and still hang in the boutique.

There’s absolutely no question that without Alison’s hair and makeup genius, those images would have been more “meh” than “wow” and I would never have had the zeal to move onto the next phase of my photography path, had she not realized my ideas as brilliantly as she had.

Shortly thereafter, Alison became my own hair guru, no small task, as I’ve moved through many iterations of hair over the years. When I sit in her chair, she always asks: “What are we doing today?” Many times, I wave my hand and say, “I don’t care. Something fun. Go crazy.” I mean, how much trust goes into a statement like that, especially when the person to whom you’re saying it stands over your head with a razor? But she’s never steered me wrong and I always love my hair and all its colors, so it’s another type of successful creative collaboration.

One of my favorite images of Alison shot at dusk in the summertime. To me, it captures the light she has inside as well as the gorgeous evening light.

We’ve worked together many times by now, as she does a fair amount of hair and makeup for my clients ahead of their sessions. My clients adore her, I adore her, and she brings a soothing yet upbeat energy with her wherever she goes. She’s truly one of my favorite people to be around and I consider myself blessed to have her as my creative spirit sister.

More than anything, her vast experiences as a mom, wife, singer in a band, stylist, daughter and all her other roles, give her a spectrum of understanding on how to tease out the very best in those with whom she works. I’ve never seen her angry or impatient, she never rushes anyone (including me or my clients) and she only ever has good things to say about people. But she has one gift in particular that is utterly unique to her: she INSPIRES me. She makes me WANT to be creative. She fuels my creativity with her own and I love her for that. It’s a rare, rare gift that she shares freely with me and which I treasure.

If you experience periods of depletion or lack of drive to accomplish creative goals, consider reaching out to someone. Maybe there’s someone you admire who has great ideas about everything. Take her out for a glass of wine and listen to her stories. Maybe there’s a local artist who has an unique aesthetic. Ask him out for coffee and pick his brain about what his process is like. At the very least, you’ll come away with fresh thoughts that may catapult you into new work. Best scenario is to find a creative with whom you can join forces. It doesn’t always work out, of course, but when it does, it’s the most elevating experience.

Alison's hair and makeup artistry. The image works well because all the styling elements support and enhance it.

I think it’s because creatives are a little different in temperament, a little weird in how they see and interact with the world, that they have a great desire to connect with other creatives. They have a language that I swear to you only other creatives can understand and they’re childlike in their wonder, and oddly out of place in many situations. When I try to explain my ideas to non-creatives, their eyes glaze over. And I don’t blame them for that-- I’m speaking in a foreign language to them.

Alan Alda says, “Be brave enough to live life creatively. The creative place where no one has ever been.” And be sure to have your own Alison who inspires you to do just that.

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