Think Beyond the Headshot

Because why take a headshot when you can shoot a portrait?

Earlier this summer, as I was treating myself as a client and getting my ducks in a row to re-launch, it dawned on me: I was going to have to take a new headshot. Or really, my first official one.

And I dreaded it. The first question that popped into my head is “Is it even possible for a woman to take a non-cheesy, typical headshot?”

A quick Google search of “powerful female CEOs” only deepened my concerns. Nothing against any of the pictures I saw, but there were a lot of crossed arms, corporate settings, and power blazers.

More than that.

None of them really stood out or grabbed attention.

None of them told a story.

Evoked a personality.

Somewhere along the way I stumbled on this “Live Who You Are” Corcoran ad series, photographed by Annie Leibovitz. Simpler than some of her other portrait photography, but still evocative of the personality of each subject. And all for a real estate company’s ad campaign. (I get it, they’re still Annie Leibovitz…THE Annie Leibovitz. But one can still dream, right?)

Fast forward a month or two and I reached out to Nick Davis Photography, known for not just taking great photos, but also up for the challenge of getting creative and pushing the boundaries. He agreed to meet with me, and our “Anti-Headshot Portrait Session” got scheduled on the books.

Obviously, we aren’t in Hollywood and we only had half a day to make things happen, but Nick was amazing, saw what I was going for and helped me execute.

We put together a board of studio shots that inspired us and got to work.

I wanted to evoke a bit of the “behind the scenes” film world that I’m just coming out of, while hinting at the fact that brands are all around us, telling us stories every day. We grabbed brands just laying around, but ones that have told us stories over the years— Starbucks, Snickers, Nike, Nespresso—and let them linger in the shadows.

The result was something I’m not only proud to use as a portrait (still refusing to call it a headshot or profile picture, sorry LinkedIn), but that I also feels tells a bit of the story about me— that I’m not willing to settle for what everyone else is doing when there are simple, more creative ways to command attention and make a lasting impression if you take the time explore the ideas.

More thoughts on how I think we could all stand to think beyond the headshot in this image driven age, coming in Part II.

Genevieve EmblerComment