Today I'd like to introduce you to Rachel. She was my best friend when I was three, my pen pal when I was thirteen, and one of my soul sisters now that I'm nearing thirty.
Our photo shoot was months in the making, and was inspired by an girl's evening out where we were sharing our visions for the future - hazy though they may have been at the time.
She's the Dean of Student Affairs at a local college and I was a financial analyst, and like you tend to do over cocktails, we were talking about our professional and personal trajectories.
As trained Life Coach, she was looking to shift her practice from families to individuals. I was thinking that I'd like to focus my portraiture on women in a way that honored them on a soul-level.
"I want to photograph women who are changing women's lives for the better; especially women entrepreneurs," I said.
"Well, then I want you to photograph me someday," said Rachel.
I laughed and demurred, thinking that someday was some in the far, far distant future.
As it turns out, the future often arrives more quickly than we plan.
It seems that within a short period of time we were meeting again, planning our shoot.
She was looking for head shots that would communicate her essential qualities to her ideal client base, so I wanted to know who she had envisioned her clientele being, and what she wanted them to know about her and her business from our images.
During our conversation words like Graceful, Authentic, Connected, Depth and Self-Empowerment were coming up again and again. Because Rachel's brand of coaching is an extension of herself, I wanted to make sure that our photos communicated those ideas.
This goes back to the idea of discussing your branding words or themes with your photographer so that you can create a photo session that tells your story authentically.
It also requires you to spend the time getting clear on yourself and your message before you step in front of a camera. Don't worry, this is an ongoing process. As we change, our message evolves with us.
But the more work we can do inside, the more timeless our images will be! Here's a hint: a lot of that work is first and foremost rooted in self-love.
Through our discussion, Rachel and I were able to determine that we wanted to communicate the following:
Rachel's coaching style is graceful and authentic. By guiding clients to find their connection to a higher consciousness, Rachel helps them discover their true nature and develop their own personal success formula using their latent skills and tools.
It helps that I've known Rachel for years, so I was able to know that she was spot on with her words, had spent the time to know herself and know her brand because the way that I saw her with completely in line with what she wanted to communicate about herself. (But she's also a life coach, so that's part of her job!)
Before our shoot we put together a Vision Board of images that communicated her brand, and we identified what it was about each image that we were connecting with.
That helped me put together an idea of locations for her shoot, as well as to energetically find where it was we would need to connect in order to get the shots that we wanted.
We knew we wanted banner images for her website, a casual looking image for her About Page, her Work with Me Page, and images that would work for her Blog Posts as well.
As a bonus we got some images that would also work for an author's headshot, just in case she penned a best seller in the next few years, or if she had high-level speaking engagement.
With that map in mind, we arrived at the studio and began shooting.
This was another one of Rachel's favorites. This image has a lot of grace and poise, and the pose suggests being both grounded in the now, while connected to something greater. It's a perfect depiction of the essence of her business, and will likely be used on her "Work with Me" page
This was the photo she decided would go on her About page. It has an unposed quality and an open posture that works really well for the page's context.
The next day after our shoot Rachel sent me an email that I will always cherish:
"I had a really meaningful experience yesterday. Thank you for creating a space where I felt safe. (And for helping me hide the niggly things I don't love about my appearance!) I realized I hadn't done a professional photo shoot since I was a child. I was out of my element and you didn't let me flounder. THANK YOU!"
I don't know if it gets any better than that for me!