Late last year I had the awesome luck to win a brand refresh photo shoot with Nicole Barralet Photography. It included hair and makeup, personal pics, some product pics and a short video about my business. The results have been amazing and I would do it again (and pay) in a heartbeat.
Why I wanted to do the shoot
I entered a competition a few hours after a minor surgery, so I was still pretty groggy. If I am honest with myself I probably wouldn’t have done it otherwise. See I hate being in front of the camera. I avoid it at all costs but I figured I would get something half decent pics if a professional did them.
Did I think I would win...NO but figured I had to be in it to win it and it was a small step towards getting out of my comfort zone. The post-surgery drug haze helped with lowering the freaking out meter!
The video part of the offer drew me in, I try to do them often but don’t have the right set up to make them look profesh. I need a little assistant to follow me around all the time and film stuff so I don’t miss it. I often finish doing something and think - ah crap I should have filmed that...but I digress.
The key points here - I wanted to get out of my comfort zone, get some pretty pics and don’t make big decisions post surgery.
Trust your professionals
Give in to the process! The very first thing Karla asked me was...how do you want your make up? My response was, “I’ve seen you working before. I know you do amazing work and you are the professional, so do what you think and make me beautiful”. Yep, that makeup was darker than I am used to but photos need it. Don’t freak out!!! Trust that they know what they are doing
I have worked with Nicole on a collaboration before, so she had some understanding of me and my brand. That didn’t matter, the week before my session Nicole sent me a questionnaire. She wanted to get a feel for what I thought my brand was all about and what I wanted to achieve. As this was all about branding it is important that you understand what is and is not your brand. It’s no good taking dark moody pics if you are a bright and colourful brand. I was happy that we were all going to be on the same page.
I sent it back and included a couple of things I’d seen around that I felt encompassed my personality. I wondered if she would balk at the idea of throwing chocolate around. NOPE, Nicole loved the idea and embraced my crazy ideas. After all, this is about me and my brand.
But what if I have never worked with them before
Even if you haven’t seen someone working or in action before, you can see their work. Look at their portfolio, that is where you will find examples of their style and product quality. It will tell you all you need to know. If you like what you see, trust them to do something similar for you. If you don’t then keep looking until you find someone whose work “talks to you”. Micromanaging rarely ends with optimal results.
Let your personality out
On the day I was nervous. What the heck had I gotten myself into. We started with the product shots to ease into things. There were giggles in no time but still when it came to me standing in front of the camera the nerves came back. Nicole was super supportive and talked me through it. I quickly eased into the groove and that’s when things got silly. I am a natural face puller and am known to have silent dance parties for no reason. Nicole captured it all. Her passion is for those stock standard headshots to be a thing of the past. There is a difference between professional and boring.
I think creatives don’t get in front of the camera because they feel the pics aren’t a true reflection. I have felt that way in the past. Watching photographers treat everyone exactly the same and they aren’t. A creatives personality is so often intertwined with their work and their brand. They should be captured that way too.
Oh my, what a mess we made!!!! It wasn’t just the kilos of melted chocolate splashed everywhere either. There were chunks of brittle, honeycomb and freeze-dried fruit all over the studio. We had thrown things around a bit to get a natural scattered look rather than a structured one.
Nicole had the forethought put down a drop sheet. Otherwise, we never would have gotten all that chocolate out of the grooves in her timber floor. Most of the chocolate had been contained by the plastic - PHEW!! For the most part, we could sweep the crumbs and bits of other stuff up and dump it on the drop sheet. Some wiping and scrubbing was required for the sticky stuff. All in all not too bad. Cleaning me was a different matter.
I was covered from head to toe in thick dripping melted chocolate. I hadn’t thought through how I was getting cleaned up when I tipped the whole bowl over my head! There was nothing to do but strip, wash as much as I could off with a bucket of water, put my hair up in a bun. Yes, I put clothes on for the trip home. A plastic bag protected the headrest in my car from becoming a chocolate mess. By the time I got home my hair had set and I couldn’t get the hair tie out. It took ages...and bits of dried chocolate were flying off everywhere. FOUR shampoos later my hair finally felt clean.
My clothes were a mixed bag. The apron came clean easily. My T-shirt did not. After repeated soaking and trying many stain products my T-shirt went in the bin. There was no saving it.
What I gained...and it’s so much more than photos
I now have a library of brand consistent photos to use for social media, my website, and print advertising. That was the goal but I gained so much more from those few hours.
I gained confidence. I am who I am and everyone sees me the way I am and, well, photos don’t lie! So I got over it a bit. I did learn some great tricks on how to “optimise” the awesomeness though.
I gained an awesome friend! I found a kindred spirit in Nicole. She’s a lot like me. A little bit crazy (and we all need more friends like that right). She is also a female entrepreneur who gives back by sharing knowledge. Most importantly she believes in the energy of the universe. She is now one of my go-to sounding boards.
I picked up some tips and tricks that will help me take better pics of my products every day.
Ultimately I have a funny story to tell about that crazy chocolate day. Best of all it resulted in pics that really do capture me and my personality. People who know me agree. “That is sooo you” is the common response to either the pics or the story. That is great because I am my brand.
I have used some of those crazy choc photos on my banners for expos. They are a great conversation starter and help me find clients who are happy to try the crazy new things I want to make.