A Random Introduction
“Do you know Victoria?”
“Yeah…. Like Buzztastic“
I swear, for the last 8-12 months these phrases were popping up in so many random conversations for me. We knew all the same people, everyone kept telling us separately that we’d really get on together, yet, we had never actually met in person.
I attended one of Victoria’s great webinars co-hosted with Jo Davison as part of their ‘Bloody Great Business’ collection. I was very impressed with what both of these ladies had to say, they really knew sales and business and some intricacies around the common pitfalls Small Business owners were -well- falling into!
THE FULL SCH-WHAMMY HEADSHOTS PLANNING
By the time we got to meeting up over lunch, we both had a tonne to chat about along with how we could help each other in business. Victoria is really a true expert in Sales. Along with this, we hit it off in our mutual love of crafts, not beating around the bush and swearing.
Here is Victoria’s Headshot that she was using as a general fail safe for social media, on her site and when she was doing speaking gigs.
She told me she got this done when on the fly at an expo. It had served it purpose but was now out of date (expiry date is 24months MAX on a headshot in my view). It’s your basic bish-bash headshot. Victoria is now ready to start rocking the world with her business. Her headshot imagery now needs to reflect this.
Victoria’s New Headshot Wishlist
Our first metaphorical ‘step up to the drawing board’ produced the following needs:
– examples of her ‘at work’ delivering training.
– Non-cheesy (we agreed this current wave of women laughing whilst eating salad is truly nauseating).
– Keep her hairstyle. Victoria likes a messy rock vibe when it comes to her hair, and she has a pet peeve when hairdressers have tried to change this in the past.
We both went off and agreed to come back to the drawing board again with some more research and ideas. In the creative world this is also known as important ‘mulling time’. I seriously plan in time for an idea to breath now in most of my projects.
In our second catch up on Skype we got to talking about inspirations and dug down a little deeper into looks. Victoria found this part really tricky, but by sharing our screens and flicking through some other websites together I was able to get a rough aesthetic from her perspective. For me, as a people person it’s always important to really get a true understanding of what a client likes and most importantly what they hate before we start work. Then we get into the emotional side of things…
Like it or not (and it’s usually the latter) we’ve had cameras pointed at us from birth. From being bare bottomed on the sheepskin rug at a few months old, to being forced to be happy on the school production line, we develop hang ups, bad habits, and a few issues. I never expected that I’d have to hone my psychology skills when I began my photography business but I think if you really want to help clients long-term instead of end up in that ugly list of traumatising “Where’s The Birdie’s”, you need to get to know your clients’ history with being photographed.
Deciding on Full Sch Whammy, Headshots
What came out of this element of things for Victoria was really just her preferences for how she would be perceived in the pictures. She didn’t always want to be super smiley, or mid laughing. Yet, at the same time it most certainly was not appropriate for us to develop a sultry “smize” either. Only after taking the time to talk through Victoria’s business goals and ideas did these obtuse requirements make sense.
We agreed that I would put a summary of our conversation into a mood board and I’d call in some experts from my team for a de-briefing meeting.
I wanted to show Victoria the benefit of shooting both in a studio set up and then out on location. It was also important that I show an understanding and appreciation of her unique style.
VICTORIA’S BESPOKE HEADSHOTS MOOD-BOARD
On the team I selected Nichola English from The Wardrobe Provocateur. Nichola is an expert at pulling looks within brief and I knew that as Victoria had such a particular style, she would be able to listen and hear the requirement, then add in her own great flourishes to set it all off.
Hair & Make Up
I then chose Ashleigh Koefod from Diva Dust to be on board with both Hair and Make Up. I love being able to work with a multi-skilled artist like Ashleigh. She too is also fabulous at knowing when to hold back, and when to go for it on the creative.
During our meeting Nichola had a few outfit ‘pulls’ at her fingertips and suggested ways to incorporate Victoria’s existing wardrobe with a few key new pieces. Then she and Ashleigh planned some ways the outfits would work with make up looks and a gradually built up eye. As these new ideas evolved we could bring these back to our mood board map and together keep -quite literally- on the same page.
THE FULL SCH-WHAMMY HEADSHOTS SHOOT
We began the shoot at Victoria’s office to get some shots of her at her desk and in “thinking”, “planning” and “listening” style poses. These are all to be used around the new Buzztastic website, and will come in useful in slides, and perhaps in out of office notifications on email.
We then made our way to our temporary pop-up studio that I had built into the route of our day out on location. This was so much easier for where we were shooting. Victoria had her first outfit change and we were set to begin the body of work in Studio Lighting.
I think this shot is a perfect example of showing professional power in a female way. You don’t have to be in a suit with folded arms. The boys made that stuff boring YEARS ago!
One Buzztastic service is to travel to companies and deliver Sales Training. Victoria delivers training in really unusual and fun ways. Its really important to her that prospective clients ‘get this’ from the outset, as its a ‘marmite situation’ (you love it or you loathe it). Incorporating brand colours through the backdrops I used, and then getting Victoria to do something she would do with a giggle anyway gets a shot like this.
Victoria LOVES glitter and butterflies, you can see here (above) that Nichola has incorporated a subtle butterfly on this awesome dress that Victoria’s husband bought her.
With a studio set completed we packed down and headed outdoors to our next location. I had a whimsical idea at the end of our planning session that Victoria have a bunch of tulips for this last bit. She then told me that “that’s such a coincidence, they are one of my favourites!”. There was a whole tulip back story. She used to buy them for her office when she first started out on her own as it was all she could afford.
Out on Location
That was it, I had to have tulips!
Ashleigh knows the area really well and suggested we head to nearby Fleurt to get the flowers. So we popped by before getting the next set of shots.
We then headed to The Crafters Makery. This is a beautiful shop, and Sara Jane works so hard to keep such lovely windows, and a gorgeous shop front. We had agreed that this little piece of small business heaven would be a backdrop.
We continued in the area getting some more in this set but were defeated by a billowing sea fret. We had the final shot to get that I had been getting some fun comments on over on Facebook in the lead up to Victoria’s session. The Glitter Preparation.
While Nichola and I rebooted with some tea, Ashleigh and Victoria worked on getting a final, and more dramatic punk/fairy look together.
When the weather was improved, and we had some light left we completed this raucous set of shots. Needless to say, I was covered in the pot of sequins.
On wrapping the shoot, the next phase of the Headshots began. Now, if you have a planned-out shoot, with everything running smoothly and to plan, you should be in a perfect champagne problem at this stage.
That is where you have far more images than you need in the final cut. Clients are often shocked by the ratios in this part of the process. But the numbers of frames from a shoot dramatically decrease after you complete the following steps:
- Backup, back up and back it all up some more.
- Lose everything where the flash didn’t go off.
- Ditch everything that isn’t in focus (even if it is the prettiest pose IN THE WORLD)
- Lose the half blinks (this differs in who you are photographing)
- Ditch anything that’s going to create a ‘world of pain’ in photoshop. For me, this is where backdrops are not a certain way
- Then you do the skilled eye draw. Photographers do this bit rapidly. We just know what the good ones are because we have this skill.
These steps above are the EDIT. I call this the first pass edit. Then I present the client with RAW images of what is left. In Victoria’s case, we still had an intimidating 245 images to go through.
Victoria got the preview of these files online so she could be flicking over them in-between meetings and as she is on the fly. Then we booked up for a long lunch appointment to narrow things down together. During this session, I could help Victoria section out the images into the sets by outfit, by the backdrop and so on, then we could narrow each set down. She remarked how much easier this felt. Before we knew it we were just in excess of the 45 final shots we were aiming for.
These specific shots were from a tight panoramic set we had shot in the studio set up, so it was something I was able to advise on how to visualise which would be the right option Victoria went for. We agreed on the last image and said that if her Graphic Designer was doubtful when it came to laying text on top of the image they would be able to reach me for alternate cropping of the image as needed.
My retouch of the final images has been a clear set. I like to be really organised when it comes to retouching, as I find it can be such a time drain.
My standard drill on all my work is to:
- Crop it
- Tone it
- Balance the Light so the Collection is coherent
In addition to this standard level, I added in some selective blending, selective sharpening, and then tweaked the colour to bring the overall collection together a little more.
I also had some fun with some magical fairy dust at the very end.
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