I AM A COACH, NOT A BRANDING EXPERT. But anyone who offers a service or sells a product knows that personal image is crucial. At the very least, it needs to be positive.
And if you have a coaching practice you have a brand image, like it or not.
My brochure needed a new photograph. A good friend was kind enough to spend a morning shooting photos of me in her home studio, where she spends much of her free time.
After only two hours in the heat of lights, posing on demand, interpreting what was wanted in terms of position of chin, head and shoulders, not to mention my smile, I decided the work of a model is unexpectedly tough.
At the end of the shoot, we reviewed all 80+ photos, quickly eliminating the unacceptable shots. The second round of culling was more demanding. Viewing non-candid, posed photographs of oneself, trying to be natural and authentic, is mostly a terrible experience (except if you are a model perhaps). You tend to see the unflattering elements – unwanted lines, grey hairs and asymmetry.
Finally, we settled on the four best photos – finalists for the brochure. One I liked was disqualified after my photographer friend said, “I’m not sure if you laughing this hard is the right image to project as a coach.” And I will ask the brochure’s graphic designer (who I’ve worked with for years) to weigh in with her preference – because image is her line of work.
That brings us to the big question: What is the right image? And who says it’s right? How do we know? Our persona is in part the image we present to the world. I remember reading an article on a portrait photographer who said something on the lines of, ‘the surface is very important because it is often all you get from someone.’
Image and branding raise sticky and tricky questions:
We know that first impressions matter – in both the physical and digital worlds. Sometimes we retract our initial judgments once we get to know the person and, other times, we are pleased to confirm that our initial impressions were correct. More often than not, none of this matters past the first minutes, as long as the person has qualities you like or admire.
When we display or publish an image, we are not there to interpret the image for the viewer.
For example, in two pictures I eventually disqualified, I appear (to my eye) either:
I have no conclusions – except that I hope you will like my new photo. I did find the exercise of being photographed and editing the output to be an interesting one.
And it raised more questions than answers.
Enjoy the days and weeks ahead,
not, Model Minda
Photographer: Danielle Charron
My family, relationships, movement, nature, flexibility of mind, exploration of alternative perspectives & openness are central to my life.