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Rethinking Professional Portraits - by Robert Hawara

I find that a lot of people, when in need of a professional portrait, often opt for the same safe, stale and stuffy look for some reason. The "look" is usually characterized by boring backdrops, flat light, perfect hair and awkward smiles. Photographer's aren't helping either since they seem to be more than happy to continue with the safe and stale approach.

That said, what message do these photographs convey about the pictured? Certainly not what they'd perhaps like it to. Instead, wouldn't it be more appropriate if the picture depicted a person's core characteristics and beliefs (e.g. being imaginative, enthusiastic, thoughtful and confident etc)?

What's interesting is that the people I linked to above are all highly successful politicians, board members and consultants and if you were to sit with them or review their work, you would probably walk away being impressed. So why the short shrift when it comes to what could potentially be a client's first impression?

Of course, making decisions based on appearance alone is crazy and I as a business owner would never dream of making any decision based on that sole criteria. But is it inconceivable to be in a more positive frame of mind when meeting a person for the first time if their picture conveyed implicitly characteristics that were important to you in a working relationship? You might ask "how would they see my picture in the first place?" The answer is simple: do you have any pictures or yourself on Facebook? What about Linked-in, or your corporate site? This is certainly not an issue for everyone, but it might be food-for-thought material for many.

Anyhow, I spent a quick afternoon with Adrienne this past weekend since she needed some professional portraits done for her online profile. She isn't a model, but wanted pictures that showed that she was strong, energetic and ambitious person. Instead of a dreary backdrop, we opted for a busier and natural background and added movement in some pictures to add life to the pictures. I find that the end-results certainly achieves what we set out to do.