I had been very overweight all my life and naturally gravitated to being the person taking the photos rather than the person being in the photos.
I never had to say anything – I just held up my camera and people naturally assumed their positions for the photo. If someone did ask, “Don’t you want to be in the photo?” a quick “No – I’m good thanks” would swiftly sweep the scary discussion away.
This compounded when I became a single mum with minimal family support. The only photos I have of me while the kids were younger were blurry ones taken by enthusiastic 5-year olds, or frantic shots when I was trying to get my camera back from a toddler racing up the stairs while they giggled hysterically.
Of course, I had some headshots done for my business – everyone needs them! I was lucky to have worked with fantastic photographers who did a great job getting “corporate looking” headshots that played up my best angles and minimised my weight.
After stomach surgery and losing 40kgs, I wanted something dramatically different.
I wanted photos where I was no longer just a head (as any fat lady will tell you that is the most common photo we have taken – just a head and never the body).
I also wanted photos where I wasn’t just a mum. I wanted photos of me … all me and not me plus kids, or me being suitably corporate.
I wanted photos that showed my quirky personality warts and all (and my new body that I was still getting used to).
I wanted photos that were fun, memorably iconic and when people saw them said: “That is so you!”.
After being to one too many funerals recently, I also wanted photos that could be shown at my funeral (hopefully decades away), that would make my family smile and remember my love of tech and gadgets.
Now, I know putting together all of these wants into one photo-shoot was a huge ask.
I had been looking at photographers in Brisbane for years and struggled to find one that could make a prop not look like an awkward afterthought.
I was a fan of a few overseas photographers, so I knew the style that I was looking for: someone who could seamlessly blend Photoshop effects with a rocking great photo.
And then I saw Louise William’s work.
Being honest, the price was initially a huge gulp moment. I mean, the standard package (plus all the extra photos I ended up buying) was the same price as a good second-hand small car. But the result was intensely worth it!
You see, getting an iconic image sorted takes more than just good lighting and a quick snap. It takes a massive process of co-creating ideas, studio time to capture that perfect fleeting micro-expression and a stack of photoshop magic (not to fill in wrinkles, but to transform your image from nice to WOW!)
All of that skill takes time and years to develop, and I understand and appreciate the professional and personal cost it takes to develop those skills.
I have super high standards for the delivery of all of my projects for my clients, and I want my suppliers and collaborators to have the same high standards.
I also understand the value of investing in skill and experience. Sure you can get “nice” for a whole lot less – but I don’t want to settle for nice for my business and my clients. I want freaking awesome!
And the result?
My photos are incredibly memorable, funny, quirky and very me: All of me – complete with all my wonderous silly, geeky and stand-outishness.
No regular headshot photographer has captured that essence before, and the results uniquely brand me on the market in a way that no bland corporate headshot can.
Louise does a lot of deep psychological work as part of the lead up to the photo shoot, and many people find that incredibly helpful in working through how they want to be perceived.
For me, what I needed (and got) was the unlayering of all my “you can’t do that in a business photo” mindsets.
With Louise as my photographer, I was listened to, I was heard, I was valued. And as a result, I was finally able to drop the walls and just be fully me (daggy dancing and all).
She was also a wonderful co-creator – happy to bounce ideas for Photoshop design tweaks.
There was one more thing – I also had a brilliant nugget of advice from Sally Foley-Lewis, another person who had been through the Louise Williams photo experience.
Sally advised me to walk around the house with a huge box, and add in everything that was quirkily and uniquely me: things that I had bought that others may question “Why?”
So, that thought prompt saw me add in my light-bulb bowler hat, light sabre, wand, light-up book, tardis and other fabulous props that sparked creativity and fun with the final photos.
But what benefit does having memorably, iconic photos create for your business?
Iconically memorable photos break down barriers to conversation and increases my brand recognition.
In the past few weeks that I have been slowly releasing the pictures to my clients and networks, I have been inundated by people coming up to me and saying, “Oh – I loved the photo with you and the light-sabre” and “Your portal picture is exactly what you do! Working with you on my website I felt like I stepped through a portal. We started somewhere that I knew and all of a sudden I ended up somewhere magical and wonderful without knowing exactly how I got there so fast. That photo is such a good reflection of your business.”
People see the photo and instantly recall who I am and what I do. No amount of words or generic advertising can do that!
But the other benefit is in terms of how I do my work. You see, Louise does in film what I do in words and pixels.
Louise and I both dig to find those hidden gems within people and then bring them to light to share their brilliance with others.
The reason we do this is that authenticity in marketing is the secret-sauce in building trust.
One of the things you learn when you study psychology is that appropriate emotional self-disclosure is a remarkably powerful tool, as it permits others to connect with you at a deeper level.
By showing a deeper side of me through my images, it gives my clients permission also to bring their full selves to the table. My clients feel OK to explore and share their uniqueness, which means we can achieve stronger and more effective results with their websites and their marketing.
On a deeper level, the photos for me are also a visible reminder never to lose myself again. To remember to stop making myself invisible behind a camera or a computer.
They are also a reminder that being myself – my whole self – is not only enough, it is spectacularly fabulous.
Remember to check out Louise William’s website for more iconic images.