Is it time to update your headshot? What about other photos of you? Join Andrea in conversation with professional photographer Helen Tansey, as they talk LinkedIn headshots, how to get great photos of yourself, and how to integrate your personal brand into your headshot and other photos.


Connect with Helen Tansey – Sundari Photography

Connect with Andrea & Talk About Talk:

Andrea’s LinkedIn Headshot checklist:

  1. It needs to look like you – today
  2. Colour vs. black & white doesn’t matter, but definitely use a high-resolution image.
  3. Make sure your face takes up most of the space in the circle. You might need to zoom in.
  4. Make it a stand-alone photo of you only.  
  5. Solid and/or neutral background. 
  6. Wear what you typically wear to work on an important day. 
  7. Big smile!

More on LinkedIn Headshots:


Greetings and welcome to talk about TALK episode #142, Headshots and Photographs – your online visual brand.

When I’m thinking about what topics to coach you on in these podcast episodes, I think about the questions that I get in workshops and one-on-one coaching sessions. Certainly this topic of getting the best head shot or other professional corporate photography comes up a lot.

But I have to tell you I have a LONG list of topics in the queue that qualify under that criteria.

I have a bit of a different origin story for the topic of this episode! A couple of months ago I was coaching an amazing female CEO on her personal brand. When we were finished identifying the themes, her unique superpowers, I asked her to send me her headshot so that I could include it in her personal branding template. She told me she’d recently had some professional photographs taken and she was really pleased with them. She sent me four or five photos from the photo shoot and asked me to choose one. These photos absolutely blew me away. There were a few headshots, one of her sitting, one of her standing, amazing. The CEO looked beautiful AND professional AND she looked like herself. Her unique personal brand. The photographs were like a visual representation of the personal brand we had been cultivating and articulating for her.

The photographer’s name is Helen Tansey and lucky for me, she’s here in Toronto, Canada, where I live. And you’re going to meet her in a minute.

Long story short, I started recommending Helen to my clients in Toronto, even before I met her. And even a few clients outside of Toronto booked photo shoots with Helen when they came into town. They’ve ALL been thrilled. So I decided to book myself in for Helen’s 3 hour corporate branding photography package, with hair, makeup and several outfit changes. It was a blast – it felt like a day at the spa. And I learned so much. So I asked Helen if I could interview her so you could hear some of her advice first hand.

And here we are! This is going to be so much fun.

Before we go any further, I need to introduce myself. In case we haven’t met, my name is Dr. Andrea Wojnicki and I’m YOUR executive communication coach. Please call me Andrea!  I’m the founder of Talk About Talk, where I coach communication skills to ambitious executives through 1:1 coaching, bootcamps, workshops and keynotes. My objective is to help you improve your communication, your confidence and your clarity, so you’ll get noticed for the right reasons and ultimately get promoted!  THAT is my goal here.  

In this episode, you’re going to learn what to think about in terms of how you show up visually, online, in a way that reinforces your personal brand. I’m talking about those headshots and other images of you. You’re going to learn about what to wear, how to smile, what to think about, and even what to look for in a photographer. First, I’m going to briefly share with the LinkedIn headshot checklist that I share with my clients. 7 tips for you. Then I’ll introduce our guest expert, photographer Helen Tansey. , and we’ll get right into the interview. At the end. I’m going to summarize with some of the key learnings. So as always you don’t need to take notes. Just keep doing whatever you’re doing! Walking. Or driving. Or doing housework. Or sitting on the couch. 

By the way, If you are sitting on the couch, you might want to watch this podcast on YouTube. A couple of months ago, I started releasing all of these episodes in video as well on YouTube. This episode in particular, you might want to watch. We ARE talking about our visual image!

Speaking of which, I‘m so delighted with the photos Helen took that I’m going to slowly start updating the photos on my website. In the meantime, I encourage you to go to the website anyway. There are lots of resources there to help you out. If you’re an individual executive, there’s information about 1:1 coaching and bootcamps. If you’re a leader or an HR manager looking to boost the communication skills of your team, there’s also information about workshops and keynotes.  And there are free resources too: like the archive of this bi-weekly podcast, AND, I really hope you’ll sign up for the Talk About Talk newsletter. That newsletter is your chance to get communication tips and coaching from me every week. 

OK, on to our topic at hand. Before I introduce Helen, I’m going to start with a list of seven things to think about when you’re choosing your LinkedIn headshot. I get asked about this all the time, so here’s the list.  If you want to improve your perception as likeable, trustworthy and capable, in other words worthy of following or connecting with on LinkedIn, here are 7 things you want to ensure you keep in mind for your headshot:

  • You want a photo that looks like you. That means relatively recent.  Have you ever connected with someone online and then you didn’t recognize the person when you met this in person? I hear that happens a lot with dating apps too.  Not a good idea in either case.  Make sure it looks like you- today.
  • Colour vs black & white doesn’t matter, But definitely use a high-resolution image. We want to see your face. When you’re on LinkedIn on our phones, the headshots are TINY.  Please make sure they’re clear.  And that leads me to the next point.
  • Make sure your face takes up most of the space in the circle. Many many of the executives I coach have too much torso in their headshot and not enough face.   You can easily zoom in on your face using the edit function on your profile.
  • Make it a photo of you only.  You might like how you look in that photo with your arm around your partner, but we can all tell you cropped them out. Make it a stand alone photo of you.
  • I used to say a neutral background. Now I say a solid or neutral background. Lots of people have a punch of colour in their headshot background and it looks great. The idea is to not distract us from your face.  But photos from your vacation with no palm trees on the beach or – get this – seat belts.  One woman I was coaching obviously took her headshot in her car.  I could see the seatbelt beside her head. So a solid or natural background. You can express your personality more in the bigger banner image behind your headshot.  Got it?
  • Wear what you typically wear to work on an important day. I know a lot of people don’t like this fact, but research shows people will think you’re more influential if your dressing more formally. A suit isn’t always necessary. But stay away from sloppy t-shirts and hoodies. And here’s a bonus tip: solids typically look better than patterns.
  • Smile! This should go without saying.  One study I read concluded that people view you as more likable, competent, and influential if you smile in your pic. And smiles that show teeth were rated twice as likable as closed-mouth smiles.  Even if you hate your job.  Just smile.

And that’s 7!  Did you get all that? If not, you can review them in the shownotes.

Let’s move on to our guest expert.

Helen Tansey started her career as a professional model in Europe and then made the transition from being in front of the camera to behind the lens. Yes, she’s stunning, which you’ll see if you’re watching us on YouTube.

For over 30 years now, she’s been photographing corporate executives, actors, celebrities & families. You can see many of these amazing photos on her website: Some notable clients Helen has photographed include Gordon Ramsey, Carrie Ann Moss, Jason Isaacs, Colin Mochrie, Scott Speedman, Supermodel Monika Schnarre and many others.  Helen has been featured on CBC Television, Breakfast Television, Fashion Television, Discovery Channel’s “Behind the Lens”, Global Television and The Candice Olsen Show.  Her work has also been featured in magazines such as Flair, Elle, and plenty of other magazines and newspapers.

Helen loves to turn the lens on things she’s passionate about. Of course that’s people. But her latest passion is photographing women over 40 which she calls “Sundari Woman.”  This is also the name of her firm and her website:  I’ll leave a link in the shownotes so you can take a look at some of the amazing photos she’s taken. 

Helen’s “Sundari Woman” project resonated so deeply with many women’s that she published a coffee table book which feature over 40 women ranging from 40-93 years old. The book showcases beautiful black and white photos taken by Helen, and alongside these photos, these inspiring women share their wisdom on aging. 

Helen love’s being a photographer and takes great joy and pride in working together with her clients to get the perfect shot. 


Thank you so much, Helen, for joining us here today to talk about corporate photography and our personal brands.

I thank you so much for having me. I’m excited about this conversation.

Me too. I know you have so much incredible insight to share based on your modeling experience. And of course, based on your experience as a professional photographer. So I was thinking that many of the people listening, when they hear corporate photography, the first thing they think of is their headshot, right? So that little circle image that shows their face on LinkedIn, for example. Let’s start with that. What advice do you have for people who want to get the best headshot?

Well, I think it’s interesting, because sometimes people just want to, you know, get a headshot up there. But you have to remember, especially with LinkedIn, like first impressions are huge. So you don’t want a photo where it’s like you’re at a wedding. And you can tell that your partner’s been cut out of it or something like that. I know that even a friend was just telling me that there’s an AI now where you can take your own selfie, and then it goes in and changes, but it looks horrible, I think. So I think it is really important to invest in getting a great headshot and keep it really, you know, simple. And keeping it nice and simple, where you walk going on in the background, a solid color, and then just really clean clothes that you’re wearing. And then let the photographer direct you also, because sometimes people will go on YouTube and like, you know, how do you get your picture taken? I have women coming in, they’re sticking their jaws out. And I’m like, why are you doing that? And they’re like, Oh, well, I heard it makes me look better. And I’m like, No, it doesn’t, you know, so just really trust the photographer, that they’re going to direct you to make sure that they’re getting your best angles. And even, you know, we all have little tricks to help you feel more comfortable when you’re smiling. I have something I do. And you know, I just kind of say like, Hey, say hi, because it kind of connects everything and, and just really sort of trust the photographer. And I would even suggest before you book a shoot with somebody to have a consultation so that you make sure you feel comfortable with them.

Okay, there’s a lot to unpack there. And I just want to start by saying full confession. I definitely have heard and read that you’re supposed to stick your chin out to avoid the what’s it called?

The jowls or something? I don’t know. But you just look like a lizard.

That’s true. So many little tips and hacks that people share. So what what so you shared the one about saying, Ah, right. And I know Yeah, when you were directing me. And to your point, I would like to think that I was kind of putty in your hands, right? Like I really trusted you to direct me. What other tips do you have to help us relax and really get the best shot?

I mean, you did great, because you just went with it like you completely whether you were nervous or not. You couldn’t tell which was wonderful. And you had fun. And I think that’s an important thing, too. It’s like you’re spending this money you’re getting photos done. Have fun with it. Like what a great opportunity that you get to have photos that you get to brand yourself. So whatever nerves that you know, sometimes people come in and of course, they’re very nervous. Just tell the photographer like even I think when you came in you were like, I’m feeling a little nervous. And I’m like, okay, that’s okay. We got you. And sometimes when you just vocalize it, you can let it go. Right. That’s right point beyond photography, Helen. That’s a great yeah, biggest boost our confidence. I love that.

Because you’ll find that you’re not alone with it.

No, no, I’m not alone, that that helps, too. I also have another confession, which is I was thinking about the images that exist of me on the internet. And there is one photo when you were talking about you know, the the photo that was taken of you and your partner and then you crop out your partner. I have a photo of me I’m at a conference I was I wasn’t with my partner, but I was at a conference and someone took a photo. And it turned out to be a great picture of me, and I use it for my peloton.

Oh, that’s hilarious. Yeah,

I will change that. I will change that. So so it has to be you only in the photo obvious. Yes. Yes. And you don’t want to be posing and and you know, sticking your chin out or whatever else. And you said you want to where you talk a little bit maybe about wardrobe. Yeah, for especially. Again, I’m just going to sort of because a lot of people need photos for LinkedIn. You don’t want anything too busy. You don’t want I mean, you look so beautiful. Right now you’re wearing stripes. I wouldn’t use that for a photo. Because it’s just yeah, you want to be the focal point. If you do have a signature like sometimes people like earrings or a necklace, definitely where that but nothing. Again, that’s going to distract from you. And a lot of people, a lot of people when they do photos, they don’t do them again for another five days. 10 years. So you want to make sure that it’s timeless also, right? So even if something is in fashion, maybe just be like, okay, is this a timeless fashion? Right? Or is this just quick fashion?

Yeah, that’s a really interesting one I’ve noticed. Lately, a lot of women are wearing exactly the same necklace. And I’m thinking, in two years, nobody’s gonna be wearing that necklace. And we’re all going to know that that photo was taken in the last whatever, three years. So interesting. And also, I told my clients that we want to recognize you, when we see your photo, image on LinkedIn, and then we meet you, you know, for coffee or whatever, for the first time in a meeting, we want to be able to recognize the person.

That’s a really good point, too, because sometimes people want to do retouching afterwards. And I’m okay with that, like the the retouching that I do, it’s very light. But you don’t want to have like, all your wrinkles taken away, because then you’re not going to look like your photo and people can tell. Right? And I think especially in business, they can tell and it kind of it to me, it reads is a bit of insecurity. So I think having a great photo for sure, a little bit of retouching, but don’t go overboard, because then you’ve got that pressure when you walk in the room that you’re not going to look like your photo.

Yeah, I really I encourage all the listeners to go to your website, and I’m going to leave I’m going to leave the link to that in the in the show notes. But if they go to your website, and they can, you can scroll through the actor photography, photographs, the modeling photographs, and of course the corporate photographs. Yes. See how Helen really has has a talent for making people look like their best selves, but it is real. You can see wrinkles, you can see wrinkles, including mine.

So before we go on from headshots, I just want to make a comment about what you said in terms of what you’re wearing and pattern. So I was thinking about that when I got dressed for this interview, and I’m wearing this striped jacket. So I brought to our photoshoot my favorite, I would say it’s one of my signature jackets. It’s a turquoise hounds tooth jacket that I love. And yeah, very politely put it aside and you opted for all solids. Yeah, you want to talk about that? A little bit?

Yeah, because you have to remember, again, it’s going to be distracting. And sometimes when patterns come up on people screen, they can get really sort of pixelated. So you want to be careful of that too. Because even though you might have a high quality computer, somebody else might not do you know. So that’s one reason. And also, again, you want to be the focal point you don’t want when they see the photo to see the pattern first and then see you. So it’s really important that you are the center of attention.

So two great reasons for wearing solids, you know, to be pixelated, and you want to be the center of attention, not focus, right, not your clothing. One last thing about clothing that I had as an insight was I was wearing fur as you encouraged me to I brought a white blouse. And I typically don’t wear white on here. I’m wearing my white jacket, but I don’t usually just wear white, right like plain white. And I think that demonstrated to me that, that having a simple white blouse, In a photograph, even though you might not necessarily wear one like around the office is a great classic shot. It’s class. Yeah, yeah.

And that’s something interesting to Andrew, because sometimes you might have something that you love, but it doesn’t photograph well. Yeah. So you always want to bring a few options, because I’ve had that where I put on something and I love it. But then when you see it on camera, it’s like, oh, it makes you look bigger than you are or the color isn’t right or the Fit isn’t right. So I think it’s really important that you also bring a few options.

Yeah. So the things that we’re talking about here apply. I’m thinking not just to our headshots, but also to our virtual meeting backgrounds. Yeah. So all of these learnings, I want to just say that, again, all of these learnings apply, not just for when you’re being photographed, but when you’re showing up on screen in real time in meetings or if you’re being video recorded. Right? I agree. Yeah. So what colors show up best on images? You know, it

depends on you like it depends on your coloring. I think I mean, what I usually do when people come in for shoots is again like bring a few options. Like you said that you wouldn’t have thought of wearing the white but I think the White was so beautiful on you. And then I also love the strong color so when you brought you also brought that beautiful turquoise or teal colored blazer, not the hands tooth one, but the other one. I’ve had clients where they were like bring a beautiful red blazer. And if you shoot it on a gray background, it’s not to you you wouldn’t shoot Have a red background, you know, that blue background with a red jacket like that would just be Whoa, it’s way too much. So you have to also trust the photographer that they’re going to balance out the colors so that they’re complementary. And that still that you are the one who’s standing out in the photo.

Yeah. Okay, let’s get into posing. We’ve covered now kind of generally how to think about it, we’ve covered what to wear. And you mentioned not sticking your your neck out your neck. Or your chin out, I guess. Right. And looking at lizard. Yeah, I’ve heard things like, you know, this is this is more about like the full body photography. But when when you when you have your hands out, you should have this like claw. This is another thing that I’ve read on the internet, you should you should think of your hands as claws, which seems kind of weird. And also not standing straight to the to the camera standing at a 45 degree angle. And, you know, based on how you directed me, I’m thinking some of these things aren’t actually even true.

No? Well, it’s funny. Yeah, because I mean, hands are always really tricky. And photos, because they can look like claws. And you don’t want that. Right. So I have little tricks I don’t if you remember shooting where you kind of bend your wrist a little bit, because if I have this and then have that, it just looks so much more, you know, appealing. And then also, the angle thing is true. Like if you look at the red carpet, where they’re always sort of turned to the side and the hand is out a little bit. Part of that is because if your arm goes flat against your body, it flattens it out and it can make it look larger than it is. So that’s just like creates really nice sharp lines. But I when I shoot I do all angles, as you know, because sometimes it’s you know, if everybody has a shot on the side, it can get really boring, right? So definitely when I shoot I like to do you know the left side, the right side, I like to do standing forward. And I love if you bring pockets because a lot of people don’t know what to do with their hands. So having if you can put your hands in your pockets, or even if we don’t see it, even if you have glasses, you can you can hold the glasses in front of you. It just helps to give you something to hold on to which consent for you. And that you’re not worrying about. Oh, what do I do with my hands? Because that’s something people ask all the time.

Yeah, yeah. So I have a three point body language scan that I encourage my clients to use or adopt, which is focus first on your posture. And then on your hands. And then on your eyes. Because we you know, when we feel self conscious, all of a sudden, we don’t know what to do with any part of our posture, hands eyes, maybe? Maybe that’s a good framework for us to start with here. What would you say in terms of posture for when we’re getting

Incidentally, I mean, that’s why I always say to people like length, I never say shoulders back stand tall. But I always sort of say, lengthen your spine, right? Because it does. I don’t think people realize if you’re hunched over it can also read as being insecure. Yep. So having that, you know, beauty, and that’s the photographer’s responsibility also, to catch you on that because you’re already nervous. You already have a lot going on your head. And I always believe that it’s the responsibility of the photographer to sort of go okay, take a breath, lengthen your spine. And usually people are like, Oh, my God, thank you so much for telling me that I know I slouch. And especially now because we’re all on our computers. We’ve been on Zoom meetings, were all like a little bit more rounded. Yeah,

I’m feeling conscious right now of lengthening my spine. And then yeah, the hands

if for those hands, like just sort of, you always want like a little bit of a bend in the wrist. That’s why you’ve been putting them you don’t want Wonder Woman You don’t want them right up, you know, under your ribcage because that can look they also have to remember when it’s being cropped, it can look like very weird, right? So you have to think especially on LinkedIn, it’s a circle. So if your arms are here and they’re cropped, it can just look like you have these stubs coming out of the side or something. So that’s something to be mindful of. So always kind of low Hands on your thighs is really good. Just so you have that little bit of space between your arm and your body.

Okay. Okay. And then what about eyes? What should we think be thinking about with our eyes? With regards? Yeah, we’re being photographed.

So I think what what we did when we shot is like a lot of people when they smile, they just smile with their mouth and their eyes are dead. So if you just kind of go, Hey, hi, and it feels corny. You know how you do it? No, it feels corny, but it works. It kind of engages everything. Sometimes what I’ll do if people are really struggling, I’ll just say, Okay, think of something that you love. Think of something that lights you up, and I give them that moment. And then they do it. And then it’s like, okay, and you can see the shift. Like it’s very subtle. You know, that’s why when you watch actors on the screen, like it’s very, it doesn’t take a lot to capture that. You know,

that’s a great idea of So visualizing something or imagining something that you Yeah, and then yeah, then kind of internalizing that and then exuding it. Yeah,

I know. Sometimes I’ve actually said like, think of your kids and then they get stressful on their face? No, no, no, don’t

think about your kid on their best day that’s think of your dog or something. This was a new one for me the one you said previously, though, you said, say, ah or Ah, right. Hey, hey, yeah, I remember like, it makes you sort of lean forward. Hey, I think she engaged that of a smile, instead of saying, yeah, he’s. Yeah, right. Yes. Yeah. So we’ve done the your posture, your your outfit, your posture, your hands, your eyes. What about your smile? I think like, to your point, when when a photographer asked you to smile, you just think about turning up the corners of your lips.

So that’s so first of all, you have such a beautiful smile. Not everybody likes to smile, right? Not everybody has that big, gorgeous Julia Roberts smile. So what I would say is that if it comes naturally to you, then absolutely do that big smile, but don’t force it. Right. So if your smile is like a little bit of a closed mouth, smile, that’s totally fine. It’s better to have that than having one of those cheesy smiles where you can tell that you’re uncomfortable, and it’s not your personality. So again, I think that’s something that’s between you and the photographer. I can tell right away if somebody’s uncomfortable with smiling, and then I’ll ask them like, is there something do you not like your teeth? Or you know, and usually they’re like, Oh, I’m not a big smile, or and I’m like, Okay, how about if we just do little smiles. And then when I do the hay thing, they usually start laughing. And I can get like a beautiful sort of more of a candid photo. But again, you want to be authentic in your photos, right? So having a photo where you’ve got like a big grin, but it’s not you and you’re uncomfortable with it, then don’t do it. It’s okay. You don’t have to you want a warm, approachable photo, but it doesn’t have to be a big smile.

So if I’m hiring a professional photographer to do my headshots, and then I decide I’m gonna go for the package and get more photos, can you share some advice on what types of photos we might be seeking? So whether, for example, you know, you have your own website, like I do, and you need photos for the website, or for most of my clients, you know, they may be they may need clients, they need that my clients might need photographs for their Corp, their company’s website for the company that they work for. Or it might be to share with a biography, if they’re speaking at an event if they’re doing a keynote speech, or that kind of thing. Yeah, it kind of looks do you think makes sense to capture from a professional photography session?

Yeah, I think first of all, exactly what you’re saying, like, knowing what Your looks are, I have a woman who’s coming in and she wants to do some fun creative looks. But she sent me what her company uses, which is just like that horrible white background and very straight and measured out. And it’s like, Okay, we’ll do that. And then we can move on to some fun stuff. So, you know, she needs that for her company. But then she wants more corporate photos for exactly she does speaking events. She also wants it for her LinkedIn for a different look. And she also wants to use them on social because social is a big platform now and people use it for business. So even having a great photo of yourself that’s maybe a little bit more of a lifestyle shot. There’s nothing wrong with that.

That’s a great point. That’s a great point I should have I should have brought that up you know, I by interact on a daily basis with a lot of people including some thought leaders who post images of themselves in various sometimes they’re in a studio, but often they’re even outside right or you can it looks like there may be in their office or maybe even at home. So what kinds of I know you sent me an email before our session, what different outfits Do you always encourage people to bring and then what are some other options in terms of back back to clothing?

Yeah, so definitely, I always think a blazer is really nice, especially on women doing a blazer and then if you do a blazer, I personally wouldn’t do a collared shirt under it because I feel it can get a bit too busy with all the collars. So doing like a nice sort of scoopneck whether it be a tank topper, you know like I don’t know like Banana Republic where they’ve got this beautiful T shirts like not like a you know t shirt that you wear it with your kids like a really nice t shirt under it. And then you can do it with a pair of pants. Sometimes people now again now with more casual, you could also do pair of jeans with a beautiful silk blouse can look really nice. Yes. So just sort of playing around and knowing what your colors are. I also don’t mind a turtleneck. Hmm, I think it turtleneck can look really cute specifically on women. Because it and depending on your field, like if you’re a little bit more of an artist, if you’re an art director or something, it just has that sophistication, but it’s got that feel of an artist to it also. So, again, I think a really great thing for your listeners, if they’re choosing photographer, I would suggest to always do a consultation beforehand. Yes, yeah. So that they can sort of walk you through it and sort of go okay, and, and sometimes people will send me photos of their clothes. And I’m like, Nope, that’s not gonna work. Oh, really? Okay. Yeah, yeah. And that’s okay. Right. Like his, again, sometimes we have our favorite outfit, but it’s not going to read well on camera. So I think it’s really important if you can, just to sort of set up like a quick 15 minute zoom call, or you can even through email, send photos, and just that way, you are more prepared, because the more prepared you are, the more you’re gonna get out of your shoot.

The more prepared and I keep thinking about this, the more you trust the photographer Helen, I emphatically trusted you. I realize in retrospect, I really was putty in your hands. I was like, tell me what you want me to do. And I’ll and I’ll do it which way to look how to smile, how to stand what to wear. I think I brought probably eight completely different outfits, where things were interchangeable, right jackets, sweaters, blouses, tank tops, dress, dress, pants, jeans, and so on. And you went through while I was getting my makeup done to, to choose what would look best on camera, and I completely trusted you.

So and you were great too, because you brought like jewelry and rings. And even that, like when we would wear when you would wear gold chains. It’s like, okay, let’s not do earrings, because you don’t want to be too much. Right? Right. So even like that was great that you brought that variety. You brought big hoops. You brought studs, you brought lots of chains, so we can really play around with it. Yep.

What about for men? I’m thinking if I was a guy listening to this, I’d be like, come on to me. So I’ve got my nice, you know, high quality blue suit with my white shirt and my favorite silk tie. What else? Yeah,

would you. So I would again suggest when I photograph men, again, that corporate feel. And then we do some without the tie. I love the look of a suit with just a nice crisp shirt. And no tie I think is gorgeous. And then the same thing, doing a casual, just like have a nice dress shirt. You know, I think like a nice crisp white dress shirt looks great on a man. You can do something like that. Or you could do not a suit but a blazer. Do you know what I mean? Like just more of a casual blazer, you could do something like that with a shirt under it. And you could even try it with a T shirt as long as it doesn’t look to Miami Vice or anything. But you know, and just sort of for more of that casual feel. So and with men, I don’t know why I find most men wear clothes that are too big for them.

Interesting. Yeah. And I’m not

sure why that is. I don’t know if they don’t care. And they just but making sure if you have a shirt that it fits you properly, that the neck fits properly, that it’s not too oversized. And try your stuff on specially for men try your stuff on beforehand, because sometimes men come and they can’t do the top button up because maybe they’ve gained weight a lot of people over COVID, right? And then they’re like, oh my god, I can’t do this app. So always like try your stuff on beforehand and make sure you feel comfortable in it. Because if you don’t feel comfortable in it, don’t bring it.

Yeah, that’s a great tip. So make sure that your clothing is either new, or it’s in very good shape. Right? And yes, it’s pressed. Also make sure it fits.

Make sure it fits. Yes, yeah.

So what have you noticed, in your experience, photographing executives in particular, nevermind the models and the actors but but the corporate shots? What have you noticed the differences are between men and women? I’d love to hear.

Yeah, it’s funny, because I’ve been doing this for 30 years. And when I first started doing corporate, I found that women, you know, would have that, you know, the arms crossed and being very serious. And, and I feel as you know, we move away from the patriarch, where women kind of step into their power and who they are, that we can smile, we can laugh and, and be beautiful and photos, it doesn’t mean that we’re not smart, it doesn’t mean that we’re not as competent as men are. So I love that where I love that women are coming in and owning who they are and owning their brand, and not being afraid to sort of step out of, you know, the boundaries of what is considered, you know, that sort of headshot, which is very, you know, masculine, I think, yeah, yeah, it’s as you were, as you were explaining that I was I just kept thinking of Barbie right, like, I can enjoy playing with Barbies. And I can become a kick ass leader, right? Yes, I can be feminine, and I can be a successful core We’re pretty executive.

Yes. And you can be beautiful and look fabulous. And a photo like don’t downplay that, right. Yeah.

Being beautiful does not mean that you’re not credible and effective. That’s that’s a really important message for women to hear. What about differences between older folks and younger folks, when they’re when they’re being I don’t know, maybe executives in their in their young executives in their 20s versus older older folks, I know you really love photographing women in particular, you have a section on your website with that. Any any observations that you’ve had about differences between young and old?

I think everybody has their insecurities. It’s just different. You know, if it’s older women, they’re a little bit more concerned about wrinkles, or maybe under their chin. If it’s younger women, it’s more like always my hair perfect. And so everybody has their insecurities. And I think what happens when we do photos, I don’t think we really think about what we, we think about what we look like, but we don’t sort of obsess over it. But then when it comes to getting our photos done, we’re like, oh, my gosh, how are my roots? Or should I was that five pounds, or you know, because we’re recapturing this time in our lives. But also remember, too, that you know, these photos, you’re dressed, you’re wearing clothing, you’re not in a swimsuit, you’re not naked. So if you’re five pounds overweight, no one’s going to notice that, you know, so go easy on yourself with it, too. And then again, like I think that we all have insecurities, but bring it up to your photographer, you know, and just say I’m a little or even I know, when you came in, you got your your makeup and hair done, which is wonderful, because it also gives you time to sort of decompress and just sort of taking the environment beforehand. And so when I’m there, it’s like, I can sort of hear like, if it’s like, oh, I don’t like this part of my face. Or if I don’t like this, I’m like, can make notes of that. So I can address it when we’re shooting. And a lot of times, what I do is I’ll show you as we’re shooting, I’ll show you the back of the camera. And right away, we can make corrections. But you you know, if you love it, you’re like, Oh my God, that’s great. And then you just sort of let go of all that stress and know that you’re in good hands. Or if there’s something you don’t like, Okay, what is it? Let’s tweak that? You know, is it? Do you need a little bit more eyeliner is it feels like too much makeup? Do you need to use your hair a little bit? Should we try in a different tops? Is that not feel? You know, like? It’s it’s a it’s a collaboration between, you know, the person that I’m shooting and myself like, and we’re team working together?

Yeah. So when one of my clients recommended you to me, many, many months ago, I my interest was piqued and I went to your website. And then you and I had a conversation, we actually went out for lunch. But you know, it could have been over the phone, I’m thinking about what criteria people should be using in order to choose a professional photographer. And I just want to, you know, kind of start this list by saying the main reason I hired you is because I trusted you. So I had a strong recommendation from someone that I trusted, and she said you were fantastic. And also you did offer as part of the package, the hair and the makeup. And and you have your own studio. So you have a bunch of checkmarks. But generally speaking, is there a list of things that you would recommend people look for when they’re choosing a professional photographer for themselves?

I mean, obviously, their website, you know, do you like their work? Is it all? You know, of course, you want to put photos on your website that are great, but is there a variation of different ages of different ethnicities? Do you like their style? You know, because if it’s somebody like I know, right now, there’s this big thing with corporate where it’s kind of like this boho background. And I think that’s great, but that’s not timeless, you know? And then everybody’s got that. So kind of seeing like, is this the style that you want to go with? And it’s not that you like the photographer’s work, but maybe you want something a bit different again, ask them is this a possibility to do this? 

And I think the comfort part is the most important thing of finding, making sure that you’re comfortable with the person. And then I’ve even had people say, like, what happens if I’m not happy with my photos?

And that’s okay to ask that question. Right? So my thing is, like, if you’re not happy with the photos I want you to be that’s more important than anything. Right? So, so I would, you know, I’m not huge on doing reshoots. Maybe, you know, but but if it’s what it takes to make sure that you feel good about your photo, I’m definitely open to that. But it’s also sort of like, okay, you know,

what was it that didn’t work? And how can we change it? So we don’t do the same thing again. So kind of knowing that also is, I think, kind of a good thing, because it takes the pressure off, right? Yeah. So and then just saying that you, you know, further made me, You encouraged me to trust you even more? Of course. Yeah. So I think the trust is the big thing. And as you were describing, going to people’s websites and photographers websites and checking out what they’ve done, it’s almost like choosing an interior decorator, I know, I’ve hired decorators and designers in the past, who were recommended by friends of mine, but then I realized too late in the process, that their style was very different from mine. Yeah. So I think that that’s a really important insight that you identified there, look at what they’ve done in the past and see if it if it conforms, at least to some extent, in terms of what you personally are looking for. Yes, yeah. And I haven’t had anyone do this. But you could also ask for a reference, if you’re really nervous about it. I haven’t had anybody do that. But I guess that’s something you could do if it puts your mind at ease. So Helen, you could just ask them to listen to this podcast episode. Okay.

Okay. Okay. So one last question before we get to the five rapid fire questions. Okay. And that is with specifically with regards to personal branding. So a big part of what I do is encourage my clients to take the time to identify and articulate the positive and unique traits, values, personalities of the of themselves. Right, so identifying what makes them unique. Do you have any suggestions for how to make that show up on camera?

I think that’s such a good question. It is. Yeah, I know, it’s hard. I think for me.

I mean, you know, because you came in and you worked with me, I think it’s just sort of connecting to that person and what it is that they want to bring forward. And sometimes it is just wardrobe, right? Like, sometimes that’s a part of it. But I think that it’s just this, I don’t know what your experiences, but I find a lot of people when they’ve come in, they get their photos done. They just feel like they were at a spa or they feel like they were just in like incredible like retreat. Like it’s really, I really try to make my space and hold space for people so that they feel really connected to who they are and empowered. So that’s really important to me then even like from right, like the makeup artists that I use, and for myself, like nobody has an attitude. You know, you can’t ask too many questions. And, and I really want to make sure that people feel comfortable because when you’re comfortable you shine.

Oh, very well put Helen you are definitely going to be quoted.

So so it is wardrobe. Right? So we talked about, you know, what colors, is there an accessory, maybe a piece of jewelry, maybe it’s a tie, maybe it’s a certain suit or an accessory, whatever it is, right? For me, it’s the color turquoise and I have not wearing it right now. But I have a turquoise ring that I wear all the time. I always wear the same necklace. And we kept this necklace on I think for every single photo. So there may be accessories or wardrobe things right. But then it’s also how you feel and really feeling comfortable as yourself actually being encouraged to be Yeah, in the photographs. Yes. Yeah. Well, sorry. All right. Well, very well put. Okay, you ready for the five Rapid Fire question? I am.

First question. What are your pet peeves?

Oh, people that are rude. Like when you’re driving and you let somebody in and they don’t say thank you drives me crazy.

Okay. Second question. What type of learner Are you?

Visual? No kidding. Photographer, right. And also when I grew up, I had dyslexia I have dyslexia. So for me, that was my learning was visual. So if somebody were to teach me something, if I were to read it, it doesn’t. It doesn’t come into me. Do you know what I mean? Like I have I’m tactile

I have to see it. I have to do it in order to learn it. This room, this question reminds me of the fact that you also have a podcast, which is interesting because it’s audio only. Are you on YouTube yet? Well, I’m starting to do that for you. Yeah. Good for you. Yeah.

Okay. Next question. introvert or extrovert?

Can I be both?

Of course you can.

Okay. Yeah. Yeah. What does it call ambivert? And are ambiverts. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Because I’m very like, like you like, I think I’m very sort of an extrovert. But I also really, because of that, and I don’t know, if you’re like this, then I need to have that time to pull back to myself to sort of regenerate and, yeah, you know what I mean, to release things.

I’m a pretty extreme extrovert, but I totally get what you need. Yeah. Like every now that you need to just go have a quiet bath, close the door and just be by yourself. Yes. Yeah. Go for stuff. I get it. I get it.

Okay. Next question. Communication preference for personal conversations or interactions with friends and family.

Oh, sorry. Call me call call.

I feel like I’m on families in the buzzer.

Call Oh, yeah. And not people, a lot of people text, which is awesome. But I’m like, I’ve just pick up the phone. Yeah, yeah.

Last question. Is there a podcast that you’ve been listening to that you recommend the most lately?

Julia Louis-Dreyfus wiser than me?

Isn’t it the best? She’s so good. She’s so good.

She’s my idol. I loved it. But I love what her mom comes in.

It’s just so sweet. And I find as women we need. I mean, I love that you’re doing this too, because we need more women’s voices. And when we listen to podcasts, I think that we learned so much from hearing people’s stories. And I just love that you are holding this space for men and women, but that you are this beautiful, strong voice that is helping elevate women is so important.

back atcha Helen, like 100%? back atcha

Thank you.

Thank you so much, Helen, for sharing your advice and your tips with the listeners about how to get the best photos of themselves. Well, thank you. I had so much fun having this conversation with you. I really appreciate it. Bye. Bye.


Thank you so much to Helen .

After the interview, I told Helen that I just know many TalkAboutTalk listeners are going to want to book her. If you’re considering it, you can find her coordinates in the shownotes or on her website at Helen has graciously offered to provide you with a bonus, too.  If you mention that you listened to this interview on the talkabouttalk podcast, she’ll give you two extra touch-ups when you buy the Corporate branding photography package.  That’s the package I did, with hair and makeup and several outfit changes over 3 hours. SO. MUCH. FUN.

Alright, let me briefly summarize. There are the pointers for getting the best headshot – or any shot really, and then a few pointers for how to incorporate your personal brand into the image.

In terms of getting the best shot, Helen has many suggestions. 

To start,you certainly don’t need to.  But if you’re choosing a professional photographer, first take a look at their shots on their website and make sure you like them.  It’s kind of like hiring an interior designer. The first Q is – do you like their aesthetic?  

  • Whether it’s  a professional photographer or a friend taking your photos, bring a few clothing options with you. 
  • Make sure your clothing is in good shape, pressed, and it fits.  Helen noted that many men wear clothing that is too big for them. 
  • Also dont wear anything too trendy.  If it’s trendy then by definition it will be dated in a few years. Or maybe even in a few months.  So go timeless. 
  • And no patterns. Wear solids.  Patterns can be pixelated and or they can be distracting.  No stripes, no florals, no houndstooth, no patterns. 
  • Once you’re in the studio, you’re posing, you might start to feel nervous or awkward. 
  • If you’re nervous, just say so. I LOVE this insight.  If you’re feeling nervous, Helen encourages us to just vocalize it, and then you can let it go.
  • She also encourages us to say “HEY” instead of forcing an awkward smile or instead of saying “cheese.”  It really works!
  • Or if you’re feeling awkward about your smile, you can also think of something that you love. Something or someone that lights you up.  And use that energy to smile.
  • Last, once youre done, retouching of the photos is fine, but we want to be able to recognize you! SO don’t go overboard

When it comes to your personal brand, Helen mentioned that of course, some of it is WARDROBE. 

She talked about choosing something visually unique.  It could be a colour or an accessory, like a piece of jewelry or your collection of cool ties. Or maybe it’s your glasses. 

But at least as important as wardrobe is your trust in the photographer. This insight is huge. Of course your photo is going to look like the best version of yourself when you trust the photographer.

And that’s it!

Thanks again to Helen for sharing her insights with us. As I said, you can check out her website and all her coordinates in the shownotes. 

You can also find my coordinates in the shownotes and also on the website. 

And if you enjoyed this podcast episode, I hope you’ll share it with your friends and leave me a review on whatever podcast app you’re using. It really makes a difference and I appreciate it.

Thanks for listening.  And talk soon!