Author headshot for Anne Helen Petersen

Headshot sessions fascinate me because of the gamut of people that end up in front of my camera. The authors that I've worked with have been some of my favorite clients and Anne Helen Petersen definitely fits into that category. Writing is definitely a skill that for the most part eludes me but as is the case with photography, I'm always impressed with people that are able to make careers out of endeavors that for the most part, everyone does. 


The author portraits of Anne Helen Petersen were for her timely book titled - 'Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud: The Rise and Reign of the Unruly Woman' - published last summer. Photographing authors opens up literary genres that normally would not be part of my usual reading list but I'm always curious to read their work after getting to know them through my headshot sessions. Ten "unruly" women are profiled in Petersen's book, from Serena Williams being labeled as "too strong" to Hillary Clinton's characterization as being "too shrill." The book is a great read and definitely hits home for me. I'm lucky to have a couple unruly women in my life and make no mistake about it - this is definitely still a man's world - but the book provides a little hope that change does happen through strong women that are resilient to the attacks they inevitably endure. 


Carriage House - Carova, NC

Located at the northern end of the Outer Banks, in an area only accessible by 4wd, is a project I recently photographed for the talented interior designer - Amy Hilliker Klebitz. The 1000 sf carriage house sat atop a 3 car garage, adjacent to the main vacation rental property. Last week the project was featured on Houzz and you can check out the adjacent link for more information about the design elements.

My favorite part of the project was the flow between the bedroom and the bathroom, and even beyond to the deck overlooking the dunes. For each of these shots I wanted to make sure that each space was featured yet offered the viewer a chance to move throughout room and on to the next space - to highlight that connectedness. 

Outer Banks Modern Bedroom
Outer Banks - Carova - Modern Bathroom - Fireplace
Outer Banks - NC - Modern Bathroom - Fireplace - Tub

Why YOU Need a Professional Headshot

Let’s face it, fair or not, humans formulate opinions based on appearance within a fraction of a second and that is not hyperbole - two Princeton psychologists found that it takes merely a tenth of a second to form an impression of a stranger from their face.

I’m going to venture a guess and say that the experience and education you bring to your field took more than a tenth of a second to acquire. Don’t let your professional brand be jeopardized by a poor headshot -- perhaps the one a friend took of you at a bar or a not-so-professional setting, or the overfiltered, grainy Instagram selfie from last week. And as it relates to a business, employees are often referred to as a company’s greatest asset so don’t cheapen your brand by having bad photos of your people.

Professional headshots aren't what you remember from grade school

But here is where I need to alter your perception from that of a traditional headshot. When you think of getting your portrait taken at a studio, maybe you are harkened back to the 1980’s images like this:

I didn't want to pick on anyone else's embarrassing photo so I created this glorious self-portrait without the consent of my dog and part-time assistant, Buddy.

I didn't want to pick on anyone else's embarrassing photo so I created this glorious self-portrait without the consent of my dog and part-time assistant, Buddy.

Remember the tenth of a second judgement discussed earlier? If someone is seeing your face for the first time via a headshot on social media, what would you want them to take away?

Confidence with approachability

If you are thinking about doing business with someone for the first time, what will your impression be if they look like they are either nervous, uncomfortable, or boring in their headshot? This is where the confidence is obviously important. Whether you are hiring someone or doing business with them, you are trusting them with your time and money, and their appearance of confidence is going to do a lot to provide you with the confidence that they have the ability to get the job done. On the other hand, confidence without approachability isn’t exactly desirable and most of the time can leave you with a perception of arrogance. And who wants to work with, or give their time or money to, a prick? No one. Approachability in a headshot portrays that people can work with you, trust you, and enjoy being around you. (Full disclosure: "confidence with approachability" is a phrase I learned from the headshot master - Peter Hurley)

Getting the look

Choosing the right photographer is key to getting the confidence with approachability look, and it’s the responsibility of the photographer - not you - to create that moment. Face it (I know, bad pun), getting your headshots taken can be intimidating. The setting is just you, the photographer, a camera, and a bunch of lights. There are no candid moments like that of a wedding photographer taking pictures of the groom when he first sees the beautiful bride (or groom). The moment has to be created, by the photographer, to make you forget that you are in front of the camera which can be tough to do when it is less than five feet from your face.

So when it comes to selecting a headshot photographer, take a look at their work and more specifically their subjects’ expressions. All professionals should be able to provide a well-lit, properly composed photograph but the differentiator is in the expression. You’ve only got a tenth of a second to make an impression so make sure you are hiring a headshot photographer that will bring out the best in you.

Helix Sleep photoshoot with Amelie Mancini

"So would you like to shoot a couple hanging out on their mattress?" That was the message I received from Alisa Sheridan of Smalls Girls PR. That sounded interesting however the first question that popped into my head was 'what are they going to be doing on the mattress?' Alisa then told me it was just going to be more of a lifestyle shoot for Helix Sleep, showcasing the mattress within the setting of the bedroom. This photoshoot was fun for me because it provided an opportunity to combine my interior photography with my portrait photography. 

Amelie Mancini and her husband, Rami Metal were the (expecting)couple featured in the shoot. Amelie is an uber talented artist and textile designer from France, now operating her business in Brooklyn and Rami is the director of strategic engagement for the NYCDOT. You can check out Amelie's work here. As evident in the photos below, their cat Ladybird, was not camera shy and spent some time hamming it up for the camera. As an animal lover, I've never been opposed to letting pets have their moment to shine in front of the camera. 

Helix Sleep used the photos for their blog post - In bed with Amelie Mancini.