This is me. Well, kinda. It's me but from a couple of years ago now. I look different now - my hair is shorter and back to my natural colour of brown. I'm older. Greyer. I have a few (OK lots) more wrinkles. I few clients have commented "you look different to your headshot" when they arrive at the studio, surprised at who opens the door to welcome them in. This is not a good look!
The answer to the question is: I'm just not headshot ready.
Why am I not headshot ready?
Just like you, I need to feel good about myself before I launch myself into my own studio and point a camera at myself. And that is an extremely complicated challenge for a mere mortal. Don't get me wrong, I feel really good about my ability to launch myself into my studio and point a camera at YOU, no problem there. It's the camera pointing at ME that's the problem.
So I have decided to put myself on a HEADSHOT READY PROGRAM and take you with me, if you are willing. Or if you just want to have a giggle at my efforts, come along for the ride. By the end of this series of very personal posts, I will, finally, get my headshot taken - I promise! I am going to give myself 4 weeks from today (if I edit this number later, no one will ever know, right?).
Here is a list of reasons I don't feel quite ready to get my headshot updated. I am going to be totally honest with myself and assume that no-one is reading this. Let's remember that a headshot is essentially a 'head-and-shoulders' portrait with a focus on character, personality and authenticity.
- My head
- My shoulders
I am going to look into each of elements to investigate why I feel it' s important that all these things need to be perfect (what is that anyway?) and why they are a barrier to me getting this updated picture taken. The facts are:
1) I am never going to be younger than I am now (as I write this I am 45 years old, plus about 2 months - and heading steadily on to being even older as I write, and so are you)
2) I am who I am and how I look is a clear reflection of the state of me, now (and why should I be making excuses for that, no one is expecting me to be anything other then myself, right?)
3) Life is more complicated than waking up looking and feeling great each day (I'm lucky to get out of the house in a reasonable state each day, let alone looking perfectly groomed and fabulous)
4) There is such a thing as Photoshop and I can always retouch things I am not happy with (is it really so wrong to retouch the bags under my eyes or those extra wrinkles?)
BUT here are the OTHER facts, the ones that lurk in the background throwing stones at the ones above:
1) I am not thrilled about getting older and seeing that I look older too - but I need to tackle the 'feeling old feeling'. Youth is fleeting and wonderful but I'm just not that young anymore. Being 'middle-aged' means a lot of good things - wiser, with lots of amazing life experiences. I am clearer about what is important and what isn't. I have had kids (well, I've birthed one but he's like having a tribe of them) and have a wonderful husband and family. I have had time to develop incredible friendships with people who inspire and support me. I may not know exactly who I am as I feel this is a constant journey of change, but I know who I'm not. But all this living and learning also means that my body is less supple, less forgiving of the endless late nights and the regular few too many glasses of wine. I have never been beautiful and always accepted how I look as a genetic 'given' - I've never worried about how I look, never been vain or kept slim and trim by going to the gym or watching my diet. But now my skin is sagging in places I never thought it would, and it is horrifying to see and accept, even though I never cared about it before. Why should I care? It is natural and it happens to everyone who doesn't participate in artificially sorting it out. I want to figure that out and come to terms with it before I get my headshot taken.
2) I don't want to have to lather my face and body in chemicals or spend thousands on preventative ageing strategies - but I do need to do something. I don't have the time or money to be self-indulgent, and to be perfectly honest it is ideologically offensive to me that I feel compelled to want to look great by any other means that total natural effortlessness. I don't need to look incredible, I don't need to look younger than I am, and I don't need to look like I care too much or try too hard. But I guess I have reached an age where I need to make a little effort and I am in a quandary about how to go about this in a way that feels right to me.
3) I don't want to have to join a gym, hire a personal trainer, or change my diet - but I do need to improve my fitness and tone. As above, I have never been into fitness as a strategy for self-improvement. I have always felt that being 'fit' is about being naturally active. As a photographer my daily work has always been reasonably active. I am pretty active at home too - we have a garden that demands regular attention and this keeps me busy, as does the endless loads of washing and running around. But nonetheless I am getting those old saggy upper arms (goddammit) and as much as I shudder at the thought of making an effort to tackle to the sag, I think I might have to do something just to feel like at least I'm trying. All those after-dinner chocolates (um...huge chocolate indulgences) are sneakily finding their way to those cliche areas and frankly I resent it. Also after a busy day digging too much soil or carrying too many loads of wet washing, or lifting that 30kg camera bag or small child I now also get a niggly back or find myself groaning when I stand up. So I guess I may have to do something about that too.
4) I am a 'night person' and so I stay up very late and apparently that isn't great for how I look or how I wake up feeling. The fact that while I stay up late I also drink wine and eat chocolate probably adds to the issue. But I like to drink wine and eat chocolate late at night, it suits me. It also allows me a few extra hours in the day when everyone else is asleep to do those extra things I didn't get around to during the day. Emails, accounts, keeping up to date with new products, new techniques. Retouching images or editing and uploading web galleries. Checking what friends have been up to or (irregularly) updating my own (slightly anti-) social media. I find late nights very creative and fun - sometimes I just stand at the window and watch the night sky, or scribble notes and ideas in a notebook. I ask my clients to arrive fresh-faced to their shoots, having had a good night's sleep - but I regularly drag myself into the studio half-asleep and wishing I hadn't done a Sudoku at 3am. So I guess I may have to do something about sleeping, too.
OK, I thought I'd better post some more current photos of me. These happen to be from my wedding just 3 weeks ago. As you will see I'm not the typical glowing bride in white! I have posted some photos here with my parents - partly to remind myself (and you) that we look the way we look largely due to our genetics - there is absolutely nothing I can do about being short, brunette, long-faced with a 'charismatic' nose (well, nothing unnatural). Self-acceptance is so difficult for some people - I'm guessing that women suffer from this more than men, but I can't be sure.
This is me and my mom, at my wedding in mid-December
And here's my dad - we had a vintage themed wedding hence the charismatic attire...
These are the most recent pictures of me. Like the headshot at the top of the blog, I have been manicured a little more than usual. I don't wear makeup usually so these pictures show me having made a little more effort (as much as a quick tidy up after roughing-it in a forest allows). And my hair has been 'wiggled' for a bit of fun. And there are few grey hairs to be seen thanks to hair dye. And my assistant Chris has probably retouched the hell out of these fabulous pictures that he took.
What am I going to do about all this?
I know what I'm NOT going to do. I'm not going on a diet, joining a gym or getting surgery! I'm going to look into a few things and make a few little changes. I am going to acknowledge that I am at a time in my life where I need to make an effort, and I am going to use this headshot as a motivating force. I am going to make this as effortless as possible and hope that I feel so great that I skip myself into the studio in 4 weeks' time and demand that someone take my picture!
Of all people, I KNOW that a headshot is not about constructing an image of a person that is not authentic. It is a true capture of a person at a point in time that captures a real and authentic impression of who they are and what they look like (on a good day). My job is to make that person look as fantastic and genuine as possible - and that's not about Photoshop and not about fabricating anything at all. It's about creating a supportive environment and engaging in lively dialogue about life and making them forget that there is a camera between us. But it is also about getting them feeling as confident and relaxed as possible, and for absolutely everyone, it helps if they know they look as good as they can. Very few people are perfect. I photograph a lot of very beautiful people and also a lot of everyone else. Everyone else needs to feel good about who they are and where they are at in life. I can see the spark in everyone, the special quality that makes them delightful, fun, engaging, curious, interesting and wonderful.
But although I know that I can be all these things, my own self-doubt stops me feeling great about having my photo taken at this stage in my life - and it's only going to get worse if I don't tackle the problem. If I finesse myself, get some more sleep, start yoga, get fitter, tone up, eat healthier and get my hair done I will definitely feel better about myself. I won't change who I am or what I bring to my headshot in terms of my character, but I will feel more willing to have someone look at me (even if it's myself) in this scrutinising environment and know that I have made an effort and am on top of my 'well-being'.
So my new year's resolution is to get my headshot updated, and to do that I need to do a few other things first.
My next post will be about:
- What I can do to improve my skin health and vitality without compromising my values by using expensive products or treatments
If anyone has read this please feel free to comment. I'd love to know how others are feeling about being 'Headshot Ready'...