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M. SAMANTHA WILLS FOUNDATION

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SW's JOURNAL

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GETTING PROFESSIONAL PROFILE PICTURES

Samantha Wills

This is 'BUSINESS' Samantha - The jacket and office scenario is very business. While a bit more 'corporate' than my actual personality, it was an easy shot to place. Professional / Warm / Smiling. 

This is 'BUSINESS' Samantha - The jacket and office scenario is very business. While a bit more 'corporate' than my actual personality, it was an easy shot to place. Professional / Warm / Smiling. 


Same shoot as above, but a portrait shot - slightly more serious. 

Same shoot as above, but a portrait shot - slightly more serious. 


This is 'DESIGNER' Samantha - Made casual with ripped denim & no shoes. This shot often gets cropped by media as a headshot, which tells me they don't like the no shoes. 

This is 'DESIGNER' Samantha - Made casual with ripped denim & no shoes. This shot often gets cropped by media as a headshot, which tells me they don't like the no shoes. 


A more updated 'Designer' Shot. Natural lighting & blank wall allows for media to extend / add copy over the image. 

A more updated 'Designer' Shot. Natural lighting & blank wall allows for media to extend / add copy over the image. 


Early on in my career (and before I had multiple layers to my story), my most requested shot was an image of me making the jewelry. This is a recent shot of me in my NYC design studio. 

Early on in my career (and before I had multiple layers to my story), my most requested shot was an image of me making the jewelry. This is a recent shot of me in my NYC design studio. 


This is an example of 'AT HOME', relaxed Samantha. No shoes, smiling and off camera - This shot usually gets placed on lifestyle and features. 

This is an example of 'AT HOME', relaxed Samantha. No shoes, smiling and off camera - This shot usually gets placed on lifestyle and features. 


This photo was taken specifically for an award I received at The Opera House. I was later nominated for Australian of the Year Awards 2016, so it was also used for that. If you are involved in international business, having a shot that shows your origin is useful to your narrative. I think this shot is much more my personality than the corporate, business ones. 

This photo was taken specifically for an award I received at The Opera House. I was later nominated for Australian of the Year Awards 2016, so it was also used for that. If you are involved in international business, having a shot that shows your origin is useful to your narrative. I think this shot is much more my personality than the corporate, business ones. 


These are my 'CREATIVE DIRECTOR' profile shots, for my role with YELLOWGLEN. In my case, they have my core product (jewelry) in shot, but show me working on YELLOWGLEN briefs with YELLOWGLEN products placed alongside them..... Side note - when shooting, ensure to move personal photographs, otherwise you could end up stuck with profile pics featuring your ex-boyfriend. You're welcome, in advance. 

These are my 'CREATIVE DIRECTOR' profile shots, for my role with YELLOWGLEN. In my case, they have my core product (jewelry) in shot, but show me working on YELLOWGLEN briefs with YELLOWGLEN products placed alongside them..... Side note - when shooting, ensure to move personal photographs, otherwise you could end up stuck with profile pics featuring your ex-boyfriend. You're welcome, in advance. 


These are pics taken on the YELLOWGLEN campaign, and are some of my favourites!  Fun, warm, with a fashion spin; these were shot in a studio with hard flash. I wouldn't recommend this style for your first profile shots, but as your brand starts to build you may prefer a more candid feel.  TIP - If your feet are in shot, stand on your tippy toes. Even if you are wearing high heels, this further elongates & gives a better shape. If you are sitting (and your feet are in shot) point your toe. Both feet and hands are awkward things to capture! 

These are pics taken on the YELLOWGLEN campaign, and are some of my favourites!  Fun, warm, with a fashion spin; these were shot in a studio with hard flash. I wouldn't recommend this style for your first profile shots, but as your brand starts to build you may prefer a more candid feel. 

TIP - If your feet are in shot, stand on your tippy toes. Even if you are wearing high heels, this further elongates & gives a better shape. If you are sitting (and your feet are in shot) point your toe. Both feet and hands are awkward things to capture! 


I cannot stress the importance of getting some good, professional 'profile pictures' done when you start your brand. They are important for two main reasons:

1. There will be a bio about you on the website which needs a photo of you to accompany it. A professional photo adds SO much more value and authenticity to your brand. 

2. When you start reaching out to media to feature your brand, especially when you are pitching, or if they are interested in running a profile piece on YOU, the first thing media will ask is whether you have a profile photo to send over. Media will rarely run a feature if you do not have one. 

SO - you've just started & have little to no budget to spend on profile shots... I get it! But, there are ways around spending big money. Here are my suggestions:

> Contact a local Photography/Design school or TAFE. Sometimes these places may offer to take photos of you at no cost, because it is also great portrait experience for their students. 

> Most people know a photographer. Ask around your social groups & see if you can call in a favour! A quick post on Facebook to your friends should see you pointed in the right direction. 

> Contact a local photographer in your area, explain that you are just starting out & are looking for a few head shots/profile pics. Offer to credit them every time the image is used and published. If you are a product business, you could offer them a product exchange, whereby you give them some of your product & they take your photos for you.

> Contact photographers whose style you like, explain that you are just starting out & give them a price that you can afford. Explain that you know it may be well below their rate, but that you would only require an hour or so of their time. 

> Once you have found your photographer, you need to be well prepared in order to get the images you need. So go trawl the web. Look at business people you admire or others in your industry & select photos that you would like to replicate the style of. 

 

Look at the lighting, the mood, the setting, the 'feel' from the subject. 

Depending on how much time you have with the photographer, Here are the things I would try to capture in your session: 

1. A 'BUSINESS' SHOT: This is you, at your desk. Now - this DOES NOT mean you have to be wearing a power suit. I would suggest wearing what you would wear to a meeting. Make it relevant to your brand and product service.

Style your desk and work space to look like your DREAM DESK. Less is often more, move printers & things out of shot, and bring in a bunch of your favourite flowers or greenery. 

This shot always needs to be 'to camera'. I recommend some smiling, and some with a lesser smile (still warm, but not too cheesy). 

2. A 'DESIGN DESK' SHOT: If you are a product business, this is a shot of you amongst your product. I used the title 'Design Desk' because, for me, this is sitting at my desk designing and making jewelry. Prop your signature products like you would on a tradeshow wall space, and get a shot of you with the product. 

I suggest changing your outfit for each shot, as it gives you more image 'options' to use in the same media story. As above, take some with you looking at the camera & some with you holding the product.

3. THE 'HEADSHOT' SHOT: This shot is only if you have time after capturing the above two (the above two are the most important!). This could simply be you on a plain wall, or outside in natural light. 

Picture this being used if you are talking at an event, or being nominated for an award. It is natural & warm. Again, change your outfit. Keeping in mind, this will probably be cropped from your waist up, so when planning your outfit, have a friend or family member take a few snaps of you in it, so you can see what it looks like on camera. 

4. THE 'ALWAYS REFERENCED' SHOT: Is there something integral to your story, that you always mention when talking about the start of you brand? A piece of jewelry that was special to you? Someone you met or someone in your family who inspired you? If there is something pivotal that you continually reference, capture a photo with this object / person / place, as media will like to add a visual reference to what you are mentioning. 

SOME THINGS TO REMEMBER:

> Be sure to capture some natural smiles and some lesser, not so natural smiles. Most shots should be towards the camera but don't be afraid to mix it up, pose or look off camera.

> Capture as many shots and looks as you can in the time you have. 

> If you do not feel comfortable in front of the camera, simply tell the photographer at the start of the shoot. Tell them that you would really appreciate it if they could offer some direction.

> DO engage a hair & makeup (H+MU) artist. If you cannot afford one at this stage, I would suggest you go to your local hairdresser in the morning, get a blow wave & then call past your local makeup counter. This is important. There is no point getting the photos done without this element. 

> Don't be afraid to ask to see some of the shots on the back of the camera as the photographer is taking them. Be sure to tell the photographer what you DO & especially what you DON'T like. 

> Research & bring visual references of what you want to achieve. It is probably best to send this through to the photographer BEFORE the shoot, because lighting plays a big part in this so they will need to plan.

> I recommend editing your photos, and your photographer may be able to do this at no extra cost. They may even out the lighting/grading, retouch your skin, or remove anything distracting or that you don't want in the photo. Talk to your photographer. 

> Get a section of both landscape (where you are off to the side) & portrait shots (where you are centre of shot). The landscape will be used on most web placements, meaning you being side of shot allows media to run copy (text) on your photo. The portrait ones will be used in print. 

> I would suggest updating your profile shots at least once a year, especially as your business grows!

> If you change your hair (or look) dramatically, you will need to do new shots!

Alongside this article, I have posted some of my head shots over the years! My poor PR manager would get so cranky at me when I would change my hair, because it meant all new shots. She was also adamant I got more coverage as a blonde... That's the last time I go brunette for a boy;) 

Profile shots are an investment in the professionalism of your business. I totally understand standing in front of a stranger taking your photo is not the most comfortable thing to do. But the pay off is a polished brand image & potential PR placement. Say cheese! - SWx