A professionally styled website

When you run your own business there is often the need to have images of yourself available for marketing purposes. You might need to include your photo on social posts including your Facebook page and you should definitely include one on the Home and About pages of your website – use this opportunity to show off your personality. The expression on your face says a lot about you and can help break down barriers to new and potential clients visiting your website for the first time. First impressions count for a lot so you would be wise to consider how you come across in the “window” to your business .

Be professional – use a professional

The time and money that you invest into getting professional photos for your business will more than pay off. This is not a time to ask a friend to take a few snaps on a smartphone then keeping your fingers crossed hoping you’ll look OK. In addition to getting the right lighting there are so many other things that a professional photographer has to set up and consider in order to get those amazing images. Have an initial chat with a couple of different photographers before committing in order to gauge if they are right for you. They should give you advice and tips on what to expect on the day. Equally you should make it clear as the client what you are trying to achieve for your marketing needs. Make a list of the types of poses you would like and show a few examples of poses on other websites that you would like to emulate.

A stylist will bring out the best in you

Although many photographers are trained in what looks right for the head-shot, it isn’t their job to style you and they would often advise that you get professional image advice from a stylist to help you find the colours and styles of clothes that enhance your body shape, features and natural colouring. Think how much more confident you will feel knowing you have taken the time to get proper advice and put the thought into your clothing choices. Click HERE to find out more about how I can help you.

The right clothes to frame your face

What you wear for your photoshoot is just as important to the overall image as your facial expression. Don’t go overboard dressing as though you’re going for a night out if you’re promoting your business – think of your target audience. Your clothing should enhance you and frame your face to keep the focus on you. Keep necklines simple and think carefully about colour and fabric against your skin. Fabrics with shine (like satin) can be a problem through the camera lens even though under normal conditions they would be flattering.

Get a varied range of images

Getting a good number of professional headshots together with some “working pose” photographs can really help you keep that personable approach throughout the whole of your marketing. Make a list of the different types of headshots you require – a side view of you working at your desk or computer, a straight on headshot and maybe a standing pose. Multiply that by the same/similar pose in different outfits or a change of accessories and you will have quite a few variations. By having those initial discussions with your photographer you will soon have a plan to work within your budget.

Timeless style

When planning to get a large number of varied images from one photography session you might want to consider keeping clothing and hair as “timeless” as possible so that you can use the images over a longer time frame. With that in mind, think non-seasonal and allow enough outfits/accessories to provide some variation within the session time. Three outfits would provide a good basis for quite a lot of variety and interest across your different website and marketing needs.

Your hidden smile

In today’s world of constant photographs it seems the joy has gone as we get older and we become too serious or self-conscious to smile at the camera. During personal styling sessions I often take a couple of photos of the client in each outfit and these will include one serious shot followed by another with a smile. When we go through the images looking at how shape, colours and necklines work, my clients invariably agree that wearing a smile is the best accessory you can add. Just practice your smile before the photoshoot and I’m sure you will see the difference it makes to how warm, open and approachable you look.

Wearing colours that suit you

Knowing what colours suit you is another major factor. Many people wear a colour because they like it but they don’t always consider if it actually suits them. Colours that suit you in summer when your skin has a tan don’t always flatter paler skin at other times of year. To really help you get a feel for what will work for your image, try to work with a stylist testing out different colours and necklines whilst narrowing down what you will wear on the day. If you have brand colours which you want to wear, think about whether those colours are something that look good against your skin or should you keep them for the logo. If you feel strongly about including them, maybe include just an element of the colour(s) using a simple accessory like in a scarf, brooch or earrings or even use as a colour in the background. Remember this is about what enhances your face in addition to what you feel comfortable with.

Black and white v colour photos

Whilst thinking about colour, there are also considerations as to whether you will be using colour or black and white images. Discuss with your photographer if they will make both options available so that you can make decisions later as this will ultimately give you more flexibility. Black and white may look out of place on a website that has mainly bold primary colour branding, however within the context of different pages there may be opportunities to include an image without colour. Similarly, when setting a serious tone on a social post, you may choose to use a black and white image.

Hair and make-up

Careful application

Hair and make-up should be simple, natural and not over-done. Take your time the morning of the shoot to apply and then update it when necessary during the shoot. Keep a hand mirror close by so that you don’t have to rely on the photographer spotting when something needs some attention. To avoid shine, pack some translucent powder that may need to be applied regularly throughout the shoot due to the warmth of the lights. If its your signature look to wear bright red lipstick, then apply with care remembering those bleeding edges, otherwise keep make-up natural but well done to ensure your natural assets stand out on their own. Make up should help the viewer focus on the eyes and the mouth, which are the essence of the headshot.

Style your hair

Having your hair washed and blow-dried by your hairdresser a day before the shoot will make it look and feel great on the day. Make sure you get your appointment booked in. Again, it is so important that you feel like YOU in the photos so this isn’t the time to experiment – keep it the way you would usually have it styled. If you’re used to wearing your hair in a variety of ways and can manage this yourself, then take along a few of the hair accessories you would usually use and style it to add more range to the shots. You may need to take along your straighteners or tongs to freshen the look during the shoot. Discuss all of these options with your photographer in advance to ensure they know your intentions and to allow enough time.

Glasses

If you usually wear glasses you will probably want to wear them for the shoot so that you look like yourself. As reflection causes problems for photographers it might be worth asking your optician if you could borrow a pair of blank frames or get them to remove the lenses from a spare pair that you know suits you. If you don’t always wear your glasses you could have some shots with and without for more variation.

The day of the shoot

Its the photographer’s job to make you feel comfortable and relaxed so that this is reflected in the final images. Your photographer might go through a few facial exercises that help you have a relaxed expression then you’re less likely to develop a nervous twitch. You might laugh, but gurning can really help. Go into the bathroom and get those face muscles moving. A good photographer will spend time chatting with you during the warm up shots and you will feel more at ease and be able to relax into being yourself enough to even try a few natural smiles. Remember, they are professionals and they are looking to capture you at your best so even if you think that you’re not photogenic, a professional will capture your best features. The most important thing is to try to enjoy the experience and that way you will get some really good images that will pretty much guarantee help with your business profile.

Plan and prepare

Even if you have an agreed price, it does make sense to have everything well planned and organised so that you really get the most of your time with the photographer. When you turn up for your shoot, ideally you will be prepared with your clothing and accessories together with all those little items you wished you had with you.

You might find this list a helpful reminder of what to pack for the day:

  • Hair accessories, brush and styling tools
  • Make-up bag including translucent powder
  • Hand mirror
  • 2-3 outfits including an extra top for back-up
  • 1-2 pairs of shoes that work with your outfits
  • Glasses with and without lenses
  • Nail file and hand cream if hands are to be in shot
  • A big smile!!

The gift of (no) returns

With a culture of returning purchases whether for yourself or others, its become almost acceptable for people to hand over a Christmas present with the words “don’t worry if you don’t like it, you can always take it back and swap it”. I find this so upsetting as it takes the love and joy out of giving. That fear of disappointment has been swapped for a cop out accompanied by an apology. Do we REALLY have such little faith in our ability to choose something wonderful for a friend or loved one that we have to have a back-up plan?

Care – full

There are so many ways that a gift can be accepted with a smile that isn’t fake. Whatever you buy (or make) as a gift, if you show care in the way you package it- half your job is done! There’s no need to spend a lot of money on glitzy, non-recyclable paper with large bows and ribbons. Simple brown paper tied up with string and a sprig of nature will look just as effective as you show a little creativity.

If you don’t know the person well enough – buy something edible. Personally I’d rather have a bottle of Tesco finest olive oil than a bottle of perfume that I’ve never worn before and doesn’t necessarily suit my skin. Perfume really is too personal a present to buy unless you’re buying someone’s favourite.

Make a wish

In the weeks before Christmas, it’s tradition for children to write to Santa Claus and let him know what you might want to receive in your stocking. Why don’t we let adults do that too? During my many years in retail it was a pleasure to help customers find the right clothing and accessories for themselves, so when it came to Christmas we asked our regulars to complete a Wish List which would be just a few ideas to help their loved ones choose a gift. There was still the element of surprise but just narrowed down a bit to avoid getting the wrong size or something they already had.

Keep to a budget

Whether buying for friends or family, we all know Christmas is an expensive time of year so agree to stick to a certain amount. It could be £10 or £500 depending on who you’re buying for and your budget. This certainly avoids the embarrassment of you buying a token box of chocolate biscuits only to find they’ve splashed out of jewellery for you!

Armed with information

Never go shopping without a list. Have you ever been to the supermarket without your list only to return with bags of items you already have in the cupboard but nothing to actually eat for dinner. Going Christmas shopping without a list of who you’re buying for plus a few ideas of what you might be looking for will result in a lot of aimless shopping and not necessarily any results.

Think independent

With the large stores taking the lion’s share of profits most of the year, wouldn’t it be lovely to know you’re supporting independent businesses to carry on trading for another year? Independents provide great personable knowledge in their product area and often source those unique, special things that aren’t readily available from large chains and department stores and make extra special gifts.

Think outside the (gift) box

It might be worth considering a gift which can’t be wrapped. An experience or a course for mind/body self-improvement. Maybe a gym membership or personal coaching would be the ideal present? I’ve wanted to do a bread- making course for some years now, so if someone should gift that to me I’d be very happy (hint hint). I have clients who have been gifted a personal styling session with me so their 2020 is going to start in such a positive way!

The greatest and most valuable gift of all is time. If you take that bit of extra time to REALLY consider what someone wants for Christmas, then your gift won’t need to be returned and you can spend more time together over the festive period.

A woman of a certain age

I am not going to let age define me! There, I’ve said it. I don’t want to be a number in any way and my age is not going to be the definition of WHO I am. My life has been very full so far with so many mad and crazy experiences that I wouldn’t want to change for anything. I’ve learned a lot in my 50+ years and I’m really happy to have these opportunities where I can share my knowledge with others.

Timeless style
Silver hair

In my twenties or early thirties, when age was just a number and my face and body didn’t have the tell-tale signs that started to show up until my forties, I was lucky enough to be able to wear most things and not have to think too much about the “bare” bits or exposed skin. Now, with the lines and lack of elasticity which come with age and childbirth, there are so many more aspects to consider when choosing clothes. However, the knowledge I have regarding my own style doesn’t make me vulnerable to the “competition” of youth – I might not have the smooth, tight skin of a twenty-something but I know myself and what suits me from years of experience together with a confidence that only age CAN give. As long as I am aware of how to dress without misrepresenting myself by trying to be someone else, then I can make good decisions about my clothing without the worry of what others might think. I continue to choose to define myself through my style and I dress for myself because I know who I am.

Can you be seen or herd?

follow the herd or define your own style

There are different situations and periods in your life when what others think about what you wear matters more to you than how you actually want to look for yourself. In your early teens did you experiment with different ideas to express yourself and stand out or did you clone yourself to fit in with your group? You may have always found it easier/more comfortable to wear things that allowed you to fit in rather than expressing your true personality through your own style. It’s possible that you might just want to “blend” into the background so you’re less noticeable but still be present in the room. Dressing to conform can leave you with a lack of identity and it can be easy to fall out of the habit of expressing yourself in a more creative or individual way. Are you someone who is confident to speak to a group or do you shy away from the focus of attention? If your style doesn’t properly express who you are inside, you could start to lose your confidence and this could be limiting your ability to share your knowledge, expertise or real personality.

Clothing as therapy

There’s no getting away from it, you WILL experience changes in your body as you age. But if you have the right attitude to your style and continue to re-define it at certain points in your life you can unlock the restrictions that would otherwise lower your confidence and potentially hold you back. Over the years I have become “counsellor and confidant” to many lovely ladies who have trusted me to share their physical and emotional vulnerabilities in order to help them with their style. These are often strong women who might have lost some of their identity through the strains of life. Maybe a mother seeking to return to work but who has lost confidence through a change in body shape. Or someone going through a divorce or bereavement looking to gain confidence through outer style to help regain their inner strength. Enabling these gorgeous women to feel good about themselves has been my source of inspiration while I search for timeless clothing which enhances a REAL woman’s figure and doesn’t just follow a fashion trend.

By getting to know yourself through coaching, mentoring, therapy or counselling you will no doubt develop and allow your inner confidence to grow. Personal styling is also a very good way to increase your confidence and can to help bring out the person who is often hidden within.

Don’t let those 2 digit numbers paint a different picture of who you are. Put your trust in me to provide honest and valuable help as I support you in your continual style journey –whatever your age. To find out if we can work together simply click below for a FREE 20- minute digital style chat where I can get to know more about you and your personal style requirements.

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Independent Living

Shopping locally isn’t just about how you support businesses down your own High Street. It’s about supporting independents wherever they are. If you find a special shop or business when you’re travelling, what better way to share your find than with a photograph and some kind words of recommendation? There are so many wonderful, enterprising and creative people out there and @instagram is helping us connect across a wider space. My list of #placestovisituk #shopstovisit is growing all the time, with no excuse for not knowing where to go on a day out. So let’s keep sharing our wonderful finds and explore places we can’t fully enjoy on the internet and #supportindies – keeping our Independents Living!

The sort of people that run and own these independent businesses are ordinary people just like me and you, who had an idea that they wanted to put their hard work and energy into bringing it to the fore and sharing what they believe in. With everything stacked against you in terms of high rents and rates, local council lack of support, and current economic climate, running your own business certainly isn’t for the feint-hearted. So encouraging words and choosing to try their products and services is not only an investment in people, but you could be helping them pay their bills and still be in business when you next return to shop.

After 20 years on the High Street myself, with two successful boutiques in Southwest London and Bath, I never regret my own decision to battle it out there, bringing in amazing products from around the world for discerning customers. Everyone got excited as new collections arrived, mannequins were dressed and the stores were recreated for a constant flow of inspiration. I’ve missed the stores together with the wonderful people I had the opportunity to meet and style for various aspects of their lives.

The Unknown Shop is a recent venture which has reignited my enjoyment of spending one to one time with those who still yearn for that pleasure they experienced whilst shopping in a creative environment. A relaxed space within our home on the outskirts of Bath provides the a little sparkle of shopping heaven without the bustle of the centre of town.

Seating area on the terrace at The Unknown Shop

Sale items and new products can be tried, smelled, touched and seen in reality rather than guessing from an internet image. I’m on hand to offer help, advice and information on anything that we sell together with refreshments before you leave.

Many of the groups that have enjoyed their experience here have also had the opportunity to chill in the sunshine and sip drinks on the terrace while they take in the gorgeous views across the countryside. Now isn’t that a little different from your typical style of shopping? @the_unknownshop