It's hard being a woman
20th October 2021
Making portraits of female clients is an honour but also a bit daunting. Despite our best efforts we all make unconscious judgements based on appearance, so for professionals of both genders your portraits are vitally important.
But making the best and most professionally effective portrait for businesswomen presents any thoughtful portraitist with extra challenges. Women balance several roles simultaneously; sister, mother, lover, daughter, friend and of course professional businesswoman. And it is this latter role that creates difficulty. Workplaces have improved but it is still true that many offices conform to a male tradition.
It makes for complex compromises and a challenge for any portraitist wanting to capture character. Creating a professional portrait is complicated enough; recent Princeton research found that first-impression judgements were made in milliseconds, and were reinforced the longer portraits were viewed. So, a businesswoman needs her portrait to to communicate professionalism without losing character, femininity and personality, to capture individual style without losing authority.
"clients make unconscious decisions based on your portrait."
Successful portraits address three separate yet mutually supporting facets of the human condition.
The cornerstone of these is identity. Our perception of self, is built upon self-knowledge; awareness of our physical attributes, understanding of our skills, abilities, enthusiasms, past actions and future ambitions. It is the core of who we are.
And our responses are of course partly by external influences: family, friends, upbringing, media, religion, employment, social class all contribute to our image of how the ‘world should be’ and how we should respond to it. Individuals can have very similar identities in terms of their skills and enthusiasms, but because of environment and experience, express very different values.
“identity can only provide clues to character.”
“Bombarded with 500 years of art history, plus images from Vogue and Marie Claire, it’s unsurprising that many women find it difficult to decide on their final portrait.”
It is these values which are important. They inform how you feel about the world and how you feel about yourself, and your image needs to embody that in a way that influences the unconscious decisions of clients, employers, LinkedIn browsers and colleagues. Portraits that are too narrowly ‘corporate’ can mask the great leadership qualities that spring from individuality.
Of course how any of these important contacts read any portrait has been unconsciously shaped by five hundred years of western art. From da Vinci to Picasso, Botticelli to Steve McCurry, portraitists have portrayed women as “other”: beauties to be adored or possessed.
This is the second reason that making portraits of women is a daunting but important challenge for a serious professional photographer. We are all bombarded with history and images from Vogue, Heat and Marie Claire, operating in a culture where a woman’s appearance is considered fair game for all to comment (just ask the women weather presenters!) it’s unsurprising that many women find it extremely difficult to decide how their professional portrait should look. Many female executives understandably react by becoming too corporate, too ‘correct’. The resulting images can be impenetrable, masking great leadership and business qualities and making it difficult for the client or employer to connect with the sitter at a human level.
Bringing out these qualities in a portrait is no easy task for the photographer and takes time. To be effective the portraitist needs to connect with you and provide an environment where you can express your personality, even if you are nervous at the start. Ideally a portrait sessions will be relaxed and fun, and your photographer’s knowledge of posing and how to direct you will bring out the full range of possibilities. A professional studio will also will have modern image preview systems allowing you to see the effect of different poses and backgrounds, enabling you to work together towards a set of images that reflect your professional abilities and character.
Your portrait is a powerful personal marketing tool: taking the time to get it right will not only pay dividends, you’ll have fun creating it to.
Studio Grey is a portrait photography company working from Covent Garden. Our photographers are qualified members of the British Institute of Professional Photography and the Royal Photographic Society. What we offer is a tailored approach to corporate photography, we work intimately with our clients in order to figure out their wants, needs and most importantly, the message they want their images to send. We will work with you on your body language, posing and style as we deliver a shoot that is targeted toward your image needs.
Service: You are the most important person in our world. Without you we cannot hope to capture amazing portraits. Our service is designed to make you feel relaxed, comfortable and confident. Whether you are with us for 30 minutes or a full day.
Quality: Our image quality is second to none. Top quality optics, cameras, lighting and software combine to provide you with headshots that render equally beautifully on websites and billboards.
Value: Working efficiently so that we deliver the highest levels of service and product quality at a price that represents excellent value.
Our clients include: Facebook, Chanel, Kearney, Lombard Odier as well as multiple TV personalities, actors and politicians.
Take control of your professional destiny: https://www.studio-grey.net/contact-for-headshots/
71-75 Shelton Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2H 9JQ email@example.com +44 (0) 7764 801420
Please contact us regarding any of your photography needs,
either call us or leave us a message through the contact form.