Ready for Change?
We are living through remarkable times: pandemic, war and economic uncertainty. The good news is that we have the tools to control our professional and personal destiny.
We may wish to develop careers in different fields, companies or through promotion but nothing happens without positive action; our light needs to shine, we need to impress, change perceptions, highlight strengths. In preparing for change we need to make sure that our first impressions match the direction we wish to take.
Visual perception; initial assumptions when your image is first viewed, are dependent on many factors. Style of clothing, expression, amount of shadow, head angle and pose combine to create an immediate emotional response. And no matter how good your c.v. those initial impressions are hard to shift. Worse still if there is a disconnect between image and text, you may come across as insincere.
Creating the right response cannot be left to chance. Better that it is created through a detailed examination.
Getting the right reaction
Sector and culture
To succeed you need to become a PR agent for yourself. And the first thing to consider is your approach to those you wish to influence. Think about professional colleagues as your audience. It places you centre stage – now think about the character and individuals in that audience: what impresses them? What is praiseworthy in their eyes? What areas of character and professional skill need to be demonstrated through your presence?
Successful sales are made when emotion is backed up by evidence. How your audience feels when they first look at your image is important: it should match what they are looking for and be supported in your c.v. or professional profile.
Changing career often means adapting to a completely new culture. Professionally distinct groups rapidly create a common language, abbreviations, ways of working and ways of being. They mark individuals out as being members of the group and importantly, help group members recognise outsiders.
So, if you are joining a new culture: be it company or profession, you will need to adapt. Take a look at the style of dress, grooming, locations and the mood of members portraits. There will be differences between established members of the profession and recently qualified ‘newbies’. Where do you sit and how do you need your image to be read by those you seek to impress?
Preparing for the shoot
Perhaps a team of stylists, make up artists and dressers won’t be needed: this is a business portrait, not London Fashion Week. But the same attention to detail is needed. A makeup artist is invaluable. They can give you the confidence that you look your best (even at the end of a long working day). And that confidence is reflected in your eyes and expression.
Will you need to invest in a professional photograph or can a friend take the picture? Well, a friend may have a great camera and tons of enthusiasm. But if they don’t have qualifications, awards or recognition, be careful.
Portraiture is complex and requires a deep knowledge of visual communication, posing, technical excellence and people skills. Which is why portraiture is a photographic specialism, practised daily by a few dedicated individuals.
Mark Grey is a portrait specialist working with clients from Charles Taylor to PwC.
His studio is in Covent Garden, a stone’s throw from the tube station.