Head Shots: The Joy of Feeling Professional

Yesterday I had some headshots taken for this blog. It was something I dreaded doing, but when the time came, I ended up having a lot of fun. Here are three reasons why:

1. It felt professional. As a writer, I spend a lot of my time sitting around in my yoga pants trying to decide if it’s *really* worthwhile blowdrying my hair because, hey, the mailman likes me just the way I am…(thank you, Billy Joel). But yesterday, I actually got off my tuchus and ambled up to the salon to get my hair cut. Given that my hair is so thin that – according to my current stylist – it resembles a new born baby’s (this is actually a step up from the haircutter who once affectionately described it as “doll’s hair”), having my hair freshly cut and styled made a world of difference to my appearance.

Before the shoot, I also painstakingly applied make up to my late-February ashen winter face. I’m not usually a make-up kinda gal, but I was once (mercifully) coached on what to do by an Aveda representative some 10 years ago and have clung to her advice shamelessly ever since.

Career blogger Penelope Trunk advises that anytime you do media, it’s essential to get yourself professionally groomed in order to be taken seriously by whoever is interviewing you (she extends the list of essentials to teeth whitening, but hair and make-up are a must). But there’s an added benefit to doing hair and make up: it also enables you to take yourself seriously as a professional, which is something creative types definitely need to do every once in awhile.

2. It got me out of my comfort zone. I’m not a terribly visual person. My husband – who is – can readily attest to this. I once famously scoped out an apartment for us in Boston and came home extolling the virtues of our new “three bedroom,” only to have him arrive a short while later and inquire as to where the third bedroom was located. The answer was…nowhere. So I felt really odd just sitting there before a photographer smiling at different angles and folding my arms in different ways and pretending that this was normal. But as the hour wore on, I found myself getting more and more into it, offering my own thoughts on the different shots and “tensing my eyebrows” (as the photographer so gracefully put it) a bit less.

3. I’m learning new skills. A big part of being a writer these days is self-promotion, especially via various social marketing tools. But to market oneself seriously, you also need to learn about – and care about – things like headshots and how you come across, visually even, to the general public. I’ll be the first to say, per point number two, that this sort of thing doesn’t come naturally to me. It feels somehow terribly self-concious. But even though I know I’ll be tempted to pass the task off to one of my more artsy friends, once that little CD of photos arrives, I’m determined to be the one who sorts through them and decides which image best represents myself. Because I need to learn how to do that. And learning new skills is part of growing up.

Watch this space!

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