Style Collective Podcast Interview with Annie Spano, talking about Branding Photography and Mindset Work

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Have you ever found someone online, that you immediately relate to, and then absorb every bit of content that they've created? No, me either, that would be weird. ;) Annie Spano is one of those women for me. She's motivated, kind, intelligent, and has style for days. When I got the chance to be on her podcast, Becoming Fearless, I was over the moon. 

Besides having a few geographic locations in commons (NH and Upstate NY!) we both made the journey from corporate America to self employed, and now serve other entrepreneurs. In this episode, we chat about how I fell in love with photography (a boudoir shoot on a Boston rooftop!), and then fell in love with business and marketing. We chat about recognizing your niche, being willing to communicate, and why your mindset in business matters.

 

 

Find Annie at the following locations online, and check out the Style Collective, where she's created a platform for bloggers, stylists, and influencers to connect, grow, and learn together. 

Style Collective

Annie Spano

Instagram

Facebook

iTunes

 


What sort of branding photos do you need?

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All of my clients come to me knowing they need shots to make them look great, but few know exactly what shots to ask for. Good thing that I'm the branding photographer, and that's my responsibility! Of course every one needs a proper headshot (or two!) but beyond that, what will really make you stand out as a leader?

 
Your branded photos should elevate you into the arena of thought leader.
— Kristin Hardwick
 

Yes, you've heard me ask the question, "What do you want to be known for?" because it dictates a lot of how your photoshoot is designed, and what the final usage requires. Looking ahead to what opportunities you might want to prepare for helps us create a portfolio of images that you'll love for a long time. That being said, there are a few standard types of images that I start all branding photoshoots with:

  • Proper Headshots
  • Lifestyle Portraits
  • Working Portraits
  • Prop Photos

Let's take a look at the each of these shots...

 

Proper Headshots

Regardless of industry or profession, you need a great headshot, and even better if you have a handful of ones to choose from. Great for your website, author bios, speaking gigs and more, headshots are the foundation of a professional image. These should have you looking straight at the camera, with a warm inviting expression, and should be close up enough that your face is instantly recognizable. I recommend having a variety of headshots in different outfits so you can refresh your profile photo as you see fit. 

 
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Lifestyle Portraits

Lifestyle portraits, or environmental portraits, are almost always my client favorites! We want to give your audience a feel for what it's like to be around you, get to see your personality, and in general know your vibe. Also the most fun to shoot, these are great for your social media, marketing, and even book covers. 

 
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Working Portraits

Working portraits show what it's like to work with you. These will look different depending on your industry (obviously), but also based on your long term goals. If you're working on being a nation level public speaker, we'd want to photograph you strutting your stuff on stage. If you're a leader in the local real estate market, we're going to photograph you in a gorgeous home. Make sense? Liza Witonis is a Personal Wealth Coach, and she works with her clients remotely, via her laptop, phone, or on skype calls, so we photographed her accordingly. 

 
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Prop Photos

Prop photos are a completely separate blog post (coming soon!) because there is definitely a bunch of different ways to work a coffee mug into your brand! Before we cover that, start thinking about what items in your life represent your personality and brand....

 

In summation...

Your branded photos should elevate you into the arena of thought leader. You can be the absolute smartest person in the room, but if you're not putting yourself forward as such, your climb to success will be a lot harder. Own your expertise, and let's show it off - in a fun and personal way!

 
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How to choose the perfect location for your Branding Photoshoot

Besides wardrobe, choosing the perfect location for your Branding Photoshoot will have the most impact on the final feel of your photos. Your location can determine if your photos feel light and airy, serious and formal, energetic or laid back. Creating your image is one of the most exciting parts of building your brand, so enjoy this, and have fun with it! 

 
Rachel Wentworth is an established shopkeeper in Harvard Square, and her photos needed to reflect that!

Rachel Wentworth is an established shopkeeper in Harvard Square, and her photos needed to reflect that!

 

What fits your brand?

First off, you'll want to get clear on what your brand is. What place do you have in the market? What makes you different? Once you have this narrowed down, you can choose what locations might visually make sense for you. City vs Woods? Light vs Dark? Upscale Luxury vs Adventurous Maverick? If you're not sure what your brand is, I can help! I offer Brand Audits, and would love to spend an hour getting really clear on this for you! Consider where you meet clients, where you love to grab drinks, or even where you love to spend time when you're not working. All of these could provide great options. 

 
Kristina is a blogger and photographer who does her work remotely. A cool toned coffee shop fit her brand perfectly. 

Kristina is a blogger and photographer who does her work remotely. A cool toned coffee shop fit her brand perfectly. 

 

What parts of your personality are we showcasing?

I love to ask clients 'what do you want to be known for?', because it helps articulate both where they are now in business, as well as their goals. And you know I'm always shooting for your goals ;) So, for example, if you want to be known as the top consultant for newborn sleep, then I would suggest we photograph you in a beautifully designed nursery. But what kind of nursery? Here is where your personality comes into play. If you personally are more loud, enthusiastic, and bold, a nursery that is decorated in bright contrasting colors would work great. (Babies love contrasting colors, right?) If your personality is more laid back and quiet, then a nursery decorated in neutrals would visually be more on point for you. Most of us are multi-faceted, so consider which parts of your personality you want to be a part of your brand, and let's choose something that fits that. 

 
What do you want to be known for?
 

Variety

My next criteria for the perfect location is variety. How many different backdrops or 'sets' can I get within a walking distance? Recently, I photographed Personal Wealth Coach Liza Witonis in Portsmouth NH, and had 9 (yes, NINE) different sets within walking. We could have found more, I'm sure, but 9 got the job done! Most locations don't have this many, but I love to find 4 at minimum. What makes a great set? Color, texture, lighting, and architecture all play a part. There's no perfect formula here, but it's a good general rule to start with. 

 
Liza Witonis - Personal Wealth Coach

Liza Witonis - Personal Wealth Coach

 

I always tell clients I only need 4 feet of space to create a great shot. If you have specific brand colors, then keep your eyes open as you drive around town for your color. You'll be surprised how many blue or yellow walls are painted on buildings, or how much green space there is. Make a mental note, or even better, snap a photo with your phone, and share with your photographer. (That's me. Text it to me so I can add it to my arsenal of locations!) 

 
Snap a photo of a location with your phone, and send it to your photographer!
 

Logistics

And then of course, the logistics of a location. Is it open to the public, (not a deal breaker, by the way, just means we need to smile and ask someone)? Is it accessible by walking, or do we need cars/planes/trains? Am I standing in water to get the perfect shot? Do we need to pack shoes to walk in between wearing heels? Is it particularly busy, or is it more private? There's no right answer here, but being thoughtful about these things in advance, lets us focus on creating beautiful shots instead of dealing with problems the day of. 

 
Kim and Jimmy Cronin, Entrepreneur + Consultants

Kim and Jimmy Cronin, Entrepreneur + Consultants

 

And that is where the magic is!

If this seems overwhelming, please remember that it doesn't have to be. When you book a Branding Photoshoot with me, I help you with everything, start to finish, including locations. I've shot all over New England, and scouted even more locations. If you're not sure what location would be ideal for your brand, I promise I can help figure it out. Interested in learning more? Book a Branding Audit and lets get really clear on your brand and your visuals. 

Where would your dream location be? Drop a comment and let me know! 

When is 100 more than 100,000?

You don't need 100,000 followers on Instagram to be successful. You don't need to have everyone in the country know your name, to be fully booked out. Your email subscriber list doesn't have to have 20,000 names on it. Really. 

What you do need is 100 (or so) crazy fans that love you, buy from your repeatedly, and share you to everyone. 

100 crazies is better than 100,000 acquaintances.

Now this is a rough concept, and not an EXACT number. Honestly, if I tried to serve 100 people a year with full branding photoshoots, I would be so over booked, no one would get my best work, and soon I'd have zero crazy loyal fans. If you're a business coach, maybe you only need 50 loyal crazies. If you sell the best white v neck shirt ever, A) hit me up, and B) you probably need more like 1000 crazy fans to hit your sales goals. But again, you don't need 100k.

The point is this: if you are putting out your best work, and connecting with your ideal, dream customers, you'll create people that will buy not just once, but over and over. Your 100 crazy loyals will buy anything you put out, and you'll enjoy working with them. They will then refer their friends and colleagues (who will likely also be dream clients, because birds of a feather flock together!) and you will be the happiest business owner on the block. 

So how do you create this tribe of 100 crazy fans? 

  • Be you. Don't try to be someone else. Yes, a polished and thoughtful version of yourself, but YOURSELF. It helps if you're also letting your fans get to know the person behind the business. Love iced coffee more than most? Are you a mom working whenever her kids are sleeping? Working remotely while you travel the world? Give your customers something they can relate to and like about you, beyond the awesome work you do. 
  • Know who you're trying to serve. "There's riches in the niches" is one of my favorite phrases, and not just because it's cheesy. It's true, Serve one group REALLY well and they will love you for it. 
  • Treat your existing clients like GOLD. Under promise and over deliver. Take care of them and anticipate their needs. Ask for their feedback. WANT TO SERVE THEM. (If you have an awesome referral process, I'd love to hear it, putting together a future blog post for this! --> email me here!)
  • Put yourself out there. Ok, so assume you have an amazing product or service that your target client loves, you're treating your existing clients like gold, and you are still looking for more of these crazy loyal fans. You need to let your perfect clients know you exist. This might mean submitting guest posts to blogs your client reads, or guest speaking on a podcast they listen to, or even offering a workshop at your local Chamber of Commerce. The ideas are endless.

Not sure what exactly would make sense for you to grow your client base? I'd love to chat! I've been helping my clients not only create gorgeous photos, but then strategically use those photos to gain exposure, (and thus clients!) for their business. Email me and let me know if you need help in this area! 

Because they can't hire you if they don't know you exist!

 

Switching places - My Own Headshots

What I learned from my own headshot session...

Visibility matters. I know it, I preach it, and generally, I live it. If they don't know you exist, they cannot hire you. And when it comes to your brand, you want to be sure that you're visible in a way that is flattering, accurate, and authentic. Your headshot is absolutely a huge part of this, and it was high time that I stopped making due with self timed shots (#theoriginalselfie) or photos that I set up and had my husband take (he's hot, and super handy, but not exactly a portrait photographer). 

I'll start this post with the disclaimer that I LOVE my new headshots. Abbigail Saffian shot them for me, and she did so great. She's the staff photographer for the NHIA, and while she prefers to shoot weddings or architecture, she was so great to work with and got some really beautiful photos. You've all seen my new headshots around the social media sphere, so hopefully you agree! I did learn some super valuable lessons being on the other side though...

Let's be up front about the level of preparation I did for these photos... not that much. I mean, I know this stuff! I'm an expert at headshots! I would be fine just getting shots off the cuff right?? Yeah, it's different when you're not the one behind the camera :) I did book a hair appointment with the lovely Vanity Room a few days before, and I knew that I wanted to be photographed in my studio... but other than that, I did not do any of the pre work for myself that I do for my clients. Rookie Mistake.

Wardrobe: I chose my favorite white blouse, which I'm happy I did. White is my favorite 'color' to wear, and this blouse doesn't show sweat or wrinkles. Perfect! Additionally, I grabbed one of my favorite tops from KOKOON, a blue waffle knit. While in real life I think it looks awesome on, in my photos I do think it was too loose. Fitted clothing photographs better than loose, and I should've chosen one of the other many tops I have. Lesson: Spend time before your session trying on clothes to make sure they fit well, and follow the KHP Wardrobe Guide.

Location: The KHP Studio and surrounding area. I knew I wanted to be photographed in my gorgeous space - I'm still insanely proud of the renovation we did! We also ventured outside, to a few of my favorite locations to take my clients. There are so many different nooks and crannies to shoot in around the city of Nashua, NH, and we chose just a couple that I love. I do feel like the ones that we chose contributed to the success of this shoot; I love seeing myself in these spots! Lesson: Locations contribute so much to the overall feel of your images, and making sure they are on brand is so important! 

Implementation: When I design a photoshoot for a client, I make sure we review their website and social media, so I can get a feel for which types of shots they need in different places. Do we need a lot of banner shots and just a few portrait orientation? Do we need almost social media shots exclusively? Is there a chance we are blowing any of these up to billboard size? All questions that determine the composition and layout of the final images. Did I do any of that for my own shoot? NO. I assumed that I would just grab a few headshots, and that would be fine! In hindsight, my favorite images are not cropped wide enough, or do not have enough space around them to use as much as I want. Lesson: Think through final usage of images, to be sure we're capturing all that you need. This is a really high level concept that your photographer (moi) would do with you! But if you're going the DIY route, it's helpful to consider. 

Overall, I loved getting my photos done! I am definitely faster to send out pitches to speak on podcasts and in media articles, since I'm proud of my accompanying headshot. I am also super happy that my new website has polished and professional images of me on it, (another shout out to Pearl Marketing & Design for building this for me!) Truly, I am stepping into becoming my own personal brand, and having photos that I'm proud of is so instrumental in that. 

If you're feeling like you also need new photos to get you to the next level, I'd love to chat. Let's book a consultation, and start discussing how you want to be seen!

Does your office support your Branding?

This month I had the pleasure of sitting down at the Impeccable Nest Headquarters, located in beautiful Bedford, NH. Emma Paradis and Kimberly Carole are a mother/daughter duo, who specialize in creating inviting spaces for those who want their personality to shine through in great design. Simply put, they are the interior designers you want to work with. 

Impeccable Nest Home Office

Impeccable Nest Home Office

Originally from the beach area of California and now in New Hampshire, they bring a Southern California cool and New England tradition to their designs. After photographing their home office for their new website (coming soon!), I knew I had to share it with you. (*I will also be photographing the ladies themselves, after Emma returns from her maternity leave!)

In addition to their own work spaces, they've included a fun coloring and art station for the kids. 

In addition to their own work spaces, they've included a fun coloring and art station for the kids. 

Obviously, as designers, their work space would be beautiful. But there are one million ways to design a beautiful space, and these two have done so in a way that is so them and so on brand for who they are as a business. Looking through these images, you immediately see that they are energetic and fun, love color, but also love order. 

To the left of the desk area, you'll find a wall of children's art - both Emma's as a child, and her own children's work. 

To the left of the desk area, you'll find a wall of children's art - both Emma's as a child, and her own children's work. 

You'll notice that they've designed a space that welcomes children into the office, as they work with Emma's three kids underfoot. They have thoughtfully added storage, beautiful elements, and clean workspaces, with tons of personality and personal touches. 

There's no one trend or style being displayed here; it is a beautiful mix of so many eras, styles, and yes, budgets. From flea market finds to designer items, they mix and match so effortlessly. It's a happy room that encourages creativity, and productivity. 

So what does this have to do with branding? Well, everything. As a potential client, when you see images like these on their new website, along with their portfolio of stunning client homes, you get a real sense of the personality you'll be working with if you choose to hire them. You'll know if they are a good fit for YOU based on your reaction to these images. Maybe you can't put in to words, but you'll find yourself either attracted to, or saying no thanks, to the personalities that find this room to perfect. To the designers who work and live here. 

I kind of a have a thing for gorgeous coffee table books....

I kind of a have a thing for gorgeous coffee table books....

If your current office doesn't feel on brand to you, there are easy ways to change that. Declutter anything that doesn't feel like a good fit. Paint the walls a bright color (or bright white!) Hang some new art on the walls that feels really inspirational and fitting. Surround yourself with items that inspire your creativity, and help you be the expert in your field. And if you need inspiration, check out Impeccable Nest's daily blog, where they share a TON of info on ways to work good design into your life. As they would say... that's impeccable <3 

Emma and Kimberly will be sitting in on our Social Media & Branding Expert Panel discussion next week. If you're interested in hearing how they've managed to carve out such a spectacular niche in a very saturated market, and stand out in the blogging world too, then be sure to grab a ticket!. Want to update your website and social media with images of your workspace to reflect your brand? info@kristinhardwick.com for more info!

Personal Branding Session for Amber Logue

As I continue to refine my process for my clients, I return to the question of WHAT do they need most? Obviously beautiful photos, but what do those photos need to do for them? The answer is different for each client, based on their individual personality, goals, and industry, but for Amber Logue, the answer was versatility.

See, Amber is the Head of Operations for one of the fastest growing companies in NH. She's also a leader in the community, volunteering for more organizations than I can list here, as well as being a Big Sister to her unofficial Little Sister. In addition to that, she provides coaching to a select few clients who need clarification on their goals, both professionally and personally. 

As you can see, she's a woman who's taking on the world, and doing so in a humble but insistent way. She's a force. And she needed photos that truly captured what's she doing now, and that will withstand whatever opportunity is brought to her.

And not to give away all her secrets, but if you're not already following her on instagram, make sure you do. 

 

Interested in discussing what YOUR branding session might look like? Shoot me an email at info@kristinhardwick.com and let's chat. 

Branding Photoshoots - and a special offer!

Ever sit up in the middle of the night, like a lightening bolt hit you, with so much clarity for a problem, you can't go back to sleep??

Let me back up.

I love photographing women. It's what I do. I love it because I want to empower women to feel good, to accomplish more, to have confidence in business and in relationships. Many times though, even the most brave among us stall when it comes to their own image. They want to wait to invest until later... focus on their business first, then their family, then maybe themselves. It's just who we are, right? This was so frustrating to me because I know the difference gorgeous photos can make for someone, personally and professionally. So I was struggling with HOW can I help my clients the most? How can I best serve what they need, AND give them what they want?

Cue the lightening bolt.

Leah Richardson, Dancer at Brixham Danceworks

Leah Richardson, Dancer at Brixham Danceworks

Personal Branding Photoshoots

This is the best of both worlds. You get GORGEOUS photos of yourself, and your business gets GORGEOUS photos that propel it into pro status. A Personal Branding Photoshoot will quickly elevate you above the competition, and let you stand out in a noisy market.

Each session will include: 
1) Branding consult either in person or via skype. Let's get really clear on who you are, and why you're in business. 
2) Wardrobe Consultation. To review both your style and your business' style. We'll discuss not only what items photograph well, but what fits your brand. 
3) Professional Hair and Makeup Styling. Let one of my licensed hair and makeup artists make sure you're looking like the best version of YOU. 
4) Custom photoshoot. Headshots, as well as lifestyle portraits, sales funnel images, and the "result" clients get from working with you. 
5) 25 images for web, social media, print and media. - A versatile portfolio that will be useful for 24-48 months (or more).

Who is this perfect for? Anyone who is tired of looking like everyone else in their field, and being mediocre at that. If you're completely over trying to find a photo for your instagram page that looks ok, or if you know your website looks like it was DIY with stock photos, then this is for you. If you're just ready to take things from "starting out" to "killing it" then this is for you.

Alyssa O'Mara, Owner of The Vanity Room

Alyssa O'Mara, Owner of The Vanity Room

Also - and this is the part I really am excited about - feel like you don't have a solid handle on what your 'branding' is? Not a problem! We will work through that at the beginning, getting you super clear on what it is you do, for whom, and why. That alone is super powerful in getting things done in business, don't you think?

Here's the deal: A Personal Branding Photoshoot is $2400, BUT I'm offering a $600 discount to the first 10 people that book, making it $1800! And I'm releasing this offer to you, before sharing it tonight to our networking group and tomorrow on social media.

I want to photograph not just the business you HAVE, but the business you WANT to have. Let's make this happen for you!

Yeah, I'm that excited about this.

I want you to see the benefits of putting more of your personality into every image used in your business. I’ve seen the amazing rewards my clients have had from doing that, and I believe every entrepreneur, small business owner, and creative person can benefit from doing the same.

Let's put more YOU into your brand.

Lydia Foley, Owner/Broker at Purple Finch Properties

Lydia Foley, Owner/Broker at Purple Finch Properties