Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Perhaps you noticed I didn't get a chance to post a blog last week. Instead, I was busy mixing business with pleasure...traveling for work while also visiting some family and friends back home in between. It was a nice drive home to NC through the beautiful picture-perfect Smoky Mountains, and I also got to spend two days relaxing on the sparkling waters of Lake Wylie, SC where my sister and her friends made a spread of food fit for a king. I also got to enjoy the best hamburgers on earth in my hometown (Cherryville, NC) hamburger joint with my best friend, and took a drive with my dad and step mom through the country out to my late grandparents' picturesque farmland. That was the pleasure part of the trip.
But it was also a pleasure on the business side of things to get to have some meetings on some beautifully landscaped college campuses, including my undergraduate alma mater of UNC Charlotte. My head was literally spinning as I drove around and walked through the campus observing with awe all of the growth that has occurred since I was last on campus several years ago for a basketball game. Of course I had to add to my wardrobe a UNC Charlotte shirt from the campus bookstore while there.
After relaxing and catching up with everybody, then it was off to the hustle and bustle of NYC where there was 100-degree heat and even tornadoes while I was there (yes, tornadoes in New York City!)! I was in NY to speak to several performers including musicians, songwriters, comedians, and others on the importance of image in advancing their careers. In this session I covered a variety of ways to improve their image, including determining the right look that says what they want it to say, making their written and online marketing materials stand out, presenting themselves in the media, and presenting themselves to the key players in the entertainment industry who can have an impact on the growth of their careers.
In this presentation, I spent a little time talking about a common mistake that I see most performers make when putting together their publicity and marketing materials, a mistake that ends up costing them more money than necessary: having promotional photos taken without consulting an image consultant. More specifically, this mistake includes not having an image consultant/stylist to assist in the selection of wardrobe before the photo shoot, not having an image consultant/stylist on the set during the photo shoot, and not having an image consultant/stylist assist after the photo shoot in the selection of the right photos for marketing materials.
First, I've seen too many promo photos of performers where the person has obviously bought a new outfit for the photo shoot, but the outfit is all wrong. Either the outfit was too big, too small, not the right color, not the right type of clothing for the purpose of the photos, or not the right clothing for the backdrop. At this point, money has already been spent on clothing and the photographer, and the performer is not happy with the results. Often times the performer will either settle for a less-than-stellar publicity photo that doesn't look dynamic, or will try again which means another payment for photographer/photos, and probably even more money spent on new clothing.
An image consultant/stylist can work with the performer before the photo shoot to help determine the appropriate look for the shoot and the appropriate sized clothing for the performer that shows off his or her assets and hides his or her flaws.
During a photo shoot, backdrops vary and change frequently. Not every look/outfit will work with every backdrop. That's why it's important to take several outfits to the shoot and to have the image consultant/stylist on hand to determine which outfit goes best with which backdrop and which accessories need to be changed out, to make sure clothing is fitting properly, and to make any necessary adjustments to the clothing (tucking, pinning, etc.) for a flawless look.
After the photo shoot, the performer will probably be required to select only a few pictures from up to 500 frames/shots. This can be very overwhelming, and if he or she lacks an eye for detail, the performer could very well end up overlooking the very best shot and choosing one that's not as good. An image consultant will look at the emotion in the face to determine if it's the right emotion needed to convey the appropriate message, will look at what the clothes are doing in the photo (how they are laying, what effect they are creating for the body, etc.), and will look at the posing and camera angles to determine if they are making the subject of the photo look too short, too wide, or too anything!
A perfect example of this is when I was going through some photos from a client's photo shoot to find just the right full-length shot. There were two pictures that were nearly exactly alike, and she really wanted to use one of those pictures. I showed her why she should choose the other picture that was nearly the same instead of the one she was interested in. The one I had suggested had a very small amount of space between her right arm and her torso, just enough to show the curve in her waist and make her waist look smaller than it did in the other picture where there was no space between her arm and torso.
Another example is when I worked with a client who had two headshot photos that were nearly alike except for the tilt of his head and the expression of his face. In the picture I chose, the tilt and expression was more consistent with the honest, sincere look and feel he was going for compared to the other picture. The difference between the two pictures were ever so slight, but made all the difference in the world for the message he was trying to convey. It's those little details that make a big difference.
A good image consultant can also assist you in finding a good photographer, hairstylist, and/or makeup artist. So when it comes to getting a perfect picture for your promotional photos, don't make the mistake others make. Be prepared by investing in this type of expertise so you won't have to spend more money again later. You won't be sorry!