Can journaling help you get a better headshot?

Wait, hold on. Portraits are visual and journaling is all about words right? So how do the two go together? I’m going to share how finding “your words” not only helps you in your own business, but also helps your photographer when taking your images.

I’ve come to realise that a “simple” headshot actually isn’t so simple. There is SO much more to it than just standing in front of a camera. For many people I know, a headshot is something of a grudge purchase - something you need to do for your social media or professional profile but not necessarily something you want to do.

Here’s the thing though - what kind of message are you sending with your profile photo? Or, what kind of message do you want to be sending?

- Do you want to appear approachable?

- Do you want to appear as an authority in your field?

- Do you want to show off your creative side?

All of these questions should be considered before you decide to “pull the trigger” on your shoot, so to speak, and here’s where journaling can come in handy.

Hanneke from Digits Accounting

The journaling I’m referring to doesn’t have to be extensive. I don’t mean you need to be writing “Dear Diary" in a notebook every day before bed. Of course, you can if you want to, but what we’re trying to achieve here is finding that inner brand voice that you would like represented in your photograph.

In the days leading up to your shoot, I recommend writing out your unique value proposition. Do you know why people buy from you or your company? Or, if you’re not in a sales environment, do you know what your strengths are as an employee? What are your personal strengths?

Start with just three words that you can use to define you or your brand. Write them down. Give them conscious thought. Think of what you would like yourself or your brand to be. When you are comfortable with these words and your unique value proposition, start noting the positive words that you use most often when talking about your business. Having these positive words and affirmations in mind when it gets to shoot day means you’re stepping in front of the lens feeling confident in your brand.

Martina is affectionately known as Martina "Happy Wednesday" de Jager. She lights up our weekly network group meeting with her enthusiasm and excitement. She is also a financial planner, so we created a shoot that showed her fun side in images that were still formal enough for her professional use. She wore red as it's a bold, bright colour to match her personality and is also her brand colour.

Your photographer should be able to guide you through your session and help ease those last in-front-of-camera nerves. Knowing "your words" and what you want to represent is an added plus - your photographer can pose and direct you accordingly. If you’re feeling good on the inside, it translates to the outside. People buy from people, and they buy from people they know, like and trust. A professional image is just one element of achieving this know-like-trust factor, and this post is a great summary of why having a good headshot is important.

So what happens if your company has organised a quick-fire shoot for all the employees where you only have 3 seconds in front of the lens? Pick your top word to focus on - and step in front of the lens with that word in mind.

Taking it beyond the shoot

Reaffirming your unique value proposition keeps you moving in the right direction. If you find your words are shifting, maybe it’s time to start looking in a new direction. Or reconnect with your “why” to ground yourself again if you are feeling disconnected from your business or your brand. Knowing your words keeps you authentic in your marketing too.

As a photographer my role goes far beyond just clicking the shutter button. It’s why I always recommend a pre-shoot consultation to chat about what you would like to achieve from your shoot. I can offer guidance in terms of wardrobe styling, location options etc, but the concept has to resonate with you.

No doubt you’ve already invested in your business, and your professional photography should also be viewed as an investment - and not that grudge purchase that feels more uncomfortable than a trip to the dentist! Putting in the extra effort to make even the most “simple" headshot a success can have a great reward further down the line.

If you’re ready to take the take the next step, you can go ahead and book a complimentary pre-shoot consultation and let’s chat about your next professional photo shoot.

You can also reach me on and follow me on Instagram where I share more tips and tricks to make your portrait shoot a success.


Make-up artist, salon owner and professional speaker

"I can't express how much I'm in love with the photos from my shoot...

they're bringing me a lot of engagement with my friends and followers."

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