The short answer:  because you are a professional and need to present yourself as such.

But if you are at all like me, it isn’t quite that simple.  🙂

I have been using the same headshot since February of 2011.  I’m sure you know the one – black top, leaning on my elbow and holding my paintbrushes under my chin.  It was a great representation of what I do at a glance (no one was going to think I was an accountant) and I liked the picture.  I was lucky that that one turned out as well as it did considering it was taken by my then 17 year old son.

A few months ago I was asked to give some opinions for the SURTEX On the Surface eNewsletter with a gentle nudge to “please give us a new photo”.  It could be in my studio, whatever… they were just tired of my favorite headshot.

I didn’t have a lot of time and I REALLY didn’t want to invest in professional photos (more on that in a minute) so I had a friend who has a pretty good eye come over one day and we did some new pics.  My studio doesn’t have the best light and is a weird shape so getting good “at work” photos didn’t really happen.  Did a few shots and then we decided to do something fun outside.  To pull the “northwest” feel I played around behind a cedar tree in my backyard – with my paintbrushes – and we captured an expression I was happy with.  That was used in the eNewsletter and a magazine.

Lots of people said how great the photos were on Facebook and I was just happy they were done.  Let’s just say I haven’t been feeling like the best version of myself lately… the stress of juggling work, life, my dad’s illness, etc. caused me to gain a bit of weight.  Well… to be honest, THAT didn’t, it was the fact that I dealt with all of that by eating that did it.

Lee Harris, the charming photographer husband of artist Karen Harris, sent me a kind email saying that he agreed that I looked good but that the photos themselves were not where he thought they should be for me or my business.  I admitted that I didn’t want to invest money having photographs taken of me in my current shape and here is his response…

“As a friend and photographer (amateur SHRINK) I’m telling you that YOU ARE worth the investment. I shoot models and model portfolios and none of them think they ever look as good, are as slim, etc as the could be. Women from 9 to 99 are taught that they are too short or tall or could lose a few pounds – if I had to wait on every women to get to where she feels 100% about herself I would be out of business. You would be surprised at the number of women who I have photographed who have cried when they say the finished images. A professional is worth the investment if you simply are not felling as good about yourself as you should (because you are AWESOME) and can brighten you day with quality images. BUT for you as a creative and a BRAND you MUST have quality professional images done. A good photographer can control a little extra weight with poses and lighting and post editing.

You design beautiful things – your brand is about style and your personal style should come through in any photos that are represented of you anywhere. You don’t post designs that did not quite make the cut? It’s not going to cost a ton of money for some professional photos. But it is well worth the investment and YOU MY FRIEND are well worth the investment.

Did you forget how big I am?? don’t make me come out there ;o)”

I will admit tears were shed during this whole exchange.  And he is big… he used to play basketball so at the time I was really glad he lives in Ohio!

This reminder that we need to embrace who we are in the moment and put our best image forward – especially when it is for our business, was the catalyst for me getting professional headshots taken.

Value of Professional Photos

I will also admit that there was a lot of internal stress and worry and self-judgement that almost caused me to cancel my appointment on more than one occasion.  But I went and the photos turned out great!  Lee is right – a good photographer can find a great angle to bring out your personality and make you feel good about yourself.  (And, added bonus, no red-eye!)  They also do a little photoshop to make it even better.

I am so glad I fought my fear and did it anyway.  I really debated sharing this whole story but decided that I would because maybe it would help others change their perspective about investing in who they are and having the best version of themselves online.

Thank you Lee Harris!  (If you live in Akron, Ohio and need headshots – check him out.  You can find him on Facebook

Thank you as well to Colleen Cahill Studios in Troutdale, Oregon (close to Portland and Vancouver, WA) – if you are in my area, I highly recommend her – great to work with! You can find her on Facebook at

So I encourage you to rethink your feelings about pictures and make sure your image represents the professional that you are!

Here’s to your creative success!

– Tara Reed