Posts

Do you have a New Year’s Resolution?

Do you have a new year’s resolution?  I know a lot of people who have chucked their list of resolutions and instead have adopted one word which will be their mantra for the year. Me too.  Yes, I want to lose ten pounds, I want to be more organized, I want to exercise more, grow my business, etc., etc.  But when I thought about what one word encapsulates the change I want to occur in 2016 it is INTENTIONAL.  I love this word.  I use it in my business.  I’ve been teaching how to create an Intentional Image for years.  Now it’s time to live an intentional life.  What does this mean?  No more shiny objects.  I will plan my life and stick to my plan.

The following are my intentions for how I will spend my time and run my business:

  • I am opening up my Essence of YOU Facebook group to the world. It has been just for my clients and it is underutilized.  If you are one of my clients that emails and texts me with images and style questions, please keep them coming but post them in the group.  That is one benefit of the group learning and sharing on a case base case basis, together. I plan to post daily and provide unique content in that group so please follow, share and recommend it to your friends.
  • I will be taking Sundays off to spend dedicated time for myself and my family.
  • I will be checking my email, phone and texts twice a day, if you would like to talk to me, please leave me a detailed message and I will call you back within 24 hours.
  • I no longer carry a line of clothes.  I have gone brand neutral. I am on a mission to help my clients NEVER PAY RETAIL – unless it is something very special.  I am doing online shopping for my clients and it is turning out to be an amazing experience.My workshops are now a one day experience and they will be held quarterly. The next one is February 20th. I still have space so if this is on your list for 2016, give me a call.
  • I am doing many more individual consultations.
  • I am speaking more.
  • I am working with companies of all sizes to help their employee’s create a personal brand, dress that brand, look their best – Create an Intentional Image.
  • I will continue with Socialize with Style the first Saturday of most months. The next one with be Saturday, March 5. I will be introducing my new program called Your Style Formula. I hope you can make it.
  • I will be organizing some special events including a Consignment Shop Hop and a retreat in Ocean City.
  • I will continue to create compelling headshots and professional portraits.  I have a new Frequent Headshots program to make it more affordable to have headshots taken often. Changing your profile picture is the best way to get noticed online and if you have a professional headshot to grab attention it will help grow your business. So jump onboard the Frequent Flyer program.

Wow.  What a fun year this will be.  I am excited to share it with you.

7 Steps to Create a Compelling Professional Headshot

7 steps to best professional headshotIf you look around on LinkedIn and corporate websites, you may be surprised at the lack of high-quality, professional head shots you will encounter. This is your opportunity to stand out from the crowd.

Numerous studies show that your potential clients see you for the first time from that picture, 60 percent of the time. Yikes.

How often do you see a colleague with a bad picture they took on their phone, hanging out with their dog or drinking a glass of wine? What about those individuals who over process their image so their eyes look possessed and their skin plastic? Even a well done over-processed image in photoshop is a mistake. The one thing that’s worse than a bad head shot is one that leaves people disappointed when they actually meet you.

Why not take the time to get a good headshot? Not one with your phone in a room full of clutter; a clean polished image that shows you at your best and is professionally retouched yet natural.

Here are my 7 steps to creating a compelling and unforgettable professional head shot: 

1. Determine What You Want to Communicate

Do you have a personal brand? You have to start there. What do you want people to think about you when they see your head shot? Are you serious, approachable, creative, efficient, fascinating, holistic? You must know what you want to communicate before you know what to wear, where to stand, what pose and lighting will tell your story.

2. Let Your Wardrobe Tell Your Story

The one thing your photographer can’t control is your clothing. First, make sure that your clothes fit. It is easy for wrinkles to occur when you lean into the shot, cross your arms or pose in any way. If you have ill-fitting clothes, those details will show and you will appear to not pay attention to details. Do you know what colors look good on you? If so, wear them. Solid colors are better than patterns;  basically, less is more.

I recommend wearing the type of clothing you wear when you meet a client. When someone meets you first from your head shot, they will want to see that person when they meet you in person. If you wear a suit and tie in person, then wear it in the image. If you are always in business casual then that’s the right choice for you. If you always wear statement jewelry than you can do that in your head shot.

3. Be Seasonal in All Ways

I  recommend dressing for the season, wear light colors in the spring and summer and darker colors in the fall and winter. Changing out your head shot every six months is a good idea. Posting a new profile picture in LinkedIn and other social media sites gains you attention. This is a great strategy  to increase visibility.

For women, I highly recommend professional hair and makeup. Find a makeup artist who works with photographers and professionals regularly. Unless you are a model or a makeup artist, you don’t want a glam look you want natural makeup that will bring out your features and smooth out your skin.

4. Choose a Setting that Relates to Your Story

Think about your website and other ways you will use your head shot. What is the color scheme and the look and feel of your other marketing materials? What best tells the story of your personal brand and business? A white background is considered contemporary, light and airy; a black or dark background is more formal, moody, dramatic, seriou. An outdoor environmental setting is more casual and on trend for models, actors and people in creative fields; environmental indoor backgrounds, like libraries, board rooms, studios, etc., can add a storytelling element to your headshot.

5. Consider Color Harmony

The idea of a “head shot” is to bring attention to your head; more specifically your face. You want your skin to be the biggest point of contrast in the image. It is counter-intuitive but light hair and skin is best on a light background making the greatest point of contrast (the darkest part of the image), your face. If there are colors in the background than wear clothing that matches or compliments that color. If you are dark skinned or have dark hair, dark backgrounds are recommended for the same reason.

6. Be Sure You Use Professional Lighting

A trained professional photographer will know how to control the light so it compliments you. Lighting can be bright and flat for a more contemporary approachable look or more dramatic for a serious feel.

7. Relax to Gain a Natural Expression

Everything else can be perfect but if you, the subject, is not relaxed your head shot will fall flat. Be sure to work with a photographer with whom you feel at ease and someone who will invest whatever time is necessary for you to relax behind the lens.

Cyndy’s expertise with professional image branding and  photography is well-known across Northern Virginia, Loudoun, Fairfax and the DC Metro. Contact Cyndy today to schedule a consultation, professional head shot session or to join one of her personal image workshops! 

Want more advice? Join Cyndy Porter’s Style Conversation for blog updates, workshop and event announcements and so much more!

What’s Your Your Image and Style IQ?

Does Your Image Pass the Test?

What's Your Style IQ?You have 10 seconds to make a first impression. How you dress and groom yourself speaks for you even without you saying a single word. It’s not just what you’re wearing but how your clothes fit you.

How do you score on this image and style test? Give yourself two points for every statement that you can say “yes” to.  This quiz applies to men and women so go for it!

  1. I know my personal brand, I always shop and dress with this in mind, I never wear clothes without thinking about what image they will project.
  2. I know about my body proportions and my body shape; I know what clothes look best on me.
  3. My clothes fit me very well. There is no pinching at the waist, my pant length is right where it needs to be, the cuffs of my jackets are just right.
  4. When people look at me they can tell right away that I’m someone who takes care of details. My shoes are polished, my purse or briefcase is of good quality, and my belt doesn’t show any hints of wear or change in waist size.
  5. My hair is more than cut, it’s styled by someone who knows how to make me look my best.
  6. My clothes are always clean and if a shirt or jacket needs pressing, it’s pressed. No one has to say to me, “Hey, did you know you have a stain on your shirt?”  I take care of my clothes. I always present myself in a respectful way.
  7. When I shake someone’s hand, I’m never self-conscious. I groom my fingernails and don’t have chipped polish.
  8. I know which colors make me look the best. My wardrobe consists of only clothes that help me reflect my best self. Colors that don’t flatter me left my wardrobe long ago.
  9. My tailor knows me by my first name. When I purchase clothes I visit my tailor right away because he knows exactly what to do to help me get the best fit. I take pride in knowing that I’m someone who walks out the door every day in clothes that fit well. I never look sloppy or disheveled.
  10. I don’t wear too much cologne or perfume, people are comfortable around me.
  • If you scored 18 to 20 points, read no further, you are most definitely conveying a strong, polished image that is making heads turn. I’m sure this will impact both your personal and professional success. Great job!
  • If you scored 12 to 16 points, you’ve got some understanding of how image works for you or against you in the workplace. With a few tweaks, you’ll be on top of your image game in no time.
  • If you scored 8 to 10 points, your image is not working in your favor. Don’t panic.  But if you want to project a winning image you might want to consider making some changes.  There are people who know how to do this and can help you along the way.
  • If you scored 0 to 6 points, hmmm, I recommend you stop everything and find some assistance.  Your personal image is your brand and your brand needs updating.

Thinking about yourself as a brand is a powerful concept and dressing this way is something you can do on any budget.  It all starts with knowing who you are and deciding what image you want to convey.  Getting to the point where you have a closet full of clothes that work for you takes time.  By shopping with a plan, spending the time to think about how you look now and where you want to take your personal image will pay off. It will leave you feeling empowered and you will exude self-confidence.

WANT MORE PERSONAL STYLE TRICKS, FASHION TIPS, AND INFORMATION ON UPCOMING WORKSHOPS AND SPEAKING ENGAGEMENTS? BE SURE TO SUBSCRIBE TO CYNDY’S E-MAIL LIST AND JOIN THE CONVERSATION!

First Vlog: “What’s Your Why?”

 

Why I’m Passionate about being an Image Consultant.  My Why. 

WANT MORE PERSONAL STYLE TRICKS, FASHION TIPS, AND INFORMATION ON UPCOMING WORKSHOPS AND SPEAKING ENGAGEMENTS? BE SURE TO SUBSCRIBE TO CYNDY’S E-MAIL LIST AND JOIN THE CONVERSATION!

 

11 Spring Styles for 2015 You Might Already Have in Your Closet

W151_038The headlines are screaming about spring fashion. The stores are filled with the new spring styles. Have they gotten your attention yet?

I recommend starting each new season by educating yourself on the trends, then check out your closet for things you may have from a time past that you may be able to revitalize.

Next, make a list of things you can easily add to your wardrobe that will spruce up your look, provide you with a current, youthful image while staying within your budget. Being mindful of the trends, and of the clothes and accessories you already own will allow you to shop and dress with intention, saving you time, money and allowing you to look your personal best.

Here are some items that are trending now that you may already own:

1. Obi belt. This Asian inspired simple belt looks great wrapped around a fine-gauged cotton or silk dress. A great look to show off your waist.

2. Small bucket bag. If you held onto your smaller bags when the big bag trend came

3. Clutch. Clutch bags are great for nighttime outfits. Clutch bags that are leather and not too bedazzled are perfect for daytime outfits when you don’t need to carry so much with you on the scene, you may have some bags that are currently in style.

4. Fringed items. Ankle boots, booties, handbags, and clothing come with fringe benefits this spring season.

5. Small silk scarves for a neckline accent. Remember the small scarves that flight attendants wore around their necks in the ‘70s? That style is back and is perfect when worn with open necked shirts.

6. Mid-calf skirts. This length, ostensibly gone for good in the 1980s, is back.

7. Bohemian long skirts or dresses. Anything long and flowy is back in high fashion.

8. Peasant tops. Loose fitting tops are a great alternative to the cropped tops that are being shown this season. If you kept any loose-fitting peasant tops from years back, they’ll be perfect over flared pants.

9. Stripes.They aren’t for everyone but if you love them, pull them out and you will fit right in. Look for vertical stripes which will do wonders to elongate your frame.

10. Shirt dresses. This was a classic style that had a long shelf life before it was pulled. It’s back again and looking modern, not stuffy.

11. Denim skirts. Denim is fashion’s best friend this season. Fabric technology has advanced, however. If your denim skirt is as stiff as cardboard, you may enjoy the softer fabric choices that are available now.

A word of caution: be sure you know the fashion before you resurrect your clothes of yesteryear.

Know what image you wish to project and which styles are right for your body silhouette. Need help? Attend my Socialize with Style event February 21 at 11:00 AM. The topic: What’s In Style for Spring – and How to Know What Styles are Right for You. You should have received an invitation. If you haven’t, let me know.

WANT MORE TIPS, TRICKS AND INFORMATION ON UPCOMING WORKSHOPS AND SPEAKING ENGAGEMENTS? BE SURE TO SUBSCRIBE TO CYNDY’S E-MAIL LIST AND JOIN THE CONVERSATION!

7 Shopping Tips to Create your Best Image on a Budget

7 budget shopping tips wardrobe clothingYou know your professional and personal success largely depends on your overall image.  You’ve heard the statistic that people judge us in the first 10 to 30 seconds they see us and it has everything to do with how we package ourselves.

Maybe you’re daunted by the idea of spending mega bucks on a new wardrobe. The following 7 tips will show you how to acquire an amazing wardrobe without breaking the bank. 

First, know what image you wish to project and how to dress your body, then jump in with both feet following these strategies:

1)      Shop Off-Season.  That means now!  It is the end of January and what’s in the stores?  Spring clothes.  Buy now for the rest of the winter season.  Buy that new coat, winter dress, or the beautiful designer boots and statement pieces you’ve been eyeing – the cost of which may be hard to justify!  You can get it now for 40%, 50% in some cases 70% off.  The selection may be limited but there are “finds” out there.  Here’s a tip: many major high-end stores allow you to pre-order sale items up to 13 days before they go on sale, even over the phone.  What’s your favorite store?  Ask your personal shopper or get to know a sales associate who will tip you off when the sale is about to occur.  You’ve missed it this time around but keep that advice in mind for fall shopping (June or July).

2)      Shop Sample Sales.  Direct sales companies like W by Worth, have sample sales twice a year.  The merchandise from these companies is sold in a private individual basis from samples.  It’s a terrific way to shop during the season and at the end of the dual fall/winter and spring/summer seasons; the samples are available for purchase at up to 50% off.  There is often new inventory leftover as well, which can be ordered at a discount.

3)      Shop Outlets. Premium Outlet Stores have risen in popularity and they are everywhere.  They used to carry leftover inventory that didn’t sell.  Now clothes are made for the outlets.  They are commonly a lower quality product but if you stick with the designer outlets you are getting a great quality product at a reduced price.  If you really want a deal, see #1 above and shop the outlets off-season where their already low prices are marked down.

4)      Check Prices on Amazon.  Download the Amazon Shopping App and check out the items you want before buying.  You can often save 20% or more by purchasing online.

5)      Consignment Shops.  They are fun, they are great for the environment, it is basically recycling clothes and you can get some great finds at amazing pricing.  In a future blog, I am planning a DC Metro Area consignment shop review.  But for now, I say do it.  Here’s the caveat emptor:  you will find a lot of outdated clothing in consignment shops and the proprietors are not usually fashion savvy, so take a personal shopper with you if you don’t know what’s in style or shop for classic timeless pieces.  In addition to your local consignment stores, check out www.realreal.com, an online designer consignment shop.  Look for those really special statement pieces at huge discounts.

6)      Shop on Specific Days.  Did you know you can actually save on specific items by shopping on certain days of the week?  You can, according to Shopittome.com, a San Francisco company that analyzes more than 750,000 sales items a year from more than 200 online retailers.  By running averages, the company found the following patterns:

  • Mondays: Shoppers can save nearly 50% on men’s and women’s dress pants, and about 55% on sunglasses.
  • Tuesdays: Expect to save more than 40% on men’s apparel.
  • Wednesdays: Shoppers save about 40% on shoes and children’s clothes.
  • Thursdays: Save 36% on handbags.
  • Fridays: Pay 42% less for jewelry, belts and scarves.
  • Saturdays: Lingerie can be found at 37% off and jackets/outerwear at 51% off.
  • Sundays: Swimsuits at 52% off.

7)      Use this app.  Check this out… Shop it to Me, www.shopittome.com, the same company mentioned above has a terrific website where you can identify your favorite designers and items of interest, tell them your size and you will start to get daily emails on items on sale in your size by your favorite designers.  How cool is that!

WANT MORE TIPS, TRICKS AND INFORMATION ON UPCOMING WORKSHOPS AND SPEAKING ENGAGEMENTS? BE SURE TO SUBSCRIBE TO CYNDY’S E-MAIL LIST AND JOIN THE CONVERSATION!

Is Your Professional Headshot Working for You?

How's Your Professional Head shot Photograph Working?Odds are your ideal client will see your headshot before they meet you, creating a first impression of you and your business. Professional headshots are so crucial in today’s connected world that doing business without one is much like doing business without a logo.

Your headshot should tell the story of who you are. Easier said than done? Indeed, it is a challenge if you do it on your own, but a good professional photographer will know how to capture what you need.

I always hold a pre-session consultation with my clients to be sure we both walk into the session prepared to make a great image that tells the right story. Whether you work with me or another professional photographer, these are the seven key ideas you should consider and discuss with your photographer to be sure you get a great headshot:

1. Wardrobe:

Find clothing that compliments your skin tones. Clothes that are the same color as your eyes or blend with your hair, skin and eyes are always a good choice. A headshot should bring attention to your face so be sure you clothing is subtle and does not lead the eye away from your face and to your clothing.

Wear clothing that matches how your customers or clients see you. If you show up for a client meeting in a suit and tie, that is the style you should wear for your headshot. If you are more casual then that is what you should wear.

2. Setting (environment and backdrop):

Professional head shot photography in Loudoun Northern Virginia DC

The setting is important and needs to compliment your wardrobe choice providing color harmony. It also needs to match your business model and job position. Think about where and how you work, and make sure the backdrop or environment matches. For example, a CEO or lawyer would most definitely have a different setting than a Realtor or an owner of landscaping firm.

3. Props:

Props can be great for storytelling. Think about an artist in her art gallery, a photographer with a camera in hand, a CEO in her boardroom, a lawyer in front of a law library, a realtor in front of a white picket fence.

4. Pose:

Posing is important; it is something that takes professional photographers years to master. Here are a few trade secrets:

  • If you want to look thinner turn sideways.
  • Whatever is closest to the camera will look exponentially larger than what is further away, most of us want large eyes and small bottoms so lean in and push your bottom side away from the camera.
  • Most people have one eye that is smaller than the other, it is often best to put the smaller eye on the side towards the camera unless you have another reason to prefer the other side of your face.
  • Your stance will also tell a story so think about who you are and your professional persona when you strike a pose.

5. Lighting:

Studio lighting can make or break a great headshot. Lighting is key to the concept of taking a three-dimensional object (humans) and putting us on a two-dimensional medium (business card, photograph, screen). We do this with the use of shadows. Like other art concepts that have been in existence for hundreds of years, there are lighting techniques that are proven to complement the human face. Make sure the photographer you work with has an understanding of natural or studio lights to maximize your appearance.

How's Your Professional Head shot Photograph Working?6. Expression:

Your expression is not the icing on the cake, it is the cake. A really good photographer can do everything else right: a great choice in clothes, backdrop, pose, and lighting but if the expression looks forced or unnatural it will not be an effective headshot.

My suggestion is to find a great photographer who has credentials and proven technical skills and who can make you feel comfortable.

Your new headshot will not only improve your professional image it can help stimulate sales; depending on how and where you use it, it can even get you dates!

7. Post Processing:

A professional photographer will allow you to pick your favorite headshots and then enhance them. A good image becomes great in post processing; blemishes are removed, stray hairs cleaned up, skin softened, eyes brightened, and teeth whitened. Make sure your photographer plans to enhance your headshot after you see the proofs.

Cyndy Porter is a DC Metro image consultant and professional photographer with the experience and understanding you need to make your best first impression – in person and across all business and communication channels. Contact Cyndy today for more information on her image and style consultations, workshops and professional headshot photography!