A few months ago, I decided it was high time to get some new headshots. I’d been using my corporate headshot from my last job for nearly five years, and it was starting to look old. (Or rather: young.) Helena Price Hambrecht, a photographer I’ve long admired, announced a pop-up portrait event, and I jumped at the opportunity.
The shoot itself was a wonderful experience. Just afterward, though, I caught a Lyft home and started wondering: what have I done?! The initial panic and dismay I feel after every photoshoot became one of the main topics of this episode of my podcast Should We, on being seen. What I want to talk about here is what happened next: the long, grim process of selecting the final few photos for retouching.
I digitally thumbed through the proofs once every few days—seeing the flaws, hanging on to the potential. I roped friends in to reviewing the photos with me. Everyone largely agreed on the top four or five candidate photos, but no one was forcefully declaring, this one! That’s the one, the new you. Everyone took a sort of “it depends” approach. What did I want to project? Buoyant warmth, competent professionalism, oblique artsiness? Agh. I wanted it all.
It was Lisa’s idea to pick more than two. I asked Helena about paying to have a couple of extra photos retouched, and she was game. I settled on four: a buoyant one for Twitter and Facebook, a straight-ahead one for LinkedIn, an evocative one for creative projects yet to come, and an ambitious one for ambitious destinations.
Now that the deed is done and the photos are chosen, edited, and posted, I’ve relaxed into liking them all a lot and being glad to have them. Wrestling with my self-perception along the way was really tough, though, and if I’d had to pick only two—or only one!—I think I would have tied myself up in knots over who I want to be over the next five years. Warm, excellent, creative, or ambitious?
All four of my 2018 portraits by Helena live at the bottom of my About page.