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I’d like to share with you one of my favorite before & after stories EVER. It’s all about the power of projecting the kind of image you INTEND out into the world, how that image can serve you, and the importance of finding the right artist who can help you bring it to life.

A few years ago, I met Eugene in our local professional photographers club. This is Eugene.Eugene

He asked me to do his corporate head-shots because as he put it, he “needed an image makeover” as he had been “underemployed” for a couple of years.

Eugene had been an engineering manager on large, high-profile projects for nearly a decade, but due to the economic conditions had to fall back to a non-management role. His experience, however, indicated a role as a director of engineering in a large company or a vice president in a smaller company.

In the head-shot he had been using on LinkedIn and other social media sites like Facebook up until that point, he described his look as a “nice neighbor.” (You can click that link to see the before shot.) He felt that he needed something that looked more business-like, and that could help him to command the respect (and salary) worthy of his professional background and experience.

Eugene e-mailed me some details about his specific vision several days prior to his portrait session with me. I’ve asked him permission to share his testimonial with you here:

“After reading what I wanted, Melanie asked the right questions. She also did some research, the depth of which surprised me. This, combined with her amazing creativity, attention to detail and expertise with lighting, posing and composition, yielded portraits that met my needs and exceeded my expectations. The results speak for themselves:

A day after I posted one of the portraits as my new profile photo on LinkedIn one of my former managers, a sometimes arrogant guy, accepted my LinkedIn request he’d been sitting on for several months. Coincidence? Maybe. Read on…

I also posted one of the portraits as my profile photo on Facebook. Within days a couple of girls I went to school with, who would hardly give me the time of day since the ’60s and ’70s, suddenly decide they want to be my friends and engage in conversation. One of them flat out said, ‘I like your photo! Very distinguished!’

But the most important thing is that the executive portraits accomplished what we originally set out to do: remedy the problem of my being underemployed. I received a job offer at the VP level and I have accepted the offer.

Melanie’s excellent photography is living proof that a good executive portrait can give the underemployed a needed edge. And not just the underemployed but also, and perhaps especially, the unemployed as well could benefit from her work.

A good executive portrait is an investment in the future that can quickly pay for itself.

I’m still amazed at what a simple change in the ‘message’ has wrought. I’ve always been the same guy, but changing from the ‘nice neighbor’ look to Melanie’s carefully crafted corporate look yielded immediate and dramatic results.

As I had planned, I used one of your portraits for my ‘company photo’ on the corporate intranet. It was also displayed along with other new employees’ photos as new hires were introduced in the last company meeting.

Instead of a 15-second blurb about who I was and where I worked before, the CEO gave me a lengthy introduction as [Melanie’s] portrait of me was displayed large on the screen.

Since that introduction I have received unusual cooperation and assistance from the company’s top brass. I didn’t rise because of the portrait alone but presentation and image have made a noticeable positive difference.

I’ve just been invited to speak at Microsoft’s TechEd this June and address the trade press. If they ask for a photo for promotional literature, guess which photographer’s portrait I will send them?

I have also used the portraits you have shot of me on my online dating profiles. I have been told again and again by women that they “feel something” when they see my photos.

I guess that’s what an artist really wants to do when they create art: to evoke an emotion. Well, you’ve done it. Thank you again, and good job!”

Now… I’m not saying that I personally need to photograph everyone, but I hope you can make the logical leap to see how that applies to industry experts. When event planners and bureaus start looking for candidates, what’s the first thing they see? Your picture! So get your head-shots done in a way that projects the image YOU want to cultivate out into the world. And please for the love of all things good, get them done by a professional photographer who 1) specializes in head-shots, as opposed to traditional portraits (there is a BIG difference), and 2) make sure you vibe with the photographer. Make sure they get your vision and you’re clear about your expectations so they’re shooting for the right goal. Pun intended.

In coming weeks, I’ll get into how to distinguish a good head-shot photographer from a traditional portrait photographer, and how you can articulate your vision so that you get the kind of pictures you want AND need to get paid work.

I hope this has helped you! Look me up on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter because I’d love to connect with you!