The Big Bonus to Having Professional Headshots

I hate having my picture taken.

I hated it when I was younger and I hate it more now that I'm older. I will avoid it at any cost. But that's hard to do when you run an Internet-based business, and that photo is part of what might be the first impression someone has of you. Plus it was time.

I have a new website and a new course to promote and I needed fresh pictures. So for a change I listened to my own advice and did what I tell my clients to do - have professional headshots taken.

I enlisted the expertise of Lori Berkowitz. She had worked with several people I knew and I liked her work. I also liked that Lori does not only portraits and corporate work, but mixes it up with babies and boudoir shots. A trip to her website confirmed that. It evoked a personality and philosophy that engaged me so I sent her a note through her contact page. That same day I received a reply.

I was convinced she was hoping I would not hire her.

Lori offers a phone consultation to get a feel for what you need and what you want to get out of your photo shoot. At the end of our initial conversation I was convinced she was hoping I would not hire her. I could barely listen to me.

It was the end of a long, cold New York winter. I was recovering from a Vitamin D deficiency, my hair and skin felt dry and I had put on some extra weight that seemed determined not to leave me. I felt it necessary to tell her every detail of this. Her mission -- if she should decide to accept it -- would be to make me look as good as possible, despite how I saw what she had to work with.

Lori was calm, reassuring and seem unfettered with my apprehension.

She told me not to worry. My photos would be great and we would have fun in the process. I wasn't entirely convinced, but set a date for the shoot anyway.

Choosing my outfits took my mind off my apprehension.

I am no longer a nine-to-five corporate girl. If I was, I would have simply pulled one of the dozen suits in muted tones that used to hang in my closet, chosen some not-too-flashy jewelry and be done with it.

This required a lot more thought. I had to select the right look for my solopreneur lifestyle -- not too stuffy, not too out there. Something that would express to prospective clients who I was, and something I felt good in. I also had to adhere to the checklist Lori had sent of suggested colors that worked and patterns to avoid, all the while limiting my food intake to salad and salmon without the Chardonnay in the hopes my dull skin would glow and a few pounds might fall away.

The day of the shoot, I literally packed a suitcase, along with my uneasy self into a cab to venture crosstown to her studio.

Lori is well-suited for what she does.

A petite woman who happened to be very pregnant at the time of our session, she is the epitome of Zen when you meet her. Her serenity calmed me and allowed me to do something that is easier said than done -- surrender to the experience and trust she really was capable of creating miracles.

After the first few warm-up shots, I started to relax. Lori was very clear on what outfit choices I had made that she liked and which she was tossing aside. I didn't argue. I listened. She was the professional, I merely her subject. My job was simple -- follow her directions so she could capture my best me.

A couple of hours and many laughs later, me and my suitcase were headed back to the home office. Two days later a link to the photos she took arrived in my email. As I clicked through, my only hope was that there would be at least one out of the one hundred and eleven choices I had that I could use for my website and social profiles.

My first surprise was that I liked as many as I did.

I never expected I would have trouble narrowing my choices down. I had been too worried I wouldn't even find one I liked.

I scrolled through the proofs, feeling like one of those women in Dove's Campaign for Real Beauty and stumbled upon my second surprise -- the reality of the image of myself.

I liked it. I didn't look as bad as I had been thinking. In fact, I didn't look bad at all. I looked good. There was no evidence of what I had been seeing reflected back at me in the mirror all those months. My RBF -- resting bitch face -- had been replaced with a smile.

Which leads me to the bonus of this experience.

Not only did it accomplish what I wanted -- a set of great new photos to enhance my digital me -- it was extremely therapeutic.

Joanne Tombrakos is a Storyteller, Global Educator, Digital Demystifier and Creatrix of YOUR DIGITAL YOU, an online and onDemand course designed to improve your digital presence and build your personal brand. For more information on how you can hire her visit