Branding.  How many articles are there about branding.  A lot.  Just do a search for the word “branding” and almost 200 million hits appear.  When thinking of branding, what comes to mind is product branding or company branding.  But what about branding you – yes, self branding? What does this mean?  How do I go about branding myself?

In a recent presentation, I talked with the participants about branding of self.  One participant shared she thought self-branding was about what she looked like, her clothes, and how she networked.  And she’s right – partially.

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One of the key elements to self-branding is a great professional photograph.  Why?  First, at some point you’re going to need to submit a photograph to a workshop, media release, or for your website. And this photograph needs to show you at your best, reflect your essence, and be compatible with your self-branding – which is (should be already) part of your overall strategy.

I cringe when I see  workshops or conference guides and the keynote speaker’s photo was cropped from an obvious casual group photo.  Again, is this good self-branding?  Another place where people plug in personal photos is on the professional social network site LinkedIn.  We can do better.

But how do we find a photographer to take that professional photograph?  Who should we go to? I’ve had many photos taken.  I remember being out at the Golden Globes and seeing my photos from different photographers and knew that one day, I’d have a celebrity photographer take my professional photo!  The difference in how they capture a person is like going from deer-in-the-headlights to Wow!-is-that reeeeally ME?!.

In the Twin Cities, we are really lucky to have celebrity photographer, Brent Dundore, of BD Portraits part of our must-go-to for pictures.  Brent used to live in L.A. and has worked with many celebrities.  Now living back in the Twin Cities, I was able to schedule a meeting with him.  But before our shoot, Brent sent me a list of ideas, clothing and make up tips, as well as things that I didn’t even think about to know before our shoot.  Again, you don’t know what you don’t know but soon find out when working with an A-Lister photographer like Brent. Priceless!

The day of my shoot I had all my outfits and was ready to work.  At Brent’s south Minneapolis studio he greeted me like we were longtime friends, a cup of Mexican style coffee (yum!), and then I met Tress…his beautiful dog.

With the music going, Brent put my so serious side to ease and before I knew it I was laughing and dancing the whole shoot.  Brent would occasionally pause to look at his camera and show me real-time photos and I couldn’t believe how fabulous I looked!  His eye for capturing the essence of a person to support their goal of self-brand is beyond words.  Actually, I was so impressed with his skill and talents I had a very difficult time choosing which photos to buy.  Brent was great giving me feedback on how to categorize the photos for each purpose; amazing.

My second shoot (yes, he’s THAT fabulous) was with my family.  The last time my family had our photos taken was for my son’s baptism…that was over 5 years ago.  So, we were overdue.  Seeing Brent work with my kids – he’s like the pediatric photographer!  The kids love him!  He captured the softer side of my oh, so serious chess champion daughter…and the sweet side of my comical-go-lucky son.  Then is was time for all of us together…my husband and I were thrilled with our family pictures and again, faced which ones do we pick. Brent to the rescue…what’s our goals?  Well, to send to family living in Europe.  So, we have a set for us of particular pix and then another group to our family abroad.  Again, priceless!

If you are within the Twin Cities, I strongly suggest taking a peek at Brent’s work at BD Portraits as well as on his Facebook page and having a professional (let him know you read my blog…and no, he does not know I’m blogging about him – yet!).  Why do this?  Because in this world of branding and self-branding you need to work with someone who understands business, goals of self-branding, and who best to do that with than a celebrity photographer?

All the best,