Hiding in Plain Sight
By Dr. Heather Clark
Today I have a tale of two headshots. And Identity. And how we get recognized and what that means.
Last year I embarked on a mission to refine, define and in general, up my game with Vibrant. I hired a marketing firm who did an excellent job doing what marketing firms do. Competitive analysis. SWOT analysis. Value Propositions.
And they scheduled a photo shoot.
The goal was to project a “professional” image (whatever that means). To quickly convey to friends, old and new, that I’m competent. Trustworthy. Educated and well trained. Not somebody’s sister or friend. A doctor.
Of course, I wore a suit. And a lab coat. Because I’m… shall we say… particular, I spent a little time finding the ‘perfect’ lab coat. Tailored. Fitted. Lovely light green embroidery.
OK. I spent a tad bit more than a ‘little’ time. I am a Type A, after all.
Here’s the thing, folks. It isn’t like I never wear a lab coat…but I pretty much never wear a lab coat. They’re handy to keep on my person and to project an air of authority and separateness; however, in practice I find them constrictive and stiff.
The results were great. The photographer was wonderful to work with and did a great job capturing what we were going for. Competent. Trustworthy. Professional.
Except… nobody recognized me.
Here’s what happened. I updated my social media accounts with the new lab coat shots. It went on my website.
And then I got involved with a great group of women that I’d not met before. Eventually I joined up with them at a conference. I recognized every person at the gathering from photos I’d seen on Facebook. And they recognized each other. But nobody recognized me from my pictures.
What could be going on? I reasoned that it was obviously that I’d spent way more time on my hair and makeup for the photo shoot. That must be it. They were seeing Dr. Clark ‘unplugged.’
Yet I had a nagging feeling that it may be something else.
A few months ago I had another photo shoot. This time it wasn’t at the direction of a marketing firm with formulas and competitive research. It was a great opportunity that fell into my lap. I spent just as much time on my hair and makeup this time around, but left the lab coat in the hotel room. Not because I’d feel silly walking around Golden, Colorado in a lab coat, but because it wasn’t the real me.
Instead of relying on the coat to project being competent, trustworthy and professional, I decided to just be me. Because I am those things. Plus I’m a giant goofball.
This photo shoot was way more fun. Of course, I was in a gorgeous, awesome location and I was with friends. But it was a lot less work. I wasn’t trying to project an image. Or to speak in ‘our’ language, I wasn’t trying to control how you saw me.
In fact, this was a rare instance where I knew I was being photographed, but was relaxed. I chose to be ‘myself’ anyway. Don’t get me wrong – my inner control freak knew that if these photographs didn’t turn out ‘right’ I could simply just never show them to anyone. And there’s a few that I threatened the photographer to delete or else.