The Empowering Journey of Getting Headshots at 43

The Empowering Journey of Getting Headshots at 43 As a woman in my early forties, I find myself navigating a multitude of roles and responsibilities daily. From managing multiple businesses to nurturing a family and maintaining personal aspirations, life is a whirlwind of tasks and joys. In the midst of this beautifully chaotic life, I…

The Empowering Journey of Getting Headshots at 43 As a woman in my early forties, I find myself navigating a multitude of roles and responsibilities daily. From managing multiple businesses to nurturing a family and maintaining personal aspirations, life is a whirlwind of tasks and joys. In the midst of this beautifully chaotic life, I recently embarked on a journey that unexpectedly empowered me and gave me a renewed sense of self: getting headshots done. The idea initially emerged after applying to speak at the Scranton Chamber EMPOWER, The Leadership Conference and it has been about 12 years since I got my free headshot during a workshop at a blogging event. If I am going to be honest, over the years, I have used cropped out pictures as my profile pictures. Even worse was when I tried to take a selfie in my office to use on LinkedIn. Professionally, updating my headshots seemed crucial as I continued to evolve in my career. Yet, beyond the professional sphere, it became an opportunity for self-reflection and self-celebration. The decision to book a session wasn’t just about capturing an image; it was about embracing my authenticity and celebrating my growth. In the past, I might have hesitated, doubting whether I could measure up to societal standards or fearing judgment. But at 43, through many hours of therapy, I’ve learned to embrace myself with kindness and appreciation. When I called my friend Rocco at Valvano Pix to book my headshots, I had some anxiety about how I was going to wear my hair and even had to check the dates on my makeup to make sure it wasn’t expired. After tossing some watered down Mary Kay, I called and booked an appointment for hair and makeup for my headshot session. I thought it was a nice treat and of course, a business expense.  Like everything that I do, I wanted to make sure that I was prepared. How do you prepare for headshots? Well, I headed right to my podcast directory to see if there were any shows featuring headshot tips from the dozens of shows in my favorites. Not having any luck, I searched through to find an episode, Headshots & Photography – Your Online Personal Brand which shared a number of tips for getting headshots. This podcast led me to explore Helen Tansey – Sundari Photography. Helen photographs corporate & branding, headshots, family and kids and hosts a podcast about coming into focus. Her profile (headshot) tips are amazing, including these, which in the past I clearly did not know!

7 Tips for headshots to update profile pictures

  1. Make sure you have a photo that looks like you. How many times have you looked at a profile picture and then met the person in real life to find they look totally different. I was so guilty of this because my profile picture was taken 10 years ago. 
  2. Use a high resolution image.
  3. Make sure your face takes up most of the circle.
  4. Make sure it’s a photo of you only (not that cropped picture with your kids arm in the background)
  5. Use a solid or neutral background (photographer should know that)
  6. Wear what you wear on a typical at work day, solids not patterns (same as picture day at school)
  7. Smile and even show your teeth
After booking my hair/makeup it was time to get some new clothes. I haven’t gone shopping for myself in years and I had an idea of what I wanted to wear but really didn’t know where to start. I headed to the mall to look at my daughter’s favorite stomping ground, AERIE. Did I belong in AERIE clothing? I mean, there are half shirts and high pants. I found a pair of fox fur wide pants and I googled them to see what people wore with them. I also found this comfy looking sweatsuit, which was my tag line- Suits to Sweatpants for my speech. So many choices in color. Do I match them? Mixing them up?I found a 20 something with a name tag and asked her if people my age wear the black pants and if so, what do you wear them with? I also showed her the sweatsuit that I was thinking about and asked if I could mix colors? She answered my questions and showed me into the dressing room. I was feeling good about my new outfits but now I needed shoes. What shoes do people wear to get headshots? I knew that I needed some sort of cool sneaker, which I found at the Dick’s Warehouse on sale for $59.00. It was meant to be, they matched my sweatsuit perfectly. I was all set. Came home and hung up my clothes for the next morning. Woke up, took the kids to school and was off to hair and makeup in my new sweatsuit.  I went to a new salon in town, Golden Salon and Lash Lounge, who actually was a former student that I once hired to do makeup at my daughter’s 9th birthday party. I knew that she would just make me look great, so I sat back and trusted the process.  Stepping into the photography studio felt like stepping into a sanctuary—a place where the lens was a tool to capture more than just my external appearance. I kept thinking back to the podcast tips and my friend the photographer didn’t expect so many outfit changes, but I was not getting hair and makeup done again, so I wanted to take advantage of each shot.  It was an opportunity to showcase my confidence, inner strength, and the story etched in every smile line and laughter crease on my face. Wait, are those even characteristics of me? They were on that day!  The process itself was surprisingly uplifting. My friend Rocco, a skilled artist with a keen eye, made me feel comfortable, guiding me through poses that felt natural and authentic. With each click of the camera, I shed layers of self-doubt, revealing facets of myself that I often overlooked in the hustle of everyday life. The experience of getting headshots at this stage of life was transformative. Instead of obsessing over flawlessness, I focused on portraying my genuine self—the woman who has weathered storms, embraced challenges, and emerged stronger and wiser. The camera became a mirror reflecting not just my external appearance but also my resilience and confidence. When I received the final images, I was moved. Each photo encapsulated a moment of self-assurance, radiating a glow that transcended mere pixels on a screen. They were more than headshots; they were visual affirmations of self-love and acceptance. You can see how much fun that we had during the session. Below are some of the unedited pictures. I am still going through to select my favorites, but Valvano Pix did such a great job with each outfit, it’s hard to narrow them down. Seeing myself in those images stirred emotions I hadn’t anticipated—pride in my journey, appreciation for the woman I’ve become, and gratitude for the experiences that have shaped me. This experience reinforced a profound truth: beauty isn’t confined to youth or perfection. True beauty emanates from confidence, authenticity, and self-love. It’s the smile lines that tell tales of laughter, the eyes that convey resilience, and the posture that exudes strength. Getting headshots done at 43 wasn’t merely about updating my professional portfolio; it was a celebration of my evolution—a reminder that confidence and self-assurance are timeless and ageless. It’s about embracing every facet of myself and owning it proudly. For any woman contemplating getting headshots, regardless of age, I’d say this: don’t hesitate. Embrace the opportunity to capture your essence, celebrate your journey, and revel in the beauty of being unapologetically yourself. It’s an experience that transcends the lens and touches the soul, leaving you empowered and more in love with yourself than ever before.  

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