Don’t get lost in the need to look attractive –says Connie Lim.
On my first professional photo shoot (funded by a small indie label), I called up makeup artists and hair designers that I met through friends of friends.
Other than seeing just a few photos from their portfolios, I didn’t really know their philosophies, weaknesses and strengths.
Even worse, I called up these artists and hair designers before vetting my style and visual weaknesses and strengths.
I needed to do some homework, and dive into artist photos to understand the power of choosing specific pieces to communicate specific messages to the audience.
So, I jumped into the photo shoot and did the best I could.
I sucked in for pictures, and hoped for the prettiest images. During that time I thought the best looks would be the looks that would appeal to most people.
The photos that came out ended up being “pretty”, but I was looking at photos of a girl trying to be something she thought she should be.
I didn’t know what she stood for, other than great (fake) eyelashes and slimming clothes.
Musician Profile Shots Are Not Beauty Shots
Like many artists (and people in general), I was unknowingly lost in the need to look conventionally attractive.
We forget to do the simple (yet difficult) task of projecting true personality and grit.
Instead of looking outwards towards the standard of what is already out there, I thrive when I look inwards towards my standard of what I look like from inside out.
In other words, instead of thinking about what artist photo shoots SHOULD look like, I now celebrate what artist photos COULD look like.
Perfection is just OK
Don’t get me wrong. The photos from that first shoot worked to show that I was professional, and I used them for a couple years. However, I didn’t feel that the photos were communicating who I was as an artist. The photos didn’t express my rage and my hope for a better society. They didn’t express my desire to trail-blaze a new path away from my family standards. My personal story, edge, and grit were lost.
As Jim Carrey says it best:
Your need for acceptance can make you invisible in this world.
Who wants to be invisible, right? So I did my homework, and let go of society’s teachings of what women who make it in the entertainment industry should look like. I admitted my weakness in styling, and invited my friends to coach me. I set up brainstorm conversations with my mentor to remind me of who I am, and what I stand for.
The most helpful thing that my mentor helped me with was limiting and curating my palette. Rather than looking at the entire world of colors, fabrics, and styles, we narrowed in on who I am and what I believe in, and tried to figure out fashion vocabulary that would communicate that.
So, if you’re searching a million images online for what you like and are having trouble, start going through images and even ruling out images that may not jive with you. Start anywhere, with the goal of finding the UNIQUE YOU as the destination.
What is Your Best Look?
Now, I define the best looks as the looks that say something real about me and my music, regardless of how unappealing or unconventional I seem to the main majority. Long hair is sexy? Cool. I like my short hair. Short skirts are sexy? I like my parachute pants. Stilettos are sexy? I’ll wear my combat boots this time (but by all my means, if you like them heels, go get ‘em, tigress). You get the picture… I say no to should’s, and yes to me.
I have stepped far away from that median line of safe and pretty. I risk not appealing to certain demographics, but honestly, I don’t care because they are not who I’m singing to. If I just make choices that I feel 150% right about, I will naturally make the choices that will appeal to specific audiences.
Keep on Trying!
Photo shoots take practice to get better at them. Trust me, I’ve had many photo shoots that gave me a lot of pro images, but the images did not communicate my core. Keep practicing, and fine-tuning, as you would fine-tune your lyrics and your songs. It’s an artist’s job to help guide their potential listeners to them via visuals, audio, and lyrical content (I’ll get to that eventually!). Creating visual stimuli can be just as inspiring as writing a song. If you let it be.