Interview with Bourdages Photography’s Emilie Bourdages
Whether a picture is worth 100 words, 1,000 words, or 10,000 words – you can’t overestimate the importance of an effective image. From an online dating website to a commercial about a fast foodrestaurant, a single image can result in an action by the intended audience. As someone who found my wife due to an online dating website, I can credit professional headshots with assisting me in getting an introduction to my soul mate.
Due to the growth of social media, our online appearance can be just as important, or even more important than our in-person image due to how many people view online profiles including decision makers. While a grainy profile picture might not look as bad to a potential employer as an image of you taking body shots off of a friend at a St. Patrick’s Day party, your profile picture should reflect your attention to detail and professionalism.
Emilie Bourdages is a professional photographer and owner of Bourdages Photography, which is based out of Roseville, California. She specializes in professional business portraits, corporate, and executive headshots. I interviewed Emilie about her business, her start as a photographer, and the importance of having a professional headshot.
Michael Luchies: How did you get started as a photographer?
Emilie Bourdages: A family member put a camera in my hand at the age of five. I was their shadow from that point on. We went on lots of photo adventures. As I practiced daily, I kept craving more, and people kept telling me I should do this full-time because I was born to do this. After much hesitation I started up. I had a very experienced mentor, who still offers valuable support today. Now I’m a busy entrepreneur, I have my own photography business that is flourishing; I’m freelancing for several publications, and serving as a Director on the board for Sacramento Valley Portrait Professionals.
ML: What inspired you to start Bourdages Photography?
EB: People. I love people. Through working in business services for over ten years I had thousands of interactions with really great people. When customers started to value my work and even cry over how amazing they look in their business headshots, I knew it was right. I produce something that is so valuable on occasion people tip me more than the session even costs. That is very unexpected, but reassuring. With all the encouragement from others I pursued my dream of being a professional photographer and don’t let anything get in my way. I absolutely love it!
ML: Many photographers focus on weddings and high school senior photographs, why do you place such an emphasis on business portraits and executive headshots?
EB: Weddings and Senior Portraits are great, but this empowers people and changes their lives by giving them that missing piece when they’re job hunting or being looked at for a promotion. When recruiters look online it helps the job seeker come across as being somebody who cares about their professional appearance enough to invest in it. It takes your standard black and white resume and turns it into a real-life human being. When a hiring manager sees who you are, you stand out and become harder to forget amongst hundreds or even thousands of other applicants. Bottom line is you become a face instead of a piece of paper with words on it.
ML: Why should everyone have a professional headshot?
EB: It could be the difference between $40,000/yr. and the next level which maybe $120,000/yr. I have seen it with my clients, no joke. I think everyone should know to do this, and how important it is over the long run. People who are in executive positions have been strategically doing this for years, it is not sexy, but it is functional. If you could advance your career and give yourself a competitive edge, just by doing something this simple why wouldn’t you, it pays off.
ML: What is wrong with having casual photographs as your picture for social networking profiles?
EB: Nothing is wrong with a casual photo. I’ve photographed business owners at their location on a casual level countless times. The thing is, professionals know professional work when they see it. If you have an amateur photo you’ll be standing out from candidates who’ve done it the right way, with the proper professional equipment and lighting.
The people hiring are highly intelligent people. As much as I’d like to say go ahead and take a picture with your cell phone, you’re not fooling anyone. It comes across as exactly as what it is AMATEUR.
ML: What tips would you give young professionals about their headshots and social networking profile pictures?
EB: I’ve talked to recruiter friends of mine about this quite a bit, often they won’t even look at a person as a candidate unless they have a professional image on LinkedIn. If you don’t have them yet, set them up ASAP and be consistent by using the same photo for all your social networking websites. Also, aside from what people may assume attractiveness, of a person actually makes no difference, what recruiters are wanting is to see the confidence the person conveys in their photo.
So get out there and find somebody to take your professional photograph! Invest in a nice outfit, something you would wear to an interview, and be confident that you are worth every penny of it!!
ML: How can people find out more about your work?
EB: If you’re interested in seeing a small sample of my vast collection of work please visitwww.bourdagesphotography.com. I just rebuilt a fresh new site, I’d love to hear what you think!
After my interview with Emilie I immediately checked my online profile pictures to make sure they were what I wanted to present to the world. Although I am not currently searching for a job, you never know who is looking at you. If you are searching for a job, it is extremely important to give yourself every opportunity to shine above the people you are competing against. A professional headshot could be the difference between continuing your job search or landing that dream job you have been searching for. Thank you to Emilie Bourdages for her insight and for the interview.