I had the privilege to shoot with Kate Joncas, Seattle’s long-standing president and CEO of the Downtown Seattle Association (DSA). In 2014, she was named as Seattle’s deputy mayor of operations.
I have two basic types of clients: creative types and business types, and both require a specific need. For creative headshots, a wide range of expression is important. For business headshots, the aim is always to deliver a headshot that conveys: authenticity, confidence, and approachability. Kate, as a media-savvy veteran, was already good at presenting herself with confidence and approachability. What we needed was to nail authenticity. Specifically, we needed a smile, a bright, genuine, approachable smile.
Smiles are tricky. If you ask someone to smile on command, more often than not they’ll come with something that looks canned, or painful. I call it the JC Penny smile The best smiles come from making your clients crack up, or getting them to talk about their kids, beloved pet, or Johnny Depp. With Kate, I tried a different approach: we took a series of shots where she looked away from the camera, thought of a happy memory, and delivered a smile. Within a few minutes, she produced a usable, approachable shot that satisfied her.
“I think we got it,” she said.
“It’s a good shot,” I said. “But while you’re here, let’s see if we can get a better one.”
We fired off another round of headshots, then another, and another, and with every new set, her smiles became warmer, brighter, more approachable. Every time we thought we had a great one, we shot a few more and found an even better one. 30 minutes in, we landed a shot that couldn’t be topped no matter how hard we tried. In a long series of A’s, we needed the A+, and I think we got it!
Hopefully this headshot serves Kate well for many more dedicated years of public service!