digital me: my linkedin photo and my hair

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– Kristin H., a  New York Writer

My Facebook profile chronicles life’s hurdles momentously joyous, quixotic, dingy and dilapidated moments in my life’s history. That is why I hide them. I was called Sideshow Bob for curls coiled above shoulder with pyramid flare; the black Paris Hilton for silky smooth and cropped in college freshman year; and simply divine when I mastered the Park Avenue blow out at 22–perfect root lift, matte except in direct light and downy, flipped ends. My hair always bared a bit too much of who I was and wanted to be–was I together or too wispy?

As a digital media purveyor, I can’t hide anymore. Potential employers Google sift for some digital remnant, and if there’s nothing there, am I left behind? I read on cnet.com that over 73% of hiring managers research social networks while separating the chaff from new hires. They cited LinkedIn. The only difference between LinkedIn and your resume is the picture.

“It’s time,” I thought, “for a virtual beacon–the e-portfolio.” My friend Christopher Annis, a New York based photographer, was eager to help. “So what’s your concept?” he asked. I had no idea and I had no idea what to do with my hair.

I arrived late–a modeling ingénue, ill-matched foundation and YouTube prepped on basic styling. Again, Chris asked, “So what’s the concept?” We settled on strong side lighting, something classic. All that was left was my hair. I put in prep work earlier that day out of necessity. My hair is naturally loud, tightly curled and shoulder length without any manipulation. I love flowing coils, but it photographs terribly–snaky lumps of coal strands, absorbing all light. It never stays in the frame. I snapped on clip-ins for the day.

I sat eagerly on my oak stool ready for close-up, but Chris would click, pause, adjust my cowlick or wayward center part, re-smooth. “Your,” he’d start, “…the hair behind your left ear, that bobby pin near your neck, right there… smooth the top.” I felt myself coming undone.

“Your lips looks pensive,” he said with deep set, imploring eyes. “I need you to look like you want to be here.”

I was tired of the prods and my strands fighting back. I pulled back the clip-ins. Now, there’s more of me.

When Chris set up the lighting, he mentioned a photo he spotted–his concept, a face peering out from the darkness. “Sounds cool right?” I loved it alongside my hair; it was polished but present.

Digital footprints are tricky. The Internet is an extension of reality; what we leave behind haunts and defines our first and lasting impressions on colleagues and future dates. Perhaps the worse image is the one that you clip on.

I labored for days on the perfect digital portfolio showcasing years of work. I didn’t want my Goddess remy tracks to speak, nor the wisps, cowlicks, or coily curls or anything, except a warm, knowledgeable gaze. I’m a professional. So, this is my concept–tucked under, slicked back, all me.

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Photo: Christopher Annis
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