The Sketchbook

What’s in a [name] headshot?

Creative Business

The story behind my branding photoshoot

Before I started redesigning my website, I already knew I needed to make some major changes to push my online presence from side-gig to professional.

I had zero consistency when it came to branding, and my official “headshot” was taken using a stack of books and self-timer (not to knock the book/timer method…its quite effective if you actually know how to use a camera. I, however, do not).

My first order of business was to find a *professional* photographer who could help capture my personality, and arguably more important, convey the story behind My Father’s Daughter. A tall order.

I debated going home to New York City for the shoot, but after being introduced to a fantastic Boston-based photographer, I started to reframe my thinking – and I honestly couldn’t be happier with the final result.

At this point, it probably does not come as a shock to hear that I try to incorporate meaning and backstory into everything I do. So when thinking about locations for my upcoming photoshoot, I knew the Boston Museum of Fine Arts was the most meaningful choice, and in a way, the ONLY choice that made sense.

Outside Boston Museum of Fine Arts
On the steps of the MFA

My parents first met in the mid-70’s while working on the city of Boston’s Bicentennial celebration. My Mom was finishing her PHD at Boston University while working as a researcher at Boston 200, and my Dad’s design firm was chosen to develop one of the three special exhibitions to commemorate Boston’s 200th birthday.

The city had decided to anchor its bicentennial celebration in three major exhibitions, each focused on a particular century of Boston’s life. My Dad’s firm won the contract to produce Boston’s Victorian-era exhibition (perhaps this is where my Victorian-era obsession comes from?). While my Dad and his associates knew a lot about design and filmmaking techniques, they needed help when it came to the history of 19th-century Boston–especially when sourcing objects, images, and other primary materials that could populate the exhibition.

Victorian Calligraphy
The collection catalogue from my parents exhibition. Does the text look familiar? Hint: check out my homepage

Enter my Mom, who was assigned to be their local guide and navigator through countless archives, historic sites, libraries, and landmarks — including the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, where the exhibition would be held and my Mom would soon land her first curatorial job.

When I asked my Mom about that first meet-up with Dad, hoping it would be one of those storybook moments, she recalled something quite different: intimidation. She preferred to communicate with his more readable and gregarious business partner and the younger designer that often accompanied my Dad on his business trips. She initially assumed he was my Father’s boyfriend…only to discover that he was my Dad’s nephew – my future first-cousin (a thought that still makes us double over with laughter).

My Father's Daughter Website Redesign

After my Dad passed away, my cousin Ed sent me several black and white photos he took during the various stages of production for the Boston Bicentennial. In my favorite picture, you can see my parents walking through the exhibition at arms length, totally unaware that much, much later, they would fall in love, get married, and have a daughter named Tess.

Mom & Dad before they were Mom & Dad
My Dad, working on the exhibit where he met my mom, at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts
Almost 50 years later…

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