Book Celebration | NJ Brand Photographer

I am so lucky to have really good friends. Friends who feel like family. Business besties who are my cheerleaders. Clients who stay connected with me even after the job is done. I am proud of the network of women that I have found and become a part of here in NJ :) So when my dear friends Priya of Privee by Priya and Mona asked to host a private ladies night soiree to celebrate my book, of course this party girl said Y E S! 

It was a beautiful night! Completely surreal to be the honoree of the evening and speak about my journey in writing this book. And never easy to have all eyes on you, but I felt loved, appreciated and supported. 

The scariest part was sharing the ACTUAL book. Seeing and watching everyone open it up, look through the pages and read it. Will they like it? Will they get it? Will they find value in the content? Will they buy it? It's hard to write, create and publish a book but even harder to send it out in the world with hopes that it is accepted and loved. 

But that is all part of the creative journey! And I do believe this book can help so many entrepreneurs and businesses who are considering photography to help build their brands. It is loaded with information from strategy, creative direction, logistics, styling, tips, tools and pages of inspiring images! All real women with real businesses. And the design and look of the book still blows me away every time I open it up. Here is a sneak peek of a few chapters: 

My official book launch party is set for September 15 at 12-2:30 at Dressed by Lori in Millburn, NJ. It will be a fantastic event with drinks, light bites, photo booth, lipstick lounge and of course BOOKS! Keep an eye out for more information or email me at mallika@mikifoto.com to be added to the guest list. And if you're interested in collaborating by sponsoring or donating some products to our swag bag and door prizes, reach out to me.

And if you are curious to learn more about my book baby, The Brand Photography Playbook, visit my website HERE for more information. The book comes in both print and digital formats. If you have any questions about it, feel free to reach out to me!

Story of MikiFoto + Co | NJ Brand Photographer

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It's been a long time since I introduced myself here on my blog. And with the launch of my new book, The Brand Photography Playbook, and my freebie, The Brand Photography Look Book, I am excited to welcome new readers and viewers into my community. 

In case we haven't met, my name is Mallika Malhotra and I am a brand photographer and strategist here at MikiFoto + Co. I inspire women in business to find their story, own it like a boss and share their message with confidence through storytelling, photography and branding. My passion is to empower my clients to show up, stand out and become incomparable leaders in their industry.

But it wasn’t too long ago when I felt frustrated in my own business. I was not booking clients or attracting the people I wanted to work with. I didn’t have a strong passion for my work because it felt like everyone else’s. I was playing it safe with my messaging, copying what others were doing and even hiding behind my logo and website.

I felt invisible and boring. I felt like an imposter. I was afraid to put myself out there and never felt confident in my work. As a result, I didn’t feel like the leader that I was meant to be.

After a few years in business, I got tired of feeling lost. I was sick of feeling like a me-too brand, a commodity and like everyone else. I had this itch to finally be myself. I knew deep inside that I had so much more to offer. So I took the leap and started sharing my story -  why I started, what I believed in, who I helped, what my process was like. I invested in my own brand photography and updated my website and profile pics with images that felt like me. I stopped hiding and sprinkled my personality into all of my work.

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I stopped obsessing about what everyone else was doing and started focusing on my own work, my own path and my own goals.

I worked with a branding coach and got clear on my message, my skills and my mission. I started to infuse my story into my message. I put my face to my business in photos, in video, on social media and at networking events. I connected in person and online with my clients and my tribe. I set goals for my business and started dreaming bigger for myself. I was finally feeling more confident in my work and building more meaningful connections with others. It was a game-changer!

Today I have a passion to help women discover what makes them stand out so they can finally create powerful connections and inspire others too.

I want you to reach a place of brand confidence much sooner than I did. Through my own experience and evolution, I can help fellow women entrepreneurs tap into their point of difference and create visual stories that move you from invisible to impact, lost to leader and bland to brand. I know with encouragement and confidence, you can create an incomparable and unforgettable business that will serve and inspire others. Your story is too good not to share, so let’s start sharing!

How can we work together to start sharing your story? Here are a few ways that I can serve you at MikiFoto + Co:

Book your Brand Photography Session

Attend one of my live, in-person Creative Workshops

Grab your FREE Brand Photography Look Book

Join the FREE Capture Your Brand Story Photo Challenge

Purchase The Brand Photography Playbook: The Insider's Guide to Planning Your Photo Shoot and Building a Stand-Out Brand.

And I always welcome you to contact me by email (mallika@mikifoto.com) or on Instagram @mikifotoco.

The truth about your visuals | NJ Brand Photographer

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Do you ever wonder what your audience thinks when they see your visuals? What goes through their mind when they are visiting your website and looking at your slideshow? What is their first impression when they see your profile pic? I hate to break it to you but your viewers are indeed judging you. Your audience is summing you up in a few seconds and making a quick decision to click on or click out. 

After photographing hundreds of entrepreneurs and being an expert in visual storytelling, here are 5 questions your audience is asking themselves as they view, click and look through your brand photos :

1: Is she a professional? 

Your photo will quickly convey if you are a professional or not. If you are using a selfie or poor quality image to represent your business, you are communicating that you are not serious or legitimate. If you believe in your brand, then make the investment for a professional headshot. People will notice.

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2: Will I like her?  

Share your personality and your vibe in your visuals. People are more interested in YOU then your products/services so build a connection with them. Viewers will look at your photo and wonder, "can I be friends with her? - is she likable?" Be sure to include a photo that shows off your personal side.

3: Can I relate to her?

Our lives have become so busy that we don't have time to connect with everyone. We want to build relationships with people who share our goals, our dreams, our values and our lifestyle. Share how you live and how you work. Share how you view the world and what you believe in. These stories will build connection and trust. 

4: Is she a leader? 

We want to surround ourselves with people who are leaders, who are movers and shakers. People that are a few steps ahead of us so they can inspire and motivate us to get closer to our goals and our versions of success. Show off your successes and take people on the journey of your business so that you can attract your tribe. 

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5: Is she the real deal?

Sometimes in the online world, you'll encounter some fakes. People who don't appear as they seem. Maybe their imagery is too cultivated or too perfect? Maybe their story isn't always consistent? As a result, we do extensive research before hiring someone. We look at Facebook feeds, scroll through Instagram and click away at websites to figure out who that person really is. Make sure to included images of yourself that are authentic, real and look/feel like you. There is nothing worse then finding someone you love online but are not crazy about in person. Don't confuse your prospects. Be sure to present yourself in an honest manner. 

We are living in a visual world! Visual storytelling is a powerful tool to sharing your message. Think about how we all stalk and scroll through photos. Your audience relies on images and the stories they tell as part of the decision making process to work or not work with you. So take a good look at the brand photos that you are using to represent your business. Then ask yourself these five questions based on what you see - you may be surprised at your answers! 

Want to see more examples of storytelling photography of business owners? Interested in learning more about brand photography? Why is it important? Learn the basics & get inspired by four women as they build their visual stories through custom brand photos. Download the free Brand Photography Look Book here : http://bit.ly/thebrandphotographylookbook

How to hire the right Brand Photographer? | NJ Brand Photographer

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So you decided to invest in brand photography - congrats! It's a big step and will require some work on your part but it will totally be worth it and help grow your business. The first step is to find the right person to hire to take your photos. This person should be considered a partner, a collaborator and almost like a friend. 

If you don’t already have a photographer in mind, today is the day to start looking. But with so many photographers out there, how do you choose? Here are some tips to help you select the best professional photographer for your brand.

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Photography Style

Not all photographers are the same. It is important to spend time looking through the images on the photographer’s website, blog, Facebook and Instagram. Make sure your brand style and aesthetic matches the photographer’s creative vision. Do you prefer posed or candid? Do you like traditional or more modern? Do you like their style of lighting? Did the photographer capture connection and emotion in a way that resonated with you? Do the images look natural or overly edited? Are the photos creative and innovative? 

Take time and really browse through their portfolio. Ask yourself if you would use images from their portfolio on your website. It is so important to understand your photographer’s style and choose someone that appeals to you, as well as your audience. 

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Photographer’s Personality

To me, this is a big one. It is essential to talk in person, over the phone or by email to the photographer before you book a session. You want to make sure you feel comfortable with that person. Because let’s be honest, photo shoots are sometimes stressful. You want to make sure the person behind the camera is in control and can help you feel natural and at ease. Pay attention to the photographer’s tone, their word choice, their body language, their reaction time.

Are they warm or matter of fact? Are they patient and informative? Did they respond to you in a timely way? Will they take the time to get to know you and your business? Are they clear in their directions? 

All of these factors are so important to capturing the story of your business. If he/she feels like a friend from the start, then you’re on the right track!

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Read the Testimonials

Make sure to read what previous clients have written about the photographer and their experience. Visit their Facebook business pages to see unsolicited feedback on the images and session. Seek out referrals too. Friends and family are a good place to get honest reviews of photographers. Also search in Facebook business groups. Ask how they liked working with the photographer, were they happy with their images and products, how quickly did the photographer share the images/deliver the goods and would they book the photographer again. Consider the feedback in your decision making.

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Read the Bio

The About Me page was created for a reason. Please read it! Find out more about the person behind the lens. How long have they been shooting? How many years in business? Are they self-taught or did they get a degree in photography? Have they been featured in any magazines or websites? Won any awards? Why do they do this?

And the most important question for a brand photographer in my opinion is : Do they experience and expertise in brand strategy? Brand photography is so much more then a show up and shoot kind of session to create pretty pictures. It is intentional, purposeful and is meant to tell the STORY of your brand. Your photographer needs to develop a visual strategy to communicate your message clearly and with impact.

Make sure to review the bio well. You want not only a sense of their personality but also learn about their professional path and passions. And if the bio doesn't tell you all of this, simply ask them!

Prices and Products

Living in a digital world, we now have photographers at every price point. In a way this is a wonderful thing because it is now a service for everyone. But, I urge you to be wary of low pricing. It might look like a steal on paper but take a closer look at the images and products that you get in return for the price. Are the images all edited? Do they have a consistent look and style? Will the photographer spend time with you to select the right images and packages for your needs? Photography is an investment and a tool to tell your story in a powerful, stand-out manner. You want it to be the best quality it can be. You want to work with a professional.

Also look closely at the packages that the photographer offers. Is it one fee for the session + digitals or do you pay more a la carte?  Does the package include hair and makeup (necessary for a brand photo shoot)? Does the package include pre-shoot consultation? In my business, I do all inclusive packages where there is one set price that includes visual strategy, photo session, hair - makeup and 40 edited files for your brand library.

Understand the deliverables as well. What do you get at the end of session? How many digital images - edited or unedited? In what formats - high resolution for printing and/or websized for online? This is so important to know upfront so that you get what you need for all your marketing needs. I suggest writing a list of the places you will be using the photos first and then having a conversation with the photographer to see if they can help you fulfill those needs. 

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Are you now ready to start your search? If you’ve been thinking about branding portraits for awhile, this is the time to do it. Your business will benefit from the investment! Ask around for names and recommendations. Look closely at portfolios. Check out Facebook and Instagram feeds. Remember: Every photographer is different. You need to do the diligent work of finding someone who is the right match for you. 

Hiring a photographer is all about trust and connection. You are trusting a professional to communicate the story of your brand, your movement, your vision. You want the experience to be fun, stress free and memorable. It's a creative collaboration that hopefully, you’ll do it every few years. 

Hope these tips help you get started in finding the right photographer for your business. If it all feels overwhelming and you need more help navigating the brand photography process, I just wrote a book called The Brand Photography Playbook. It's an insider's guide to planning your photo shoot and building a stand-out brand. A comprehensive guide for entrepreneurs, answering all their questions about brand photography and walking you through how to plan a successful photo shoot. Also includes storytelling photography that will both inspire and illustrate the power of visual storytelling. It's a great resource to help you during this process and even afterwards.

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I am here and happy to answer any questions so feel free to reach out to me directly as well!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photos + Video = Brand Boost | NJ Brand Photographer

As the saying goes, "A picture is worth a thousand words." What better way to tell your brand story and bring your business to life then through photography? Well, my client Sarah Walton, has blown my mind, again. Sarah is a speaker, author, mentor plus a dear friend and client of mine. She just launched her new course, The Money Mindset and every year she leads the Redefining Success live event for women in business. She has pushed the envelope and created an innovative way to combine brand photos with live footage! She just created this video as a speaker's reel to share with businesses, corporations and large conferences. This video speaks volumes about her as a professional and as a person. Have a watch:

The combination of live testimonials with Sarah speaking on stage with the professional brand photography is an incredible example of visual storytelling and powerful marketing communication. You get a clear sense of her message but also a deeper look into her personality, her process and the feeling she hopes to deliver to her client. This would be perfect for the home page on her website, her Facebook business page, her Linkedin profile and for newsletter pitches. Congrats Sarah on a job well done! 

Have you thought of brand photos or video or both for your business? What storytelling tool do you use to share your message? This example definitely has my wheels turning on visual storytelling options for my clients. 

I See London | NJ Travel Photographer

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My family just returned from an epic vacation in London, England. We had so much fun exploring the city. So much energy and hustle and bustle, different languages being spoken and diverse faces in the crowds. I loved seeing the historic buildings like Big Ben, Tower of London alongside the modern sites like the London Eye. I loved the narrow cobblestone streets and the interesting architecture, plazas, fountains. We even took a day trip out to Stratford Upon Avon (home of Shakespeare) and the countryside. So much to see and capture with my camera! My creative spirit was in heaven.

Enjoy my photo diary of our LONDON trip and make sure to scroll to the bottom TO READ my recommendations on sights to see and places to eat. 

Accommodations: We used Airbnb to find our "flat". We rented a 3 bedroom apartment in Covent Garden. The location was perfect because we were walking distance from several attractions (like London Eye, theatre district, Chinatown) and there were numerous restaurants, cafes and shops at our fingertips. 

Sightseeing Musts:

London Eye - Book beforehand to avoid the lines and reserve an early morning ride. Make sure you have your camera and smart phones ready for picture taking. 

Tower Bridge - Arrange for a personal guided tour to get the most out of the experience.

Churchill War Rooms - Great for older kids and teens. Don't skip the audio tour. 

London Theatre - West End has so many plays and productions to choose from. We saw Hamlet which was intense and not the best choice for the kiddos. Next time, I would see Matilda (again) or Harry Potter

Day Trip to Stratford upon Avon - Cotswalds - Oxford - It was nice to get out of the city for one day and explore outside of London. We chose The English Bus Tour which are small group guided tours led by a knowledgeable tour guide. There were about 15 of us on the bus and we traveled to three towns. We visited Stratford by Avon - a charming little town and home of Shakespeare. Then, we drove to the Cotswolds which is the English countryside and full of amazing flower gardens. It was like being on the set of Downton Abbey. We ended our trip to Oxford - famous for its university and historic architecture. I highly recommend this bus tour!

Portobello Road - London's largest antiques market. If you are tired of traditional sight seeing, this is a great neighborhood to visit and enjoy London's best loved landmark. So many interesting things to see!

Good Eats: We ate a lot in London! This is one our favorite things to do as a family. Here are a few of our favs.

Dishoom - Indian street food becomes chic. Seems to be all the rage because every day we passed the restaurant, there was a super long line. Book your reservation early.

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal - Fancy shmancy and for serious foodies. The menu is all old world dishes cooked in a modern manner. Price is steep but the experience is worth it.

Brindisa Kitchen- Authentic Spanish and delightful tapas. Small plates mean you can try everything!

Essenza - A wonderful, tiny find in Notting Hill. Italian food that is scrape-your-plate-clean delicious served by attentive, charming staff. 

Udderlicious - Creamy, delicious home made ice cream in the most creative flavors including whiskey caramel, malt and bread pudding. 

 Monmouth Coffee - There was a coffee shop on every corner in London so my caffeine addiction was well served. But Monmouth's coffee was the best - strong, bold and flavorful. And don't forget to add an almond or chocolate croissant!

So there you have it folks....my recap of our amazing trip to London. If you have any questions or have a trip planned yourself, feel free to contact me. Or if you fell in love with any of the travel photography above, send me a message. I am starting to create a library of all my travel photos. Until then - happy travels! Happy summer!

7 Tips for a Gorgeous Head Shot | NJ Brand Photographer

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Let's be honest. The first place we click on Facebook, websites, Instagram, Linkedin, etc is the profile picture. We want to know who the person is behind the business. We are curious and eager to learn if they are someone we can like and trust. 

A proper headshot communicates that you are professional, legitimate, A good headshot can present you as likable, approachable and confident. A great headshot can inspire action, encouraging your viewer to click, contact or call you.

So how do you take that winning headshot photo? What is the recipe for the headshot that #clicks with your audience inspiring them to connect with you? After capturing hundreds of women of all industries, ages, sizes, colors etc, I have come up with seven tips to create a gorgeous headshot that not only turns heads but turns hearts. 

#1 : DO A TRIAL RUN.

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The biggest mistake I find at a photo shoot is that my clients didn't try on their outfits. On the day of the shoot, they are in panic because things don't fit well or look right. Please do a trial run before the photo shoot. You must make sure everything fits properly and flatters your best features. Walk, dance, twirl, MOVE in your selected outfit. Make sure it feels comfortable, makes you feel confident and looks good. 

#2 : Don't be afraid of COLOR. 

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Headshots no longer have to be styled in boring blacks, greys and neutrals. You now have the opportunity to select bold and bright colors for your portrait. I love a pop of color to attract attention and to communicate a bit of your personality. If you prefer softer and muted shades, that can work too but consider adding an accessory as an interesting detail.

#3 : Don't be afraid of PATTERN.

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I say yes to pattern because it can make the photo interesting and dynamic. It can also show off your stylish side. Consider subtle prints that are not overpowering and distract from your face. They can add personality to your portrait. Just pair with jewelry that is subtle and simple.

#4 DRESS FOR SUCCESS

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I am a sucker for a well fitted dress. It feels feminine and powerful. It oozes confidence. I always recommend at least one dress in your styling options. Not only will it convey professional but also aspirational. 

#6 CONSULTATION AND COMMUNICATION

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Definitely invest in professional hair and makeup services. You want to elevate your look so you need to hire a stylist who has experience. Don't be alarmed if your makeup is heavier then normal. This registers better on camera. But be clear on your goals and vision for your look. Makeup artists and hair stylists are not mind readers so you need to speak up and tell them what you want. Even better, bring photo examples of hair and beauty looks to share and discuss. This communication will help avoid any mishaps or surprises. 

#7 PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT

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Your photographer will direct your posing at the photo shoot. But it definitely helps if you come to the session with some practice and preparation. A day or two before the shoot, look at yourself in the mirror and practice smiling, tilting your head, raising your chin, etc. Explore different angles of your face. Elongate your neck and practice good posture. Relax your shoulders and breathe. It's normal to be nervous but a little practice can help. These simple steps can help you feel more natural and fluid in front of the lens.

These are my seven tips to help you feel more confident and ready for the camera. When you feel prepared and good inside, it shows up on the outside making the photography process so much easier.

If you are looking to update your headshot and live in the NJ area, I am hosting my popular GET GORGEOUS headshot event on September 27th in Summit, NJ.  Let's work together to create your best headshot. 

 

#nationalselfieday | NJ Brand Photographer

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Apparently it was #nationalselfie day yesterday. In the spirit of the holiday, I thought I would share my top ten tips in taking a good selfie. For many of us, it takes 10-20 tries to capture the perfect pic. Hope these tips save you some time and get you closer to a post-worthy photo :) 

HOW TO TAKE A GOOD SELFIE:

  1. Look for good natural light. This is the most important step! If the light isn't clean (beware of fluorescent lighting!), move yourself outdoors or near a window.
  2. Always face the light source (window). This will get that catch light (white box) in your eyes and brighten them.
  3. Watch out for shadows or bright rays of light.
  4. Choose a complementary, clean background.
  5. Hold phone slightly above sight line and extend arm as far as possible. Never shoot with phone below chin. Easiest way to slim your face!
  6. Tilt chin forty-five degrees to one side. Then tilt it to the other. Find your good angle!
  7. Experiment with face angles and expressions.
  8. Tap screen on eyes to lock focus (AE Lock). This will keep you crisp and not blurry.
  9. Adjust light with exposure tool if necessary. This is the sun icon that shows up on your screen when you tap it. You can move your finger up and down to adjust brightness. 
  10. Have fun and start snapping! And don't obsesss....embrace who you are share your beautiful self :) 

Bonus tip: Don't post too many selfies back to back. Mix in other photos of your daily life to tell a deeper, full story. Nobody likes to see one person's face over and over again. Do you have another tip to add? Comment below :) Happy snapping!