When you’re on a photo shoot, you really have to accentuate the real you. You shouldn’t always be trying to be a perfect version of yourself. You have to be the real you because real-life is beautiful. Learn how to accept who you truly are with your host Baeth Davis and her guest Jessica McIntosh. Jessica is a branding and portrait photographer from Nashville, TN. She believes that photography is the best way to show your true self. Learn what being a manifesting generator means when it comes to understanding your future. So listen in and don’t be afraid to take up space so that you can be the best version of yourself.
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Jessica McIntosh, Manifesting Generator 1/3: Accentuate The Real You
On this show, I bring on people who I feel are fully embodied in their purpose. They’re living their purpose out in the world, getting paid to do the work they love doing and are in their genius zone. They are also people that I find uplifting. They provide a lot of hope, insight, inspiration, education and illumination into how you can be more fully in your life. When I say embodied, I mean in your physical body. You feel your butt on the chair, your feet on the ground and the tips of your fingers. You’re connected to you. When you’re connected to yourself, that’s when you can bring your greatest gifts to the world. I’m so happy to have you.
Our audience keeps growing. Our focus is on what stops women in particular from being visible in promoting their business. What is it that gets in the way? What can we do about this dilemma or fear of being visible, to put our best foot forward? I want to share about our host. I’m going to share with you a little bit about her. Her name is Jessica McIntosh and she is a Nashville, Tennessee-based branding and portrait photographer who has been doing this work for over a decade. She is the mom of two boys. She’s married to a lovely man named Brett and they have been together for years.
She has worked with companies like Gaylord Hotels, Marriott Hotels, Twice Daily, Graystar, Franklin Road Academy, Lifeway Christian Resources, The American Heart Association, White Bison and others. Jessica’s experience ranges from executives and business owners looking for personal branding and lifestyle shoots to families who ask her to capture engagements, weddings, maternity, senior pictures and all of life’s special experiences in between. As Jessica likes to say, telling your story and helping to see yourself as important is a very powerful thing. She helps you do that with a camera in her hand. Let us welcome to the show the wonderfully talented and generous spirit, Jessica McIntosh.
Baeth, thank you so much. That’s a wonderful intro.
You’re welcome. It’s so wonderful to be with you. You have done two photoshoots for me. I’m a big fan of budget allowing at least one shoot a year but preferably two because we change every six months. You can see it in our appearance and energy. Keeping the visual aligned with where we are in our growth track is important. Before we get into what stops women from being visible and what they can do about it, will you share with everyone how you ended up choosing photography? What led to that? I believe you were a model for a time. You were in front of the camera, and now you’re behind the camera, making us look amazing. You do a great job. How did that happen?
I grew up in a home where my mom was committed to videoing and photographing everything. Pictures were early. She had a giant camcorder on her shoulder. Early on, I saw the value of a photograph. When I became a teenager, I started modeling. I would be in front of the camera and ask a photographer, “How are you making me look like that?” I was fortunate to be surrounded by people who would tell me. They started to show me what lighting did, what cameras they were using, how they edited things and all of this. It was such a fun time.
I fell in love with the fashion, the dresses and the beauty side of photography. When I was about fifteen, my dad passed away suddenly from a heart attack. Those photos that my mom had spent so much of my childhood capturing suddenly became the only means that I had to look back at my past. That history and value took on a whole new meaning for me. I had this value of history and where you came from mixed with the love of beauty and fashion.
Somehow that intermingled into what my photography journey has looked like, which is both making sure things are beautiful, fun and vibrant but honoring people, specifically women, where they come from, who they are and who they want to be remembered as. It’s important and valuable to me. Here I am, many years later. I went to a photography school and did all that. I worked under different photographers in the industry, got to understand the technical side of things that we need to know and have grown in this space over the years.
What do you think are 2 or 3 of the major reasons that women in business struggle with getting in front of the camera?
There’s a list for sure. I can come up with about a million different things. Number one is time. As women, oftentimes, we give so much of our time to other people, whether it’s our families if you have a family, relationships or work but not to ourselves. It’s giving themselves permission to spend time on them, figuring out what they want and who they are and not propelling everything forward all the time. I would say time. We are constantly telling ourselves this story, “At some point, I will be worth putting myself out there and in front of the camera. I finally have lost enough weight, looked a certain way, and gotten to a certain point in my career. Things will slow down.”
There’s a list of things that we can create in our head to say, “Not yet. Not like I am now. Nobody wants to see this.” It’s this story that we will oftentimes tell ourselves. The permission that we have to give ourselves to invest in ourselves and the permission and courage to accept ourselves as we are and to say that we are worthy of being seen and visible as we are, not a future version of ourselves but who we are now, whatever that is are worth being seen.
Anytime we get together, talk about women and get in a room, few women ever tell me, “I love having my picture made.” Nobody says that. Everybody is like, “I hate getting my picture made.” My goal is to help women leave a photoshoot and say, “That was fun. I feel good and seen. I know that I’m worth being visible to my community, not just for the sake of doing it but for the greater good.” What you have to bring to the table, people need to see. We have to remind each other of that constantly.
How did you conquer those insecurities in yourself? What was the process Jessica took herself through? You’re a mom, wife and daughter. You have all these roles. Women have all these roles. You’re a confident and integrated person. What did you do for you to foster this confidence you have to be also a business owner?
Thank you for saying that and affirming that in me. It’s a process. I have not arrived. It’s a struggle when I say to myself and my kids, “We’re going to have family pictures taken of us. I’m going to put my face on our Christmas card.” That has nothing to do with my business. That’s a personal hurdle. We look at photos of ourselves and immediately before we can say something good, we have to say something bad or deprecating or acknowledge that this isn’t quite perfect enough before we can say, “That’s nice. That’s fine.” It’s a constant practice for me.
Accept yourself as you are and say that you are worthy of being seen.
The 30-year-old version of me versus the teenager of me that was a model is different. It’s learning to accept and appreciate myself and the people I love around me. My kids don’t look at me and say, “Mom, your arms are too big to be in a picture. Your face is too wrinkly to be in a picture. You have too many zits on your face to be in our picture.” My children might have commented on my acne. That’s usually a harmless and an observation more than anything. They hug me and love me.
I want to remember what life was like with them and for me. Life does not always fit in this box. If we only remember the pretty and perfect Photoshopped versions of ourselves, we are leaving out such a big chunk of our lives and who we are. I constantly say that I preach to the choir and myself is that real life is beautiful. I have to believe that if I’m going to empower other women and give them the gifts, their real-life and who they are is beautiful. I’m constantly saying that to myself. It’s hard. There are good days and bad days.
What would you suggest to women and even men in this instance who know that they need to be visible and yet feel hesitant for whatever reason? What would you suggest that these individuals could do to bolster their confidence pre-photoshoot? I’m always nervous before a photo shoot. I’m an extroverted and relatively confident person, but even I get sweaty palms and sweaty brows and get a little anxious about how it is going to turn out. If someone is shy and they’re more on the introverted scale in terms of their personality, what are some things people can do to bolster their confidence?
A photoshoot is so vulnerable. We are letting another person see us at every moment, blink and turn, “Is this okay? Is that okay?” It would make complete sense that we’re nervous. Even the most extroverted beautiful and confident person like you is still going to feel a little insecure at that moment. If you are on the edge, anxious, shy, and trying to talk yourself up to doing this, number one, you’re worth it where you are and you have to do nothing else to get yourself ready for this. You are ready because you are great, just like you are. Sit down and think about what it is that you want to show. I would to stop looking and scrolling Instagram because that comparison is a thief of joy.
You are going to talk yourself out of it, “I don’t look like this person. I don’t know how to pose like that. I can’t.” Number one, quit scrolling and write down what you want, what makes you spark, what it is that makes people attracted to you, what is your gift and what are you giving the word and think about how you are want to show that. For one person, a great headshot and a couple of banners or lifestyle images could be all that they need. There are other people that may need rotating content. You might have to think ahead and plan for the year about what you need to show to grab people’s attention in this visible world.
You need to think about who you are, what you have to offer the world and how you want to show that, “What do I need? What do I want to show?” Even if you don’t hire a professional photographer right away, start practicing by showing your real life. We’re great at the selfie. We have all mastered a good selfie, I’m sure. Take a selfie or start revealing little parts of yourself as you start to get comfortable with it. I do highly recommend working with a professional and talking to them before talking with the photographer to make sure that your personality is chill.
If you’re shy and reserved, this person is in your face and all over the place, you might retreat into your shell and not feel like you at all. Maybe you’re the opposite. Maybe that person could help pull something out of you. Interview some photographers. Just because you talked to someone doesn’t mean you have to hire them. Anytime I talk to a client, I’m there to listen about what their needs are and tell them how I could meet those needs. It’s up to them to decide, “I feel like she could help me get the results that I’m looking for.”
Interview people and don’t feel like you have to look at a website and make your decision from there. You might be able to but if personality and helping you with posing, feeling comfortable in front of the camera or even deciding what you want. Maybe you need someone that’s going to be a little bit more hands-on than showing up the day of. That’s all research that you can start to do before. That’s going to help put you at ease and take the hot seat off of you. You get to interview your photographer a little bit to find out if they’re going to be a good match for you. That’s going to be a vulnerable time, so you want to make sure they will match your energy or help pull out the energy you need.
That’s a good point in the sense of feeling emotionally safe and having an emotional connection with the photographer because that’s going to elicit powerful expressions. Your body is going to be more at ease if you feel comfortable with the photographer. That is terrific advice.
My favorite one is simply a confidence booster for me. This may not be true for everyone. Get yourself into a position where you’re going to feel good and confident. You want to think about your wardrobe. If you need to talk to a consultant about that, do it. You’re investing in your business, livelihood and yourself. Don’t feel like, “I’ll all throw something together last minute.” Think about it ahead of time. Talk to a consultant and photographer about what your wardrobe is going to look like so that you’re not showing up the day of like, “I don’t know.” You want to try it on and make sure it feels good on your body and that you feel good and confident in it.
My other favorite thing is hair and makeup. Not making yourself look like you is never what I want people to do. Typically, I like to work with artists that help accentuate what is there and talk to the client about what they want to show and look like. Maybe they want to look so natural. That time in the hair and makeup chair is relaxing. You’re investing in yourself and feeling good. It doesn’t mean you have to get a crazy eye shadow and lips that aren’t like you at all. It’s a nice time to relax and reflect. It brings you into your session with this new confidence that I love to see when I photograph people. I see them turn on and I love that.
What are some things an individual could do to prepare for a business branding shoot? You have some great suggestions around that and things to be thinking of in advance of the shoot.
They need to get together their branding colors. If you already have a website or you’re working on building one, you need to think about what your brand looks like. That’s going to reflect the location for your photoshoot that you will talk to your photographer about and what poses you need to work on. That’s also something you’ve got to decide. Do you need a headshot or a branding session? Those are two different things. A headshot can be a part of a branding session. If you get a headshot, that’s just here to here. That’s all we’re focusing on. You want to make that decision.
What do you need? What photos do you need? Do you need stuff of you in an office or at home? Do you need images of you interacting with clients in whatever your industry is? You’ve got to think through what that is. Is this a photoshoot to help get you out there and get you visible and feel beautiful? That’s okay to say too. You don’t have to disguise it as anything else. You need to decide what it is and then communicate that. Think about your branding colors, business, and what type of images you need, whether it’s for your website, social media, LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or whatever you need.
If you only remember the perfect Photoshopped version of yourself, you’re leaving a big chunk of who you are. Real-life is beautiful.
You have to think about those things so that the photographer can know. If I’m shooting a banner image, I have to give you a lot of space. If I’m shooting a headshot or something for Instagram, then it’s going to be a square. Thinking through what type of images you need is huge. How they will be used is helpful to your photographer. Think through your wardrobe, hair and makeup. These are all little things that your photographer can help you with, like a recommendation. I have packages for my clients where I do all of that for them.
These are the people I work with. They’re so great at it. They treat my clients the way that I want them to be treated. I had this great team of people that I could bring in. You’ve got to think through what do you want for your business and then articulate it. The first time I worked with you, you already had your colors and pictures you sent me. It was so wonderful. That does not necessarily happen every time, but it is so great when it does because it is so helpful. It gives me inspiration to then help create what this world is going to look like for your photos.
One other thing that is a good tip is to remember to get a lot of horizontal shots with open space on the right or left side for your website, Facebook banners and other rectangle-shaped positioning screens. If you’re only getting those vertical shots, you don’t necessarily have images where you can put an opt-in box, copy, quote or that kind of thing. Before we take a quick look at your Human Design, you are a manifesting generator. Manifesting generators are considered the express builders of the world. You have a gift for knowing which steps to skip.
As a result, it’s important you move slowly and methodically and don’t rush. It’s because you’re so efficient you could miss an important step. It’s the slowest fast with a manifesting generator because you already move faster than all the other types. You also have the greatest capacity to get things done because of this built-in efficiency. Manifesting generators are good at juggling family, work commitments and multiple businesses. It’s what you are built for. The other types are not designed to carry as much, although many try because of societal conditioning.
The manifesting generators are the ones which are designed biologically to take on a lifestyle of juggling various priorities. I would encourage you not to worry about streamlining your life too much because you’re always going to have different things in the air. It’s the nature of your design. With that, is there one area that you would like to explore? I always ask our guests to share with me one thing that has been rumbling around in there that you are willing to explore at a public show that we could then quickly look at your chart and see what’s happening.
I feel like somebody who feels like you can juggle multiple things and keep them going. One of the things that we have talked about is when I slow down and even look ahead so much at 2022, I can feel so overwhelmed or into myself with, “How am I moving forward? What am I doing next?” If I don’t have a specific thing that I’m moving towards or a client or if I have something on the horizon, but maybe it’s a little farther off, I can start to feel lost in myself in finding that motivation to move forward. I would love to explore that. What do I do when I’m not generating?
It’s something to respond to or something that might be motivating. To your question, there are many different ways we could look at what’s going to help you stay motivated when you are in a funk, or maybe you’ve completed a project and you don’t know what’s next or whatever the reason. One of the things I look at when it comes to work is going over the chart’s design side. Mars is the circle with the arrow. When we look at Mars on the design side of the chart, the position of Mars there is about your physical energy. Mars is about that masculine yang part of us that moves things forward.
For you, you have it in gate 52, which is a gate of stillness. It’s called the mountain. If you think about mountain pose in yoga, it’s about being still even when it’s not so easy to stay still. This would indicate that when you are feeling that things aren’t moving, that is the best time for you to stop moving and go inward, meditate, get still or do something like yoga, Pilates, or even a walking meditation. Let’s say you go to a nice trail, walk, sit still for a bit, contemplate, walk a little bit more and you sit still.
You have the 9-52 channel, which is an incredible channel to have in any chart. Anyone who has this 9-52 has something special. Let’s talk about this because the 9-52 channel in you is all in red. It means this capacity is a little bit unconscious to you, although I bet life has shown you. You have an incredible ability to sit still and handle details. Let’s say you finished a photo shoot. You have the ability to then sit down, go through all those photos, organize the photos, pick out the best photos and make suggestions on the photos the person might want to use, all of the things and the details.
The 9 energy focuses in on the details and the 52 keeps your butt in the chair. The thing is, it’s a Line 3 energy. It’s 52, Line 3 and the lines are right after the decimal point. The first number to the right of the decimal point is never higher than six because there are only six lines in a hexagram. The number to the right of the decimal point will always be in Human Design a number between 1 and 6. Each one of these lines has a different frequency. When we’re talking about Line 3, it’s about strategy. One of the things that help you move forward is to sit still with yourself and ask, “What is my strategy?”
That would be a good thing for you to think about for 2022, “What is my strategy for 2022?” Look at your calendar and build in the stillness. When are your meditation time, contemplation time, planning time and vacations? Putting more stillness allows you to go further faster. It’s counterintuitive. The 9 is part of your core genius. Design Earth is a core genius. Your core genius is the strategy for details. You also have the left eye. Gate 11 represents the left eye. The left eye is the eye that sees new ideas and stories and builds new pathways through imagery.
Photography is perfect, but you already know that. You have a strategy capacity with this 9-52 channel. We’ve got the 52 in multiple locations, so we know it’s important in your design. This 52 energy is a very important fuel. It’s the fuel for stick-to-it-iveness and staying all the way through the process of a project. This is an excellent energy to have if you are a filmmaker because making a film is often a 2 to 10-year process depending on the film.
The process you take clients through with their photoshoots is not a one and done in an afternoon. It’s a whole process. There’s the pre-production, production and post-production. That is where you excel. If I were to encourage you to take your business to the next level as a business consultant, which is pretty much what I am using various tools, I would suggest to you for 2022 to build out a three-part process for your clients.
It’s the pre-production, the production itself and post-production. Have the process on your website and have paperwork online that people can fill out for the process. The more detail and yet keeping it simple is the trick. The more detail you can extract from these three phases of the process, the more satisfied you and the client are going to be. This is the essence for you of what moves you forward is your capacity to be more thorough with your strategy.
Once you can do your very best work, client satisfaction will go through the roof.
That’s so crazy because oftentimes, with clients, I feel robbed and I feel like I can’t even serve them the way I want to when we skip these steps. If I can’t do the whole process, I feel like, “If only I had been able to do X, Y and Z. Maybe time or their schedule only allowed for this. Maybe I don’t have this process completely laid out for them.” We thought, “We can skip over this.” We can’t. I can’t. I feel like it does a disservice to them, the process and what they get at the end.
This is a good new boundary for you. This is something you can bring to the forefront with your future work with clients. Perhaps you don’t work with people, for example, who are not willing to sign an agreement that they will fully engage with the pre-production, production and post-production processes so that you can do your best work. When you can do your best work, the chance of the client being highly satisfied goes through the roof.
It’s all for them. I feel like I can’t deliver the best. It will be good. In some cases, all you need is good, but I have this deep desire for it to be the best. It’s so interesting even what you were saying those things, me not being aware of them, it’s something that I’ve talked about doing for years. Sometimes you don’t have time. I get it, “They need to do this quickly and meet a deadline. We will try to speed this up.” Whenever I do that, I always have this little thing inside of me that’s like, “It could have been better.”
As an aside to that, one of the aspects of Human Design is motivation. You and I share the same motivation, which is called desire. There are only six motivations. They are fear, hope, desire, need, guilt and innocence. For anyone with guilt motivation, guilt motivation is finding out where we and other people are guilty of fixing things. It’s about fixing things. It isn’t about giving people guilt trips. You’re going to feel guilty if you don’t fix things, at any rate. Desire is about moving things forward. The transference or not-self behavior is going into innocence.
Where are you put off? Putting this in place now is your innocence. Every time Jessica is like, “I’ll get to that,” you’re going into innocence. When things arise in your life, in the field around Jessica, and even this conversation we’re having, that’s the universe saying to you, “Direct your desire to these next steps.” What moves you forward is taking space to be thorough and not worrying about how long it’s taking to put it in place. It’s trusting the methodical step-by-step nature of what it is you’re creating. The thing is, if you take 2022 to clean up all your processes, think about where your career can go in the subsequent years.
It’s how I can serve the people around me.
You’re already very successful. You work as a photographer and have wonderful clients. Imagine what becomes possible when you grant yourself the same space you give your subject.
What a great word. Thank you for that.
You’re welcome. What’s the word you’re going to take?
Something that’s so interesting is what you said about me taking up space. When I take up that space, I’m allowed to take up space. I serve the people around me better when I do it. We have talked about personal life, trauma and that sort of thing. The idea of taking up space is scary. Even as women, we want to shrink back, make ourselves smaller and deal with your personal issues on top of that. Being told that by taking up space and doing the thing that feels almost terrifying to step into, I’m serving better.
The irony is when we live our design rather than our not-self, which is what most humans are doing until they become conscious of it. When we live in our not-self, it will usually go 1 of 2 ways. People either become overly solicitous of others or enablers, as you said about so many women and time. We’re coming full circle with our conversation. Women don’t make time for themselves. The irony is that when you look at what is in your design and the circuits that are you and make you a priority, your capacity to be there for another person or a group of people and serve humanity with your greatest gifts is unlimited, massive and so fulfilling.
The irony is the more we keep putting ourselves and our whole life on hold, then no one is served. I find it quite a paradox that the more you become a champion of self-love and self-compassion, the more you can serve others. I’m excited about this time. We need to wrap up here. I want to tell everyone to go to JessicaMcIntosh.net and you can see her incredible work. Suffice to say, her website is beautiful and you might recognize the person on the home page. Jessica, are there any final words for our wonderful audience?
Keep going. Be visible. If you’re afraid, step into it. Listen to Baeth because I got goosebumps in my little time here and my unmotivated self feels like I need to go run and write all my processes out.
This was wonderful.
Baeth, thank you. I look forward to hopefully getting to talk to more of your tribe and people and helping them overcome that fear of being visible. If they have questions, I live in Tennessee and I do travel. If you can’t get here and travel, I’m still happy to help you work through some of those questions to find the photographer that’s a right fit for you, wherever you are. Feel free to reach out.
Thank you, everyone. This has been another episode of the show. We will see you all soon.
About Jessica McIntosh
I graduated from Nossi College of Art with a degree in Commercial and Digital Photography and hit the ground running by pursuing hands-on education from other professionals to gain industry knowledge. I’ve worked with companies like Gaylord Hotels, Marriott Hotels, Twice Daily, Graystar, Franklin Road Academy, Lifeway Christian Resources, The American Heart Association, White Bison, and others. My experience ranges from executives and business owners looking for personal branding and lifestyle shoots to families who ask me to capture engagements, weddings, maternity, senior pictures, and all of life’s experiences in between.