John DeMato - NYC Branded Lifestyle Portrait Photographer

NYC Branded Lifestyle Photographer - Blog

NYC Branded Lifestyle Portrait Photography Blog | Hi, I'm John DeMato, and I collaborate with thought leaders to create powerful, purposeful and authentic images. This is my blog where I talk all about the magic behind the portraits we create.

Q & A Session With Connector, Joya Dass


Joya Dass Q&A's...



Recently, I had a chance to sit down and ask one of my past clients, Joya Dass, co-founder of the networking initiative, ladydrinks, a couple questions about her branded lifestyle portraits.

Q: Joya, why is it so important for you to have high-end portraits to leverage for your image content on social?

Social media is about stories. And what anchors the stories is amazing photos.

I am a long time television anchor, so a polished portrait was always a must. Now that I run my own networking initiative for South Asian professional women and executives, I post on social media every single day.  I see a bigger response when a well-written story is paired with a high-resolution photo versus a poorly shot, camera phone one.

My number of speaking engagements has gone up exponentially in the last 6 years since LadyDrinks took off.  I’m dismayed how many times I’ve been asked to moderate or speak on a panel, and the host organization doesn’t generate any marketing collateral with photos of the speakers.

Marketing is everything, so I create my own graphics like this below to anchor language announcing that I’m moderating something. I don’t wait for others to create it for me. BUT---since I have a treasure trove of high res photos at my disposal, I’m never hurting for material to make a graphic with.

Q: You engage with a lot of business owners and entrepreneurs daily. What does it mean for an entrepreneur to have a high-end photo? What does it tell you about that person?

I mean, look — Sarah Blakely, founder of Spanx, didn’t even have a website when Oprah named Spanx her favorite product of the year and orders went through the roof, let alone a headshot probably. But I will say this. I highlight one woman from my initiative each day all across all of my social media collateral. And I’m shocked when an entrepreneur doesn’t have one single decent photo of themselves, without their kids or husbands. A professional headshot signals to me, this person is serious about their business. Serious about the way they put themselves out to the world. It’s a chunk of change when we get headshots taken, but I probably used my first headshots I took in 2000, all the way up until at least 2013. That’s 13 years of use for publicity.

Q: How does having a rapport with your photographer benefit the outcome of the portrait session?    

I’ve interviewed hundreds of people. The interviewee could be a CEO, or a first time entrepreneur. Those 5 minutes I get to spend with him or her before the camera gets hot, influences how the interview will go. I immediately get to work in those 5 minutes finding something we have in common and build rapport. Once I get them talking, I’m golden. He or she is distracted  from the glaring lights and the attention the camera seems to garner.

That rapport affects whether or not I come away with a fantastic interview or a so-so interview.

The same can be said for the photographer/subject dynamic. If the subject isn’t at ease or comfortable, it transcends into the photo. We see it in the shoulders. We see it in the eyes. We see it in the set of the jaw. I’ve made my living in front of the camera for 17 years, so the comfort is immediate. But that isn’t the case for everyone, so the photographer bears the responsibility for making the subject comfortable, establishing that rapport so both sides are happy with the end result---a great headshot! 

Q: Joya, how do you feel these updated portraits capture your personality and brand?

I remember looking at my old headshots and thinking, gosh I now sport a bob. Not long hair anymore. I should get new ones.

I’m also a different person from those first headshots taken in Tribeca in 2001. All I wanted to be back then was a TV anchor. Today, all I want to do is run LadyDrinks events all over the world. These new photos reflect the power I feel in knowing that I’m doing that, one city at a time.   

Q: What advice would you give a thought leader who is looking to upgrade their image content? What do they figure out first?  Where do they look for the right photographer?

REFERRAL. Word of mouth. Someone will see my headshots and ask me whom do I recommend.  Entrepreneurs want a headshot that captures their essence ----for a website, for example. Did the photographer capture the essence of their friend in a photo? This is usually a selling point.  With entrepreneurs, cost is always the first consideration it seems.  Geography. Is the photographer mobile. Can they come to me?

After reading this Q&A session with Joya Dass, did any questions about branded, lifestyle portraits come up for you? 

If so, please share them in the comment section below.


PS - For those of you who aren’t in the know, I mail out these blogs 3x a week, and lemme tell you, they’re a real party, so, if you’d like to get in on this, sign up for it here and I’ll throw in a free gift for you...because I care, :)