Large Group Professional Headshot Sessions
When the expertise of their team is the main message in a company’s marketing, it is important to have imagery that supports that idea. Walker Information is an Indianapolis-based company focused on helping businesses provide superior customer experiences. They were looking to take professional headshots of their employees for their website.
Walker wanted a wide variety of environments within their shots while keeping the same feel for each image. My challenge was to take the photographs in many areas of their building with different backgrounds while ensuring continuity within the final portraits. Their company culture is friendly, confident and slightly casual and they wanted these ideals portrayed in their shots as well.
This project was one of the few instances where I had to rely on Photoshop to achieve my clients’ goals. To accommodate the schedules of different employees, I was onsite on two different days; one sunny and one day snowy. One of our backdrops was a window, where you could see the weather! I had to use Photoshop to clean out the snow and warm up the background in some of the images.
Shooting professional headshots in many locations offers additional challenges as well. There was different lighting in each room we used – fluorescent in the conference room, incandescent in the break room, and natural light near the windows. Each of those light sources casts a different color, which I need to match my lights too. I use gels on my lights to achieve this look, then I use Photoshop to make tweaks as needed. Knowing ahead of time that my client wanted the flexibility of multiple locations yet maintaining the same feel allowed me to plan for the lighting challenges.
I feel that flexibility is a necessary trait for a photographer to successfully take individual headshots within a large group of people. Although we try to set a specific schedule of where we would be and who would be photographed, meetings run long, phone calls pop up and the best-laid plans go by the wayside. Having a main coordinator within the company is key here, and fortunately, Walker gave me Brenda Mackey. She ensured everyone was photographed where they wanted to be, regardless of the changing schedule. Unlike situations where I take photos with one backdrop so I can just hang out until needed, we had to move quickly and adjust on the spot. Although this job required more coordination on my client’s part, they ended up with headshots that worked for their brand and made their employees happy.
Brenda was kind enough to share a bit about her experience with us:
“We are a consulting company, so the expertise of our employees is the key to the success of our business. Some of the headshots on our website were quite outdated and did not accurately show the personality of our staff. It was important to us to show how each person at Walker Information is different. Paul was totally on board with this idea and visited our space before the shoot to scout out locations in our new building. My colleague and I went around with him to figure out what would work. We then made up a schedule of 6 different locations and time slots. All was going smoothly until Indy go the worst weather day of the entire year! Half of the people who had signed up for portraits were not able to come to the office. Paul took pictures of those who were there, but we had to schedule a makeup day. A few people who were not happy with the first round of pictures and Paul took getting them what they wanted seriously. Those people came to the makeup day and Paul dug deep into why they were not happy. He took care to address their specific issue and make sure we got a good shot the second time. Overall, people were very happy. Quite a few of our employees had never had their picture taken professionally before. Many people immediately put their shots up on LinkedIn and our website now reflects what our company wanted to communicate about our staff. I really enjoyed working with Paul and already referred him to others.”
Thanks, Brenda! If you have a large group in need of individual professional headshots, contact me here.
Investing in Storytelling Through Brand Photography
I have clients who keep me as a “photographer on call” to capture messaging central to their brand. Nextech, an Indianapolis not-for-profit focused on bringing tech to students, is a perfect example. They are committed to telling the story of the impact they have on their participants through brand photography.
Located in Downtown Indianapolis, Nextech immerses high school juniors and seniors in tech-related classes, trains teachers how to teach coding, and works with elementary students to inspire them to follow the STEM track. The organization got its roots as a program within the Exact Target Foundation, and eventually spun off on its own. I’ve known the leadership team for years, so it has been fun to watch their evolution.
Nextech is committed to using their own high-quality imagery to tell their brand story. Their goals is to show how they help students and teachers feel confident in using and teaching tech. Professionalism is important to their messaging, so rather than using pictures snapped on a cell phone or stock photography, they bring me in to their events to snap candid and formal shots of them at work.
“Collaboration is fun” is how I would describe the main theme of the images I take for Nextech. They bring me into the classroom, workshop or other events and ask me to be a fly on the wall. I wait for moments where students, mentors and leaders look like they are having a quality conversation or an enjoyable moment and grab the shot without them even knowing. My camera is ready for the right gesture, smile, or laugh that will capture the essence of the activity. I also take headshots of the team, as well as participants whose quotes about their experiences will be used on the Nextech website.
Professional photographers bring their experience and knowledge to their work. Beyond knowing how to capture the right mood through candids, lighting and editing are central to the success of the shoot. When I arrive at the event facility, I always hope for a window for some natural light, but I always travel with my light kit just in case. I also try to match the light on my camera to the color of the room’s light to reduce the common blue or yellow cast that emits from natural or artificial sources. Also, it can be necessary to do some work in the editing room, compensating for dark rooms or color.
Sarah Pelko, Nextech’s Marketing Associate, was kind enough to share some thoughts about working with me:
“My first experience with Paul was when he was doing headshots for our Catapults– groups of high school students who come in for the summer to learn coding and get introduced to the Indianapolis tech industry. A lot of these kids have never been in front of a camera before let alone a professional photographer. Some had no idea what a headshot was. They were enamored with Paul. He came in got these kids from all walks of life to get comfortable with the camera. He was very good at speaking to the audience he was working with. Since then I have worked with him on other projects where he is capturing candid shots for us. He is very good at being inconspicuous so people relax. He is then able to capture exactly what we intended. Finally, he gives us the proofs of only the best of the best to sift through, using our time wisely. We have a lot of events photographed, so we really appreciate this tactic.
Nextech works with teachers, student, pubic schools, private schools, tech industry professionals – a wide variety of people. Paul is able to cater to the individual needs of every group and make them feel comfortable which is a great skill. Most people do not want to have their photo taken. Paul is talented at getting people comfortable with the process. We are very excited and happy to have Paul on our team.”
Thanks, Sarah! If your organization is interested in telling its story through brand photography, you can contact me here.
Client Highlight: Refresh Your Brand with Professional Headshots
Chrissi Peters is a local real estate agent who was revving up to refresh her website. Due to the nature of her business, new professional headshots were essential to reflecting her updated brand. We met a co-working space in Carmel to take the shots since it offered a wide variety of backgrounds and lighting for us to try out. The space was not only fun to work, in, but also allowed us to quickly create many different looks without having to travel or bring a lot of props.
The goal of the professional headshots session was to capture Chrissi’s friendly, open, and confident personality. With some clients, the camera immediately makes them nervous, so I have to work to get them relaxed and showing their real selves. Such was not the case with Chrissi! Her offered up her natural smile on her own, which went a long way to achieving the look she wanted for the images.
Chrissi prepared for the photoshoot by going to a hairstylist that morning and working with a friend to do her makeup. She looked her best self for the headshots. She also brought a whole stack of clothes, which we looked through and picked outfits she liked, was most comfortable in and provided a nice variety of styles and looks. I find that having pictures that include different color tones can expand their use. For example, her grey outfit offered a more casual look, while her red top felt more professional. Now she has professional portraits appropriate for many uses.
We also varied her stances, placing here in a lot of different poses to achieve different looks. We took some of her standing in front of staircase, sitting on a stool and relaxing in a big chair. These photos will fit different purposes, allowing her to show the full scope of her brand.
For this shot, we used an existing light panel, which as you can see gave us some great to light to capture Chrissi with. I always travel with my own light sources, but having some onsite that can offer more options is always a nice bonus.
Crissi shared her thoughts about her experience with me:
“From the beginning, Paul was awesome to work with. I had seen his photos on his website and knew I wanted to work with him, but I was happy when he was quick to get back to me and reasonably priced. He came to the photo location with me and did a great job of finding creative spaces and suggesting unique shots.
Currently, I am using his pictures on my business social media platforms and website. I think they tell a lot about who I am and what it is like to work with me. My friend and her family served as models during the photoshoot to visually show how I work with clients. They tell the story of how family-oriented I am, that I sit down with my clients and determine their needs. They also show that I am their partner through the process of buying or selling a home.”
If you are planning to refresh your marketing tools, it makes sense to refresh your portraits as well. Click here to learn more about what a professional headshot session entails. You can also reach out to me here.
Client Highlight: Bringing Out Authentic Personalities in Group Professional Headshots Sessions
Many of my clients are businesses looking to create a cohesive collection of professional headshots for a small group of employees. I recently worked with Independent Colleges of Indiana to take portraits of the whole staff for their new website. A tight-knit group is always fun to work with, because they tend to support each other through what can be for some a stressful experience.
ICI Strategic Communications Specialist, Ann Gilly, had a vision for tone of the images. They were looking for environmental rather than traditional headshots, so when I arrived at their office we toured the space to find good background alternatives. Turns out they have a large window with a great view of Downtown Indianapolis. The organization’s target market is located in Indiana, making this local iconic background perfect for their branding.
The goal was to get through all nine employees that day, so it was important to keep everyone on task. Fortunately, it was not a large group, so I was able to take time to chat with each person to help them relax. Again, for many, getting their picture taken is nerve-racking, so I like to set subjects at ease before we begin. One of the reasons why I enjoy my work is that I like people, and that attitude comes through to the client, allowing them to relax. When I first started out in this business, I was still learning about the technical aspects of my work. I was busy thinking about exposure of background, where lights should be placed, and other details. But after years of experience, the technique comes naturally and I spend more time interacting with my client rather than hiding behind my camera worrying about all the details. My shoots now have a more relaxed environment which has led to better work – more authentic headshots with natural smiles and twinkles in eyes. In the end, it is the subject’s personality coming through that makes the best headshot!
I am going to be a bit corny here, but my goal is to have my clients be their best selves for their professional headshots. In other words, I want them to look like themselves but in the best light. For example, if my client always crosses his or her arms when talking, they should be crossed in the photo. During the shoot, I help them bring out their personality, and then make them their “best selves” with lighting, editing, etc.
The ICI group was a fun bunch, however the nature of their brand is more formal than say, a startup. A “big laugh” headshot would not have been appropriate for their brand. Everyone wore formal business attire, yet formal does not have to be boring as you can see in the shots. Relaxed smiles came through, showing the individual personalities within each member the group.
Ann shared a bit with me about the organization’s experience:
“We were developing a new website and the photos that were on the old one were out of date and did not reflect our staff changes. I wanted headshots that would work for the new website where everyone looked professional and the list was up to date. I let Paul know that we wanted environmental portraits in our office; we have a nice space that we wanted to show off a bit. He came in and set up, and then we took our turns. Everyone said they felt very comfortable with him and the pictures turned out great. He got back to us in a good amount of time we were able to review the shots to choose finals for the website. During the photoshoot, people would come out and tell the others who were waiting that it went great and to not be worried or nervous about the experience.”
If it is time for your organization to update your staff professional headshots, reach out to me here. I’d be happy to talk you through my process and answer any questions.
Happy 4th of July from Paul D’Andrea Photography
Happy 4th of July from Paul D’Andrea Photography
Client Highlight: Sapphire Strategy Professional Headshots and Brand Photography
Having worked in Indianapolis for over 20 years, I get many opportunities to see friends and colleagues evolve and grow. Such is the case with Sapphire Strategy. I have known their founder, Jenn Golding, for many years now and I was happy to work with her when she opened her consulting firm. Recently, we got together again to take professional headshots of her team, as well as take some brand photography in their new office space.
Sapphire Strategy is located in The Union 525, a tech-focused co-working space in Downtown Indianapolis. The building has a cool vibe and served as a perfect backdrop for our photos. These more urban-looking places offer a lot of visual variety with unique architectural details in one building. The Sapphire Strategy Team and I wandered around the space, finding seating and standing areas, desks, windows, half walls and even wall murals to use as backgrounds for their photos.
Variety also has challenges, however. Each new area of the building could mean a change in light quality, color and tone. And, different spaces have different vibes – warm and inviting to cold and austere can both be in the same building. It was important that we keep in mind the look we wanted as we chose the environments.
Creating good composition for the photos can be challenging in these spaces too, especially for professional headshots where we want the focus to be on the person, not the background. I am always looking for a pleasing composition to place people into; busy environments can make it hard to create a visually balanced image. Even though for larger shoots I scope out the venue beforehand, this issue must be managed on-site in real time. Here is where having experience in understanding how different lighting and backgrounds affect the final outcome ensures a productive photoshoot. We certainly do not want to have to come back to redo the images!
Beyond showing their working environment, another goal was to show the vibe of the company. They are a fun loving and hard working company and their corporate photos needed to show that personality. Sometimes I take photos at more formal companies where it can be hard to get people to let go a bit and not look so stiff. This group had no problem looking happy and comfortable –at times had a hard time getting just smiles rather than laughs!
According to Jenn Golding, “When we work together, I give Paul very basic guidance and a shot list to let him know what I am thinking. Then I let his creativity go. He takes pictures all day and I don’t, so I trust his judgment. I like his eye for environment, headshots, office shots, etc. I let him know what I need but then tell him – ‘If you see anything cool, go for it.’ I’ve been working with him for years, and have always been happy with the result. For this shoot, we needed headshots, office shots, team photos and shots of individuals and our new location. We will use the photos in social media, website, email marketing, and collateral.”
Professional headshot and brand photography are central to communicating the personality of your business to your customers. If you are looking to launch a business or just need a refresh, you can contact me here.