Brand Photography for Non-Profits: The Riley Children’s Foundation
I have the honor of being one of the go-to photographers for The Riley Children’s Foundation, who create regular communications for emails, social media posts, magazines, brochures, signage and everything else needed for a non-profit to reach its donors. My projects revolve around capturing the conditions, struggles and successes of children and their families who are treated at the Riley Hospital for Children. Together we create visual stories of these kids and what they’ve been going through.
I create images for a number of different media outlets: social media, enewsletters, the printed magazine “The Riley Messenger”, blog posts, brochures, signage, and much more, including third parties like the Indy Star. There is a huge variety between photoshoots. I take standard “candid” portraits and also create studio-style portraits with a backdrop.
Locations vary between the hospital, families’ own homes, and events like a high school dance marathon in Bloomington or race car drivers and professional football players visiting patients.
With a few years of working together under our belt, a level of trust has been created. I can show up to a location with my gear and dive right in with little oversite. They usually tell me the background of the subject, but beyond that I know the Riley style and brand and can tell the story they want to tell. I also know the nooks and crannies of the organization—parking, familiarity with the team and their photo library—giving us an expedited process. I also understand the challenges of working with kids who sometimes aren’t feeling well, and my manner of being sensitive and understanding is invaluable to making them feel comfortable. The kids are usually fantastic, by the way. I have a lot of fun working with them.
To effectively tell a story through visuals, you need to show what happened through those images. I do this by including aspects relative to the situation. One recent story was of a boy who had a genetic eye trouble his father also had. His treatment required wearing very thick glasses. I took a shot where he wore his glasses, then took a shot straight on without the glasses to show his eyes, emphasizing the issue that is being resolved.
Laura Buckner, my contact at the Riley Children’s Foundation, provides her take on what professional photography does for their organization. “Professional quality images are paramount to communicating need for a non-profit. Photography is everywhere, but placing importance on professional quality images like Paul provides is a priority for Riley Children’s Foundation. When people see a variety of images from us over a period of time, it starts to make an impact.”
Bringing a professional photographer on as a partner of your team can save time and provide you with consistent quality work. Please contact me here for your business photography needs, whether it is portraits, professional headshots, group photos, or unique brand photography.
Keeping Your Team’s Professional Headshots Up to Date
Team and employee professional headshots on your company website connect faces to your business and help build your brand online. But businesses change, move locations and acquire new prospects. How do you keep your company image up to date with your current team composition? In my many years of corporate photography work, I have come up with several solutions.
Employee Group Photos
Group photos pose a challenge for businesses as employees come and go. It can take extensive scheduling and coordination to get everyone together every time there are new hires. However, with the power of Photoshop, one group photo can be taken and then edited as time goes on. New employees can be photographed individually against the same background with the same light settings, then added into the picture with much less hassle.
Individual Employee Headshots
With individual headshots, scheduling time for new hires to have their portrait taken can be simplified by integrating your company’s photographer into your onboarding routine. I have several clients for whom I am part of their new employee orientation process—the portraits are done right from the start and no extra scheduling is necessary.
I have other clients who make me a part of their yearly company-wide meeting. I provide portraits for whoever wants them during a lunch break. Again, this combines two events into one, and assures most employees can get portraits with the least trouble possible.
Company growth is often marked with a change in headquarters, and moving into a new space is the perfect opportunity to update your professional portraits. I like using my clients’ office spaces as backdrops for their headshots—often they design their own spaces to reflect their business personality and brand. It makes sense to refresh the company look to match the new environment. It is also a great PR opportunity to show off your space and talk about the exciting changes happening in your business.
Consistency in photography is key for all my clients. Their professional headshots and group photos across time need to have the same look. I light them similarly, using identical camera settings, and review previous photos to keep the same feel even though backdrops and ambient lighting may differ.
If you need anything from simple business portraits to unique brand photography, I am comfortable taking professional headshots in the field or the studio. You can contact me here.
What to Expect After Getting A Professional Headshot
Once you’ve had your day in front of the camera, the last step of the professional headshot process is editing and final delivery. Although I prepare extensively and communicate with clients to make things run smoothly during the shoot, images usually need some tidying up to make a polished, finished set of photographs. This editing process is fairly straightforward for the client—their heavy-lifting has already been done. However, crucial decisions are still ahead; you will need to select the images that you feel best represent you and what you wanted to convey.
After minor color and light adjustments, I work with my clients to choose their final portraits. We talk in-depth about what they like and don’t like about each image—even pointing out a preferred background or a smile over another. This is the time to step back and see where facial expressions and postures might be off. I can make major changes such as taking a subject from one background and dropping them onto another, or even taking just a head or tie and integrating it into another pose. With larger changes, sometimes there are extra costs; it’s obviously much easier to wear a tie than for me to add it artificially.
Above is an example of how I can move a subject from one photo to another. My client loved the background in this shot, but did not like the outfit she wore. Rather than reshooting, I removed her from another picture where she wore an outfit she liked better, and placed her on top of herself on the background she preferred.
Most of the editing I do is background and detail work—removing specks and stray hairs, softening shiny skin, or reducing a mess of wires on a desk. The point is to reduce distractions, leaving the people as the only subject of interest in the shot. In these professional portraits of real estate agents, I edited out scuffmarks on the table, stains, and stray leaves.
My philosophy is that all pictures should be pleasing and balanced, and should convey ideas about the people in the image while still keeping the focus on them. This picture has a minimal detail of a white picket fence in the distance, a subtle motif lending itself to the suburban theme these real estate agents wanted to capture. The background doesn’t distract from the subject, but still is pronounced enough to tell a story about them—they will help you find a home in our area.
In editorial-style photographs, the profession of the subject is much more central to the shot, and therefore more details are left in to tell a broader story about the person, such as the shot below.
After all the editing is done, I send my clients their final, polished photographs, providing print and web-sized files so all their needs are covered. Sometimes I get additional requests—maybe teeth could be a little whiter or laugh lines a little less noticeable—and I work through these details until my clients are happy with their final images.
The detailed steps within the last stage of image creation are essential to making the very best of raw photographs. If you are looking for an experienced business and professional headshot photographer, you can send me a message.
The Process of Professional Headshots
Professional headshots tell the story of who you are and what you do. Great portraits aren’t effortless; there is a process to creating those photos that work perfectly for your marketing materials, website, or professional profile. You will need to choose the right style of professional portraits, prepare and plan for the photoshoot, and communicate with your photographer your needs and vision.
Professional headshots come in three styles: classic, environmental, and editorial.
Classic: This style keeps it simple—a straight-on shot with a distraction-free background. This look is great for professional profiles or employee headshots. Either an on-location or color backdrop can serve as the background. A solid color backdrop makes team photos easy to replicate when you hire new members. I always talk through with my clients what colors and backgrounds best suit their brand or business, as they are instrumental in conveying a certain feel to your audience.
Environmental: This style is well-suited for visually interesting locations. If your office has unique architectural features, cool outdoor spaces, or eye-catching artwork, taking your portrait on-site will add character to your headshots. Conversely, plain offices are ill suited to environmental shots. The same goes for messy spaces; straightening up is essential for professional photos. Overall, it is important to know what feel the background will convey, and choose your location wisely. Portraits should match your type of business; it makes sense for a landscaping architect to be outdoors, and a tech startup company to be in a cool office space. Some current office design trends include neat lighting and old wood, which end up making nice backdrops for in-office portraits. I like to arrive at locations early to scout unique backdrops—attention to detail is key to making your portraits memorable.
Editorial: This style focuses on your employees “in action.” If your business makes physical products or delivers services “on location” in interesting places, this can be the perfect option. Similar to environmental, editorial style is also not recommended for plain offices as the images will feature the surrounding space. If an office-based business wants editorial portraits, I may ask them to bring a few of their clients and/or partners into the office during the shoot. This allows us to take shots of their team in meetings, on calls, working in groups, etc.
Editing is essential to create a finished photograph. My philosophy of photo editing is to remove distractions from the frame and ensure the subjects look their best. After some minor color and lighting adjustments, I work with my clients to choose the best portraits. I then edit them more heavily, removing specks and stray hairs, softening shiny skin, or reducing the number of wires on a desk. Major changes I can make include taking a subject from one background and dropping them onto another, or even taking just a head or tie and placing it on another picture. With larger changes sometimes there are extra costs; it’s much easier to wear a tie than for me to photoshop a tie on you.
Communicating expectations clearly is vital no matter what style you choose. Miscommunication, or neglecting to explain your vision means you may not be happy with your portraits. When your photographer understands how you will use the images, and what specific look you want, the end result will better represent what you pictured.
Looking for an experienced professional headshot photographer? You can contact me at 317-443-3792 or send me a message.
What to Look for When Hiring a Professional Photographer
Photographers come in all varieties—wedding photographers, portrait-takers, stock photo creators, hobbyists and Instagram enthusiasts—and they are not necessarily interchangeable. Hiring a professional photographer means finding the right creative genius who can capture what it is you want to communicate.
What Every Photographer Should Have
That being said, there are certainly qualities you want your photographer to have no matter what your project is.
Work that is their own. The main thing that impresses me in other photographers is a unique vision. They should be able to handle the standard headshot, but can they also produce creative work that is unique and compelling? If you aren’t impressed by their photos of others, you will likely not be happy with their photos of you.
An eye for consistency. I often go back to clients to photograph new hires. Those headshots need to look just like the ones I did in previous sessions. Photographers need to be able to produce photos from different sessions for their clients that look as though they all happened in one sitting.
An eye for detail. Detail makes for a cleaner, more impactful image. Are there any distracting objects in the background? Are the subject’s clothes and accessories neatly primped, or did it look like the photographer wasn’t paying attention to how they looked?
Grasp of basic image creation. Being able to handle the basics is a no-brainer. Are the images sharp? Is the lighting on the subjects even and pleasing? Is detail lost to blown-out highlights or blocky shadows?
The Thing About Gear
Yes, gifted photographers can do a lot with a single camera and their experience; however, high quality gear still makes a difference in professional photography. There are times when my expensive, pro-level equipment allows me to keep producing compelling images in situations where entry-level tools would just fall over. You will want a photographer with both an artistic eye and quality gear.
The Right Professional Photographer
For different events and subjects, you will need a photographer who has experience photographing that specific instance you want to capture. Don’t expect a family and baby photographer to be on-par with a commercial headshot and portrait photographer, and vice-versa. As an example, I personally just don’t have the props and experience with babies to produce high-quality newborn photos, but throw me in an office environment and I can produce a whole photo stock library for a business website.
You also need to like a photographer’s style. Perusing their online gallery is one way you can determine what you like and don’t. Are their studio backdrops smooth and simple, or wrinkled like bed sheets? Is the post processing in Photoshop subtle or overly done? Are they using gimmicks like selective color and heavy Photoshop filters? If their style isn’t the look you’re going for, you won’t be pleased with the images they create for you.
Word-of-mouth referrals and testimonies are often helpful as well in deciding if a photographer is pleasant and professional to work with. You might also want to check their website: a photographer with a good website is indicative of an in-tune and business-savvy person who invested in their online presence as an important customer service.
Ultimately, the right professional photographer is the one who not only produces great photos for you at the end, but is also easy to work with through the entire process, communicating with you about timing and vision.
Happy 4th of July!
Happy 4th of July!