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.
Professional Headshot Sessions: Review Your Images On-Site
One of the challenges of my work as a professional photographer is ensuring that I walk away from a photoshoot with images my client will be happy with. Constant reviewing of the shots while I am there and making necessary tweaks keeps surprises from happening later when they see the proofs. The photos go straight to an iPad, where they can be evaluated immediately on a larger screen than what is on the back of my camera. We note little things like a stray hair or un-tucked collar, as well as body stance, lighting and smile quality. Often professional headshot clients are uncomfortable in front of the camera. I am better able to articulate to them what is going on – perhaps smiling stiffly or looking pained – by showing them the photo rather than describing what I see. This communication helps them get more comfortable and we end up with headshots that reflect their personality. On site, real-time review allows us to correct the things we cannot alter after the fact. Elements like skin tone, color and shadows can be edited with Photoshop if need be. This tactic works especially well when I am quickly taking professional headshots for a large group of employees. It shortens the communication process and helps move the photoshoot along.
For brand photography, my client is usually looking to convey a particular message through the shots. On-site review ensures we are telling the right story. Whether they are trying to convey a confident, trustworthy, fun or professional atmosphere, we are able to make adjustments as we go. Perhaps the expected background is too busy or too bland, or the angle of the shot needs to be altered a bit to set the right mood. Again, we correct the elements that are inherent to being in the space and leave the simpler adjustments for the computer. Just like a chef who tastes a dish through every stage of cooking, I adjust as we go during my photoshoots, adding a little bit of this and a little bit of that until we have exactly what my client is looking for.
Miscommunication is prevalent in professional photography because we are trying to describe what we see in our heads. The subtleties within a photo are not always easy to communicate with words. Having the image there to point to offers my client and I a shared vocabulary, making the tweaking process much easier. It’s not my client’s job to know the vocabulary of photography, so using imagery allows us to create a shared vision.
Looking for professional headshots or business photography? You can contact me here.
Representing Your Company’s Personality through Professional Business Photography
Customers are looking for authenticity in a business, but they will also pay the most attention to what stands out. Your company is as unique as the people who built it and how it is represented through marketing images goes a long way in communicating your business’ personality to your customers. Images show the many faces of a company: employees, leadership, ambiance and culture. A collection of professional business photography gives customers a sense of what to expect when they choose to work with you.
In my years of experience working with many companies to create stock libraries and professional headshots, I’ve found several key characteristics they are looking to communicate in their images: dependability, creativity, friendliness and confidence.
Conveying Confidence and Dependability
Lawyers, banks, and advisers are often looking to convey they are trustworthy. The best way I have found to craft that dependable, confident vibe is through serious-toned images. Darker colors, solid backdrops free of distracting detail, a crossed-arms pose—all these little details add up to say to the viewer “I am serious”.
Trust is a key component our client shown above wanted to convey—behind him is a large bank door with just enough detail to look impressive and unique, but not distracting. The dramatic lighting, with hard edges, rather than a soft glow was set to create more contrasts.
Many companies who spend a lot of time with their clients want to appear friendly and easy to work with. Bright or natural backgrounds create an open feel and convey a happier mood.
The two employee portraits shown above are real estate agents, and their smiling faces reassure the viewer they are congenial people who are easy to work with. The lighting is softer here, and there’s a lot of light—shadows would convey a heavier mood.
These real estate agents pictured outside have a local, at-home feel—the scenery evokes the thought of neighborhoods and backyards, which of course lends itself to what theses agents do. The lighting here is natural, and shadows, though present, are much softer and blend together rather than stand out dramatically.
That Creative Touch
Companies looking to stand out from the crowd, such as marketing and tech companies, often want fun, more detailed pictures that are particular to their messaging, logos, or work.
I did a series of images for a marketing company called “Creative Quarterback”, and we decided to theme all their website photos around their name. Correlating their branding and photography allows their message to sink deeper, drawing connections between their website text and the images, making their company more memorable.
In translating a company’s personality to their photos, I do the heavy lifting for my clients, using my own creative eye and experience to develop the perfect visual. I work closely with my clients not only to get a sense of their vibe, but also discussing with them what they want to convey. If you are looking for professional business photography to help you bring your company personality in front of your customers, you can contact me here.
How to Make Sure You Are Happy with Your Professional Headshots
Finding the right photographer and taking a session of professional headshots is a lot of effort—you will want all that work to result in pictures you love. When you end up not liking your photos, it usually comes down to communication. If your photographer has to guess at what you want, then takes pictures that aren’t to your style, you both may end up disappointed and frustrated. Here are some ways to make sure you are happy with your headshots.
Tell Your Photographer the Purpose of the Professional Headshots
Are you refreshing your resume? Are you updating a company headshot? Are you about to go on a public speaking tour and need a publicity professional portrait? Telling your photographer why you need the photos will help them determine the correct look for your session.
Research Your Style
If you have never done a headshot session before, or have not liked your previous headshots, it will be worthwhile to look online for headshot examples you do like. Do they have darker backgrounds, medium light or dramatic light, or outside shots? When you can communicate specifics of your preferences to your photographer, they can choose backdrops and lighting that you find flattering. Bring along professional headshot examples of what you like to show your photographer, as well as the ones you didn’t like, so it won’t be repeated.
Research Your Photographer
Before scheduling a session with a photographer, visit their website or their portfolio to see the kind of work they do. This gives you a preview of what your headshots might turn out to be. Choose the photographer who’s style you already like.
Spend Time Preparing
Choose clothes that look the best on you and are relatively comfortable to reduce nervousness and boost your confidence. Bring along several outfits—it can be hard to see which outfit will look great on camera just by looking in the mirror. It’s best to have several options. If you aren’t confident about doing your own hair or makeup, hiring a hairdresser or stylist can be a worthwhile investment.
Knowing what you want and communicating those expectations up front will minimize the chances of frustration and dissatisfaction with your photos. When your photographer understands what your professional headshots are for, and the specific look you want, the end result will better represent what you are picturing in your head.
If you are looking for marketing images, professional headshots or portraits that stand out and express you, your brand or business, you can talk to me here.
Crafting a Business Image
Wherever you are representing yourself, be it online or print media, you will need to think about your business image. Visuals create a window to the personality and tone of a company. Headshots introduce your team and onsite environmental or editorial portraits evoke a sense of hard work and skill. Done well, photos can communicate volumes to your clients about you, and present a polished, professional look you aim for in person.
I have worked with many companies to create stock libraries and professional headshots uniquely tailored to their needs. I do the heavy lifting for my clients in crafting their business image, using my own creative eye and experience to develop the perfect photo. However, it is vital to know what you want, and to communicate your expectations with your photographer so the resulting images will better represent what you pictured. The following pointers will help you figure out those expectations.
Uses Far and Wide
To start, you need to know where you will be using the images. Do you need team shots? Marketing materials? Website stock photography? Knowing the mediums will help your photographer know how to approach each photoshoot.
Style and Story-telling
Images tell the story of what your business is—if you are a tech company, your visuals should look drastically different than a landscaping contractor’s. There are three styles I use in photoshoots: classic, environmental, and editorial. Classic style, a straight-on shot with a distraction-free background, is great for people-driven companies, like HR and marketing. Editorial style captures workers and processes in action, and is the perfect way to highlight product and service-driven businesses.
Environmental style allows subjects to be shot at visually interesting locations, outdoors or in the office. I recommend environmental portraits to those who have interesting office spaces. You can refer to the process of professional headshots for a more in-depth look.
Personality and Backdrops
Talk with your photographer beforehand to determine what personality vibe you’re going for so he or she will know what tools to bring and how to shoot the pictures. Are you a law firm or bank? You may want images that communicate competence and trustworthiness. Are you a tech company? Creativity and ingenuity might be your leaning. Plain color backdrops can convey a strong message: white and bright colors have an open, inviting energy, while dark backdrops look more serious and dramatic.
Interesting offices provide a lot of visual fodder for stock photography and headshot backgrounds. I always advise my clients who have great office spaces to showcase their work environment, not just for clients, but also for prospective employees. Refer to my blog about using office spaces for examples.
Bringing a professional photographer on as an integrated partner can save time and provide you with consistent quality work. Please contact me for your business photography needs, whether it is portraits, professional headshots, group photos, or unique brand photography.