Professional Headshots Capture a Multi-Faceted Musician
Christopher Michael is a musician who lives in Philadelphia but has family roots here in Indiana. His father, Benjamin Dean, introduced us when Christopher needed professional headshots that would reflect the multiple sides of his music career.
As a Christian heavy metal musician, Christopher needed images that would show the more gritty side of his music, as well as his role in the business of entertainment. He suggested a large, old church that he usedto attend and therefore had a connection to. The building is made out of stone with wooden doors, which lent itself to the heavy metal vibe we were going for. Since we used the outside of the church, nature was the light source, and I set up shots based on the natural shadows from the sun and the building. I also used one soft box of my own to make sure I had light coming from exactly where I needed it.
Christopher brought different outfits to suit the different looks. For the performance side, he wore a fun purple shirt and light up shoes that we made sure got into the shots. For the business side, he wore a white button down shirt with blue jeans.
Even though Christopher is a musician and used to being in front of a camera and a crowd, I still felt that in order to get authentic images I needed to get him relaxed.
Some of these images were outside my wheelhouse in terms of professional headshots, where I am usually focused on a more conservative vibe. I gave his role as a musician a lot of thought before the shoot. I tried various angles, such as shooting down low with a wide-angle lens to make him look larger than life with the big church behind him. I wanted to go a bit bombastic with the style to reflect his heavy metal music. Then I did some editing in Photoshop, playing with exposure and shadows to give the images a dramatic look.
Christopher shared his thoughts about the photoshoot with me:
“Paul is a friend of my father’s and he introduced us. I did not really have any set expectations going into the shoot, but it ended up turning out much better than I could have imagined. The quality of the images and the experience of taking the pictures were really nice. The shoot was very simple and relaxed and I enjoyed working with Paul. I plan to use the images on my LinkedIn profile, as well as on the website I plan to launch soon once I finalize my EP.”
Because I focus my professional headshot work on capturing the personalities of my clients, each experience and set of images is different. If you are looking to update your portraits to show your authentic self, contact me here.
Empathy & Resilience: The Essence of My Work As a Professional Photographer
Photography has been a part of my world for most of my life. It all started in high school. My dad was a hunter and in the off-season he took up photography so he could still be out in nature. He bought himself a camera and helped me buy one too. I fell in love with it, but I did not think of a professional photographer as something I could do for a living. I was more inclined to standard livelihoods. I got my degree in psychology, taught myself computers and went into the tech field.
I worked at ExactTarget for six years and before that as an independent contractor for computer-related companies. I enjoyed moving from project to project and could feel my entrepreneurial spirit guiding my choices. However, owning my own business was not what drove me to start my own photography studio. My decision was based more on a lifestyle choice. I love photography, and the pace of a freelancer appeals to me. While many entrepreneurs enjoy the day-to-day management of running a business, that part of working for yourself isn’t what excited me. What I wanted was to spend my days enjoying my career and working with people I like! Photography was the perfect path to pursue.
My work means that I have busy periods where my weeks are full with photographing clients. Then I will have downtime where I edit the photos and take time to recharge. I believe that time to unwind and regroup leads to resilience, a term in psychology defined as the ability to handle challenges that come into our lives. When the annoyances of every day really get under our skin, where every moment is filled to the brim, we are less able to build the energy needed to have resilience. It’s not easy to manage our world with clarity and calmness. I find that because my work allows me to regularly regenerate my energy and creative juices, I am much better able to do good work and live a happier life.
Working with people is why I enjoy specializing in professional headshots. However, to be successful at my work I have to come into each project with an authentically positive attitude. Most people are not comfortable in front of a camera, so I must put them at ease to allow their personality to shine through. By being truly happy and at peace, ready to get to know them and address any concerns they have, I am much better able to mirror back the energy my clients need to have to achieve a good headshot. Empathy is a large part of setting people at ease. By not overbooking myself and taking time to relax, I am better able to practice empathy and therefore do good work.
So, when you set a professional headshot appointment with me, be prepared to be met by a relaxed, interested person who will help you enjoy the experience. Genuine smiles come out of people who are genuinely enjoying themselves – it is this energy that I am always trying to achieve when I work with my clients.
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.
Building a Business Photography Stock Library
The advantages of building a business photography stock library are many. With a large supply of photos, HR and marketing departments have lots to pull from for their various needs, including promoting events, marketing the business to customers as well as prospective employees, and website materials – all of which build the image of a business. I worked with Exact Target, now Salesforce Marketing Cloud, for many years growing their stock library, and at the end of over ten years had accumulated thousands of photos to pull from. By having pictures of their people and their space that defined their business image, they were always able to easily create marketing materials for any occasion.
I was working at Exact Target as a developer at first, and started work as a photographer when my interest and skill in photography was discovered. They asked me if I could put it to use in the company. I began simply with employee portraits, then moved to photographing the user conferences. For these events, the goal was to create images that would promote the next event. I took stock photos of the attendees as well as on-stage shots of the speakers, who were often big names like Richard Branson, Malcom Gladwell, and Seth Godin. By having their own images, all marketing had to do to promote the next event was to go back to the last user conference stock for fresh photos.
From there, the library just kept growing. To market the business to both prospective employees and to customers, the marketing and HR department always had things and people for me to photograph. I took a lot of stock photography of the office, going in and retaking pictures every time a significant remodel happened so the images stayed up to date. New employees were always photographed so they would have headshots for future speaking engagements or white paper attributions. HR would use the stock library to create printed photo books as gifts for ten year anniversaries. They would also make large banner prints of really cool concerts they hosted like Train, and events the business participated in like an Exact Target logoed Indy race car. These banners also served as popular items for auctions at fundraising events.
Exact Target kept their images in Dropbox folders so many different people in the company had access to them. However, the library grew so large, marketing and HR eventually asked me to be the keeper of the library for them, finding the images they needed quickly. Forming a relationship with a photographer is a good idea if you want to build an image library for your business. The value a photographer adds is not only image creation. It is the familiarity they have with your business that allows them to help you best manage your assets and build a consistent brand image. As a freelance photographer, I do this with many companies. I get to know them, the employees and their C-suite people, and it helps improve the quality of the photos. I know what images need to be created to tell their story.
Business photography needs vary from company to company. As an experienced business photographer, I can help you with professional headshots, executive portraits, stock image creation, group shots, and more. You can contact me here.
In 2010, a gallery in downtown Indianapolis hosted Paul’s amazing series “Noticing”. To prepare for the show, Paul made more than 50 prints of likely candidates and then sifted through them carefully, choosing only a handful to frame for the show.
Three years later, on a de-cluttering binge, I came across the cheap prints in their Target envelope. What to do? I was recycling unnecessary papers and composting sensitive documents I should have shredded, but neither of those were options for photo prints. I do what I can to keep our messes out of landfills. And anyway, they were so pretty!
This was my solution—or partial solution. Thirty lucky prints got chosen and stuck to the bedroom wall. Yup, just Scotch-taped their butts right up there. I sorted them roughly into a spectrum, and eyeballed their level. It was all very low-tech, instant gratification. Yeah, it’s a little dorm room-y, but the wall was bare before.
Have you done something interesting to keep items out of the trash? Can you share an interesting way you’ve used a photograph? I’d love to hear about it, especially since that Target envelope is still sitting around with at least 20 more prints inside.
Guest Post: Nicole Ross
In 2013, she founded Creative Quarterback, collaborating with other talented freelancers to provide small businesses and nonprofits with solutions to their creative needs. Her expertise and generosity make Nicole a bright light in Indianapolis and the world.
Nicole loves her beagle Penny, horses, cupcakes, and doing interesting and beautiful things. This month, one of the many things she’s done is to write a blog post for Paul. Thank you, Nicole!
Living in the Moment…Forever
By Nicole Ross, Founder, Creative Quarterback LLC
Most adults agree, their memories aren’t as good as they used to be. It’s not just aging that’s to blame. We work longer hours, spend more time on screens, and juggle dozens (hundreds? thousands?) of personal and professional responsibilities 24/7/365. Our poor noggins simply can’t keep up.
Ask me what I did today, and I can probably recall a few highlights. Ask me what happened last week, last month, or last year on this date…and I have absolutely, positively no idea. The same is true about very formative periods in my life – like “growing up,” “high school,” or “college.” At the time, I thought every memory, every event, every person, and every lesson learned was deeply etched into my memory. Apparently not.
I spent the last decade working for ExactTarget – a fast-growing tech startup that was eventually acquired by Salesforce in 2013. To say I witnessed a lot of change would be an understatement. Time at “ET” was like dog years – more happened in 10 years than in 53 years at other companies. Unlike the blurry memories from my formative years, however, I have vivid, lasting memories of every major company milestone, program, and event. Why? Two words: Paul D’Andrea.
From our early years all the way through the acquisition, Paul essentially served as ExactTarget’s visual historian. We hired him to take pictures of every company meeting, user conference, volunteer outing, company picnic, holiday party, and new hire class. When I moved from Marketing to HR, I also recruited him to document everything from internal program materials to video shoots (yes, we took pictures of video shoots), our annual employee anniversary celebrations, and more.
If HR sneezed, I wanted a professional photo of it.
Sound over the top? Looking back now, I can honestly say professional photography had the greatest return on investment of ANYTHING I did in Marketing and HR—combined. Here are 5 reasons why:
Milestone moments (and memories) are fleeting. Your company’s history gets longer every day (literally), and you’ll wish you had high-quality photos from every stage of its evolution. If you miss the moment, it’s gone forever.
What you see is what you get. Whether you’re trying to sell your software to a client, a new wellness program to your employees, or a new idea to your executives, professional photos set you apart and get you noticed. . You’ll be amazed how much more polished your programs, team, and events appear when you promote them with professional photos. Perception is reality.
Stock photos are hit and miss. You can’t shoot a custom photo for every scenario, but you can create a custom ‘stock’ library of your actual offices, employees, swag, and clients that you can reuse over and over. Avoid downloading generic photos online (or, God forbid, using clipart). Your audience will gravitate toward authentic images over staged ones every time.
Get people invested. Your company’s “old timers” shouldn’t be the only ones who understand and are proud of your history, culture, and programs. Photos allow you to share key milestones and important information with new employees and get them invested faster.
Tell me about it. Professional photos are like the gift that keeps on giving. Even after you leave a company, you’ll find countless uses for the images you gathered – from your LinkedIn profile to presentations to articles and beyond. Best of all, you’ll have them to look back on when you want to reminisce about the good times you had.
Now, as owner of my own ‘virtual creative agency,’ professional photos are one of the first things I recommend to my clients. Doing a website refresh? Creating marketing collateral? Launching a new program or product? Custom, professional photography is a must.
Bottom line: Do what it takes to create memories that last. You won’t be sorry.