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.
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.
How Often Should You Get a Professional Headshot?
For business teams and individuals, there are many occasions where getting a new professional headshot is helpful, appropriate, or necessary for proper publicity.
– If it’s been a while since you’ve been in a photoshoot: When your look has changed, you may want to update your professional headshot so your public profile matches real life.
– If you are starting to refresh your resume: When you are entering a job search, getting a new professional headshot can give you the opportunity to present yourself in the best way possible, thinking ahead to match your image with your career goals.
– If you are about to receive a lot of publicity: Authors publishing a new book, inventors introducing a new product, or speakers about to go on a tour, can benefit from an updated headshot to help publicize their product or event.
– If you are unhappy with your current or past headshot: If you don’t think your current headshot is a good representation of you, why not make it a New Year’s goal to get a new one? Read how to make sure you are happy with your headshot.
– When new employees join your team: Keeping your team headshots up-to-date can be built into your on-boarding process, having a professional photographer on call to take pictures of new employees as they are hired.
– When your business changes locations: Moving into a new office affords the opportunity to get new headshots and photos for your website or other marketing materials. Read how you can use your office as a backdrop for professional headshots and other promotional material.
– When your company is rebranding: Revamping your brand often means changing your business image at every level. Having new professional headshots that fit the style of your new brand ensures the faces representing your business match the visual message you want to send.
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.
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.