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.
Using Your Office as a Backdrop for Professional Headshots
I have been doing professional headshots for Dittoe PR since 2011. They also refer me for their client’s PR event photography. They are a hip, young company with a happy, confident vibe that comes across in their faces as well as their office space.
Partnering with a company for so long means I get to work with them through all of their evolutions. Most recently, Dittoe moved from the Glendale area near Broad Ripple to South Broad Ripple, and their new space demanded a fresh look for their professional headshots. Whenever I work in a new place, I explore quite a bit to find the best backdrops to match the company’s personality. In Dittoe’s building, I found a stamped metal wall that suited their look perfectly. However, it was fairly challenging to use. I had to make sure my lights did not reflect off its shiny surface. The metal wall was also curved, acting like one big mirror. I couldn’t just put the lights anywhere; I had to find a location that both lit my subjects perfectly, and didn’t reflect. This challenge is a pretty unique one. Normally I use a painted wall or a whole office space backdrop that poses few challenges. As is evident, I did find that sweet spot, but it took both my onsite ingenuity and years of experience to situate my lights where they weren’t going to be seen. The result is a really cool backdrop I didn’t have to pass up just because the lighting was difficult.
Office designs can significantly change the look of professional headshots. However, I think this is a good thing. Photos of employees on a website can act like an introduction to a company’s environment, telling a consistent story about a brand. Dittoe’s move brought them to a space that had a wonderfully cool but simple vibe, and it became an opportunity to update their look.
I use my clients’ offices as backdrops in professional headshots whenever I can because the uniqueness and personality of their space carries into the images. Often my clients design their own offices to have a certain feel, which the photography will echo. I find that the designs vary depending on the company: lawyers like confident looks, banks like a strong, fortified feel, marketing and tech firms like fun and industrial styles.
There can be some drawbacks to using an organization’s space—it needs to have some character. If the space is bland, these kinds of photos won’t really work. My solution for a boring office is to bring my own colored backdrops. My clients can choose colors that fit the feel of their brand, or actually matches their brand colors, which will still bring that needed consistency. Taking photos outside is another remedy, in a nature or urban, city setting that represents the vibe of the company.
If you need anything from simple professional headshots to unique brand photography, I am comfortable taking portraits in the field or the studio. You can contact me here.
More than Corporate Headshots: Full Service Business Photography
Many companies need more than just corporate headshots of their team—they need updated team shots, new office photos, marketing stock photography, and others. Site Strategics is a client I have been working with for a while, and I have supplied the full service of business photography for their needs.
Site Strategics builds websites and provides other marketing services. Their brand is fun, smart, technology-savvy business people. Since moving to their new office downtown, they needed a whole slew of updated team photos, individual portraits and stock photos.
We started with their group picture at their new location, then we moved on to headshots for each team member. For corporate headshots I usually find one or two good backdrops in an office and shoot everyone on these. However, their office is especially colorful and interesting. It was their desire to showcase their cool space on their website as well, and I suggested we combine the the two goals. So, I photographed every team member in a different location to highlight their office in the background.
They are a hip young group and have a lot of fun in their office. While they were chatting with each other and joking around, I was able to capture genuine laughs and smiles.
Recently they built a media studio in their office to help clients who need videos or podcasts for their marketing. They also record their own podcast called “Edge of the Web”. The studio has a lot of cool technology and capabilities, and they wanted to market it on their website. They needed stock photos of the studio itself, people recording in the studio, and the variety of video and audio equipment.
For the stock photos, I had the license to be creative, finding the best angles and subjects for what was going to be their own stock library of images. Instead of going in with a preconceived idea for what media studio photos should look like, I focused on the environment and objects unique to their space—their microphones, cameras, sound equipment, dials, levers and lights—noticing the details and how their studio worked. A stock library will look different for each client; sometimes a few photos of something very specific are needed, while other times call for a bulk of photos with a good amount of variety. For Site Strategics’ studio I ended up taking 50 images because they had so much to work with.
Each time I work for Site Strategics, I keep in mind that their photographs need to have the same feel. I make sure to light them similarly with light modifiers, using almost identical camera settings, and review previous photos so they all look consistent even though backdrops and ambient lighting are different.
I really enjoy my working relationship with Site Strategics. They are great people to be around, and knowing them allows me to capture their personalities through the lens. I also know their brand, and can create the right picture for their message. Site Strategics finds having a business photography partner instrumental to their work as well. They simply have to reach out to me for any of their image needs. Jason Fletcher of Site Strategics took the time to describe what they liked about the process. “We chose Paul for his expertise as several members of our staff had worked with him before. Based on their glowing reviews, we trusted him to help make our website and other assets more professional with his photography. The pictures came out great and it was a lot of fun to work with him!”
Please contact me here for your business photography needs, whether it is portraits, professional headshots, group photos, or unique brand photography.
Business Photography and Executive Headshots
I got the chance to work for my great friend Chris, a colleague from my past days as a programmer, who was starting his own strategic consultant company, and he needed branding photos as well as executive headshots. Being the face of his company, he would need to convey both his personality and the personality of his business.
As Chris loves Indianapolis, he chose the iconic location of Fountain Square at night as our main backdrop for portraits. The evening scenes and nightlife vibe relate to his personality; he looks like the cool tech dude he is with the colorful lights and dark buildings behind him. Though it was a freezing night in February, we wanted the more dramatic environment the evening provided, as well as the vivid backdrops of night lights, so we braved the cold for as long as we could.
Working at night both outside and in makes it easier for me to play with my lighting: I don’t have the sun to deal with. Though I still blended my own lights with the city lights, I have learned how to recreate studio-like lighting with portable equipment, so our choice of background was incredibly flexible. This crafted lighting allows me to find an interesting backdrop first and worry about lighting second. If I had to look for a place with great lighting first, the choice of background would be limited to a very few perfectly lit spots.
We did our inside shots at the Murphy Building while we were warming up from our freezing outdoor photoshoot. I wanted to make sure we included backdrops that were not tied to Fountain Square. These pictures portrayed his personality and love of the city, but he would also need ones that portrayed the more business side of his company, and that would require a more timeless backdrop that conveyed an idea rather than be about a place.
This shot includes a very cool bank vault door as the backdrop. To brighten that door, I placed a light directly behind Chris, and later removed the light stand from the pictures in Photoshop. That extra shine on the door adds just the right amount of light and detail the picture needed.
In this photoshoot, Chris crosses his arms quite a few times. I have heard many photographers discourage crossed arms in professional headshots and portraits, but I have come to disagree as subjects like Chris naturally make the pose look relaxed and confident. Chris has good posture and carries himself well; he is aware of how he stands, but not unnaturally aware. Sometimes when I’m directing poses, people who cross their arms do look stuffy, so we try other poses. Chris with his arms crossed doesn’t look “closed off” or unapproachable—so we went with it. This confidently relaxed posture also reflected the feeling we wanted in all the pictures, conveying that Chris knows what he’s doing, and is also enjoyable to work with.
Whether you are looking for an individual portrait session or executive headshot, or need business photography for your company, you can contact me here.