Client Highlight: Bringing Out Authentic Personalities in Group Professional Headshots Sessions

Many of my clients are businesses looking to create a cohesive collection of professional headshots for a small group of employees. I recently worked with Independent Colleges of Indiana to take portraits of the whole staff for their new website. A tight-knit group is always fun to work with, because they tend to support each other through what can be for some a stressful experience.

professional headshotsICI Strategic Communications Specialist, Ann Gilly, had a vision for tone of the images. They were looking for environmental rather than traditional headshots, so when I arrived at their office we toured the space to find good background alternatives. Turns out they have a large window with a great view of Downtown Indianapolis. The organization’s target market is located in Indiana, making this local iconic background perfect for their branding.

The goal was to get through all nine employees that day, so it was important to keep everyone on task. Fortunately, it was not a large group, so I was able to take time to chat with each person to help them relax. Again, for many, getting their picture taken is nerve-racking, so I like to set subjects at ease before we begin. One of the reasons why I enjoy my work is that I like people, and that attitude comes through to the client, allowing them to relax. When I first started out in this business, I was still learning about the technical aspects of my work. I was busy thinking about exposure of background, where lights should be placed, and other details. But after years of experience, the technique comes naturally and I spend more time interacting with my client rather than hiding behind my camera worrying about all the details. My shoots now have a more relaxed environment which has led to better work – more authentic headshots with natural smiles and twinkles in eyes. In the end, it is the subject’s personality coming through that makes the best headshot!

I am going to be a bit corny here, but my goal is to have my clients be their best selves for their professional headshots. In other words, I want them to look like themselves but in the best light. For example, if my client always crosses his or her arms when talking, they should be crossed in the photo. During the shoot, I help them bring out their personality, and then make them their “best selves” with lighting, editing, etc.

professional headshots

The ICI group was a fun bunch, however the nature of their brand is more formal than say, a startup. A “big laugh” headshot would not have been appropriate for their brand. Everyone wore formal business attire, yet formal does not have to be boring as you can see in the shots. Relaxed smiles came through, showing the individual personalities within each member the group.

Ann shared a bit with me about the organization’s experience:

“We were developing a new website and the photos that were on the old one were out of date and did not reflect our staff changes. I wanted headshots that would work for the new website where everyone looked professional and the list was up to date. I let Paul know that we wanted environmental portraits in our office; we have a nice space that we wanted to show off a bit. He came in and set up, and then we took our turns. Everyone said they felt very comfortable with him and the pictures turned out great. He got back to us in a good amount of time we were able to review the shots to choose finals for the website. During the photoshoot, people would come out and tell the others who were waiting that it went great and to not be worried or nervous about the experience.”

If it is time for your organization to update your staff professional headshots, reach out to me here. I’d be happy to talk you through my process and answer any questions.