Holiday Photo Tips
With all of the gatherings with friends and family, the holiday season is rife with opportunities to take pictures. But how do you get them just right for sharing and future reminiscing? Below I offer some holiday photo tips to help you achieve the perfect shots:
Framing Your Subject: Rule of Thirds
Where you place your subjects in a frame greatly affects the overall balance. Keeping the Rule of Thirds in mind can help you add more visual appeal to your image, as well as add clarity to your subject. Divide your frame into three equal parts both horizontally and vertically, and place your subjects at the points of intersection. Or, place your horizon (or tabletop) on one of the third lines. This set up allows you to add a bit more information to the image while making it naturally pleasing to the eye.
Find an Interesting Background
Naturally you are excited to take a picture of your favorite family member or the fun happenings going on around you, but before you shoot, check out what else is going on – namely, the background. Taking a photograph of a nice wintery scene behind your holiday lights will make a much more pleasing photo than one that highlights your messy kitchen. Everything within the frame affects the final outcome, so pay attention to more than the main subject.
Group Family Photos
We all know to put the tall people in the back and to place the matriarch and patriarch in the middle for group family photos. However, there is even more you can do to take an impactful shot. Back up a bit to keep people away from the edges of your camera, as some models have a distortion that will make those people look stretched out. Many people make the mistake of placing a group in front of a picture window; it’s a nice background, but it ends up making the group too dark. Place lights to YOUR back, not your subject’s back, to allow them to be lit. If you are taking pics outside, avoid direct sunlight because it washes people out and makes them squint. Try to find a space with open shade, such as the edge of a shady area. Don’t place people under trees – you will not see their faces. Using the edge of a building that is shedding light outward is another great way to use indirect light.
The secret to capturing those fun or intimate moments between family members in an authentic way is patience. So much is happening – fun conversations, games, or even cooking together; patiently hanging out with your camera and being ready when you see someone getting excited means you will be able to document the smiling and laughing when they get to the height of the fun. Picture-taking has to be purposeful yet not staged. You are looking to gather the special experience, not setting people up in fake moments.
I hope these tips add to your enjoyment of your holiday season. You can reach out to me here with any questions.
Different Kinds of Headshots for Different Uses
Headshots seem straight forward – “You sit me down and take my picture, right?” My clients are often surprised when I ask them the type of image they are looking for. What many people do not realize is that there are different kinds of headshots for different uses. The variety you choose should be based upon your goals. Click here to read more about the different kinds of headshots. Below, I offer the reasons why I would choose one over the other:
I typically suggest this type of image when I am shooting for a business with a lot of employees. The simple background I use makes replicating the images for brand consistency much easier. As employees are added to the team, I can take headshots that look like the rest of the company at any time of the year. Click here to see an example of classic headshots.
Some clients are looking to offer a glimpse into their personalities through their business portraits. Here is where environmental headshots shine. The focus is still on the person, but we take the images in scenes that provide context. For example, I take outdoor shots of the owner of a landscaping company with the background slightly out of focus to highlight the subject. Or, the head of a financial institution with the logo or building behind him/her. Environmental headshots make the individual the central theme while telling more of a story. Click here to see an example of environmental headshots.
Technically not headshots, these images are more about telling the story of a business rather than just one person. They provide a taste of company culture. I usually shoot in their space, sometimes with many people in the image or just one person surrounded by the things that show what the company does. The problem with editorial headshots is that they are not as easily reproduced later. I can be limited by the time of year, interior design changes, etc. Click here to see an example of editorial headshots.
So How do You Choose?
I help my clients decide which version of headshot to go with by asking them how they plan to use the image and the kind of story they want to tell. If they only need to show the faces of who their clients will be working with, then classic headshots can work. If they are looking to create blog content about their employees working in their manufacturing plant, an editorial headshot may be best. Social media profile pictures or if they plan to feature the expertise of one person, an environmental or classic could work.
Regardless of your need, I can help you choose from the different kinds of headshots to ensure you achieve your goal. Contact me here for more information.
Tell Your Brand Story Through Professional Headshots and Brand Imagery
One of the reasons why I love what I do so much is my belief in the power of storytelling through pictures. As a photographer specializing in professional headshots and brand imagery, I feel like it is my job to capture my clients’ personalities on camera. Whether it is a single headshot of one person, or event photos or environmental images, I take the time to understand the goal for the shoot and the story we are trying to tell.
Duane Law is the owner of Exact IT Consulting, located here in Indianapolis. He was looking for headshots and marketing imagery for their website and other advertising spaces. It was important to him to capture both the company’s culture and expertise. We took editorial-style headshots and environmental images to achieve this goal.
When I come into an organization’s workspace, I immediately start thinking about what they do and look for elements that convey that idea. For Exact IT, it was technology. It would not have made sense to take pictures of the office furniture or décor since they are not interior designers. I found things that evoke the idea of technical expertise, such as wires, blinking lights, and cool looking technology items. The idea is to show that the organization is comfortable with these things, and therefore worthy of trusting them with your IT needs.
For the professional headshots, in the tech world a more casual vibe is the norm. So, we avoided suits and ties and went with the company polos, the stereotypical uniform of tech support that also has the added benefit of showing off their logo. I captured employees sitting at their desks, smiling at the camera or more candid shots of them enjoying their work.
Exact IT now has the beginnings of a stock library for their marketing needs, as well as updated headshots that highlight the supportive nature of their company culture.
Duane was kind enough to share his thoughts on our work together:
“We love having pictures of our space to showcase on the website, on social media and in our marketing materials. It helps humanize the brand and put faces to our company. Paul was professional, experienced and fun to work with”
If you are looking to tell your company’s brand story through your own imagery, you can contact me here.
Showing Your Personal Brand Through Editorial Headshots
It may be that when you think of a professional headshot, you picture a person set into a formal pose sporting a conservative smile and outfit. However, these days imagery is expected to tell a story. Hence the rise in popularity of editorial headshots, which offer a deeper understanding of the subject’s personality and livelihood. Now that most of us have a smartphone and take candid pictures, society is used to seeing people in a more authentic light. Editorial headshots offer that snapshot into who you are and what you do.
Editorial headshots are meant to go a bit further than showing your face (which is important too). They add a bit of marketing to your image by offering a glimpse into your processes and client interactions. A client of mine, Brian Huff, was looking to include this idea in his professional headshots. He is in the tech field and does a lot of brainstorming on a whiteboard. He wanted that tool behind him in the pictures to emphasize what a client can expect when they work with him. Those headshots offer a totally different message than just his smiling face on a plain backdrop.
If you are considering having editorial headshots taken, I have two pieces of advice. First, be flexible with your environment. There may be a few stories you want to tell about yourself. For example, Brian knew he wanted the whiteboard, but once we were on-site, we realized that an attractive couch and window offered another view of him that was also appropriate for his client base. He ended up also choosing one of those images to use in his marketing efforts.
My second suggestion is to consider your outfit carefully. One could argue that it is even more important to dress authentically for editorial headshots. Dressing in what you wear at your job adds to the storytelling. For example, if I am photographing a researcher, it could be appropriate to have a lab as the background with my client wearing gloves and a mask. A financial advisor could be wearing a dress shirt with the sleeves rolled up, or a manufacturer could wear coveralls and safety gear. There is no official dress code for an editorial portrait; it all depends upon what you do and who you are.
Brian was kind enough to share his thoughts on our work together:
“A common connection that Paul and I share decided it was finally time for her to get new headshots and she took to social media for advice. Paul’s name was mentioned multiple times and it got me thinking – I started my career 20 years ago and never thought about getting professional headshots. Maybe I, too, should get rid of those cropped photos. Paul and I have been acquaintances for years through networking and local food. My expectations were that he would deliver on his stellar reputation. I had no idea how simple or how much of a production the photoshoot would be. He showed up at my office with some equipment and made the process easy and effortless. The results are exactly what I wanted, professional yet ‘me’.”
Thank you, Brian! If you are interested in having editorial headshots taken, you can contact me here.
Using Editorial Photography in Professional Headshots
The Financial Advisors of Knall/Cohen/Pence Group, an Indianapolis branch of Stifel, Nicolaus & Company, Inc, were looking for updated professional headshots for their new website and sales tools. COO Phil Bounsall shared the organization’s goals for the shots: “We wanted every employee on the website so our clients can easily see who they are working with and have quick access to their contact info. We also use the images in our informational presentation for prospects.”
Capturing the personality of the organization was important to KCP. They have an office with interesting art and architectural features that were perfect as a background. I took the employees in groups of 3-4 and placed them in different spots around the office. I also used different poses, with some people standing, some sitting, so with their arms crossed, etc. We even did some with people not looking straight into the camera for a more candid feel. This variety helps liven up the look of the marketing tools in which the images will be used.
Using the environment to provide deeper clues to the viewer about the subject of the image is called editorial photography. We took this idea even further with the partners of KCP. Each member of the leadership team has a distinct personality or interest that is reflected in his office. They wanted to capture those unique attributes in their professional headshots, so we made sure to place each person in his space. For example, one partner is a voracious reader, so we took his picture next to his pile of current reading material. Another person is into art, so we placed him near a piece of his collection. The environment helps further the story within the image, adding more interest to these professional headshots. As Phil told me, “We want people to leave our website with a feeling of knowing and trusting our team, so we were looking to show a glimpse into who we are through the pictures.”
Phil was also kind enough to share a few words about his experience with me: “This session was the second time I have worked with Paul, and each time I found him to be flexible, creative, and comforting. He gets the best out of everybody and offers a very good experience.”
Thanks, Phil! If you are looking to take your professional headshots to another level, consider using editorial photography. I’m here to help. You can contact me here.
Riley Children’s Foundation “Be The Hope” Campaign
I have truly enjoyed the work I have done with the Riley Children’s Foundation over the past few years. The interaction with the children, and knowing I am contributing to the success of this important organization, add meaning to my work as a professional photographer. My most recent time with them involved creating imagery for their “Be The Hope” campaign, which hopes to raise $175,000 by 2020. Ed Carpenter Racing has stepped up to be a major partner for this new fundraising initiative. Imagery of the kids Riley Children’s Hospital serves and Ed was central to spreading the campaign message.
We went out to the Ed Carpenter Racing on the East side of Indianapolis and took studio-style portraits of Ed and the children. A simple backdrop was essential to what they planned to do with the images. Part of the marketing campaign was to announce the newly designated Riley Children’s Foundation Turn Two Suites at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The pictures were blown up to over 20ft tall and placed on the building, which made for an impactful unveiling event.
The event was also an opportunity to capture more marketing imagery. I took pictures of Ed and the kids under their huge selves. It was fun. Ed also went to the hospital to hand out Riley superhero capes to the kids who were there. All of these images provided rich content for the social media aspect of the “Be the Hope” marketing campaign.
As a non-profit organization that directly helps people, the Riley Children’s Foundation is much more able to tell their brand story using their own imagery. Stock photography of children would have never worked. My long-standing relationship with Riley meant I already understood the tenor of their messaging, making it easier for me to capture what they were looking for. And, I have experience working with their constituents – kids. Having the patience to wait for the possibly fidgety or uncomfortable child to relax and therefore offer the perfect authentic facial expression is the key. It takes time for the children to get comfortable with all the strange adults in the room, as well as the camera. During one of these photoshoots, one child decided he did not want to participate. We just hung out in the room until he relaxed and he eventually started enjoying himself and allowed the photographs to be taken. His mom even sent her thanks to me via Riley for my patience with her child. For me, that patience comes naturally, especially with this particular group of kids.
Riley does good work and I am proud to be affiliated with them. If you would like to support the “Be The Hope” campaign, click here.