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.
ICI 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.
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.
Happy 4th of July from Paul D’Andrea Photography
Happy 4th of July from Paul D’Andrea Photography
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.
Representing Your Company’s Personality through Professional Business Photography
Customers are looking for authenticity in a business, but they will also pay the most attention to what stands out. Your company is as unique as the people who built it and how it is represented through marketing images goes a long way in communicating your business’ personality to your customers. Images show the many faces of a company: employees, leadership, ambiance and culture. A collection of professional business photography gives customers a sense of what to expect when they choose to work with you.
In my years of experience working with many companies to create stock libraries and professional headshots, I’ve found several key characteristics they are looking to communicate in their images: dependability, creativity, friendliness and confidence.
Conveying Confidence and Dependability
Lawyers, banks, and advisers are often looking to convey they are trustworthy. The best way I have found to craft that dependable, confident vibe is through serious-toned images. Darker colors, solid backdrops free of distracting detail, a crossed-arms pose—all these little details add up to say to the viewer “I am serious”.
Trust is a key component our client shown above wanted to convey—behind him is a large bank door with just enough detail to look impressive and unique, but not distracting. The dramatic lighting, with hard edges, rather than a soft glow was set to create more contrasts.
Many companies who spend a lot of time with their clients want to appear friendly and easy to work with. Bright or natural backgrounds create an open feel and convey a happier mood.
The two employee portraits shown above are real estate agents, and their smiling faces reassure the viewer they are congenial people who are easy to work with. The lighting is softer here, and there’s a lot of light—shadows would convey a heavier mood.
These real estate agents pictured outside have a local, at-home feel—the scenery evokes the thought of neighborhoods and backyards, which of course lends itself to what theses agents do. The lighting here is natural, and shadows, though present, are much softer and blend together rather than stand out dramatically.
That Creative Touch
Companies looking to stand out from the crowd, such as marketing and tech companies, often want fun, more detailed pictures that are particular to their messaging, logos, or work.
I did a series of images for a marketing company called “Creative Quarterback”, and we decided to theme all their website photos around their name. Correlating their branding and photography allows their message to sink deeper, drawing connections between their website text and the images, making their company more memorable.
In translating a company’s personality to their photos, I do the heavy lifting for my clients, using my own creative eye and experience to develop the perfect visual. I work closely with my clients not only to get a sense of their vibe, but also discussing with them what they want to convey. If you are looking for professional business photography to help you bring your company personality in front of your customers, 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.