Capture Your Brand Efficiently with a Professional Photographer On Call
Fast-moving organizations have a need for efficiency, and Carmel-based retail software solutions company enVista is the perfect example. They have a large, growing team of associates, and putting a face to a name is central to their client relationships. I have been their professional photographer on call for a few years now, going out to their offices to take professional headshots of their new employees many times a year. Not only do the headshots reside on their website and internal IT systems, they hang them on a large wall in their break area to celebrate their team. The consistency of the timing and look of the photoshoots ensures their clients know exactly whom they are working with at all times.
The real value of having a professional photographer on call that you trust is efficiency. You do not have to keep repeating the details of your needs to someone new; they know your style, people and company already. The consistency they bring makes unifying your brand much easier. This relationship becomes even more important with event photography, since the photographer will know the key individuals to capture, as well as the messaging behind your marketing. Events tend to happen once, so retakes are usually impossible. Your photographer gets one shot (pun intended), so working with someone who knows your company helps ensure you get what you need.
enVista is not looking for in-depth photoshoots for the employee headshots. The goal is get a good picture of each employee quickly. I set up a white backdrop to keep the photos consistent each time, and the employees stand before it for their picture. However, creating a connection with my subjects is central to how I am able to capture their personality in the images. So, I have become adept at making quick connections that put people at ease, allowing them to offer up authentic smiles. New employees tend to be happy and enthusiastic, but also nervous. A genuine “good morning” and helping them settle their clothes or hair helps them relax and enjoy the shoot.
Stephanie Newell, enVista’s Human Capital Director, shared her thoughts on having a photographer on call:
“We’ve been working with Paul for five years; he takes headshots of all of our new employees and annually takes a group photo of our whole company. What has been really nice about with working with him is that once we explained our needs for and style of the photos, he continues to execute it every time. We have orientation days every three weeks now, and we have him out for each one. He manages the whole process for us. With so many new employees, he knows we might not know everyone’s name at the time, so he takes a photo with them holding their name on a piece of paper first. He then gives us several good options so the associate can pick their favorite. We also like having a single style of headshot we can use on our IT systems; it’s a great way for us to put a face to a name with the remote nature of our company.”
If you tend to have a lot of photography needs for your business, it may make sense to create a relationship with a professional photographer. Having a partner who understands your company and what you are trying to achieve can make promoting your brand more efficient and effective. I’d be happy to help. Contact me here with any questions or to make an appointment.
Brand Imagery: Collaboration Between Clients, Photographers and Marketing Firms
While I most often work directly with clients, I have also developed relationships with Indianapolis marketing firms to help them create brand imagery for their customers. Such was the case for Wharton & Power Insurance. They were working with Fresh Figs Marketing to rebrand as a formal partnership between two long-time colleagues. While they were updating their digital and brick and mortar look, they also needed fresh headshots for their new website.
“Team headshots are an important part of brand imagery,” states Jennifer Riley Simone, President of Fresh Figs Marketing. “Giving potential clients a glimpse into the personality of the team as a whole, as well as the individuals they would be working with, can help them feel comfortable about reaching out. Also, taking the shots in the office can help set a tone for the customer experience. W&P is a boutique independent shop, and I wanted that vibe to come through in the headshots.”
Wharton & Power had moved into a new stylish space in 2018, so I scouted around to find a backdrop that would provide a more relaxed feel than the typical insurance headshots. I chose their front window, which offered a nice view of the brick building across the street and set a community tone. Wharton & Power purposely chose to relocate to the Village of West Clay business community, so we subtly highlighted that in the headshots. I had worked with the Wharton half of the team before, taking portraits for their last website redesign with Fresh Figs. Then and now, it was important that I create images that could be easily replicated as staff come and go. Choosing the outdoor background allowed me to achieve this goal, knowing that those buildings would there the next time headshots were needed.
Since these portraits were specifically for the new website, my goal was to capture the individual as they supported the company brand. The small, personalized focus came out immediately as I began to shoot. The team was relaxed and friendly, not stuffy at all, so it was easy to capture that approachable look. Neither Jennifer nor I had told them what to wear since we wanted them to be comfortable, but they ended up being coordinated which looks great on the website.
Scott Wharton shared his thoughts on our time together:
“Paul went above and beyond for us during our photoshoot. He ended up having to come out twice to accommodate travel schedules. The first round, he arrived on time, took the images quickly, and gave us great pictures. Unfortunately, the second shoot was not so smooth. Paul ended up having to hang out with us for 45 minutes while one of our team members fought traffic. We were grateful that he made room in his schedule for this snafu. He was tolerant, patient and yet again gave us great photos.”
Working with a client again years later is fun for me, especially when I see improvement. The images for the 2018 go around were more refined than my 2014 shoot. I can see my techniques evolving, allowing me to better capture the personalities of my clients. Also, as time goes on, we can collectively see that headshots taken 10 years ago when LinkedIn was newer are more of the standard formal look. As social media has evolved, so has the headshot, where more relaxed and personable images are required to stand out in the sea of faces. I enjoy this new style of brand imagery because my favorite part of my job getting my clients to bring out our their particular selves in our shoots.
Collaborating with marketing firms allows me to play a part in shaping the look of a brand as a whole, not just the individual. From professional headshots, to location and event imagery, I can bring a personalized visual element to the overall brand. A team that includes the agency, the client and the photographer can offer a truly personalized look to a company image. If your team is looking for a photographer, contact me here.
Investing in Storytelling Through Brand Photography
I have clients who keep me as a “photographer on call” to capture messaging central to their brand. Nextech, an Indianapolis not-for-profit focused on bringing tech to students, is a perfect example. They are committed to telling the story of the impact they have on their participants through brand photography.
Located in Downtown Indianapolis, Nextech immerses high school juniors and seniors in tech-related classes, trains teachers how to teach coding, and works with elementary students to inspire them to follow the STEM track. The organization got its roots as a program within the Exact Target Foundation, and eventually spun off on its own. I’ve known the leadership team for years, so it has been fun to watch their evolution.
Nextech is committed to using their own high-quality imagery to tell their brand story. Their goals is to show how they help students and teachers feel confident in using and teaching tech. Professionalism is important to their messaging, so rather than using pictures snapped on a cell phone or stock photography, they bring me in to their events to snap candid and formal shots of them at work.
“Collaboration is fun” is how I would describe the main theme of the images I take for Nextech. They bring me into the classroom, workshop or other events and ask me to be a fly on the wall. I wait for moments where students, mentors and leaders look like they are having a quality conversation or an enjoyable moment and grab the shot without them even knowing. My camera is ready for the right gesture, smile, or laugh that will capture the essence of the activity. I also take headshots of the team, as well as participants whose quotes about their experiences will be used on the Nextech website.
Professional photographers bring their experience and knowledge to their work. Beyond knowing how to capture the right mood through candids, lighting and editing are central to the success of the shoot. When I arrive at the event facility, I always hope for a window for some natural light, but I always travel with my light kit just in case. I also try to match the light on my camera to the color of the room’s light to reduce the common blue or yellow cast that emits from natural or artificial sources. Also, it can be necessary to do some work in the editing room, compensating for dark rooms or color.
Sarah Pelko, Nextech’s Marketing Associate, was kind enough to share some thoughts about working with me:
“My first experience with Paul was when he was doing headshots for our Catapults– groups of high school students who come in for the summer to learn coding and get introduced to the Indianapolis tech industry. A lot of these kids have never been in front of a camera before let alone a professional photographer. Some had no idea what a headshot was. They were enamored with Paul. He came in got these kids from all walks of life to get comfortable with the camera. He was very good at speaking to the audience he was working with. Since then I have worked with him on other projects where he is capturing candid shots for us. He is very good at being inconspicuous so people relax. He is then able to capture exactly what we intended. Finally, he gives us the proofs of only the best of the best to sift through, using our time wisely. We have a lot of events photographed, so we really appreciate this tactic.
Nextech works with teachers, student, pubic schools, private schools, tech industry professionals – a wide variety of people. Paul is able to cater to the individual needs of every group and make them feel comfortable which is a great skill. Most people do not want to have their photo taken. Paul is talented at getting people comfortable with the process. We are very excited and happy to have Paul on our team.”
Thanks, Sarah! If your organization is interested in telling its story through brand photography, you can contact me here.
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.
Crafting a Business Image
Wherever you are representing yourself, be it online or print media, you will need to think about your business image. Visuals create a window to the personality and tone of a company. Headshots introduce your team and onsite environmental or editorial portraits evoke a sense of hard work and skill. Done well, photos can communicate volumes to your clients about you, and present a polished, professional look you aim for in person.
I have worked with many companies to create stock libraries and professional headshots uniquely tailored to their needs. I do the heavy lifting for my clients in crafting their business image, using my own creative eye and experience to develop the perfect photo. However, it is vital to know what you want, and to communicate your expectations with your photographer so the resulting images will better represent what you pictured. The following pointers will help you figure out those expectations.
Uses Far and Wide
To start, you need to know where you will be using the images. Do you need team shots? Marketing materials? Website stock photography? Knowing the mediums will help your photographer know how to approach each photoshoot.
Style and Story-telling
Images tell the story of what your business is—if you are a tech company, your visuals should look drastically different than a landscaping contractor’s. There are three styles I use in photoshoots: classic, environmental, and editorial. Classic style, a straight-on shot with a distraction-free background, is great for people-driven companies, like HR and marketing. Editorial style captures workers and processes in action, and is the perfect way to highlight product and service-driven businesses.
Environmental style allows subjects to be shot at visually interesting locations, outdoors or in the office. I recommend environmental portraits to those who have interesting office spaces. You can refer to the process of professional headshots for a more in-depth look.
Personality and Backdrops
Talk with your photographer beforehand to determine what personality vibe you’re going for so he or she will know what tools to bring and how to shoot the pictures. Are you a law firm or bank? You may want images that communicate competence and trustworthiness. Are you a tech company? Creativity and ingenuity might be your leaning. Plain color backdrops can convey a strong message: white and bright colors have an open, inviting energy, while dark backdrops look more serious and dramatic.
Interesting offices provide a lot of visual fodder for stock photography and headshot backgrounds. I always advise my clients who have great office spaces to showcase their work environment, not just for clients, but also for prospective employees. Refer to my blog about using office spaces for examples.
Bringing a professional photographer on as an integrated partner can save time and provide you with consistent quality work. Please contact me for your business photography needs, whether it is portraits, professional headshots, group photos, or unique brand photography.