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.
Client Highlight: Professional Headshots Reflect Your Brand Promise
Whatever business you are in, your company has a personality and set of differentiators that help it stand apart from your competitors. All of your marketing content needs to highlight what makes you unique, including your professional headshots. My client, Rebecca Geyer, owns an elder-law practice here in Indianapolis. Being competent, trustworthy and approachable are central to her marketing message, so I needed to give her imagery that reflected that tone.
Individual Professional Headshots
Sometimes people get uncomfortable in front of the camera, so in order to elicit their true selves I need to help them relax. However, the Rebecca W. Geyer & Associates team had no problem being authentic. Their warm personalities and strong professional skills came through easily since there was no apprehension. I have worked with Rebecca and her staff twice now and had the same experience each time. Unlike some other businesses where we are trying to create an environment, these individual headshots were more about highlighting the person. So, I used a bright, simple backdrop, which also makes it easy to take similar shots when new employees are added.
Business Team Shots
For the first shoot, we tested out many areas of their office to offer a few background options. My second time there, we knew what they liked so we stayed in one spot. Again, this friendly and open team made my job easy! The most difficult aspect of taking group shots is blinking. It can be difficult to capture everyone with their eyes open at the same time – especially when children are involved. For this small, experienced team, I was more concerned about how to light them correctly. The lighting you use for an individual is very different from a group situation. If you light at an angle like you do for a single person, the people in the front row cast a shadow on the back row. I have to shift my lights to ensure everyone looks good. It is situations like these where a photographer’s experience really shows.
Rebecca was kind enough to share her thoughts about our work together:
“I originally met Paul at networking group and have had a good experience with him. He is professional and timely in getting responses, and he provides both print and web versions of his photos to help you with your advertising. We especially liked that he would make any photo tweaks we needed. The final product had a professional look, which is necessary for a law practice. Lawyers can be intimidating to contact so coming across as approachable yet professional was our goal. I have been pleased with Paul’s work and look forward to continuing to work with him.”
Thanks, Rebecca! If you creating marketing materials that highlight your brand promise, don’t forget your professional headshots and team images. The people your customers will be interacting with play a large role in differentiating your business. Make sure their images reflect them as well as your company. Please contact me here for more information on my photography services.
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.
Empathy & Resilience: The Essence of My Work As a Professional Photographer
Photography has been a part of my world for most of my life. It all started in high school. My dad was a hunter and in the off-season he took up photography so he could still be out in nature. He bought himself a camera and helped me buy one too. I fell in love with it, but I did not think of a professional photographer as something I could do for a living. I was more inclined to standard livelihoods. I got my degree in psychology, taught myself computers and went into the tech field.
I worked at ExactTarget for six years and before that as an independent contractor for computer-related companies. I enjoyed moving from project to project and could feel my entrepreneurial spirit guiding my choices. However, owning my own business was not what drove me to start my own photography studio. My decision was based more on a lifestyle choice. I love photography, and the pace of a freelancer appeals to me. While many entrepreneurs enjoy the day-to-day management of running a business, that part of working for yourself isn’t what excited me. What I wanted was to spend my days enjoying my career and working with people I like! Photography was the perfect path to pursue.
My work means that I have busy periods where my weeks are full with photographing clients. Then I will have downtime where I edit the photos and take time to recharge. I believe that time to unwind and regroup leads to resilience, a term in psychology defined as the ability to handle challenges that come into our lives. When the annoyances of every day really get under our skin, where every moment is filled to the brim, we are less able to build the energy needed to have resilience. It’s not easy to manage our world with clarity and calmness. I find that because my work allows me to regularly regenerate my energy and creative juices, I am much better able to do good work and live a happier life.
Working with people is why I enjoy specializing in professional headshots. However, to be successful at my work I have to come into each project with an authentically positive attitude. Most people are not comfortable in front of a camera, so I must put them at ease to allow their personality to shine through. By being truly happy and at peace, ready to get to know them and address any concerns they have, I am much better able to mirror back the energy my clients need to have to achieve a good headshot. Empathy is a large part of setting people at ease. By not overbooking myself and taking time to relax, I am better able to practice empathy and therefore do good work.
So, when you set a professional headshot appointment with me, be prepared to be met by a relaxed, interested person who will help you enjoy the experience. Genuine smiles come out of people who are genuinely enjoying themselves – it is this energy that I am always trying to achieve when I work with my clients.