September 11, 2018
Reposting from 2015:
While I was moving late last year I came across a box of old photos (who am I kidding… several boxes of old photos), and one of them had a few envelopes labeled “NYC” from some trips I took there years ago. My father grew up in Brooklyn (you can still hear it in the way he says words like “coffee”) and my mother in New Jersey, so we took many trips “back East” as we called it, to visit family. Until I moved to Chicago in 2003 after growing up in the suburbs, I had actually logged more big city hours in New York than in Chicago. So I love visiting that old friend and smuggling dozens of bagels back with me on the plane.
I had almost forgotten that I had once been up to the top of the World Trade Center while visiting my aunt and uncle in 1998, until I found the photos a few months ago. With the anniversary of the 2001 attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center this week, I wanted to share my walk down memory lane by posting the photos from the last 2 trips I took to New York before 9/11/01.
The photos start in 1998 when my aunt and I took the ferry- if memory serves me well- from Hoboken to Pier 11, and then we made our way to the towers:
I remember joining a line of tourists and buying tickets to get to the observation deck, and seeing the tightest security I’d seen up until then. I think the bombings in the garage in 1993 were still fresh enough for everyone, and at one point we posed for what looked like a souvenir photo and were given a ticket stub, but never got our photo or heard anything about it later. After we left my aunt said she suspected it was just a way to photograph everyone for security, but who knows. It’s also just as possible we walked right past a “pick up your photos” booth without noticing it.
And then came the longest elevator ride I’d ever been in. Actually, it was quite short considering how far up we were traveling, and sort of unsettling when I thought about how fast we must have been going. The pressure changed and everyone laughed as they tried to pop their ears several times and hear again by the time we got to the top. I remember the elevator attendant seemed amused at the familiar sight.
The weather was stable enough to let people on the outdoor deck, so I got to take in the incredible view:
A year later I was back in New York for Millennium New Year’s Eve 1999 to 2000. Here’s an 18 year old me, heading toward my grand-aunt’s apartment in Peter Cooper Village, where my friend and I stayed for our trip:
And here I am photographing a squirrel. Because I was apparently fascinated by the squirrels in the neighborhood.
And here’s my traveling companion, Beth:
Also fascinated by the squirrels. I think we had never seen black squirrels before- only gray ones. I’m going to pretend like that’s a valid excuse for spending the possibly several hours we spent hanging out with the squirrels.
Beth and I were photo buddies back then- taking rolls and rolls of photos and developing them in our high school’s darkroom. So there’s a whole box in my closet of old photos of each other as we learned photography together and experimented with light and shadow, and a stack of photos from this trip to New York. We gallivanted around department stores, met up with a friend who moved there the month before and walked around FAO Schwartz, rode the Staten Island Ferry back and forth a few times, poked around the Trinity Church graveyard, went to see a taping of Late Night with Conan O’Brien (the guest stars were Christopher Walken and I think some football player whose name escapes me), and munched on some tasty nuts like our squirrel friends…
Of course our ultimate goal was Times Square for New Years Eve. That’s the whole reason we booked the trip in the first place- to be in Times Square for when the whole world came to an end because of Y2K. But after a long day of sight-seeing we managed to convince ourselves that we didn’t want to brave the cold and the crowds and instead got some Chinese food and watched it on TV. From 30 blocks away.
I’m suddenly reminded of a story my dad told me years ago about when he was young and living in New York, and how he and his friend heard about a concert up north so they drove to it, but it was too muddy so they left. It was Woodstock. Apparently I am my father’s daughter.
So instead we opted to hop on a bus to check out the aftermath the next morning in Times Square:
There was confetti from the night before blowing off the roofs of the buildings, and people collecting it off the ground.
This is one of my favorite shots because I’m catching a piece of confetti in mid-air while a woman takes a huge bite out of a hot dog…
But a lot of the photos we took that morning were quite beautiful– watching the confetti sprinkle down from the sky and the people on the ground stopping to reach up and grab it.
A few blocks from the World Trade Center, we stopped to take our photos with a bronze sculpture on a concrete bench:
2 years and some months later, while in college at the University of Illinois, I suddenly remembered those 2 photos when I saw this in the school’s newspaper:
Every year around this time, everyone is remembering where they were and what they were doing that day. I was in my sophomore year in college and in a film theory class. Our class didn’t receive word about the tragedy so after it was dismissed I walked over to the Union for some lunch and to email my brother a happy birthday, but I passed by the cafeteria filled with people staring in silence at some TV screens, and wondered what was happening. Someone had wheeled extra carts with TVs into the room and all 4 of them were playing the story on the news- the sound from all of them synced into stereo. When I realized what was going on I headed over to some computers and emailed my dad if he had heard from my grand-aunt in Manhattan and if she was being evacuated.
The next day there was a student memorial service on the quad– I took this photo from one of the windows in the Union:
My grandfather was a draftsman for a large naval architecture firm from 1968 to 1989 and worked in the World Trade Center back then:
We live in too small of a world to not all be connected in some way to each other, and everyone has their personal connections to the World Trade Center and the terrorist attacks of September 11th. For me, it’s my brother’s birthday, my grandfather’s old office, and my old sight-seeing stomping grounds for every trip to the Big Apple.
And of course I’m still looking forward to gallivanting around the city again soon. I’ve got to say hello to all my squirrel friends, after all.
July 30, 2018
Everyone at Organic Headshots has been at this for years: our photographers have photographed thousands of people, and our makeup artists have had just as many folks in their makeup chairs. And if there’s one thing nearly all our clients have in common, it’s that they’re nervous. Very few people walk into a photo studio excited to have their photo taken, and most of our clients see their visit as a necessary evil to get a photo for the bio page of their website, their LinkedIn profile photo, sales and marketing materials for their business, or, “because my boss made me come here to take a photo for the company website BUT I HATE HAVING MY PHOTO TAKEN SO LET’S MAKE THIS QUICK PLEASE.”
We’ve had countless informal discussions at the studio about how to put our clients at ease during such an anxiety-producing situation as having your photo taken, and we’ve developed systems and solutions for calming people down during photo sessions. We create a quiet, calming environment in the photo studio with snacks, drinks, and even an aromatherapy diffuser to freshen the air. We adjust the temperature if someone is too cool or too warm. We talk at length about what the photos are for and explain what we’re doing and how we’re going to get great photos for each person’s purpose. We show clients their photos as we’re taking them to allow for adjustments and feedback. We tell jokes. We laugh at the absurdity of striving for that perfect pose for that perfect photo like we’re all Kardashians on the red carpet. We listen to our clients’ stories of jobs lost, jobs found, career changes, life changes, new relationships, new babies, new puppies, and how well we can or can’t follow the storylines of Game of Thrones. Oh, and usually there’s an unofficial therapy dog lounging in a sunbeam or rolled over for bellyrubs, which has offered many a welcome distraction from the giant lens on the camera.
But last week we decided to take it a step further and formalize our training. We met with our friend David Klow, founder of Skylight Counseling Center and author of the new book, You Are Not Crazy: Letters From Your Therapist, in his office to talk about how we can help our clients enjoy the process of having their taken more; or at least stress less about it. David is a licensed therapist, Clinical Lecturer at the Department of Psychology at Northwestern University, an Adjunct Faculty member at Adler University, and runs professional training and workshops when he’s not managing his growing clinical staff at the counseling center.
David led us through an amazingly insightful discussion as we workshopped what our clients go through when having their photo taken, and we worked together to create new strategies and procedures to build our strengths in relieving photo-induced anxiety. Most importantly, we learned that we are the primary instrument taking someone’s photo, not the camera and the lighting and the posing. Those are merely tools we employ. The real photo is produced through the rapport we create with our subjects, the trust they have in us, and the authority we convey as professionals in our craft.
We are in the job of making people look good. Of capturing their personality in an image they need to further their careers, promote their work, demonstrate their capabilities, and project their individuality. We take that job very seriously.
So we invite you to test our strength. If you HATE having your photo taken and get nervous in front of a camera, PLEASE come to our studio. We love nervous people. Believe it or not, WE hate having our photos taken too– every single one of us working at Organic Headshots is behind the lens because we loathe being in front of it. So we get it. We understand your pain, and we want to help you feel better about getting a headshot. Have us come to your office to photograph your staff, or book an appointment for a session in our studio where you can munch on some snacks, listen to some soothing music, and rub a dog’s belly while we take your photo.
July 25, 2018
If you’ve taken a look at our headshot tips page, you’ve read a lot of great information on what to wear for your photos and how to prepare for your headshot session. To supplement those tips, here are some visuals to help you see what works for headshots and what doesn’t work, and why.
July 7, 2018
Organic Headshots is growing! To keep up with the demand of our awesome headshots and corporate event photography, Genevieve True has come aboard, joining Michelle Kaffko and Jeff Johnson as a headshot and event photographer. With a new team member, we’ll now have even more availability for both on-site staff headshots for groups, and headshot sessions in the studio.
And speaking of studio appointments, Organic Headshots is now open on Sundays! Book your appointment for a weekend here, and meet Genevieve in person!
Genevieve’s 12+ years of photography experience include portraits, events, weddings, and photojournalism/publishing. She’s a ninja when photographing events, and uses her kind heart and outgoing personality to get great portraits and headshots of people looking natural and at their best.
Check out some of the great shots she’s taken for us already, and contact us to book any of the photographers for headshots of you, your team, or your event!
April 20, 2018
There’s nothing that keeps a person away from a photo studio better than a past photo that didn’t turn out so well. Such was the case with our friend, Jon. His partner was a past client of ours for his (dare we say awesome) professional headshots, and every month like clockwork they would have some iteration of this conversation:
“You need a headshot!”
“I have a headshot.”
“Where is it? You don’t have it on LinkedIn or anywhere!”
“Well I don’t like it.”
He finally dragged him to our studio to take an updated headshot and Jon showed us the photo he had taken in the past:
“I don’t like this photo for two main reasons,” he said, “it was taken from below, which makes me look like a towering, tall giant, and I feel like it looks like I have about a thousand extra chins. It’s just not flattering.”
One of our favorite things to do is to beat old headshots with better ones. And the best way to do that is to identify what it is about the old photos that aren’t up to snuff, and then do the opposite. For Jon, that meant two things: 1. Don’t take the photo from below (easy), and 2. Make sure you can see his jawline in the photo (also easy). Then we did what we always do: coach our subject into several different poses, smiles, and angles so there are plenty of options to choose from.
Here’s the result:
We crafted the lighting to form some strategic shadows that did a better job of hugging the features of his face to form some shape, without making it look like he’s hiding behind any shadows. We also posed him into more relaxed poses, to get rid of that “welcome to the DMV” straight-forward effect of the old photo, which helped bring out more of his personality.
If you’ve got an old headshot you don’t like, don’t let it scare you into running away from all professional photographers! Book a headshot session with a photographer who has a strong portfolio of natural-looking headshots you like, and bring your crummy photo to the session. Talk to the photographer about what you don’t like about it, what you’re looking for in a new headshot, and work together to take new photos you can be proud of.
If you’re ready for your close-up, book your Chicago headshot online with Organic Headshots today! It’s not as painful as you think. We promise.