It’s December 31st again, and you know what that means- time for my favorite photos of the year! I skimmed through my hard drives and picked out a handful of the shots that jumped out at me in 2014, and here they are in no particular order. I’m looking forward to 2015 and thousands of more awesome shots!
Last week I landed in a music hall in Evanston to take some portraits of a talented classical duo- a violinist and a pianist who perform together and needed photos both of them together and separate for their bookings and programs. Photos of musicians are a special challenge because they need to have their instrument in the shot somehow. And posing with any kind of prop can look incredibly cheesy if done wrong (everyone flashback to their high school marching band photos). So we experimented all morning with how the violinist can hold the violin in various poses, and how the pianist can hold the piano. And by hold the piano, I mean sit gracefully next to it. Because pianos are too heavy to hold.
I love headshots. And I take a heck of a lot of them throughout the week. So last weekend was a fun break from headshots to stretch my creative legs and put together a stylized photo shoot… I feel like I shouldn’t use the work “break” since it was actually a lot of work to get together the talent, costumes, set pieces, etc. But whatever. It’s just semantics. It was a lot of fun.
Some of my favorite photos ON THE PLANET are headshots and character shots of Hollywood’s leading ladies from the 1930’s and 1940’s. So of course I wanted to recreate the look of those classic old photos. And I think I was able to pull it off.
I want to send a special thanks to the following fellow creative individuals who made this shoot happen!
Jeanne Kalinowski dropped by for headshots early this month and mentioned a website called Photofeeler.com, where you can have other people rate the profile photos you plan to use for LinkedIn or other places. It works as a tool to choose a photo: other people who have never met you or seen either you or your photo before rate your photo on how competent, likable, and influential you appear to be.
WHY HAVE I NOT HEARD OF THIS WEBSITE BEFORE? THIS IS AWESOME.
“We created PhotoFeeler so that a misleading or unflattering photo never comes between good people and opportunity,” as their website says. The site goes on to describe the importance of a first impression and how people make their decisions and draw conclusions about you instantaneously, based on the first photo they see of you on social media.
THIS IS WHAT I’VE BEEN SAYING FOR YEARS! Sorry for shouting- I’m just so excited. I take a lot of headshots for professionals who are in transition and searching for their new job or entrepreneurs searching for their own clients, and I tell them that more often than not, the first time someone “meets” them it’s online through their LinkedIn
profile, Facebook photos, bio page of your website, Google+ profile, or even a Google search. So the first time they see you they’re actually seeing your photo. So it’s important to have a good headshot. Duh.
You’ve heard it a million times that “you only have one chance to make a good first impression” and nowadays that first impression isn’t actually you, but a photo of you on the internet. Our lives are so intertwined with working and communicating virtually (through email, online research, social media profiles), that psychologically we’re actually believing we’ve “met” someone when we read their bio and see their photo on their website. It’s important to have a good headshot of you that does two things: 1. looks a hell of a lot like you (so when they meet you in person they know it’s you); and 2. gives people a good first impression of you.
If you’ve got a crummy group photo on the beach that you cropped everything out but your sunburned face and using it as your LinkedIn profile, it’s going to give the first impression of, “I’m on the beach. This is me on the beach… if you can see my face through the sunglasses, that is.” But if you have a professional headshot with perfect lighting, flattering poses, an approachable, confident smile, and polished attire, it gives the first impression of, “I’m put together, friendly, confident, know what I’m talking about, and am important enough to have a professional photo taken of me.
But don’t just listen to me… the proof is in the PhotoFeeler pudding. Check out the ratings Jeanne got on the snapshot she was using on LinkedIn before her Organic Headshots session, and then the professional headshots she walked away with earlier this month. There’s no question which photos give complete strangers a better first impression. Thanks Jeanne for sharing the results of your experiment!
Sometimes I get a strange look when I ask people I’m about to photograph what line of work they’re in and what they plan to use the headshot for. I think they’re thinking, “what does it matter? Just take my photo so I can get out of here and get a doughnut.” At least that’s what I’m thinking when I have my photo taken…
But there is method to my madness, I promise. It’s important for me to know what you plan to use the photo for, to help me choose the best backdrop, lighting, and posing. A litigation attorney’s headshot should look much different from an addiction counselor’s headshot, for example. Even for actors- if you’re auditioning for more comedies than dramas, a headshot with you smiling and laughing will go further in communicating that than a Steppenwolf-style brooding photo.
Yesterday I took Amanda’s headshot and asked her where she plans to use the photo. She mentioned it would be for a new website she’s designing for her law office, so I asked to see what it looks like so I can choose a backdrop color that will go with the color scheme of the website. And I’m glad I did! There is a lot of gray in the website and if I went with a standard gray backdrop for her photo, the grays might be different tones and clash with each other. And it would be an awful lot of gray on one website.
So I grabbed some yellow and amber gels, put them on the backlight for a white backdrop, and VIOLA! A yellow/orange gradient that matches the yellow/orange gradient in the navigation bar of the website. The result is an awesome headshot (she just happens to look great with warm tones), that looks like it was tailor-made for the website.