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.
April 9, 2018
To continue with our Q&A series, we recently chatted with Hanna Stotland, a highly sought-after admissions counselor and founder of her own consulting business, on how to earn an A+ on the grad school headshot. Hanna has been an admission trendsetter since 1997, when she was admitted to Harvard College with a G.E.D. After graduating with a Harvard law degree and practicing for many years, she followed her passion and became a full-time career and educational counselor in 2008. She is based in Chicago, but works with client families nationwide. Read her full story here.
Q: What kind of role does a headshot play in the admissions process?
Headshots may be required in the admissions process to medical school and MBA programs. Law schools and most other grad program applications do not require headshots and more importantly, do not want headshots. An important tip to remember when applying for grad school and crafting your application is to follow the rules. Admissions departments want to know that their applicants are creative, but still able to color within the lines.
Q: Why do Med/MBA programs want a headshot?
There are a few reasons med school and MBA programs require a headshot and they are as follows:
- Some programs (all MD/DO programs) require in-person interviews. They want to be able to recognize you when you walk into the interview room and ensure your headshot and you are a match.
- Admissions use headshots as part of their “gatekeeping” process. They look at headshots to ensure applicants fit the part. Part of their job is to determine if applicants can follow rules and will be hirable after graduation.
- In addition, admissions counselors are recruiters. They view headshots as a way to get to know their applicants and recruit them into their program more effectively.
Q: You mentioned “fitting the part;” What headshot tips do you give to your grad school clients to ensure they make a good impression?
There is a certain level of inherent human bias that happens when admissions departments review headshots. This is just human nature, and we are all guilty of it. However, you can combat this by taking your headshot as seriously as you would all other parts of the application. My tips include:
- If you can afford it, invest in a professional headshot. It will signal to admissions that you mean business and are serious about your application.
- As I already mentioned “coloring within the lines,” you must do this with your headshot. That means selecting a wardrobe that matches the program you are applying for. For example, the business and medical fields are both very regimented. So dress the part by selecting pieces that make you look polished, put together and planned. You want your headshot to say, “I will one day be highly employable.”
- It is also not a bad idea to take a few different headshot looks that can be used for different purposes and/or organizations. For example, have a headshot taken with a business professional look, a business casual look and a headshot that shows your personality/creative side. I am involved with singing and performing, so when I had my headshot taken I did a business professional shot and a performance shot. They each will be used for different purposes, but both communicate that I “fit the part” for the role I am executing.
Q: What do you advise clients not to wear for their headshots?
The things I tell my clients NOT to wear include: athletic wear, anything with writing on it even if it is your alma mater, t-shirts, or sweats,. Basically, anything you would wear to work out in or clean out your garage in is off-limits. I also encourage my clients to research the culture of the colleges/universities that they are applying to make sure their headshot and clothing choices fit that particular institution
Q: Can you share any funny admissions headshots stories with us?
Let’s just say that your job is to stand out for the right reasons. The right reasons will be your qualifications, not your hilarious headshot.
Q: Do you have any last pieces of advice you’d like to share with us?
Think about the admissions and application process as a sales pitch where you are the product. You want to communicate that you are going to make an institution proud when you graduate. Of course, this can be done through your essays, grades, and undergraduate work, but the headshot is an important piece of the packet that should not be overlooked.
If you’re ready to book your headshot session for school applications, do it here!
March 26, 2018
If you are a follower of the American Marketing Association – Chicago Chapter’s blog, you might have read my guest post on perfecting all staff bio photos. I discussed not only why the “meet our team” section of your website can make or break your company’s branding efforts, but also how to create a well-branded look and feel for your headshots. In addition, you’ll find tips on how to run an all staff picture day like clockwork.
Today, I want to take it one step further and discuss how to get your staff excited for picture and tips for making the day… well, less like a root canal.
Ok, so let’s assume you’ve completed the basics, decided on a look and feel for the photos, scheduled your photographer, and sent an all-company evite well in advance with details on the day, time and location. I’m sure after your “PICTURE DAY!” email was opened, you could probably hear some rumblings throughout your office. The most common questions or should I say stress points are:
- What should I wear? What is Susan wearing? I don’t want to be too matchy-matchy.
- My hair looks best in the morning; can I book a timeslot then?
- Will it be a headshot or full body shot? Do I have to wear nice shoes for a headshot?
- Where will these photos be used?
- Will I get to choose my fave? If I can’t choose the photo the company uses I’ll quit.
- Maybe I can call in sick that day.
And the list goes on and on…and understandably so. We all have that one memory from school picture day, family portrait sessions, prom photos, etc., that have scarred us for life. However, our goal is to block out bad picture day memories with an experience that will make our staffers want to update their headshot every year. Now, let’s get into the “it doesn’t have to suck” picture day tips.
First things, first…send out all company communications that clearly communicates ideas for what to wear and also, what not to wear! The wardrobe should be in alignment with the decided upon look and feel. You could even create a Pinterest board or mood board with color and outfit ideas, such as how to create a layered look with neutrals and an accent color. Make sure everyone knows that these aren’t simple I.D. badge photos so they can put together a professional-looking outfit.
Let Them Choose Timeslots
Set up a schedule where everyone can sign up for their own timeslot for their headshot. Some people know their hair looks best in the morning and will want to get in early, while others might want to get a blow out on their lunch hour for perfect hair in the afternoon.
Ok, I know this an obvious one, but a snack and drink setup close to the shoot location is always a good idea. Everyone loves free food and it tends to lighten any mood. When deciding on food and drink options, stick to clear liquids that won’t stain and snacks that won’t get in your staffers’ teeth. Make sure toothpicks and floss are available for those who need it!
Photo Shoot Survival Kit
In addition to the free food, create as I like to call it a “Photo Shoot Survival Kit” station. This could simply be a couple tables with the necessities such as blotting paper, individually wrapped combs, hairspray, cotton balls/swabs for touch ups, disposable tooth brushes, floss (as mentioned above), bobby pins, collar stays, safety pins, needle and thread, club soda for stains and of course, mirrors!
You’re investing in a photographer, so why not invest in some professional “make me look good” help. Consider contracting a few makeup artists and hairstylists to provide onsite touch ups. They are experts at de-shining faces, taming fly-away hair and overall confidence boosting help prior to your team going in front of the camera. And turning picture day into “pamper day” never hurt anyone.
Strike a Pose
Quick, look natural…no one ever! Ask your photographer to come up with a few easy poses to instruct staffers to replicate. In addition, have your photog shoot a couple of different looks for each. That way everyone will have different options to choose from. Speaking of options, it’s always a nice gesture to send photo files to your team and let them choose their own fave headshot!
We hope these tips inspire you to create an all staff picture day that is experiential and fun for all. We realize these tips do take more time and effort to plan than just scheduling a simple picture day, but remember you don’t have to plan alone! Consider creating a committee or group to help with the big day.
Check out more info on how Organic Headshots puts together great company headshots here!