Photos in a hospital, part 2

September 10, 2013 Published by . Leave your thoughts

Organic Headshots

This morning I took headshots of a small venture capital firm downtown, then dropped by to visit my friend Richard as he checked into the hospital for his 6th and final round of chemotherapy.  I was there on his very first day of chemo back in May and posted some photos, so we agreed it would fitting for me to swing by and snap some more shots on his first day of his last round too.  Just like on the first day, his spirits were up, he joked around and chatted like usual.  We talked a lot about how even though he’s been doing this since May it still makes him nervous and uneasy.  Chemo is rough stuff and even though he knows what to expect and that it will be over soon it can sometimes feel like “soon” will never get here.

He said the worst part of it all is how it changed what he looked like and how people treated him.  The majority of his hair is gone, even his eyebrows and eyelashes, and he says a lot of people stare- both friends and strangers- and when he tells them cancer caused his new look some people even back away and won’t shake his hand or hug him, as if they can catch cancer from him.  He bought a pair of glasses to wear on the street to have something on his face to disguise the missing brows and lashes, and we joked about how they make him look a little like Clark Kent.

Organic Headshots

But the best part of it all is that he knows it’s temporary.  In the coming months his body will regenerate, return to health, and every little hair that fell out will grow back and it will be business as usual.  In the meantime, he’s taking care of his health and seeing the value of good health with a new set of eyes and a positive outlook for the future.

Organic Headshots

Richard is also a ridiculously talented hair stylist, and the only stylist in my entire life who was able to give me bangs.  (For decades I begged every stylist at every salon in the city to give me bangs and they all took one look at my crazy cowlick on my forehead and said, “no way.”  They wouldn’t even try.)  During his treatment he volunteered at a hair donation event with his hospital and he gave several volunteers with long hair 9+ inch cuts and adorable bobs so they can donate their hair to make wigs for cancer patients.

It’s obvious when he works that he loves what he does and it keeps him centered and focused.  Like most people, I can’t wait to see him outside of a hospital and back at the salon with scissors in hand.

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Warming up for headshots

September 9, 2013 Published by . Leave your thoughts

I can’t just plop someone in front of my camera and expect a natural smile.  If I did that, I would be a jerk of a photographer… or just really lazy.  And I spend a lot of time and energy making sure I’m neither lazy nor a jerk.

Organic Headshots

One of my favorite parts of a headshot photo session is just laughing, joking, and chatting away while snapping photos.  I’ve found that this loosens people up, helps them forget that there’s a camera in the room, and gets better shots.  Three cheers for laughing your way to a perfect headshot!  Hip hip, horray!

Organic Headshots

Q&A with a recent client

September 3, 2013 Published by . Leave your thoughts

If I had a nickel for every time I hear, “I need a new headshot because I HATE the one I have now,” I would have one of those big 5 gallon buckets filled with nickels by now.  Some people are wearing outdated clothing in their old headshot, some have an expression on their face they never use in real life, some have gained or lost like 300 pounds since their old headshot, or changed their hair color, cut, or the ability to grow it…

Whatever the reason to dislike an old headshot may be, it usually falls within the category of “it just doesn’t look like me.”  And to help us all understand what brings people in front of my camera and how they feel about the headshot experience, I asked recent client Kristina Dalman to share what brought her to Organic Headshots and how she felt it went:

What made you decide you wanted/needed a new headshot?

I didn’t own any of my prior headshot images – they were the property of my prior employers and being a rule following type, I didn’t feel comfortable using those copyrighted images for my own purposes, professional or personal.  So, when I received a call from my new company requesting a headshot to go with some presentation materials, I was shocked to find out that they didn’t provide that service to their employees.  I was given less than a week to submit the photo.  Panic immediately ensued as I realized I had no clue how to find a photographer that would not only work on such short notice but also specialize in taking headshots.

What didn’t you like about headshots you’ve had done in the past? 

I have had many different headshots taken for work over the years.  The photos were all fine but I didn’t really like any of them.  I never felt like they looked like me.  But, honestly it wasn’t a high priority for me and I really didn’t care so much about the photos.  I considered the whole process of the mandatory headshot for the firm web-site to be a necessary evil – part of the marketing that goes with being a lawyer.  However, the problem is that in the digital age, these images have a lasting effect.   I just started to be more mindful of this because, increasingly, people mention to me that I don’t look like the photos they have seen of me in LinkedIn or on company websites (fortunately it was always in the context of me looking better in real life).   That is when I realized that my perception of those photos wasn’t so off base and that the next time I got a headshot I would be more prepared.     

What made you choose me as a photographer? 

Honestly, I didn’t have a lot of time to research and find a photographer.  A huge factor was your availability and flexibility to work on such short notice.   But more importantly, when I started to research photographers on the internet, I quickly came across your terrific website, your extensive portfolio and blog.  I was immediately impressed and I knew you would be the “one” to go with.  I really liked the look of your images – whether they were law firm photos (I can always tell) or photos of more creative types.  Each of the images had a very natural, yet professional feel. I especially liked your advice for taking headshots and preparing for the photos – what to wear, tips on how much make-up to wear . . .  all really good information and frankly the sort of direction no one had ever provided before.  Now, having had the experience of working with you, I can verify for others that your approach is completely different (and a lot more fun) than the other experiences I have had.  It is “organic” – you worked with me to draw out the real me.  I believe that is why the end product looks so much better and different than the typical headshot.

What do you think of your new headshot? 

I love my new headshot.  I was really impressed with the final product – it exceeded all of my expectations.