“What a year, right?” is not an original thing to say this week. The year 2020 has been a heck of a lousy ride for a lot of us, and our studio is no exception. BUT. Even though we had to close as a “non-essential business” for 74 days in the Spring, and bookings have been down on average of about 60% since then compared to last year, we’re still counting the year as a win. You want to know why? Because of all of the awesome photos we took this year. And just like every year, we had thousands of great shots to choose from and it took us FOREVER to choose a very small number of them as our favorites of the year. So here they are, and here’s to 2021!
Categories for On site headshots
If you’re putting together a photo shoot for your staff, finding the right photographer to take your company’s headshots might start to feel like a challenge. With so many photographers to choose from, it can start to feel like comparing apples to oranges. So here’s a quick list of a few things to look for and questions to ask your photographer before booking:
SPECIALTY: Does the photographer specialize in headshots? And do they have experience with corporate headshots for large groups? Sometimes photographers are known for wearing many hats and accepting any gig that keeps them shooting. Some can shift from one photography category to the next pretty seamlessly, but others have trouble, so make sure your photographer has experience specifically in headshots for companies and that they can prove their experience in their portfolio. If all you see are photos of weddings on their website, be careful of trusting them with corporate headshots: they may not have done many.
SKILL: Check the photographer’s portfolio. Do the headshots in their portfolio reflect skill in posing and coaching so that everyone looks their best and most relaxed? Make sure their portfolio shows both consistency in skill and a range of looks, to prove that they have listened to each client’s needs and crafted an image for their needs and that flatters them best.
LICENSING: Sometimes staff headshots and corporate portraits can fall under a “commercial photography” category. Talk to your photographer before your session to make sure your shoot includes licen sing to use the photos however you need. Standard copyright law assigns the copyright to the photographer, so a license needs to be prepared in order for you to use, publish, or alter the photos after they’ve been taken. Ask your photographer what the license would include and make sure there are no hidden fees for you to use, publish, and place the images in marketing pieces; or if there is a fee, that it is reasonable and understood beforehand.
ORGANIZATION: When you’re putting together a group headshot day, the hardest parts can be scheduling time slots for each individual, finding and prepping a room for the photos, and figuring out how to get the people who can’t be there on that day also photographed. Ask your photographer if they will help you make a schedule for the day so each person is photographed quickly and easily and workday disruption is at a minimum. And does your photographer have a plan for getting matching photos for stragglers, people who call in sick on photo day, or when you add new staff in the months and years ahead?
PERSONALITY: Talk to your headshot photographer before booking them and introducing them to your staff. Make sure they’re friendly, professional, and can put people at ease, because it will show on everyone’s faces in their photos. We’ve actually heard a surprising number of stories from clients who switched to us from past photographers because they didn’t present themselves professionally or they made people uncomfortable in one way or another.
PRICE: Don’t be surprised or discouraged if you find a wide range in photography pricing while you’re researching photographers for your staff headshots. Photographers price their services on a lot of factors, including their own costs, skill level, time, and availability. There isn’t much of a set industry standard or rulebook for pricing, so just make sure all of the options in the package are spelled out ahead of time, and ask how the pricing will change if you add or remove people from the shoot.
If you’re looking for company headshots in Chicago and would like to learn more, or see our schedule and book a shoot online, you can do that here. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions about staff headshots!
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.
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.
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.
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!
The Organic Headshots crew set up shop in a law firm’s office in the Willis Tower for a few days last week for what we endearingly and unofficially call the “Mobile Headshot Unit.” (Mainly because it makes us sound like Navy Seals which is pretty rad.) When we’re not taking awesome headshots in our awesome studio, we’re setting up our gear in conference rooms across the Chicago Loop to photograph large groups in lightning speed.
Last week we set up some timelapse cameras during our shoots to capture our system in action. Each person checks in for their headshot and is quickly powdered for shine and checks themselves out in a mirror to fix their hair, has their photo taken, then chooses their photo right after taking it. This particular law firm is very large, so it was incredibly helpful for them to allow their staff to choose their favorite photo right after taking them. That way their marketing department doesn’t have to choose for them or chase down over 200 people for their photo selections later. And! If they happen not to like any of their photos, we retake them right then and there! Boom.
And then since there was a little down time and we were in the Willis Tower… we just HAD to reenact a scene from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.
Last week I spent a couple days at a law firm downtown photographing an entire staff of attorneys for a special piece their marketing department wants to put together. They told me they wanted photos of their attorneys with the same backdrop and in a variety of poses, so that the photos can later be joined into 3/4 length shots of groups of people. That way they can put together marketing materials that show a lineup of small groups of attorneys from different practice groups, and then be able to move them around as they see fit.
So what I did was bring in a large, gray backdrop and lit it evenly so that the photos would be easier to join later without having to deal with any strange shadowing on the backdrop. Then I placed the camera on a tripod and photographed everyone head to toe, standing on the same spot. Since the camera didn’t move and each person stood in the same spot, I was able to keep heights consistent so that when their photos are melded together, each person’s proper height is represented.
The firm’s own graphics department will be putting together the final pieces, but I wanted to mock together a few of them just to be sure it worked without making for too much editing on their part. And eureka! I think it turned out well.