“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!
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You may have heard the phrase, “personal branding photography” whispered between marketers, publicists, or influencers lately. Or maybe you’ve seen photos on Instagram or company websites and thought, “how do they get so many great, magazine-worthy shots for their social media pages? That was so NOT taken with an iPhone.” Welcome to the newest photography trend: Personal Branding Photography.
What is Personal Branding Photography?
Simply put: Personal Branding shots are lifestyle images, creative portraiture, and in-action shots of you looking awesome. A Personal Branding Photography shoot is for professionals utilizing photography to create and build their brand. We all know that having images to support your online presence is a key factor in your business’s growth: don’t just tell potential clients who you are and what you do, show them. Personal Branding Photos depict you in your element. If you’re a personal stylist, you need photos of you wearing the latest fashion and looking fabulous, action shots of you shopping for your clients, or images of you consulting with a client on their own style. A great Personal Branding Photo tells the story of your strengths and sells a potential client on why they need you, better than a thousand words ever could.
Why is Personal Branding Photography so hot right now?
With so much content online and in print today, we are all looking for images that perfectly reflect and summarize our message and grab attention quickly, and it’s now easier, more fun, and gaining in popularity to use custom professional photos to do so. And everyone is getting much less humble in how they depict themselves in images. With so many people competing for space and attention, you have to be less humble: you have to flaunt who you are and your pride in what you do in order for others to share that same excitement. If you see two listings in Google for personal trainers, and one is a standard headshot, while the other is a photo of Buff McBuffCakes flexing his muscles while spotting Strong McFlexHot while she deadlifts 250lbs, which listing are you likely to click on?
How can a marketer apply Personal Branding Photography to their company?
Personal Branding Photography, for good reason, has been starting its reign of popularity among entrepreneurs and small business owners, because they are usually the face of their business and need to sell themselves as the product. Realtors, consultants, financial advisers, lifestyle bloggers, artists, event planners, writers, interior designers, life coaches, and so forth.
But a larger business often must showcase its people to show the world who they are too. After all, your staff and your leadership are the backbone of your organization and the real value you bring to clients. How often does the CFO perform speaking engagements representing your company and she’s scrambling for a photo to send to the organizers the day before the event? How often do you need action shots of the CEO for internal newsletters, marketing materials, or something more interesting to hand a journalist when they ask for some photos to accompany a story about your company?
Or worse yet, how many times has a story run in a magazine and the CEO absolutely HATES their cover photo the publication-sent journalism student has taken? A Personal Branding Photography shoot is an important investment in the marketing materials you use every day. Having a stockpile of great photos of your important people on hand for publications, social media, your website, internal communications, and reports not only saves a lot of headache when you’re on a deadline, but gives you great creative control over your company’s brand.
Where do I go for Personal Branding Photography?
Personal Branding Photos are a growing trend in the photography industry, so make sure you find a professional photographer with experience in marketing and branding photography, as well as portraiture. Make sure their portfolio reflects skill not only in their subjects looking their best (everyone’s hair looks good, posing is flattering, and smiles are natural), but that they demonstrate an understanding of capturing images that tell a story.
Work with your photographer to organize a shoot that meets your needs. Tell him or her what kind of images you need and share ideas with them on how to get those photos. A good Personal Branding Photographer will be able to take a list of must-have photos and/or a brain dump of the uses you need the photos for and a description of your company and design a shoot that captures what you need.
Find more information on our Personal Branding Photography packages here!
Happy New Year! 2018 was a great year for Organic Headshots– thank you to all of our amazing clients over the years, who continue to choose us as their photography studio. We’re so honored to photograph everyone who comes through our doors and happy to keep shooting up a photo storm in 2019!
Let’s look back at some of our favorite shots from 2018:
If you’re ready to book your headshot session for 2019, do it today!
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.
At Organic Headshots, we’re not all business. Sure—we are all about having that polished, professional photo for your company’s website or your LinkedIn profile. But there’s also a time and a place for something a little more, well, personal.
We often have clients come in and ask for two different looks—one LinkedIn photo and one “for personal use.” I’m never in the business of embarrassing a client, but I’ll ask straight up: “Are you planning to use this for a dating profile?” With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, we’ve got dating on the brain and are bringing you our tips for getting your best “professional” online dating photo.
First, I want to share a little bit of background on why this topic is something that resonates with me. My husband and I met on Match.com about six years ago…but there’s a little more to our story than that. After a few dates, we decided we were going to see each other exclusively and take down our online dating profiles. I logged into an OKCupid account I had ignored for some time. When I logged in, I saw months of unread messages, and there was a familiar face in my inbox – my new boyfriend, Joel. He sent me a message about six months before we connected on Match.com, and much to my surprise, it was marked as read! Out of shock and curiosity, I opened it again, and suddenly remembered reading it when he sent it. He had signed his message, “write back, Joel,” and I remember thinking, “I DON’T EVEN KNOW THIS GUY AND HE’S TELLING ME WHAT TO DO NOBODY PUTS BABY IN A CORNER,” and I didn’t respond and forgot about it. Six months later, he receives a message on Match.com from the very girl who had ignored him months back, and he thinks to himself, “THAT GIRL HAS THE GALL TO CONNECT WITH ME 6 MONTHS AFTER I MESSAGED HER AND GOT NO RESPONSE?!” And now we’re married.
If that story doesn’t make you feel okay about telling me and my team when you’re seeking a photo for your online dating profile, maybe these tips will help.
Be Honest: Don’t be embarrassed to tell your photographer what you’re really there for! Sure, it can be uncomfortable to tell someone you don’t know that you’re looking for love online, but I’ve been there—plenty of us have been there. And we want to help you get a photo that gets clicked on! In order to get the best photo, it helps for your photographer to know exactly what you’re using it for in order to craft the best look and feel.
Get Comfortable: No matter what you’re using your professional photo for, it’s important to relax. We’re not going to lie—if your career doesn’t have you in front of the camera often, it’s completely normal to feel out of your element. If you’ve told your photographer what you’re looking for, there’s nothing else to be nervous about. Getting a shot that is natural and shows your personality is that much easier if you can try to forget the camera is there and just have a casual interaction with your photographer.
Be You: This sounds obvious, but being true to yourself is the best way to get a truly “organic” looking photo. We don’t just mean “act natural” here. Think about what you wear, how you do your makeup and hair, the kind of accessories you choose (we have more tips on that here). It sounds cliché, but remember that you want this profile to reflect who you actually are. And that doesn’t only mean not posing next to a Maserati Quattroporte if you drive a Honda. Yes, it’s your first impression with a future significant other, but nothing good ever comes from forcing a certain persona online. We know it’s easier said than done, but be yourself, and leave the tough work to the people behind the lens!
About Organic Headshots
Michelle Kaffko has been running Organic Headshots since 2005, taking corporate headshots and executive portraits for thousands of Chicago area professionals. Organic Headshots gets down to the root of why someone needs a headshot and for what purpose, enabling them to deliver the best product possible for all of their clients.