Categories for Questions and Answers

Should you tip the makeup artist?

February 25, 2019 Published by . Leave your thoughts

After a headshot shoot, when the makeup artist is just out of earshot, we’ve often had clients frantically whisper to us, “psst!  Do I tip the makeup artist?!”  Whether or not to tip your makeup artist is a complicated question.  And it should start with what kind of makeup artist you’re dealing with.

Makeup artist, Chicago makeup artist, Chicago photo studio, Chicago headshotsWedding makeup artists:  YES

If any makeup artist is tipped, it’s most commonly the wedding makeup artist.  Some estimates are that about 80-90% of wedding vendors in general (including makeup artists and hair stylists) expect a tip.  This is because a wedding is a luxury event, and all the vendors involved are supplying a customized, luxury service.  For a wedding, a makeup artist usually travels to your location, provides a consultation and communicates back and forth on ideas for the look you’d like before the event, and even purchases supplies and makeup specifically for your application.

Counter makeup artists:  NOMakeup artist, Chicago makeup artist, Chicago photo studio, Chicago headshots

Don’t freak out if you just realized you’ve never tipped the makeup artist at Sephora or Nordstrom for the time they spent teaching you how to contour.  It’s generally considered not necessary to tip a counter makeup artist, and some stores even prohibit it.  These makeup artists are actually salespeople with makeup skills and sometimes training, but their end goal at the counter is to sell you a product. Never go to a makeup counter for a makeup application for a photo shoot.  These makeup artists are unlikely to have the skill or inclination to apply custom makeup for your needs, and the products are not likely to be specially made for photography.  And again, their main objective is to test products on your face in order to sell them to you, which is great for when you’re sampling products you’d like to buy for yourself.  But don’t think you’re cheating the system by having a salesperson at a makeup counter do your makeup for free for your photoshoot.  Makeup artist, Chicago makeup artist, Chicago photo studio, Chicago headshotsEvery time someone has come to our studio after doing this, they always end up unhappy with their look.  We’ve had to start stocking makeup removing cloths in the studio so clients can remove their counter-applied makeup before their session.

Makeup artists for headshots/portraiture/commercial shoots:  MAYBE

If tipping a wedding makeup artist was a reasonably solid “yes,” and tipping a counter makeup artist was a pretty solid “no,” then tipping a makeup artist for your headshot or portrait session is a definite “maybe.”  For hair salons, a rule of thumb some people subscribe to is that you tip the stylists who work for the salon, but not the salon owner.  Some people extend this idea to makeup artists: tip the makeup artists who are booked through a salon or agency because they do not keep the whole fee, but do not tip freelance artists because they keep all of their fee.  Makeup artist, Chicago makeup artist, Chicago photo studio, Chicago headshotsBut this isn’t a reliable measure since freelance artists are self-employed small business owners who have expenses an employee would not, such as insurance, marketing costs, travel costs, licensing, and materials.  Some makeup artists can spend anywhere from $5,000 to $20,000 a year on the makeup and brushes in their kit and the sterile disposable items they go through.  Since there is no industry standard “yes” or “no” for tipping with these kinds of makeup artists, then both freelance and agency artists usually have their fee structured in a way that they’re not relying on a tip to complete their fee, so a tip isn’t necessary.  But some people are more comfortable tipping anyone in the beauty/service industry, and if you’re one of these people, then feel free to tip your makeup artist.  They won’t turn it down and they’ll definitely be appreciative of it, while not expecting it.  A good rule of thumb on tipping makeup artists in this category is: “never expected, always appreciated.”

 

Makeup artist, Chicago makeup artist, Chicago photo studio, Chicago headshotsIf you don’t want to tip your makeup artist at a headshot session, here are some kind things you can do for them that they would definitely appreciate even more than a tip:

 

  • Come ready for them. Follow their instructions to prepare for your session, which usually involves coming with a clean, makeup-free face.
  • Communicate with them. Be honest about what you want and don’t want before they start the application, then trust them while they apply makeup, then give them honest feedback afterward so they can make changes before you get in front of the camera.  If you’re happy with the makeup, speak up and tell them you like it.  If you’re unhappy with it, speak up as well, so they have a chance to adjust what they did to your liking.
  • Don’t hold a mirror to watch what they do. Again, you must trust them to listen during the consultation and use their skills to apply makeup, without babysitting what they’re doing.  A mirror in your hand also gets in their way and slows down the process.  If you have any questions, feel free to ask, and the makeup artist will answer.Makeup artist, Chicago makeup artist, Chicago photo studio, Chicago headshots
  • Give them a positive review. If the makeup artist has a listing on Google, Yelp, or Facebook, give them a positive review, or offer to write a testimonial for their website.  Follow them on Instagram if they have an account.  More follows on social media means good marketing for them.
  • Refer the makeup artist to your friends and colleagues, so they can continue their awesome work.

If you’re ready to book a headshot session in our Chicago studio with a makeup artist, do that here!

Q&A with Susie Grant, SPHR: Human Resources Pro Breaks Down the Polished Profile

March 11, 2018 Published by . Leave your thoughts

So many folks swing by our studio for professional headshots to update their LinkedIn profile, so we chatted with our friend Susie to get some job search tips. Susie Grant is a Human Resources Business Partner. With an extensive background in human resources and recruiting, Grant has experience in HR advisory, employee relations, developing sourcing strategies, and staff forecasting. She sat down to offer some insight into what HR professionals look for in job candidates and how your professional presence (both in person and online) can impact your ability to land your next gig.

 Q: What are your top tips for job searchers?

It is certainly an industry cliché, but getting noticed is the first—and arguably most important—step. I think what is most important to remember here is while your resume plays a big role, social media is becoming increasingly more important. Recruiters and HR professionals are continuing to rely on networks like LinkedIn, Indeed and Glass Door when vetting candidates for interviews. We’ll go into some of that more in a bit.

Outside of polishing up your professional presence online, I also love the following tips:

  • Keep it concise: Different industries have different standards, but most of the time you want to stick to a one or two-page resume.
  • Tailor your story: Don’t just toss your name into the hat and hope it sticks. Review and revise your resume for each application and tell the most thorough story about why you are right for the job.
  • Do your homework: Study the job board and find a position that really speaks to your interest. Before you apply, consider if you really want this job, and what you can do to convey that in your application. The more strategic you are about where you apply, the less often you’ll have to do it!
  • Bring your ideas: Talk about what kind of impact you’ve made in your current role. Whether this is process change, innovative ideas or creative solutions to challenges, telling that story (with numbers, if you can!) makes a huge impact on future employers.
  • Make a list, check it twice: Nothing is more important than proofing. It sounds obvious, but having an error-free resume and application goes a long way!

Q: Anything job candidates should make sure not to do?

A little common sense in an interview is a must! Of course, interviewers understand this is a stressful situation, but this is also your time to shine. Present with confidence when talking about your skills, why you want this new position and why you would be a good fit. Think about how to convey that you either (1) know you are going to be good at this role or (2) what about you indicates you can be easily trained for this position.

Q: What kind of role does a headshot play when you’re looking at job candidates?

This is where social media has made a huge impact on the recruiting field. How you present yourself with a headshot online is more important than ever, and I don’t see that changing any time soon. With the rise of networks like LinkedIn, it’s pretty easy to be a passive jobseeker online. If you’re connected to the right people and are actively updating your profile, recruiters will start coming to you.

That said, consider the fact that (not to sound too creepy here) someone is always watching! Make sure your headshot is up-to-date and that your profile online is complete. It makes you seem more polished and approachable.

While there’s nothing wrong with a traditional, shoulders-up headshot think about ways you can get creative, if it works for your industry. If you’re in a field like banking, sales, or law, you may not want to stray too far from the traditional look, but if you’re in a creative field, think about ways you can change up your wardrobe or let your personality shine through.

It doesn’t need to be the best photo you’ve ever taken, but putting a little thought into your photo selection is important! No matter what, I don’t suggest cropping yourself out of a photo from a night out with your friends…no matter how good the lighting is. J

 Q: How can someone be sure they are memorable? Anything that makes them memorable in a bad way?

If you’re using a professional photographer for your headshot, which I would highly recommend, make sure you come prepared to communicate exactly what you’re looking for. If you’re willing to step outside the box a little, give them an example or tell them what you’re hoping to achieve with your photo. Taking a moment to brainstorm will ensure you’re comfortable with the photo you get and that it really captures the personality you’d like to display on your professional profile.

Think about it this way: you want convey relevant parts of your personality. Relaying things like creativity, confidence and an outgoing personality are a plus. Things like your love of reptiles, your massive action figure collection and your dirt bike skills…maybe not relevant. Be you, be confident, but do it in a way that makes sense for the job you want!

Whether it’s a more traditional headshot or something on the creative side, if I see a qualified candidate has taken the time to create a complete online profile, I can usually be confident they are a dedicated candidate and are serious about their career.


If you’re in a job search and need a professional LinkedIn profile photo, book your headshot session today!

When to add a makeup artist to your session

April 3, 2017 Published by . 2 Comments

makeup artist, headshot session
“I see that I can add a hair and makeup artist to my session… I’m not sure.  Should I?”  This is a question we hear all the time.  And our answer is always, “it’s up to you.”  Everyone is different, so it’s up to you to decide what would help you look your most photogenic.  For some of us that means a makeup artist, for others, retouching, for others none of those, and for still others (or most of us, really), both a makeup artist and retouching.

But since deciding whether or not to add a hair and makeup artist to your session can be tough, here’s a list of situations where someone can benefit from having a hair and makeup artist at their session:

You’re a woman who barely wears makeup or doesn’t wear any makeup at all.
This one might sound counter-intuitve at first, but you read it right.  The reason we recommend a makeup artist for women who don’t wear makeup is because our makeup artists specialize in natural-looking makeup for headshots.  They listen to how you normally apply your makeup (or how you don’t apply any at all) and create a look that naturally enhances your features without making the makeup itself noticeable.  For example, someone looking at your headshot should find themselves thinking, “her eyes look nice,” not, “that’s some great mascara.”

You’re a man or woman who can never get his or her hair to sit the way you want it to for photos.
Having a hair and makeup artist present at your photo session means having a professional to get your hair in exactly the place it should be, and to make sure it stays where it’s intended for each pose.

You tend to have red, blotchy, uneven skin, or rosacea.
A professional makeup artist will be able to use color correcting and matching techniques to apply concealors, correctors, and foundation for a more even-looking skin tone.  It’s the most natural way to get your best skin possible for the photos.

You’ve never liked the way your makeup has looked in past photos.
Sometimes the makeup we wear on a regular, daily basis isn’t best formulated for photography.  Makeup artists use brands that photograph best under both flash and continuous lighting, and know how to apply it in ways that make sure it shows exactly as they intend.

You would like the extra insurance for a great photo.
We’ve all been tramatized by photos in the past where we looked… well, not our best.  Having a professional stylist at your photo session ensures the best possible chances of a great photo.  They will use makeup to make sure your skin looks as smooth and even as possible and your best features at the center of attention.  Hot tools and styling products will also be on hand to re-curl any fallen curls, smooth frizz from humidity or add volume in dry weather.

If you have any questions about whether or not adding a makeup artist to your headshot session is right for you, feel free to contact us.

You can also book your session online, and add a hair and makeup artist using the online scheduler!

How to ask your photographer for a discount

August 10, 2016 Published by . Leave your thoughts

Today is the day I’m finally tackling the controversial issue of pricing in photography.  Specifically, discounts.  As a small business owner and service provider I’ve been asked for a discount more times than I can count.  I believe we’re living in what I like to lovingly call the “Groupon Era,” where no one pays full price anymore.  Pricing for everything online and in stores is in red ink or with flashing lights and lightning bolts pointing to it. chicago headshots

Picture that shirt at The Gap that was going for $39 so you were on the fence about buying it, until you saw the redlined original price of $59 and you couldn’t get to the checkout line fast enough with your steal of a deal.  There’s a definite psychology to discount shopping too tangled to get into here, so let’s just say that in a nutshell, buying things at a lower price makes us feel good.  We feel like we got more value out of what we’re getting because we paid less for it than others would have.

As a small business owner with no red lines through the pricing on my website I have to say I’ve felt the brunt of the “Goupon Era” mentality to the point of… well… sometimes rudeness.  Some people don’t know they’re being rude when they ask for a discount or tell me my pricing is too high and I actually don’t blame them, I blame the discount culture we live in.  But these are some things that have been said to me:

“Ha!  Don’t you think that’s a little expensive?”

“Is there any way you could just charge me less?”

“Can you do the same amount of work for $200 instead of the $700 you quoted me?  Our budget is $200 for the project.”  (coming from a private equity firm with a self-proclaimed portfolio of several million dollars in holdings, by the way.)

“I don’t understand why I have to pay that, I only want 1 photo.  Why can’t you just take 1 photo?  You just want my money—this is a scam.”  (I wouldn’t have believed this one myself if there wasn’t a photo assistant in the room to verify this.  This was actually said to my face.)

Now this blog post isn’t going to be another one of those “OMG DON’T ASK FOR A DISCOUNT THAT’S SO RUDE” posts, because I get it.  I shop at thrift stores because I love the thrill of the hunt and getting a $50 sweater for $5.  I love my money, I worked hard for it, and I HATE parting with it.  I’m a part of the discount culture and I hate paying full price for things.  So I get it.  I totally get it.

And as a small business owner I have to face the fact that discounts are common practice and here to stay.  But instead of laying out my expense sheets, justifying my pricing, and begging people not to discount hunt with their photographers, I decided to draw up some tips for both clients and photographers to better navigate the discount road.  So here they are: tips for how to ask your photographer for a discount, and tips for the photographer on what to do when you’re asked for a discount.

 

How to ask your photographer for a discount:

  1. If you think the price is expensive, ask yourself what you are comparing to. Is this particular photographer more expensive than another? If so, compare their portfolios, their experience, etc.  Or is it possible that you just had a lower number in your mind when you started price shopping?  Which is totally fine if that happened, you did nothing wrong by expecting it to be less.  But now that you’ve been given a number different from what you expected, try to figure out if your expectation was within range of the value of the service in the market.  Look at pricing from several other photographers with portfolios you like—if there’s a trend, chances are your expectations were off, and that’s okay.  Now adjust your budget or the project accordingly.
  1. If you’re going to ask the photographer for a discount, start with asking if they have any existing discounts or a time of the year when they run a promotion. Some wedding photographers, for example, have lower rates for times when business is slower for them, such as during the winter, Thursdays, or Fridays.  Be prepared to give a little if you want to take a little.  Asking for a discount is asking for something for nothing, so you might have to adjust your own plans to make the price you want work.
  1. groupThink about “what’s in it for them.” Photographers are small business owners.  They only offer discounts when they can get something legitimately good for their business in return.  Something that makes less work for them they might do for less money.  For example, I have a standing 2-at-once headshot discount where if 2 people come in for a headshot at the same time they each get 20% off their session.  This makes less work for me since I don’t have to schedule back and forth with 2 people for 2 different sessions when they come together, so I pass that time/effort savings onto them in the form of a discount.
  1. Please remember that this person is a working professional who owns a small business, and asking them to do their work for cheaper with no good reason or incentive is, well, let’s just say it, insulting. Your boss wouldn’t say “your paycheck is going to be half what it usually is this week because your pay is not in our budget,” and if that did happen, how would you feel?  Just try to keep this person’s feelings in mind when asking for a discount.  Word it carefully and with respect.

 

For photographers—how to give a discount:

  1. Offer a standing discount that makes good business sense for you: clients get a reduced rate, but you get something of equal value in return. For example, a discount for someone who refers a new client to you, or an exchange of services of equal value such as 15% off photo services for your hair stylist who gives you 15% off his or her services to you. Or offer a discount for a cause you believe in.  I offer discounts to military personnel because I see how hard it can be to transition from active military to making a career change and I want to offer a discount on professional headshots so they can do that more easily, and I view it as a small thank you for serving our country.  It legitimately makes me feel good to offer that discount and when someone redeems it.  Also having a short list of standing discounts gives you a good canned response when someone gives you that “can I have a discount?” question.  It turns an awkward conversation into an empowered one where you can list off all of the exact situations that qualify for a discount, and puts the responsibility back onto the client to see if they fit into one of those situations.
  1. Know your numbers, know your business, and know what you can and can’t do with your pricing. Assert yourself and avoid the guilty feeling that you have to make everyone happy with your pricing by immersing yourself in your profit and loss statements, expense reports, and pricing structure.  Know your numbers thoroughly, know why you charge what you charge, and then own it.  If you want to help a client out without discounting your rate, consider adding value by adding service instead; such as a free retouched photo, an extra hour of event coverage, or offer to throw in some free prints.
  1. Remember that some people just aren’t your clients. And that’s okay.  Even when they beg you.  Even when it’s been a slow month.  Take care of yourself and listen to your emotions and determine if you’re relinquishing discounts because they make good business sense or because someone is toying with your emotions and trying to make you feel guilty because they can’t or don’t want to pay for it.  Every time someone asks for a random discount I don’t offer or tells me my rates are too high for them I feel crummy.  It does beat me down a little.  But then I scope out my competitors’ rates, look through my own portfolio, and I straighten my shoulders and remind myself that my pricing is correct and it’s okay that it’s not for everyone.
  1. Think of the industry. If you’re a working photographer you’re part of the photography industry, and we photographers stick together.  Every time you lower your rate, another photographer gets asked to lower theirs because someone out there got it for cheaper.  Please keep the integrity of your profession in mind and your rates in line with industry trends.  So many of your fellow photographers are still working part time and even full time jobs outside of their profession because of the discount culture created by bidding sites and other service industry pricing pitfalls.  If you haven’t already done so, consider joining a local or national pro photo group like the PPA so that you can keep up with the issues everyone in your industry is facing so we can face them together.

 

Photographer takes hideous photos of herself… so every other photo of her will look awesome.

February 24, 2014 Published by . Leave your thoughts

“Even I don’t wake up looking like Cindy Crawford!”  – Cindy Crawford 

During the last 9 years working as a headshot photographer I estimate that about 95% of the people I’ve taken a headshot of have made some kind of self-deprecating comment during the photo session.

Such as:

“I’ll try not to break your camera.”
“I’ve got a huge nose- just warning you.”
“Try not to get my 18 chins in the photo.”
“Well it’s a good enough photo for what you’ve got to work with.”

I spend about 5% of a headshot session going over clothing options, 5% adjusting lighting, 20% posing and coaching, and 10% actually snapping the shutter button.  And then 60% telling people they’re not as ugly as they say they are.

But I get it.  I completely understand.  Because I hate photos of myself too.  Sometimes I look at a photo of me and think I look like a stunt zombie wearing earrings.  And it wasn’t until about year 6 as a headshot photographer that I finally gathered the courage to get in front of the lens and book another photographer to take my own professional headshot.

I love being behind a camera, looking through the lens, and capturing fractions of a second of our short time on earth and sharing that with the world.  I love images, imagery, telling stories through photos, and using a camera to paint the perfect portrait of amazing human beings who deserve dignified images of themselves that say, “look people!  I’m here!  And this is how awesome I am.”

But if you ever point a camera at me, I will punch you in the neck.

Whenever I look at a photo of myself my eyes instantly and uncontrollably dart to the areas of my face I find the most offensive- my dark under eye circles, the one eye that always manages to look bigger than the other, a forehead that takes up half my face, a nose right off of one of those Easter Island statues, smile lines that look like they’re drawn in with a Sharpie…  You get the point.  But why? Why does my attention go to the part of my face I’m most self-conscious of?

I think part of it is learned behavior, especially with so many of the people around us putting themselves down.  When we’re paid a compliment­­– women especially– we feel as if we’re supposed to over-humble it until we literally degrade ourselves.  How many times have you said to someone, “that’s a nice dress” only to get a, “oh, this old thing, it’s from last season, I bought it on sale…” Or “Your hair looks nice,” is so often met with, “no, it’s awful- it’s so frizzy, I can never get it to do what I want it to do…”

This is actually the decidedly unhealthy thinking that I believe makes me a better photographer.  I understand people’s pain.  With 95% of clients pointing out their alleged shortcomings in photos, it helps that I’ve been there.  But after 9 years of being there, I’m starting to wonder how we all got there.  And how we can get out.

I recently called up Megg, a make-up artist I work with, and had her bring over her kit for a little internal social experiment.  We put the camera on a tripod and took some photos of me.  Then I told her all of the things I see when I look at those photos- the undereye circles, the smile lines, pale lips, one squinty eye, yadda yadda.  The types of negative things I hear my clients pick apart when they see photos of themselves.  She used her make-up to draw more attention to those things- darkening the area under my eyes, drawing in smile lines, reverse-contouring my forehead so it looks bigger…

Then we took a photo.  This is that hideous photo:

ugly headshot

There they were.  All of those things I complain about when I see photos of myself.  All of those alleged imperfections that I can’t stop staring at and point out to other people even when they call me crazy and say “oh you look fine, shut up.”  They were all painted on my face like monster make-up.

It felt weird.

Going into the experiment I was expecting to feel validated in a way- like other people would finally see how hideous I look in photos and stop telling me I look fine.  I also thought it would feel good to get all my insecurities out into the open and render them powerless over me, and in a way it did.  Megg and I actually laughed hysterically when we looked through the photos- they looked so much unlike me that they were comical.

But in reality, it made me feel like crap.  I never really considered the pretty obvious outcome: that I would see a photo of myself looking like crap, so I would feel like crap.  I mean I REALLY felt like crap.  But here’s the interesting part… it was a familiar feeling.  It was like the slightly crappy feeling I get when I see a not-so-flattering photo of myself, but multiplied exponentially until it felt like an actual stabbing pain in my side and I physically winced while looking at the picture.

We took a photo of Megg wearing some “monster make-up” as well: accentuating her so-called crooked smile, extra wide mouth and laugh lines, yadda yadda…  And we both laughed at our ridiculous photos, partly to hide how much like crap doing this made us feel, but partly because it was actually pretty funny.

ugly headshot

 

Here are the photos we took of ourselves before the “monster make-up.”

 

Organic HeadshotsOrganic Headshots

 

It was like we both suddenly understood the joke for the 95% of the population who hate photos of themselves.  The punch line is that we’re not as hideous as we think we are.  What we see in our photos is not what others see.

 

Organic Headshots

Organic Headshots

As a photographer, I spend so much time trying to tell people that either their faults don’t exist and they’re making them up, or that no one else sees them as quickly and easily as they see them on themselves.  I see my own imperfections, so I understand.  And after seeing such hideous photos of myself, the normal photos of me looked so awesome that I actually smiled when I saw how nice I looked.  I can’t remember the last time I looked at a photo of myself and liked it so much that I smiled.

Organic Headshots

Other people don’t notice the faults we have a tendency to focus on with our features (that eye that looks smaller, the crooked nose, the wrinkles, etc.); they literally don’t see them- they filter through that to see/read you and your personality or mood.  And when they see a photo of you, it’s the same thing- if your expression is friendly and confident, THAT’S what they notice, and not your stray hairs and weird teeth.

“Yeah, that makes sense for pretty people or even normal people,” you’re thinking, “BUT I’M HIDEOUS AND MY EYE REALLY IS SMALLER THAN THE OTHER.”  Yes, your eye just might actually be smaller than the other.  But it’s usually not the first thing people will notice.  (Trust me- I’ve seen thousands of people point out something like a squinty eye that I literally didn’t see, even when I was looking for it.)  And it doesn’t by any means make you hideous.

Faces are not perfectly symmetrical.  Faces change and vary over time and even depending on how much sleep we’ve gotten or how much water we’ve been drinking.  We’ve mostly all got eyes, ears, a nose, and a mouth and eyebrows and nostrils and cheeks and all that, but we have no control over the proportions or how they turn out.  So stop apologizing for your features.  There’s nothing to apologize for.

I’m resisting the urge here to get all mushy and tell everyone they’re a super special snowflake and a beautiful shiny diamond.  Actually… I changed my mind.  You ARE a super special snowflake.  There is only one you out there and while you’re wasting time moping over how much you hate your facial features, everyone else is admiring how beautiful you are.

megg_filmstrip

If there’s something I’m going to take away from my little “let’s let everyone see how ugly I see myself as” experiment, it’s that I don’t look half as bad as I think I look.  I’ve decided that from now on, I’m going to stop trying to convince other people that I look like crap.  And I’m going to stop pointing out all these alleged shortcomings.  And I’m going to stop looking at photos of me half hoping to see a photo of Julia Roberts looking back at me.

Because frankly, even Julia Roberts doesn’t look like Julia Roberts before professional make-up and $125 an hour worth of retouching.  And I don’t want to look like Julia Roberts- I want to look like myself.  I don’t look half bad.