Categories for Uncategorized

Women’s Day Thoughts on Being a Woman-Owned Business

March 7, 2021 Published by . Leave your thoughts

Today is International Women’s Day.  Your inbox is probably flooded with emails about inclusivity, pride, and solidarity (which is never a bad thing, right?).  I wanted to share something a little different—a more personal story of what today means to me personally as a woman business owner.

Our photo studio is certified nationally as a Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE), federally by the SBA as a Woman-Owned Small Business (WOSB), and with the State of Illinois as woman-owned in the Business Enterprise Program (BEP).  This means that we meet requirements for woman-owned vendor hiring for government contracts, and for private corporations with supplier diversity programs who are looking to or are required to hire a certain percentage of prime contractors and subcontractors with diversity ownership.  That was a mouthful.

Michelle Kaffko, World's Best Boss

In simpler terms: companies and governments have an unfortunate history of hiring businesses run by white men, simply because they are run by white men.  Supplier diversity and certification programs were made to attempt to level that playing field.  Why is that important?

I’m going to start a flashback now the way Sophia in The Golden Girls would… Picture it, Chicago, the mid-2000’s… I was a recent college graduate who moved to Chicago and got a job in marketing with a small computer security company.  I was the only female employee there, the lowest paid, and passed over for promotions.  My three breaking points, in order, were:

  1. The day a male intern was hired to assist me, was paid more than I, and played video games all day without getting fired.
  2. The day my boss asked me to pick up his shirts at Brooks Brothers because, “we all wear many hats here, Michelle, and this is a hat you need to wear today.”
  3. The day my boss copied my quarterly marketing plan and in an all-hands meeting presented it as his own. 

I left that job and got a Director level position at a new company.  The 50-something year old white male Vice President immediately started harassing me as too young for the job and said I shouldn’t be trusted to work from home like everyone else at the company, because I might “watch soap operas all day.” 

So I left that company after only 3 months, and decided that I could get so much more done if other people (read: mostly middle-aged white men) weren’t getting in my way.  Having a love for photography and a few years of experience in personal portrait projects under my belt, I started a photo studio specializing in headshots and corporate portraits.

Michelle Kaffko, a lifestyle photography portrait

I worked long hours, handled every aspect of my new business from sales and marketing, technical training, legal documents, bookkeeping, yadda yadda… but I finally felt alive.  I felt like I was making something, and finally DOING something for the first time.  I felt like I was in control of something.  Something that was important to me.  Something I had created out of nothing and was it growing and getting great feedback from people I looked up to. 

The WBDC can do a much better job than I of explaining the critical importance of WBE certification for the local and national economy.  I do know that 40% of U.S. businesses are women owned (yay!).  But woman-owned businesses contribute to only 8% of employment and 4.2% of revenues (boo).

So for me, certification is important for two reasons.  First, a sense of pride.  It gave me proof of my dignity and self-respect as a business owner who was pushed down as an employee for being female and can now use that same trait to boost myself upward.  And second: equity.  We all need to recognize that businesses owned by women, minorities, veterans, and the LGBTQ+ community have been at a disadvantage for far too long, and that disadvantage continues.  I’m not going to lie, my WBE certification comes with a little twinge of pain that it’s even still necessary today.

I look forward to a day when woman-owned businesses contribute to 50% of national revenues and not just 4.2%.  And for when all women across every industry gain equal pay for equal work, and when certification process and supplier diversity programs become outdated.  Because diverse-owned companies command the same respect that male-owned businesses have intrinsically held for far too long.

Shop woman-owned today, and this month.  But keeping shopping woman-owned and keep hiring woman-owned companies throughout the year; we can only level the playing field together.

COVID-19 Precautions at the Studio

March 13, 2020 Published by . 1 Comment

With the recent COVID-19 pandemic, we wanted to give everyone an update on how our photo studio is changing operations to keep everyone safe and healthy.

First off, we are still behind our cameras and taking headshots and will remain open, and none of our staff have been ill or exposed to anyone who is ill. If you have an appointment but are feeling ill, or have reason to believe you have been exposed to any virus, please reschedule your appointment for when you are feeling better.

We are following Chicago’s Department of Health guidelines for businesses, and monitoring the city’s Coronavirus website for updates. We’re also making a few changes in our procedures to provide extra protection to our clients and staff, which are summarized below.

Increased cleaning: between each appointment at the studio we are sanitizing all high-touch areas and washing our hands between clients.

Social distancing: we are refraining from handshakes and physical contact. Instead of adjusting your clothes or hair for you during posing, we will hold a mirror so you can do so on your own.

Cancellation / rescheduling fees: We will waive cancellation and rescheduling fees for the duration of the pandemic.

Makeup: if your shoot has a makeup artist, please know that our makeup artists already employ strict sanitation guidelines and will continue to do so. They use disposable applicators and fresh, sanitized brushes for each individual.

On-site shoots: if you have scheduled us for a shoot in your office, we will abide by all of our in-studio guidelines while on location. If your office has switched to telecommuting for the time, we will temporarily honor your on-site pricing for individual sessions in the studio for existing shoots in the schedule. Contact Shea for more info.

Your health and safety and the health and saftey of our staff take top priority with everything we do. If you have any questions or concerns please reach out to us.

Thank you for continuing to choose Organic Headshots for your photography needs, and please stay safe and healthy!

Is a headshot tax deductible?

March 2, 2020 Published by . Leave your thoughts

Learn the situations where you can write off photography on your tax return

Professional headshots are an important part of your career, whether you’re searching for a job, starting out or promoting yourself as an established freelancer, or putting together marketing materials for your business. But when are headshots a business expense? Being able to deduct expenses on your taxes is a great perk for some situations, and an absolute must for others.

So we asked Illinois and Indiana licensed CPA Michael Tunney everything you need to know about deducting the cost of headshots and photography services, and man did we learn a lot! Check out his answers to our burning tax questions:

Is my headshot for LinkedIn tax deductible if I am searching for a new job?

Not anymore. In December of 2017, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was signed into law. This new tax law completely eliminated the Unreimbursed Employee Business Expenses deduction for 2018 through 2025. This deduction was included as part of the Miscellaneous Itemized Deductions section of the 1040, and job search related costs were recorded on this schedule. However, there are a handful of states that still include this break, including Arkansas, Pennsylvania, Minnesota and New York.

If my employer asks for a headshot but does not pay for it, can I deduct my headshot on my income tax return?

Just like the above scenario, no.  If a taxpayer is an employee the Unreimbursed Employee Business Expense section of the 1040 has been eliminated and is only included on certain states income tax returns.

Is a headshot or any marketing photos I have taken of me tax deductible if I am a self-employed freelancer and do not have an LLC or Corporation?

Yes! If a tax payer is self-employed and not an LLC, LLP, Partnership or Corporation, the individual would complete a Schedule C Form-Profit or Loss from Business (Sole Proprietorship).  On this form, the taxpayer would be able to include headshots (photographers fees and duplication costs) and marketing photos on the “Other Expenses” section of the Schedule C of the 1040 form.

Is a makeup artist or a haircut tax deductible for my headshot session?

Yes, if the taxpayer is self-employed and not an employee of a company.  Expenses directly related to the headshot session, such as makeup and a haircut are deductible as a business expense.  If clothing is purchased or rented for a special shoot, a tax payer can also deduct those “props” as a business expense.

I own a business– can my business deduct the cost of a photographer’s services?

Yes, if a tax payer is a partner of a partnership or a shareholder/owner of a corporation and the photographer’s services are used by the business for marketing purposes, headshots (photographer’s fees and duplication costs) can be deducted as a business expense.

Book your Chicago headshot session with Organic Headshots here, or reach out to Michael Tunney’s office for your tax questions!

Favorite shots of 2019

January 5, 2020 Published by . Leave your thoughts

Can we talk about how hard it was to choose only a handful of photos for our annual “favorite shots” collection of 2019?  Because it literally took hours to widdle it down from hundreds to just about 30.  HUNDREDS.

We met SO many awesome people and got so many awesome portrait and event shots of them looking awesome and doing awesome things.  Check out some of our favorite photos from last year as we polish our lenses and hit the ground running in 2020!

organic headshots, portrait, headshot, professional photography organic headshots, portrait, headshot, professional photographyorganic headshots, portrait, headshot, professional photography organic headshots, portrait, headshot, professional photographyorganic headshots, portrait, headshot, professional photography organic headshots, portrait, headshot, professional photography organic headshots, portrait, headshot, professional photography organic headshots, portrait, headshot, professional photography organic headshots, portrait, headshot, professional photography organic headshots, portrait, headshot, professional photography organic headshots, portrait, headshot, professional photography organic headshots, portrait, headshot, professional photography organic headshots, portrait, headshot, professional photography organic headshots, portrait, headshot, professional photography organic headshots, portrait, headshot, professional photography organic headshots, portrait, headshot, professional photography organic headshots, portrait, headshot, professional photography organic headshots, portrait, headshot, professional photography organic headshots, portrait, headshot, professional photography organic headshots, portrait, headshot, professional photography organic headshots, portrait, headshot, professional photography organic headshots, portrait, headshot, professional photography organic headshots, portrait, headshot, professional photography organic headshots, portrait, headshot, professional photography organic headshots, portrait, headshot, professional photography organic headshots, portrait, headshot, professional photography organic headshots, portrait, headshot, professional photography organic headshots, portrait, headshot, professional photography

If you’re ready to start 2020 with an awesome new headshot, check out our rates and book a session online!

Personal branding photography: SO hot right now

May 9, 2019 Published by . Leave your thoughts

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.

personal branding photography, personal branding photo, branding photography, lifestyle photo

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?

personal branding photography, personal branding photo, branding photography, lifestyle photo

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.

personal branding photography, personal branding photo, branding photography, lifestyle photo

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!