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Company Picture Day Doesn’t Have to Suck

March 26, 2018 Published by . Leave your thoughts

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.

Today, I want to take it one step further and discuss how to get your staff excited for picture and tips for making the day… well, less like a root canal.

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.

Wardrobe Advice

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.

Let Them Choose Timeslots

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.

FREE Food

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!

Professional Help

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.

Strike a Pose

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!

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!

Swipe Right – How to nail the online dating profile photo

February 12, 2018 Published by . Leave your thoughts

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!

I hope these tips have eased some of your nerves about building your online dating profile. Wishing you all a happy Valentine’s Day!

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.

Favorite shots of 2017!

January 23, 2018 Published by . 1 Comment

Now that 2018 is underway and we’ve all returned from our holiday-cookie-induced-end-of-year comas, we figured we would look through the files at our 2017 memories and choose our favorite shots of the year.  After some intensive file sorting we grabbed our favorite photos and BOOM! over 100 photos made our list.  It was a good year.

But we figured that would be an awful lot of photos to post, so we did our best to narrow it down to 25.  And here they are: 25 of our favorite photos of 2017.  Thanks for a great 2017, and we’re looking forward to an awesome 2018!

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If you’re ready for your closeup, book your headshot online today!

Happy Holidays!

December 3, 2017 Published by . Leave your thoughts

2017, our 12th year in business, has been an absolute blast: thank you to all of our awesome clients for choosing us, trusting us, and supporting us as we grow. We’ve met and photographed hundreds of people this year alone, and have enjoyed every minute behind our cameras. Thank you, again, and we’re looking forward to a successful 2018!

Happy Holidays from everyone at Organic Headshots!

Organic Headshots, group photo