Tag Archive: chicago photographer

My small business hero is my mechanic

April 28, 2015 Published by . Leave your thoughts

rod-60I drive all the way from Logan Square to Forest Park every 3 months for my oil changes because I freaking love my mechanic. Rod at Elite Tire was referred to me by an old friend of mine several years ago after I had this conversation with the Honda dealership I was taking my car to before:

Dealership:  “You need to have your oil pan replaced.  The threads on the cap are all worn and the cap could fall off at any moment and your engine will explode.”

Me:  “Umm… how on earth did the threads get worn?’

Dealership:  “It usually happens when the morons who change your oil tighten the cap too hard.”

Me:  “But I only come here for oil changes.  Wouldn’t that make you guys the morons?”

Dealership:  “I don’t see the connection.”

My friend insisted I go to Rod instead because he recommended she get a new car when her old beater-mobile was giving her some trouble.  He said she’d be better off selling the car while it would still get Blue Book value and getting a newer, more reliable car.  She was impressed that instead of bleeding money out of her by insisting on costly repairs to an old car (as the unfortunate mechanic stereotype goes), he gave her honestly good advice about her car- advice that makes his bills and income lower than if she kept her old car.

Portrait chicagoFor my first oil change I sat in the waiting area and watched Rod have the absolute most patient conversation with a customer I have ever witnessed in my entire life.  A little old lady with a bit of a nasty attitude was angry because she needed some parts replaced since they were worn down and corroded.  She threw her hands in the air and said, “I can’t see how they possibly need to be replaced!  I’ve had the car for 10 years and only drive it once a week and have never had anything go wrong with it.”  She was actually the quintessential “little old lady who only drives her car once a week to church and back and is terrified of being ripped off” right there in the flesh.  Rod brought out an example of what her car’s parts looked like, and a fresh sample, and proceeded to not just explain, but physically demonstrate exactly what was happening, why, and how.

He stayed with her and talked to her like an intelligent human being for a solid 20 minutes until she was confident and satisfied.  He never talked down to her or lost his cool.  He stood next to her instead of talking to her from behind a counter.  I sat there thinking THIS IS MY MECHANIC FOR LIFE NOW.

Every time I see Rod and his crew for my oil changes I’m visiting a model for how I want to run my own business.  The office is a well-oiled machine where every task gets the time and attention necessary to get things done right, and each customer who walks through the door is treated like a good friend.  Someone always answers the phone and is always at the desk to greet the next customer (99.9% of the time it’s Rod himself), and everything is done quickly as a priority but without it feeling like a frantic, high-stress environment. rod-31a-bThere’s no clutter in the workshop or the waiting area: everything is clean and under control at all times.  At my most recent trip one of the mechanics had some time between cars to service so he thoroughly cleaned an already spotless bathroom.

When I talk to a new client about their photography project I channel my mechanic and treat each client like they’re my only client while I talk to them.  We work together to figure out what their photo needs are and how I can take photos for them that are exactly what they need and that they can be proud of.  When they have questions, I have quick answers.  When my answers don’t suffice or there are follow-up questions, I keep with the conversation until there is mutual understanding and trust.  I’ve had hour-long phone conversations with clients who didn’t even book me and I don’t see it as wasted time.

Keep up the good work, Rod- you’re my small business hero.

PS- there may actually be a post-it note on my desk that says “how would Rod handle this situation?”

Favorite photos of 2014

December 31, 2014 Published by . Leave your thoughts

It’s December 31st again, and you know what that means- time for my favorite photos of the year!  I skimmed through my hard drives and picked out a handful of the shots that jumped out at me in 2014, and here they are in no particular order.  I’m looking forward to 2015 and thousands of more awesome shots!

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A taste of old Hollywood

August 2, 2014 Published by . Leave your thoughts

I love headshots.  And I take a heck of a lot of them throughout the week.  So last weekend was a fun break from headshots to stretch my creative legs and put together a stylized photo shoot… I feel like I shouldn’t use the work “break” since it was actually a lot of work to get together the talent, costumes, set pieces, etc.  But whatever.  It’s just semantics.  It was a lot of fun.

Some of my favorite photos ON THE PLANET are headshots and character shots of Hollywood’s leading ladies from the 1930’s and 1940’s.  So of course I wanted to recreate the look of those classic old photos.  And I think I was able to pull it off.

I want to send a special thanks to the following fellow creative individuals who made this shoot happen!

Makeup:  Megg Clement
Hair:  Dottie Salamone
Talent:
Lena Andersen
Sarra Jahedi
Amber Gibson
Noelle Lynn

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Does your LinkedIn photo say the right thing about you?

July 31, 2014 Published by . Leave your thoughts

Jeanne Kalinowski dropped by for headshots early this month and mentioned a website called Photofeeler.com, where you can have other people rate the profile photos you plan to use for LinkedIn or other places.  It works as a tool to choose a photo: other people who have never met you or seen either you or your photo before rate your photo on how competent, likable, and influential you appear to be.LinkedIn headshots

WHY HAVE I NOT HEARD OF THIS WEBSITE BEFORE?  THIS IS AWESOME.

“We created PhotoFeeler so that a misleading or unflattering photo never comes between good people and opportunity,” as their website says.  The site goes on to describe the importance of a first impression and how people make their decisions and draw conclusions about you instantaneously, based on the first photo they see of you on social media.

THIS IS WHAT I’VE BEEN SAYING FOR YEARS!  Sorry for shouting- I’m just so excited.  I take a lot of headshots for professionals who are in transition and searching for their new job or entrepreneurs searching for their own clients, and I tell them that more often than not, the first time someone “meets” them it’s online through their LinkedIn

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profile, Facebook photos, bio page of your website, Google+ profile, or even a Google search.  So the first time they see you they’re actually seeing your photo.  So it’s important to have a good headshot.  Duh.

You’ve heard it a million times that “you only have one chance to make a good first impression” and nowadays that first impression isn’t actually you, but a photo of you on the internet.  Our lives are so intertwined with working and communicating virtually (through email, online research, social media profiles), that psychologically we’re actually believing we’ve “met” someone when we read their bio and see their photo on their website.  It’s important to have a good headshot of you that does two things:  1. looks a hell of a lot like you (so when they meet you in person they know it’s you); and  2. gives people a good first impression of you.LinkedIn headshots

 

If you’ve got a crummy group photo on the beach that you cropped everything out but your sunburned face and using it as your LinkedIn profile, it’s going to give the first impression of, “I’m on the beach. This is me on the beach… if you can see my face through the sunglasses, that is.”  But if you have a professional headshot with perfect lighting, flattering poses, an approachable, confident smile, and polished attire, it gives the first impression of, “I’m put together, friendly, confident, know what I’m talking about, and am important enough to have a professional photo taken of me.

LinkedIn headshotsBut don’t just listen to me… the proof is in the PhotoFeeler pudding.  Check out the ratings Jeanne got on the snapshot she was using on LinkedIn before her Organic Headshots session, and then the professional headshots she walked away with earlier this month.  There’s no question which photos give complete strangers a better first impression.  Thanks Jeanne for sharing the results of your experiment!

What are you using your headshot for?

July 1, 2014 Published by . Leave your thoughts

Headshots, Chicago Headshots, Organic Headshots, website bio photoSometimes I get a strange look when I ask people I’m about to photograph what line of work they’re in and what they plan to use the headshot for.  I think they’re thinking, “what does it matter?  Just take my photo so I can get out of here and get a doughnut.”  At least that’s what I’m thinking when I have my photo taken…

But there is method to my madness, I promise.  It’s important for me to know what you plan to use the photo for, to help me choose the best backdrop, lighting, and posing.  A litigation attorney’s headshot should look much different from an addiction counselor’s headshot, for example.  Even for actors- if you’re auditioning for more comedies than dramas, a headshot with you smiling and laughing will go further in communicating that than a Steppenwolf-style brooding photo.

yellow1Yesterday I took Amanda’s headshot and asked her where she plans to use the photo.  She mentioned it would be for a new website she’s designing for her law office, so I asked to see what it looks like so I can choose a backdrop color that will go with the color scheme of the website.  And I’m glad I did!  There is a lot of gray in the website and if I went with a standard gray backdrop for her photo, the grays might be different tones and clash with each other.  And it would be an awful lot of gray on one website.

So I grabbed some yellow and amber gels, put them on the backlight for a white backdrop, and VIOLA! A yellow/orange gradient that matches the yellow/orange gradient in the navigation bar of the website.  The result is an awesome headshot (she just happens to look great with warm tones), that looks like it was tailor-made for the website.