When COVID-19 lockdowns started closing businesses and obliging everyone to shelter in place in their homes, we watched our studio’s appointment calendar almost completely clear out. And when the governor ordered “non-essential” businesses to shutter their doors, it stung a little, to be honest, since anyone’s paycheck can feel pretty darn essential once it disappears. It’s for a heckuva good reason, of course—and we’re happy to do our part in flattening the curve and stopping the virus from spreading by postponing photo shoots and implementing new systems to keep the studio and everyone who enters it safe.
We’re all in this same strange boat together: feeling anxious because of the pandemic, feeling concerned for our clients and their families and for the health of everyone around us, and feeling uneasy about what’s going to happen next. Without our cameras, we’ve all been coping mostly by catching up on photo editing (or re-editing old photos just for funsies), baking bread, snuggling our pets, cleaning some closets, and otherwise keeping busy in the same ways everyone else with cleared calendars has been occupying their time.
We’re also all enduring by flexing our creative muscles. One person at a time, we each went into the empty studio last week, put our cameras on timers, took some photos of ourselves, and used some post-production magic to be inserted into pictures of vintage cameras. The result is a series of images that reflect how we’re feeling while we’re missing our clients’ beautiful faces and the sounds of a camera shutter going KER-CHUNK. We’re feeling a bit like the forgotten old film cameras that have been collecting dust on our shelves. Lonely. Bored. Restless. Small. But coping well.
Portrait photography is inherently a very social business. We need to be around people in order photograph them, and being unable to do so is… well… making us sad. But whenever this is all over and we’re in the studio for back-to-back sessions again or traveling to our clients’ offices when buildings are filled with people again, we’ll feel back to our old selves. We’re looking forward to that day and to hearing all about our clients’ lockdown adventures in breadmaking. We’re sure a lot of people will be getting back to work in different ways then, and we might be helping some people through job changes by updating their LinkedIn profile photos, and photographing companies for their marketing materials as they boost new business to make up for what was lost.
It’s unusual for it to be so lonesome in the studio: a room that’s part workshop, part laboratory, and part oasis. A place where people come to collaborate to create images with common goals. Taking these photos alone in the still and quiet space was a somber act. But also faintly blissful. We’re ready to get KER-CHUNKING again when it’s time. Until then, we’ll be cleaning our lenses and trying not to pout. Too much.
Last week PepsiCo was in town for a series of annual sales meetings and marketing sessions with employees representing many of their different brands from across the country. What does this have to do with me? I took their photos. As part of the event a headshot station was offered, where people could have their headshot quickly taken and sent to them later. After 12 hours of nearly non-stop shutter-clicking, I had taken 207 people’s photos and pushed that shutter button 2,568 times.
When I was done I took one hell of a nap. But the result is spectacular: 207 matching headshots done at break-neck speed, and a new personal record for number of headshots taken in one day!
I get a lot of requests for matching staff photos and I usually head to a client’s office and take their headshots over the course of a few days, depending on the size of the firm. But occasionally a company has all of their members from different national offices in one place and needs their headshots taken all at once and as quickly as possible.
I’ve created a workflow that’s scalable for every situation which varies from 20-minutes per person and viewing their photos to choose one during the session itself (which clients love, since they don’t have to chase down dozens of people to choose their photos later), all the way to about 1.5 minutes per person, while still keeping track of who’s who and organizing their photos later into galleries or individually marked folders.
I had a great time at the PepsiCo event and met at least 207 amazing people. Sometimes I just absolutely LOVE my job. And I may or may not be calling Guinness to see if I happened to set an actual record…
A few months ago I wrote a quick post about putting your headshot on your resume. Today, it’s about putting your headshot on your business card. I’ve had my headshot on my business card for a of couple years now and have come to a simple conclusion about it: it’s awesome. Of course I’m going to say that- it naturally makes sense for a headshot photographer (who happens to sell headshots to other people) to put her headshot on her business card since it’s a quick little portfolio piece that can show someone my photo style and professionalism without having to whip out a huge portfolio book or try to pull up my website on a little smart phone screen. Especially in an age where everyone with a camera calls themselves a photographer, I can show my business card with that title but then flip it over to show a professional self-portrait that says, “no, really- see? I’m actually a card-carrying professional photographer who makes her living with the camera.”
But what about lawyers? Consultants? Students? Designers? Financial planners? Why on earth would they want to have their headshot on their business card? For the same reason why a LinkedIn profile has an image of you and why everyone recommends that image be a professional, approachable portrait. Because it’s great to put a face to the name.
In a nutshell, putting your headshot on your business card does many things:
It reminds someone who they talked to when they find your business card in their wallet later and think, “where did I meet this dude and what did we talk about?”
It’s great if you go to networking events, where people can go through a stack of 50 business cards of 50 different people they talked to and remember who you were because a photo of you is right there in front of them.
If someone gives someone else your business card and they’re seeing your business card before seeing you, it’s a great way for them to feel like they’ve met you before when they actually do see your face in person for the first time.
It controls the image of yourself that you put in front of people, which is especially valuable in an internet age when we tend to Google search new people we meet… and possibly uncover photos of them drunk at frat parties…
And my final reason why a headshot on a business card rocks is the simple reason that people I hand my card to say, “woah, that rocks!” There’s something cool and unique and personable about being able to see a photo of the person on their business card. It just gives a vibe of friendliness and approachability that simple letters and numbers do not.
Oh, and one more awesome reason… it’s cheap. It doesn’t cost any more than printing a business card without a photo.
Last week I wrote a quick post about working with photographers who are willing and able to adjust their equipment and techniques in order to successfully get the most flattering image of you possible. I was thinking about that this weekend when I was photographing an old friend of mine who stopped by for some new headshots, since he is about to start his own business. I asked him to humor me for a moment as I took his photo with 3 different lens lengths to see how each lens would change the shape of his face.
As you can see, the effect is subtle, but definitely visible. The 74mm lens seems to shrink his head and make it look narrower and pointier than it is. He has an oval-shaped face and this lens tightens the oval and rounds his jawline too much, until it almost disappears. The 200mm lens flattens his features and squares his jaw, but it also makes his forehead look smaller than it is and squares his jaw too much- it makes his face look square-shaped, when it doesn’t look like that in person. It also makes his ears seem like they stick out just a little more than they do in real life.
We looked at these photos together and decided the best lens length for him was the 105mm. It squared his jaw more than the 74mm, but not too much like the 200mm. And it also just looked most like what other people see when they look at him, and what he recognizes as the face he sees in the mirror every day.
And that’s the most important factor: does the photo look like you? It sounds so simple, but it’s the reason I call my business “Organic Headshots.” Headshots should be natural, or “organic” in a way- they should convey on paper (or on a digital screen) a flat image of the real you, so when people see the photo they think, “Hey, I know that guy. He’s awesome. Man, he looks so friendly and approachable. What a swell guy.”
I live and work in the Bloomingdale Arts Building- a building of live/work lofts for artists. I share walls with painters, video artists, poets, musicians and other people who are working artists in nearly every medium there is out there. It’s awesome. And last night several artists in the building put together an open studio event for the building’s ten year anniversary. Several artists opened their studios and invited other artists to show their work and we opened the building to the public for some walk-through art showing and schmoozing.
I’m not a gallery artist so I didn’t have anything to show. Instead, I opened my studio as a giant photobooth and took photos of anyone wanting their photo taken. And to up the ante, I invited make-up artist Jenn Rhoads and a model friend to jump in front of the camera and take some fun conceptual photos.
I’m just going through the photos now and still have lots to play with, but I wanted to share just a couple that grabbed my attention. One is my little welcome to Autumn- I picked up some leaves in gorgeous colors around my neighborhood and used them in this first beauty shot. Then between costume changes and passersby getting some group photos taken we took some action shots of her spinning around.
Also on hand was fellow resident and fellow photographer Randy Moe with a medium format Polaroid camera he was using to snap behind the scenes photos and other group snapshots of everyone.
A ridiculous amount of photos were taken. A ridiculous amount of art was seen. A ridiculous amount of fun was had!