Organic Headshots

Now and then we get asked why our studio is called “Organic Headshots,” because it’s kind of a strange name for a photo studio. So if you’ve ever wondered about it and were too shy to ask, here’s the story:

in 2005 an actor friend of mine needed emergency headshots to audition for Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding. If you’re not from around here or were too busy wasting time on Friendster to pay much attention to off-off-Broadway revues between 1992 and 2005, the show was a super popular interactive theatre production where you go to a wedding, eat dinner and cake, and watch a melodrama play out between Tony, Tina, and their wacky wedding party. It was like Blue Man Group since everyone who lived within 30 miles had been to see it at least once. And then the similarities to Blue Man Group end.

Anyway… I had built a darkroom in the basement of my apartment building, so to take her headshots for her I loaded my camera with a spool of 35mm film, took 36 exposures, developed the film, and printed her headshot on 8×10 glossy photo paper, and it was done and ready by the end of the day. Here it is:

She wrote her name with a big black Sharpie at the bottom of the page, took it to the audition that evening, and played the lead role of Tina for about a year. Then the local off-off-Broadway acting community started calling me to update their headshots for auditions. We joked that my little photo operation should be called “Organic Headshots” because they’re “grown” from scratch in my damp, musty basement darkroom like homegrown mushrooms. The name stuck. The domain was available, so a website was born.

Now you know how the name was born. So why are there more paragraphs under this sentence? Because I’m now going to explain what the name means now.

The studio name stuck because it also reflects the process of how we take portraits of everyone. We coach everyone into different poses and smiles so that the photos look natural and sincere. Most of our clients are using the headshots and portraits we take of them as personal branding: LinkedIn profile photos, social media posts, press releases, website bio pages, author photos, etc. They need photos taken by a seasoned professional for that look of legitimacy and help with posing, but the final photo should look effortless.

Headshots are now editorial portraits because of content creators across social media and marketing pacesetters upping the ante with more and more creative portraits. It used to be considered a little conceited to have a headshot that looks like it was taken for the cover of Forbes Magazine, but now it’s the norm. In order to be taken seriously you need not just a professional photo of yourself to use in your personal branding, but something that stands out as a great portrait amid a sea of boring profile photos.

Our studio embraces feeling organic and looking real no matter the photo trend today. We believe everyone should look and feel like themselves in their photo, regardless of the lighting, background, or posing. Your expression and pose should look natural, and all the elements around you in the photo should demonstrate what you want people to learn about you in that few seconds they’re “meeting” you through your photo. That’s what “Organic” means to us.

Also now that it’s all digital, there aren’t any darkroom chemicals involved. So it’s “Organic.” (Sometimes it helps to tell a dad joke to get a natural smile during a photo session.)

Leave a Reply