Professional HeadShot

In Lake County, Ohio we have a lot of marketing/communications professionals. Many of them belong to a local organization know as Lake Communicators. Every year, the organization publishes a directory of members (yes, some folks still like hardcopy) and list them on the web site. To make it easy for members to have a professional headshot, one of the photography members will agree to create member headshots. As Tom Szabo is one of the few remaining photographers in the group, he returned this year to conduct the photo shoot.

Prior to the luncheon meeting, Tom comes in early to set up a portable studio. The studio consists of camera, tripod, main light with a 7 foot diameter umbrella, back light, back drop, stool and light stands. Each member needing a  new/updated head shot steps in front of the camera working with Tom to create a suitable image. Subjects do have the opportunity for a quick review of the image(s) and where requested, re-takes are provided.

Portraits can sometime make people a bit nervous. However, most members know Tom and He works with them to relax. The result is a headshot that appears confident and reflective of the persons personality.

Since the photography service is available before and after the luncheon meeting, there’s not a lot of time for casual conversation. However Tom finds a way to break the ice and ease members in front of the camera. These are professionals with busy schedules and not a lot of time. So most are sit down, a couple of quick words, pose direction, shoot and go on to the next person. That means all set up and lighting checks must be completed and finalized before members arrive.

Below is a gallery of this years work. For those of you photographed this year tom-szabo.com wishes to thank you for your time and hope you are pleased with the results.

Fashion Mags – Photo Lighting Tips

Fashion Magazines – Photography Tips

Fashion magazines – OK, I admit to looking at them. No, No, really, I’m not that way. The fashion industry spends A LOT of money on photographers to advertise their products. So it stands to reason that they would be hiring the best fashion photographers, they can get. So why not look at their work for hints, tips and how to’s?

Next your going to ask me what should you look for. I’ll offer two things to look at: Poses and Lighting. Poses should be pretty straight forward. No you don’t have to expect your subjects to be professional models. But when you tell your child to hold for a picture, suggest body positioning or hand placement that you’ve observed in a magazine.

As far as lighting goes, start with reading catch lights. These are the white dots that appear in the subject’s eyes. If you look close enough you may be able to count the number of dots in a single eye. This will tell you how many light sources the photographer used. Upon further review you might be able to tell if they are round or square, further suggesting square reflectors, rectangular or square soft boxes or round for umbrellas.

In addition to the catch lights, look for highlights positioned against shadows. This will help you identify the main light position relative to the subject.

To help you get started, look at the images used in the article at this link. Tell me what you think or feel free to ask me your questions.

Girl poses in doorway.

Can you determine the light source and direction for this portrait?

7 Tips To Look More Professional!

Using LinkedIn as an example, look at the profile pictures that people use? In addition, have you noticed how many people don’t have a profile photo?

Let me offer some suggestions as to how your professional head shot should or should not look:

  1. Lighting – Look at your photo to insure the lighting is even and flattering. Stay away from bright backgrounds when you are in shadow. When taking your picture in the office, use fill flash. This will keep the big black covers off your eyes. Oh yeah, take off the sunglasses. If you have dark hair, don’t stand in front of a dark or black wall. Your hair will practically disappear from your head.
  2. Exposure – Many sites may darken your photo. So if your photo is already too dark, you may disappear from view. Check that your photo has enough brightness.
  3. Location – Find a location that compliments you and makes you the appear as the subject. Stay away from photos taken at parties or your night out with the gang. In case no one told you, your car is absolutely the last place to take your professional head shot as a “selfie”. In addition, forget the “duck-lip” look.
  4. Color Balance – If you want to look professional, use the proper white balance setting on your cell phone camera. This is why your picture looks overly red or blue. Pay attention to the ambient light. If there is a lot of a single color in the lighting (a lot of red lights from the neon Budweiser sign at the bar), go to another location.
  5. Crop – There are way too many profile photos where the subject was cropped from a group photo. That hand on your shoulder from the person standing next to you is a dead give away. Crop the photo to include your head and shoulders. Don’t crop off the top of your head an ear or your chin. Stay away from cropping too little. You become almost unrecognizable when dropped from the waist to above your head.
  6. Aspect Ratio – Make sure you maintain the correct aspect ration on your photo. That will prevent the photo from being squashed making you look like a “pin-head”. Make sure the file is sized so the image does not shrink after you upload it. When this happens, you may almost disappear on some screens.
  7. Photo/No Photo? – Use a photo as opposed to the grey silhouette icon.  Most professionals will delete connection requests from unknowns with no photo.

To truly be viewed of as a professional in your industry have a professionally created head shot done. How can you be viewed as valuable if you won’t invest in yourself? If you have any questions or want to learn more about your professional head shot, please feel free to contact me.

Social Media Profile Picture

After adding a contact on a professional social media platform, I was presented with a list of suggested contacts. I was amazed at how many connection suggestions had no or a poor profile photo.  How can I confirm our connection if I can’t see who you are?

If you are going to add a profile photo to a site for professionals, please use these suggestions:

Use a neutral background. That means DON”T hang a sheet behind you!

Watch the angle of the flash. You don’t want a sliver of shadow to outline you.

If you’re taking the picture in your office, turn on the flash. You don’t want black eyes.

Use a professional pose. Don’t pose like you’re doing a porn shoot.

Forget the “selfie”. Have someone take the picture.

Resize the image to upload so it fills the space allowed.

Of course, if you want to look real professional, schedule a sitting with a professional photographer. Your personal brand will be greatly enhanced. I hope this helps.

Planning Photography For A Youtube Video

Youtube is fast becoming the “Go-To” resource for entertaining, instructional and promotional videos the world over.  Businesses have begun to use Youtube as a promotional tool.  These videos often are produced by individuals using some basic video recording equipment or professional video studios.

Your Youtube channel can contain a vast array of videos to support your company’s marketing efforts. Videos have been used to promote sales, provide instructions, and build your brand. These can range from short one to five minute videos or longer ten to 20 minute videos. Your Youtube channel or individual videos can be linked to your company web site, blog or social media sites.

Here are some planning considerations for your Youtube videos:

  1.  Consider the goal for your video, Promotional, entertainment or instructional.
  2. Write your script.  This will give you a chance to choose the important words for maximum impact  Also consider your audience.  Use words they’ll understand.  Don’t use acronyms or industry specific terminology, unless they are acceptable in your audience.
  3. Rehearse your script.  This rehearsal will help you with edits, timing, facial expressions and vocal expressions.  Rehearse your script to the point of memorizing it.
  4. Once your script is complete, consider putting up keywords or phrases on large sheets of paper similar to a flip chart.  These large keyword sheets can be hung adjacent to the camera to help keep your presentation on target.
  5. Make sure the location has adequate lighting. Background noises should be eliminated or minimized, unless they contribute to the overall intent of the video.
  6. Once filming begins, rely on your rehearsal.  Concentrate on your voice, expressions, inflections, hand gestures and the use of props.  Don’t worry, that’s why there are retakes.
  7. Review the takes and determine what technique adjustments are necessary.
  8. Consider the use of title slides for introduction, contact information and production statements.
  9. Rely on good editing skills.  Whether they are yours or a skilled editor for best results.
  10. Treat your video files like any other data file.  Store your digital files accordingly and make sure adequate back ups are made.

I used the steps outlined above to create a short introductory video for my photography studio, A Thomas Image.  You are welcome to check it out.

Taking these steps should allow you to create a successful video for your business.  They apply whether you film the video yourself or use a professional videographer.  Good luck with your video projects.

 

 

 

 

 

Photographer Helps Lake County Marketing Professional Group

Small businesses are often looking for ways to stay in the mind of their customers.  In many cases, it’s almost a full time job.  Here in northeast Ohio we are fortunate to have some of the best marketing and communication experts to help.  Many of these professionals belong to a group called Lake Communicators.  For a recent Lake Communicators brochure we were aske for comments to describe Lake Communicators.  My comment was:  “Lake Communicators has more talent than you can shake a brochure at.”  I truly believe that statement.

Recently Lake Communicators sponsored is second annual “Marketing For Mar-Coms” workshop.  The event included representatives from three local businesses to talk about their marketing success stories.  Hear what a couple of attendees had to say.  You can hear their testimonials by checking the following links.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E2PUdYQkwN8&feature=c4-overview&list=UURYVuzQMyYWnNibmgeokeYQ

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aDwnhmFWdS4&feature=c4-overview&list=UURYVuzQMyYWnNibmgeokeYQ

 

For more information about Lake Communicators check out their web site: http://www.lakecommunicators.com/. 

No Shadow Product Photography

No Shadow Product Photography!

I use Google Alerts to send me web notices about photography topics.  One day a listing about shooting whites without shadows caught my attention.  I clicked on the link which took me to a Youtube video by Alex Koloskov.  Alex is a photographer based in Atlanta and creates some gorgeous photography.  You can learn more at: http://www.koloskov.com/.

After watching the video, it was obvious just how simple and effective Alex’s technique is. The beauty is in the simplicity.  At some point I knew I wanted to try his technique.  A client contacted me with an assignment that was perfect for Alex’s method.  I already had a 30 by 60 inch sheet of plastic to use, so it was off to the local hardware store (where they’ve known me on a first name basis for years!) to build a table. 

As most everyone who does home projects knows, often, there is a second and better design.  So I came up with a plastic PVC pipe table design.  Not fully seeing the approximate size of the plastic sheet used by Alex, mine was too large to allow heat forming over the kitchen stove.  It now sits in the corner of the studio with ripples and a burn spot!

That meant another trip to the local home center for another sheet of clear plastic.  That also meant the table needed to be modified.  So, off to the local hardware store again for more supplies. So design number 2 is shown in the photos attached. 

The PVC tubing table has glued joints.  By not gluing all the joints, the table can be broken down for easy storage when not in use.  Using clamps allows me to change the clear plastic sheet positioning to suit my needs.

In some of my first product shots using the table I noticed the frame reflecting on some of the product surfaces.  A coat of black paint on the frame fixed that issue.  So The photos included show the table and clamping system and a quick shot of a plastic hairspray bottle to show how the shadows are GONE!  Alex, a trip of the shutter to you for inspiring me!  Thanks.

Glued joint on ight table.

Simple glued join construction.

Swivel support

Swivel support for table top.

Large radius in table top.

C-Clamps retain plastic sheet to form a large radius.

Product photography light table

Clear plastic table top on a PVC tubing frame.

No shadows now.

Viola! – No shadows and a pure white background.

New Portrait Photography Backdrop Becomes Name Badge

In an earlier post I talked about my new brick wall backdrop.  At a resent event, my good friend Donald Wayne McLeod pointed out my name badge was missing.  I actually forgot to bring it.  So Donald Wayne suggested putting a spare in my car just for such an occasion – He was right!  At the same time I was not excited about the name badge I had created and wanted something a bit more creative.

 Well my new brick wall backdrop get me thinking.  So I set up the camera on the tripod, got out the camera remote and got started.  Below you’ll find the original image I shot and the version of it that is my new name badge.  Yes I did make two badges and one goes into the car as a spare.  Thanks DWM!

 

Photographer self portrait

Self portrait of photographer Tom Szabo on brick wall backdrop.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photographer self portrait turns to ID badge

Photographer Tom Szabo’s new name badge.

 

March 29, 2012 Businees-After-Hours at Quail Hollow Resort.

Quail Hollow Resort entertains Painesville Area Chamber of Commerce members in the Bronze Bear Lounge.

Click on thumbnail to view larger image.

The Executive Head Shot With A Twist

Over the years, I developed a professional relationship with business owner Kordell Norton.  That relationship has turned into a great personal relationship.  I’m pleased to call him my friend.  Kordell is a recognized sales, marketing, and motivational speaker. He is known as an “out-of-the-box thinker”.

 

Typical executive head shot

Kordell Norton - sales, marketing speaker and out of the box thinker.

As a motivational speaker, Kordell uses a lot of props and storytelling to support his presentations.  This has become part of his brand.  If you view his website, you won’t notice stock images.  He relies on promoting his business by promoting himself.  He is the product.

Executive head shot with dry marker props.

Head shot of speaker with dry markers as props.

For the next version of his website, Kordell wanted to update his photo portfolio.  So he called me to schedule another sitting.  As we talked, he described the type of shots he wanted.  It became apparent that he put a lot of thought into his list.  I could see how he was continuing to build his brand.

 

Relaxed pose for an executive head shot

Kordell a bit more relaxed.

One of his clients described him as watching popcorn pop without the lid.  That’s a pretty good visual – wouldn’t you agree?  So Kordell decided to incorporate “popcorn” into his brand.  It sounds like one of the popcorn images will make it on his business card.

 

Kordell - like watching pocorn popping without the lid.

Kordell - like watching pocorn popping without the lid.

So if you’re like many of us small business owners, you realize that you are the product.  Give some thought about to how you market yourself.  How are you building your brand?  Does your photo portfolio support your brand?  Maybe my friend Kordell can give you some inspiration. Check him out at:

http://kordellnorton.com/significant/

Photographer, A Member Of Award Winning Creative Team

Photographer Apex Award

Lake Communicators 2011 Apex Gold Award

My good friend and client Erica Kosinski had a vision for a combined educational and marketing periodical for a local supplier of architectural
granite.  Realizing that “stock” photography would not convey an accurate view of the business.   Some images used were obtained from the client’s partner businesses.  A gap was present in the images needed to convey the entire message.  Erica decided to contract with my studio to fill in the photographic gap that exhisted.

 

Photographing granite certainly doesn’t rank up there with photographing
supermodels on a Caribbean beach, but it does pose some real challenges.  Architectural granite has brightly polished surfaces.  So every little environmental feature represents a potential reflective flaw in each exposure.  That required very tedious attention to every detail of every shot.  Thank God for
digital photography and the ability to see immediate results in the camera display.  Imagine trying to shoot this assignment on film, waiting for proofs only to find an unwanted reflection!

 

This assignment also required showing the diverse inventory and expansive warehouse.  Fortunately, like most warehouses a forklift truck and experiences operator were available.  This allowed photographing up in the air to strategically pose staff members in the warehouse.  These images were able to show the expanse of the inventory and warehouse. In addition, I could show customers making their selection and the role of the customer service representatives in the sales process.

 

Erica decided to enter the final magazine product for competition in the Lake Communicators annual “Apex Awards”.  The result was the project won an Apex – Gold in the Marketing Business To Business category at the November 9, 2011 Awards Ceremony.  Others contributing to the award are:  Villa Beach Communications, Erica Kosinski and Mike Setta Creative Directors, Doug Karn Art Director, Tom Szabo Photographer, Erica Kosinski Copywriter, Debbie Graehling-Tomsic of Graphic Repros the printer.

 

Congratulations to Erica and everyone who participated.  It was a pleasure to be part of a great creative team helping to make this Apex Award possible.  The assignment was pure enjoyment and let’s face it, recognition like this is a very humbling experience.  My thanks to everyone!

Portrait Of A Graphic Artist/Illustrator

Let me introduce you to John.  He is a graphic designer and
illustrator.  We both belong to the same
business growth network.  As we were
discussing some new marketing materials for John’s studio, I suggested he
consider a new headshot.

After a review of his marketing materials and a preliminary
discussion, I had a better sense of John’s needs.  When he arrived at the studio, John’s wife
came along.  It was great to have her
join us.  A lot of time guys need our wife
there to tell us the shot looks good or — not!

I wanted to create a look for John that fit his personality
and his craft.  I hope I accomplished
that goal.

John the illustrator.

John the illustrator #1.

John the illustrator.

John the illustrator #2.

John the illustrator.

John the illustrator #3.

Jennifer’s Portrait Session

Jennifer is a marketing and sales professional with a local
corporation.  She wanted to expand her
portfolio and came to the studio for a sitting.

We worked with several different outfits and tried several
different poses.  Here are a couple of
the images we shot.  I wish Jennifer the best of luck in her pursuits and hope she is successful.

Jennifer

Jennifer #2

Jennifer #4

Jennifer #3

Speakers And Presenters: Let The Photographer Be Your Friend

Guest speakers and meeting organizers usually present for civic or professional organizations. The organization may have a professional photographer or a member on hand to photograph the event.  After all, they may wish to publish photographs for marketing purposes on the organization’s web site, blog or newsletter.  

When the audience listens to you speak, they see facial expressions, hear your voice, and watch your mouth as you make your presentation.

A Thomas Image - Photography
Figure 1

Everything the audience sees and hears combine and flow smoothly making the speaker sound normal.

However, the camera freezes a single instant in time.  The camera doesn’t listen or see as we do.  The camera catches the facial expression, the shape of your mouth and your lips just as you speak in a single instant (See figure 1).  Trust me these expressions can be hilarious.  

So do the organization, the photographer and yourself a favor.  Think about working with the photographer!  

He/she should be easy to spot – they’re the one with a camera getting paid to shoot the event… although there may be multiple photographers present.

As if there wasn’t enough pressure on you in front of a crowd, now you’re saying – “A photographer?”  

Don’t worry; here are a few tips to help create good images that make you look like the entertaining, confident and expert speaker that you are! 

Do’s and Don’ts of working with a photographer

DO look your best

Regarding hair and clothing; most speakers will make sure everything is fixed, tucked, zipped, the tie is straight and the hair is combed.  The camera will catch everything little thing.

DO pose a bit

As you move about the room or podium and see the photographer, go ahead and pose. We’re not talking about posing for a portrait, but a quick stop or pause, look at the photographer and smile (See figure 2).  

A Thomas Image - Photography 2

Figure 2

In the beginning it may seem long and drawn out, but over time it will become second nature. A careful intentional pose will help the photographer and he/she will notice your cues. Soon the photographer will pick up on your timing and these “poses” will become almost invisible to the audience and have a natural flow.

DO stand up straight

All speakers or emcees should have good posture, so remember to stand up straight. If you’re the type to work the podium or use certain movements or body positions, don’t worry.  It’ll all look great when photographed.  The action will stand out.

DO consider your props and flip charts

Consider your props and “flip-charts”.  Colorful and bold lettering and graphics photograph well and help tell the story.  Besides they’re easier for your audience to read. Also consider your position relative to these items and the photographer.  Pause when holding the maker or pointer, rest it right on the chart, and then give a glancing look at the photographer.

And here are a few don’ts…

DON’T worry too much about movements or expressions

While it’s true that animated speakers or those that use gestures photograph well and are more likely to look calm and professional when photographed, you can easily mimic a few of these gestures when you intentionally pose for the photographer.  And if you’re not the most animated speaker, try becoming one.

DON’T hide the awards

If you’re handing out an award, turn yourself and the recipient in the direction of the photographer and smile for the camera.  Don’t forget about the award; hold it in front of you (right side up is helpful) so it’s visible to the camera. If the award is bright white or behind glass, tip it forward and downward to minimize glare.

DON’T neglect the handshake

Hold onto to the other person’s hand, stop the handshake so the photographer can catch that moment and again, look at the photographer. This makes for a great shot. You can even prompt the other person by pointing to the photographer or go so far as to quietly tell the other person to look at the camera.  Don’t worry; chances are the audience won’t hear you direct the other person.  And if they do – so what?

DON’T be quick to run off

A good photographer will want to take multiple exposures of the moment.  You’ll be given “nod” or quick wave when the photographer is finished. 

A guest speaker is special at an event or a meeting.  Take the time to work with the photographer.  It lets the audience know they’re attending something special.  Why shouldn’t you appear special to them?  Attendees will also feel the event or meeting was a wise use of their time when they see it being photographed. 

All you have to do is pause, look at the camera and smile.  You’re happy to be talking about your favorite topic – right?  Let it show and smile. The images will speak for themselves.  Keep these simple suggestions in mind and you’ll look like the pro that you are!

Professional Head Shot – Just VAIN?

Why do people use head shots?  After all we’re not all actors.  Isn’t it just a case of thinking too much about one’s self?

Today employers are using social media in their recruiting process.  Many professional people are using social media to promote themselves professionally and grow their personal “brand”.  How should you be perceived by other professionals?  I know, I ask a lot of questions don’t I.  But think about all these questions.

As a business professional you want to have a professional brand.  That means:

  1. Be easily recognized at a first client meeting.
  2. Including a head shot to promote a presentation.
  3. Allow prospects to feel comfortable working with you.
  4. Showing the market you are confident about yourself.

 Here’s a recent head shot for a long time friend of mine.  Thanks Carol!

Coffee Table Photography

Here it is!  Whether you want to show off your portraits, high school senior, wedding or showcase your business to customers, a Coffee Table Photography Book is the way to do just that!  The book is 10X10 with 20 panels of color or black and white images.   Page design may include a single image or a cluster of images.  The design options are limitless.

Contact A Thomas Image for details and costs.  Gift certificates are available for the gift that won’t be duplicated!

www.athomasimage.com

Underwater Photographer Image On Diving Unlimited International Web Site

A recent underwater image of mine was published on the Diving Unlimited International Web Site.  Diving Unlimited International is the worlds leading manufacturer of dry suits.  You can see the image at:

http://www.dui-online.com/dog.html

Avery good dive buddy of mine Randy Scott had the idea for the shot.  I worked with him and Tim Dunn another diver to complete the image.  Thanks guys for a job well done!

Business Cards – Photo or No Photo

When do you listen to the so-called experts? I’ve attended seminars where marketing Guru’s tell the audience just what to do and what not to do. At one such event, the Guru told the audience not to put your photo on your business card. As a photographer can you picture my head snap around when I heard that statement? Now is that a rule or a guideline? Rules are one thing, but a guideline is just that – a guideline. Actually, photographers believe rules are made to be broken! I know, I know – what a rebel!

Let’s consider this scenario – you are calling on the owner of a large plumbing distributor, how would you dress? Walk in wearing a $1500 designer suit with spit-polished shoes, the plumber’s impression – What do you know about plumbing or manual labor? Wear a pair of casual slacks and a polo shirt, he might think; you actually understand working for a living! That’s an impression that might get you more attention and respect. Ask yourself – What’s appropriate?

How you communicate with your market may not fit a specific rule. Although this rule might apply – “don’t blurt out something that angers your prospect”. You have to tailor your message to suit your intended audience, just like the clothing the salesman wore in the example above.

Ok, back to photos on business cards. I look at this much the same way. As a photographer, I think it’s quite appropriate when prospects see my photo on my business card. Real estate agents are notorious for putting their photo on all their marketing materials. Look at how agents are compensated – they work on commission. No sale – no pay! If a marketing tool doesn’t make them money, you can bet it gets thrown out.

For some businesses, the owner or representative is the product being sold. We are selling our skills. In a case like that, I believe it’s perfectly acceptable to have your photo on the card. Imagine you get a phone call from a customer referral. Your customer gave the prospect your business card. Your prospect agrees to meet you at the local coffee shop for the first time. What if your competitor walked in 5 minutes ahead of you and your prospect mistakes him for you? Wow, that’s bad for business. Your photo on the business card may be just the ticket to getting picked out of the crowd.

Another one of my favorites, does “stock” photography really represent your company? When your prospect walks into your office and it looks nothing like the “stock photograph” used in your brochure, what’s the impression?

So ask yourself: What’s your message to your marketplace? What will you use to communicate that message? And remember that word “appropriate”. Do what’s “appropriate” for your marketplace, prospect or customer. Does your message require text, graphics, photos or all three? That’s what should be on your business card, literature, web site, blog, letterhead or any marketing material you use for your business.

After all, your customer pays the invoice, which ultimately pays your salary! It’s simple, No sale, No invoice, No paycheck. They’re opinion is the one that counts. Not necessarily what the Guru says!

You can learn more about A Thomas Image by viewing the studio web site.

Next time let’s talk about photos on Social Networking sites!

 

Q: Why a professional photographer?

A: A trained eye!  I know, you know someone with a very expensive digital camera and a big lens. So why should you hire a professional photographer?  As I said it earlier, “A Trained Eye”.  Professional photographers –

 

  • Have studied their art
  • Understand light
  • Understand creative composition
  • Are creative
  • Invest in tons of equipment and more importantly know how to use that equipment!
  • Are business people. As a result they select suppliers they know will provide performance and quality.
  • Understand how to satisfy customers
  • Offer products and services that are unique and exciting

Sure your friend, relative, or neighbor will work for almost nothing. You think you will save a lot of money.  So, You trust your family’s portrait or your wedding day to a person with the expensive camera and big lens. What happens when the results are less than you expected?  After all, they sure had a big camera!

That’s why your friend, relative, or neighbor can’t compete with a professional photographer. Be an educated consumer – you’ll save money!