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 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.
Can you determine the light source and direction for this portrait?
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
If you own a business, I’m sure at some point you’ve been asked to work for FREE. In this case the article is directed at photographers. But I’ll bet if you replace “photographer” with your profession, the scenario will sound familiar. Check out the article and give me your thoughts!
In 2013, my wife Diane and I traveled to Rapid City, SD for vacation. We visited Mount Rushmore, the Crazy Horse Monument and all the cool towns in South Dakota. While staying in Rapid City’s historic district, we came upon an alley with graffiti all over the place. Turns out the city has designated a two block long alley as an artist’s zone. Local artists are welcomed to create their art on the backs of buildings that line this two block long alley. You could spend hours examining all this great artwork. It’s so welcoming and intriguing. All throughout the day people would walk the alley enjoying the display. Let me know your thoughts.
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.
You read in my earlier post about Brandon McClain, who was asking for help with his market research. Brandon has been hard at work launching his business. To learn more about Brandon and B-Kind Cards, check out this You Tube video we did:
Photographer Tom Szabo recently dug up Gold at the Lake Communicators APEX Awards on April 9, 2014. A commercial photography assignment for a wood framed sunglass manufacturer was submitted to Lake Communicators for it’s annual APEX Awards. The assignment was given a “Gold Award” in the Individual Category for Photography.
Lake Communicators is a Lake County based organization for marketing communications professionals. The awards highlight the work of local creative professionals. The ceremony was held at the Mooreland Mansion on the campus of Lakeland Community College in Kirtland, Ohio.
“Now I understand how actors feel at the Academy Awards”, Mr Szabo commented. “It’s great when your peers recognize your work as worth an award” he said.
Tom Szabo is the owner of A Thomas Image an aerial, commercial, portrait, wedding and underwater photography studio. Located in Concord Township, A Thomas Image has been serving clients since 1999. Now Tom returns to the task of digging up his next assignment. More prospecting in hopes of striking Gold!
Wooden sunglasses photography assignment that won APEX Gold.
Tom Szabo, Photographer, show off his APEX Gold Award.
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.