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.

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.

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.

 

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/

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!