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?

This Portrait Video Will Make You Think About Lighting

Portrait Photography And Lighting.

Portrait photography requires that you always think about lighting. It doesn’t matter if you’re using a boat-load of studio equipment or a cell phone. I found this short video demonstrating 3 different set ups. These set ups will demonstrate how you can change the result using some minor tweaks of lighting.

Obviously you’ll notice how much equipment a professional photographer uses. That’s not the point. The point here is when taking a picture of another person or persons, you have to open your eyes and plan your shot accordingly. I hope you find the video helpful! Feel free to post your questions, comments or thoughts.

tom szabo, tom-szabo.com, portrait photographer for families, high school students and executives

Notice how your eye is drawn to the subject in this image?

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.

Portrait Photography Help Video

So how do begin to understand a photographer’s thought process? The best way is to spend time talking with a photographer. Most of us do not get the opportunity to speak with world renowned photographers. So here’s the next best thing, read an interview. Lauren Halligan of the Saratogian News, speaks with Sarah Pezdek-Smith about her work. See if you can pick up a helpful hint.

http://www.saratogian.com/general-news/20150401/five-questions-for-sarah-pezdek-smith

 

Photography And Copyrights – Who Cares?

Let’s start by saying as soon as you press the shutter, your image is protected under federal copyright laws. Many social media sites are changing their “terms-of-service” to minimize or eliminate your rights under the copyright laws. Do you wonder why photographers are so fussy about protecting their work. You may say, “but I’m not a professional, so no big deal”. Maybe that’s true, but do you want to give up your rights so quickly? Copyrights first, then what?

Find out more by attending this free 1-hour webinar

http://pages.photoshelter.com/Copyright-Zone-Guys_Copyright-Zone-Guys-Registration-Gate.html

People Photography – Your Eye Is Key

If you’re not looking at your subject and visualizing the resulting photograph, chances are you’re DOOMED! That’s right take a quick look at the surrounding elements and the subject then ask yourself: How will this look when finished? For People Photography, the first thing you should check is whether the face is in shadow or not. If the face is in shadow, then move to illuminate the subjects face. In addition, what background elements are there to add or distract to the surrounding environment. Want to improve your photography? Read, Practice; Read, Practice; Read, Practice; then repeat.

Check out this article to see what I mean.

Portrait Photography Projects

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.

Class Of 2015 Photography

Say Hello to Taylor.  She was recently in the the A Thomas Image studio for her graduation portrait.

I love photographing high school students.  They’re happy, eager to try different poses and in general are very easy to work with.  With an attitude like that it gets easy to obtain a pleasing portrait.

Portrait head and shoulders

Doesn’t Taylor look great?

Taylor seated

Nice portrait Taylor!

A Portrait – Just Because

It amazes me that people will schedule a visit to the dentist every 6 months or yearly but hesitate to have a portrait created.  I’ll guarantee sitting for a portrait is a lot more fun than going to the dentist!   Let’s call my subject “Jane”.  Jane decided to come into the studio for a portrait session, just because she wanted.  A side benefit was that she could offer her children a print – “Just Because”.  Jane enjoyed her sitting and was pleased with the results.  I hope you like the results also.  Give me your thoughts.

 

Portrait of women in color

Just For Fun!

Black & White portrait of a woman

Black & White conversion

 

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/

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

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!