The Best-Ever CNA Textbook Photo Shoot

The Best-Ever CNA Textbook Photo Shoot

I know nothing about nursing.  Wait, not true.  My exposure to the medical field is limited to what I’ve learned from Grey’s Anatomy and my experience having surgery to remove some pieces and parts that weren’t doing what they were supposed to be doing.  So, really, its a mixed bag of melodrama and what is probably most accurate: practical care.  I had a few overnights at the hospital and surprisingly, it was a very relaxing stay which may have been in part due to the morphine drip I was enjoying but for sure, it was the wonderful nursing staff that made sure I was comfortable, fully hydrated and they threw in the bonus of keeping me entertained when dropping in for a blood draw.  How fun!

 What I had imagined would be a few nights of impatiently waiting to get the hell out of there turned out to be a relatively decent mini-vacay from the world.  It’s really the nursing staff including CNA’s that can make or break patient care.  So, that much I knew when I was asked to jump on board as the photographer shooting a textbook written for high school and community college students about being a CNA.  

Chicago-based publisher Goodheart-Wilcox had been searching for stock-based images for the book and simply could not find the shots that accurately illustrated the techniques they needed to demonstrate and in some cases the available imagery was simply too generic for their purposes so they chose to take on quite the project and go with brand new photography. Not an easy task considering that we needed to shoot at a location that was or at least looked like a long-term care facility, required access to all of the equipment that CNA’s would use on a daily basis, would need to recruit and schedule the talent and of course, you’ve got to feed people.  Although this was their first time shooting custom photograph locally, GW pulled together the project like absolute pros as no detail was left to chance.  This kind of planning allows us to focus on doing what we do best and in turn the shoot turned out to be incredibly productive and an absolute pleasure to work on.

 

 

We covered everything possible.  How to make the bed.  How to turn a patient.  How to brush a patient’s teeth, wash their face, help them dress, the list goes on and on.  Of course, after a few days hanging out with people, you get pretty comfortable, ease up on the formalities and then the funnies start coming.  I love me a good out-take and my library is filled with many a classic moment.  For me, there’s nothing quite like knocking out hundreds of styled shots while giggling along the way.  

 

 

Many thanks to the team at Goodheart-Wilcox including Bob and Serg who brought me in on the project, Diane who managed the whole show and made it run smooth like butter, Mallory and Sue who know their miter corners like nobody’s business and my assistant Josh who handles all the other photo-related stuff which allows me to focus on taking pretty pictures.  

The Website Redesign Shot List | 4 Must Have Images

The Website Redesign Shot List | 4 Must Have Images

The day is here and it’s finally time to redesign your website.  Your website is critical for your business and it’s typically the first impression a potential client will have of you.  You’ve got your custom web developer, written out all of the content and now it’s time to consider the imagery.  Images can be a powerful type of content that will enhance the user’s experience on your website.   At the highest level, images help your visitors connect and feel comfortable on your site. Since 65% of the population describes themselves as visual learners, you have to plan for people who want to look at pictures instead of reading words when you tackle a website design project.  So, the photos you choose to run with on your site should be custom and representative of your brand.  

 

 

With that in mind, here’s the list of the 4 kinds of images you’ll need when launching or redesigning a website.

1. HERO IMAGES

Chicago-Commercial-Photographer

The hero image is the featured photo on the home page of the website that is placed front and center.  These are also typically placed on the top of each primary page of the website as a banner.   Since this is the first visual the potential customer has of your services, the photo should present the most important information and is often accompanied by text and a call to action.  

 

2. PRODUCT PHOTOS

Chicago-Commercial-Photographer

When your product is a tangible item such as a burger, bike or a backpack, what you make needs to be featured on your website constantly and consistently.  Consumers expect to know how a product looks from multiple angles before choosing to make their purchase.  If you’re selling a service, this can apply as well.  For instance, a contractor who specializes in tile work, could show before and after images of a backspace installation.  The more appealing the photo of your service or product is, the more likely someone is to work with you or put that product in their shopping cart.                                  

 

3. PORTRAITS

Chicago-Commercial-Photographer

Whether you business is a service or it’s a product that your company provides, it’s the people behind the scenes that make it all possible.  We all like to know who we’re working with and who we are buying from which is why it’s essential to include head shots of the key members of your team.  In recent studies, it’s been found that website users spend 10% more time viewing portrait photos than actually reading the biographies even though the biographies consume much more space.  

Keeping the head shots current on the About US and Contact Page current helps to put a face to the name and humanize your company because potential customers are just as interested in who you are as what you do.

 

4. SERVICES PHOTOS

Chicago-Commercial-Photographer

When the business you’re in is a service and you’re product is an intangible one, you’ll need to find creative ways to show off what you do.  If you’re a lawyer or realtor, for example, you’re product is you and your professional expertise so you’ll the photos to feature you working with your clients and your team.  If there’s a process involved, break it down, and feature that process in photos so potential clients can see behind the scenes of your services.

 

Studies show that we process visuals much faster than text and not only do we process images more quickly but we also retain much more information when it’s transferred to us visually.  The most important factor to consider when pulling together a photography shot list for a new or redesigned website is that users pay attention to information-carrying images.  So, the more professional and compelling your site’s photography is, the more business you’ll conduct over time.  

Corporate Lifestyle Photography | Integrity Payment Systems

Corporate Lifestyle Photography | Integrity Payment Systems

There is a lot of planning that goes in to a corporate lifestyle photography shoot.  When I received an inquiry from Integrity Payment Systems regarding a two-day location assignment just west of Chicago, the brainstorming began.

Claire, the Marketing Director was working closely with the design team to rollout a new website to replace the one that had been running as it heavily relied on stock photography and was becoming obsolete.  The plan was to design a more interactive and people-centric site that emphasized the role of the team behind the company, from the CEO to the customer service representatives.

By incorporating custom, corporate lifestyle photography, IPS would have the chance to show their clients not only who they are working with but how they work and the end result of their unique approach, thereby helping the company to stand out in an incredibly competitive market.

We would be concentrating on doing environmental portraits of the companies’ Principals in a variety of locations around the office as well as a few scenarios in the board room, customer service and fulfillment departments in order to paint a broad picture of the inner working of IPS.

A few things I have learned in doing assignments like this that requires us to move our lighting from one location to another is to always be prepared with external battery packs, remote controls for the lighting and always use at least two Assistants.  First, when we are working with a tight schedule, the last thing we need to be doing is hunting for power outlets or messing with extension cords.  A great remedy for this is the Paul C. Buff Vagabond Extreme which recycles the Einstein lights just as quickly as being connected to a wall outlet and they can last us through the day.  We always have 2 Extremes with us along with a Vagabond Mini to make sure the laptop has enough juice as shooting tethered to Lightroom drains the laptop battery incredibly quickly.

Chicago-Corporate-Photographers

Another gear game changer for me has been the Cybersync Commander.  Rather than directing my Assistants to adjust the lighting, I can do this all from the camera, controlling up to 16 lights and all of their functions with this powerful, little tool.  This has saved so much time especially when our lighting is positioned higher on the stands.  Rather than having to lower the stand and put it back into position, I can control that channel while behind the camera.

You might think this leaves the Assistants with so much less to do but there are so many moving parts on our corporate lifestyle shoot that the more hands you have, the better.  Typically, I have an Assistant driving the laptop, checking focus and framing while the Second Assistant monitors the lighting to make sure all is working as it should.  Just another bit of insurance.

Over the two days on location, we managed to complete shooting scenarios in more than 12 locations and pulled off close to 20 individual, environmental portraits.  Not bad for two days of work and most importantly, our client was really pleased.

Retouching for Corporate Headshots and Environmental Portraits

These days, it’s critical to have an awesome portrait that reflects confidence.  With social media sites like Twitter and Facebook as well as LinkedIn and company websites, the on-line profile essentially replaces the business card.  We have one chance in the online world to make a fantastic, first impression and having a stellar portrait is a great start.

Corporate headshots and environmental portrait photography are commercial assignments I do with regularity so it helps to have a system in place for retouching the portraits as the post-production process can be very subjective.

Typically, if time allows, my subjects have a chance to select their hero headshot immediately after their session and give me a heads-up on any specific retouching they would like me to do and the requests, as you can imagine, are always pretty consistent.  Make me younger and thinner.  Of course, I’m more than happy to oblige though I do tend to believe that we earn those grey hairs, the few extra pounds and the lines that show that we have been living our lives to the fullest.

When we have multiple portraits to do and are running low on time, I edit the images and upload between 3 to 5 of the best headshots of each person into a web gallery where the client can take their time in making their final selections.  Once I receive their picks, it’s showtime and I have a process that is incredibly effective and produces portraits that are engaging, confident and clean.

Take a look at the before and after samples below and move the slider to see the improvements that are made with retouching.  

  • Before-
    After-
    Before After
  • Before-Whiten Eyes & Remove Shine
    After-Whiten Eyes & Remove Shine
    Before Whiten Eyes & Remove Shine After
  • Before-Skin Smoothing & Teeth Whitening
    After-Skin Smoothing & Teeth Whitening
    Before Skin Smoothing & Teeth Whitening After
  • Before-
    After-
    Before After

As seen in the samples above, the changes simply enhance the image as opposed to completely changing it except of course in the last example where the background color was modified to match the subjects’ suit jacket.

The retouching for corporate headshots and environmental portraits that I apply are for the purpose of making each subject look their best so I do stay away from making drastic revisions that we see so much of these days.  Simple fixes make us look like our genuine and best selves.

Keep in mind also that although there are plenty of fixes that post-production can provide, there are also a few simple things you can do to look your best for your corporate headshot or environmental portrait as well.  This previous post was written with corporate portraits in mind however many of these guidelines apply to environmental portraits as well so check them out.

Closing 2015 on a High Note | Corporate Photography for Oak Street Health

Closing 2015 on a High Note | Corporate Photography for Oak Street Health

The last few weeks have been very busy tracking down those straggling invoices that are still out, prepping for the beginning of 2016 and wrapping up the final assignments for the year.  So, I was really happy to end the year on a high note when I headed over to the west side of Chicago to work with my client Oak Street Health.

Looking to create new photos to refresh their website and print collateral, we had scouted out the location the week prior and working with Amanda, were able to pull together a shot list of must-have photos including portraits and lifestyle images that we would be working on throughout the day along with a schedule that we would try to stick with.

Getting close to our shoot date, Oak Street was having a tough time pulling in all of the clients that we would need to participate in our shoot and were close to pushing for a reschedule but chose to just wing it at the last minute.  And it worked.  Normally, we would try to plan down to the minute but this fly by the seat of our pants situation we were in turned out to be incredibly productive and a ton of fun.

The staff at this facility were an absolute pleasure to work with and the clients that they serve were so accommodating with their time and willingness to help out.  A big shout out to Whitney, my trusted Assistant and to Amanda and Caroline for making the day a great end to 2015!