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Tips for Planning A Corporate Photo Shoot

Tips for Planning A Corporate Photo Shoot

As a professional photographer with close to 20 years of experience, I’ve noticed that the clients who are the most satisfied with the final product we deliver are the ones that have taken the time to lay out what their vision is and partner with me throughout the entire process to make that idea come through clearly in the final images. There are so many moving parts to consider when planning a photo shoot and for many of my clients, this is a new endeavor so it can be overwhelming. With that in mind, here are a few helpful tips to making the most of your next corporate photography project.
 

1. DEVELOPING A CLEAR VISION 

The first thing you want to do is to start with your vision. What is the image of the organization that you want to present? What is the message you’re trying to convey? These are important questions that will help form the vision of your photos. Ideally, you want to compile a list of the things you’re going for as that will give me a clear idea of the direction we’ll want to move in.

Some concepts you may want to capture include ideas like being the approachable authority in your industry.  Or perhaps within your teams you take your work seriously but have fun doing it and that translates into results.  Maybe you want to ensure that the photos reflect equality as opposed to hierarchy. Sure, these are ideas that do not specifically tell us what to shoot but we know what kinds of expressions and model interactions to focus on while shooting.  

The next thing to start thinking about is the context of the photos. Are they going to be used for the corporations’ website? In print collateral? Will the photos be used strictly for a social media campaign? The context is very important as it will determine how we layout and frame the image. Is there going to be a narrow banner or slider that we need to fill on the home page and interior pages of the website? Are the headshots going to be cropped as as portrait style, meaning verticals or landscapes meaning horizontals? These are just a few considerations we’ll need to cover.

 

2. MAPPING OUT THE PLAN 

Remember that your vision is there to guide your ideas. Research your competitors, industry and marketplace. Look for photos that are in line with what you’re trying to convey so that you can use that as inspiration. Note what elements you like about these photos then let’s figure out how we can take all these elements and integrate them into your corporate campaign.

I always like to meet onsite prior to doing corporate lifestyle projects so that we can go over the concepts and visuals together in order to map out a plan. It helps to scout the location, find the best places to stage the scenes and create a schedule for our shoot days.  As many companies use their own staff as opposed to paid models in their rebranding campaigns and website photography, it’s also a great idea to be able to meet onsite to talk with the employees and lay out the groups that will best illustrate the vision you’re going for. I also will be sure to share a link to information that can be passed along to the employees and leadership team that will be featured in the photos, offering some tips on how to prepare themselves for the day. The prep material includes advice on what to wear, wardrobe patterns to avoid, complimentary color palettes and hair/make-up tips. 

 

 

 3. WORKING AS PARTNERS

I like to think of my clients not as clients but as partners.  You have a vision and we’ll execute it together.  We can be much more productive, working in tandem when we are on the same page. I like being involved in the your process so I can let you know how your ideas or our collectives ideas translates through photography.

On shoot days, we always tether.  Meaning as we are shooting, you’ll see the images as they come up on the laptop.  Once we get beyond testing the lighting and begin shooting, I can tell when I am getting to where I need to go but I’m always open to suggestions and love to have my partners chime in.  If the direction I’m moving in is not consistent with what you envisioned, I need to know and welcome the feedback while we are onsite. We’ll tweak each scene as we go and the inout I receive from you is crucial. 

4. OPEN COMMUNICATION

I would prefer to have my clients ask me many questions rather than not enough. The more work we put in to this project prior to our shoot day, the more prepared we’ll be the day of. Also, because there are so many logistics that we need to plan for, quickly responding to emails and phone calls is really important as there may be times I cannot take the next step in planning or follow-up on post-production without your conformation. So, the more we are in communication and keep those lines opens for questions, ideas, feedback and direction, the better the end product will be.

By keeping these points in mind when preparing for your next photography project, whether it’s a rebranding campaign, corporate  portraits or a new website, you’ll not only ensure that you and your team have an awesome experience from start to finish but the final product will reflect the ideals and vision that truly represent the best of your organization.

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Whether you’re in the planning stages or you’ve finalized all of the details and are looking for the photographer that will be the best match for your style and budget, get in touch….I’m always happy to help.

Building A Park In A Day

Building A Park In A Day

It was a super sunny and warm day in the Pullman neighborhood of Chicago.  6am and the volunteers start to arrive.  Putting together the tents. Laying out the t-shirts, water bottles, name tags.  All in preparation for the community and its’ partners to come together to take a once neglected park and turn it into a playground that the whole neighborhood can be proud of.  

Peace Park as it is now called sits at the corner of 104th and Corliss.  KaBoom!  a national non-profit dedicated to bringing play to children, especially those in underserved communities, teamed up with several partners including the Chicago White Sox, Paschen Construction and Chicago CRED.  The former Secretary of Education under President Obama, Arnie Duncan who now serves as the Managing Partner of CRED (Creating Real Economic Destiny) noted “when I asked the young men what they wanted from us in return for laying down their guns, they said they wanted a park for their kids. It was incredibly powerful. It also is symbolically important as it is a park that has been neglected. This playground will honor the leadership and commitment to peace that these young men have made.” 

Kids never played there. They weren’t allowed to but today there are a lot of kids at the park, excited to be there and helping in any way that they can. The mountain of mulch starts getting smaller as the day goes on. Kids make signs, painting the sun and smiling faces that will decorate the fence that runs along the border of the park. Weeds are pulled. Trees are trimmed. They bring in wheel barrow after wheel barrow of cement to secure the swings. And the whole time, the DJ spins. As hot as it is, no one ever slows down. 

 Being an event photographer in Chicago for close to 20 years, I’ve been just about everywhere in the city and covered just as much. This though, was different. It felt like that “Hope & Change” we all used to refer to a few years ago. The park was built on the idea of a truce between rival gangs and with the neighborhood kids’ designs in mind. This galvanized a community. As a mom who recently moved to the block with her young daughter said  “when you’re a part of something, you don’t want to tear it down.”  

 

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Whether you’re in the planning stages or you’ve finalized all of the details and are looking for the photographer that will be the best match for your style and budget, get in touch….I’m always happy to help.

Making the Most of Your LinkedIn Photo

Making the Most of Your LinkedIn Photo

Studies show that it takes 1/10th of a second for someone to form an opinion of you based on your photo (Read More).  Since LinkedIn is such a powerful social tool with more than half of B2B’s browsing the app daily, it’s critical to have a profile photo that wins over your audience in less than a second. Thankfully, the research is out there and it gives us a heads-up on how you can present yourself as a knowledgeable influencer whose word is gold.   

 

TRY THESE TIPS

  • Smile: This is tougher than it sounds but with a little encouragement, we’ll help you pull of a genuine smile. 
  • Make eye contact with the camera: We can do the deep thought photos at another time but this photo is just as much about your audience as it is about you.  Eyes are the windows…remember that.
  • Dress the part:  Financial Advisors may dress more formally than software engineers however keep in mind that more formal dress improves perceived competence.
  • The Squint: It’s a combination of a smile and minimal squint. The thought behind this is that when we appear a little too wide-eyed, we may give the impression  that we are uncertain and nervous.  The squint gives the signal that we are confident and it’s under control.
  • Head and Shoulders: Just enough to show yourself off.

 

The most frequent question I’m asked when helping my clients prepare for their headshots is “what do I wear?”  I absolutely believe that everyone needs to be true to who they are and show off their best selves.  The look may differ depending on the field you are in.  Members of the financial industry may be more suit and tie whereas a start-up tech firm may prefer button-downs and blue jeans. Regardless of your specialty, there are a few tried and true tips that will help you look your best and project the confidence you have as an expert in your industry. 

 

Dress To Impress

  • Layers: Always the best bet.  For example: a jacket or sport coat over a polo or a sweater over a tank.  It’s a flawless look.
  • Keep It Simple: When selecting your outfit, you’ll also want to be careful to avoid excessively busy patterns, bold stripes or logos. A splash of color such as orange or yellow is a nice touch but we’ll want to limit it a bit as the colors can be oversaturated in digital.  
  • Jewelry:  Remember, we want the focus to be on you so jewelry that compliments your style is great.  If you’re wondering if it might distract from your face, then most likely it will and you may want to play it safe.
  • Glasses:  If you’re wondering whether or not to wear them, consider how people are used to seeing you: with or without. Also be sure to clean them right before you come into your portrait session.
  • Hair and Make-Up: If your planning on coloring your hair, try to schedule this with a trim a week before your session so the color can settle. Gentlemen, if you’re doing the clean shaven look, you’ll want to the day of.  And with make-up, think clean and classic with subtle colors that compliment your skin tone.

If you’re wondering how strong you’re current LinkedIn profile photo is, check out Photofeeler, an online tool that analyzes your social and business profile images to give you feedback on how they affect and influence your audience.  The research is very clear in that the key is to create a first impression that shows you to be both confident and trustworthy and using the tips above is a fantastic start.  Ready to take the next step? Get in touch!

 

Let’s Start Something new
Say Hello!

Whether you’re in the planning stages or you’ve finalized all of the details and are looking for the photographer that will be the best match for your style and budget, get in touch….I’m always happy to help.

What’s In My Bag | Essential Photo Equipment for Event Photography

What’s In My Bag | Essential Photo Equipment for Event Photography

It’s taken some time to decide on and settle in to the essential photo equipment I carry for event photography assignments.  The fun part is, with the consistent evolution of technology, I’ve got to stay on my game and always up to date so the challenge to keep ahead of the curve can be constant.  I have bought and returned backpacks, belts, flash modifiers, tripods, ball heads, bags…you name it, I feel like I’ve tried it.  So, when I do come across the equipment that does exactly what I need it to do without sacrificing comfort or compromising the quality of images I produce for events, I’m totally in.  Here’s a few of the essential event photography tools I would never leave home without.

  1. Canon 5D Mark IV w/ battery grip
  2. Canon 5D Mark III w/battery grip
  3. Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM: a great standard zoom, all around lens
  4. Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM: I love using this lens when I’m in tight quarters and need to capture all of the action or I’m looking for wide shots of the room with a full audience
  5. Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM: I get asked to capture portraits on the go, no lighting, just available and this lens, with it’s 1.2 f stop allows me to capture beautiful headshots even when the lighting is not so beautiful
  6. Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM: if I was on a deserted island and could only bring one lens with me, this is the one
  7. Canon EF 100-400mm F4.5-5.6L IS II USM: it’s very rare that I use this telephone on events however it has bailed me out on a few occasions when I could not get as close as I wanted for those tight speaker shots.  So, if there’s a nice light wash over the stage and I need to get tighter on the presenter, this lens does the job
  8. Lens Shades
  9. Canon 600 EX-RT Speedlite Flashes with omni bounce flash modifiers
  10. Rogue Flash Gels Lighting Kit for white balancing 
  11. Remote flash triggers cause you never know
  12. Eneloop Pro Batteries: serious powerhouses.  I used to use external battery packs to speed up the flash recycle times but these batteries have lightened the load as I can ditch the Quantums
  13. SD Card Reader: When I need to review images.  Yes, the Canon 5D Mark IV has wireless capabilities but this works so much faster for me
  14. Extra Canon batteries 
  15. Swivel Flash Mount cause you never know
  16. Lexar CF cards ranging in size from 64gb to 8gb.  I also shoot to 2 cards simultaneously so underneath the CF cards are SD cards.  Backup, backup, backup!!!!
  17. Spider Pro Dual Camera System with Spider Pro Handstrap: moving from shoulder straps to a waist belt has not only saved my back but made it easier and faster to access my cameras, ensuring I never miss a shot
  18. GLocalMe Mi-Fi: I don’t have to use it very much but it has come in handy when I can’t access the internet or need my own, secure connection.  Awesome for travel assignments
  19. Gaffers Tape: because if I was on a deserted island and could have one tool……
  20. Mints: because everyone should always have mints
  21. Think Tank Airport Security:  for local assignments when I can bring everything I need with me to the event
  22. Think Tank Airport International: for travel assignments this case is just a little smaller than the international which may OR may not be allowed onboard with you.  I’ve heard various stories so why take the chance?
  23. Induro CLT 203 with BHL2S Ballhead: Love this pairing especially for events when you may or may not need a tripod and if you do, you’ve got to move super-fast (not pictured here)

Chicago-Event-Photographer

Chicago-Event-Photographer

If I could pack more, I probably would.  Because if you have it, you use it.  I would not describe myself as a gear head however I do get a little giddy when shopping online or even more so when I’m in a well stocked camera store.  But truth be known, no matter how much gear you carry, it certainly can’t make a pretty photo by itself so my motto is shoot, shoot and shoot some more since practice makes, if not perfect then certainly pretty fantastic.

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Corporate Lifestyle Photography for Praxis Life Sciences

Corporate Lifestyle Photography for Praxis Life Sciences

We were recently invited back to Praxis Life Sciences in Lake Forest for a full day of business headshots, corporate lifestyle photography and coverage of their annual meeting.  Our morning involved setting up for the corporate portraits on a white backdrop to replicate the headshots we’ve done for Praxis in the past.  I’m a big fan of using a white backdrop since it’s such a clean look and it feels less formal to me as well especially with the lighting scenarios we use.  Cross lighting with a parabolic umbrella as the main, medium softbox as the hair light, 2 reflectors on the backdrop and the Westcott Eyelighter as a front fill.  This handy tool creates such a beautiful wrap and spectral highlights that I use it whenever possible, even for environmental portraits.  After wrapping up the corporate portraits, we had some time before the start of the meeting, so we staged a few corporate lifestyle shots in the hallway and in the lobby as well.

Moving on to the meeting coverage my initial intention was to bring in some lighting for fill.  But as the day moved along, the sun made an appearance and we had plenty of available light to work with between the daylight streaming in and the overheads which worked out perfectly since the use of strobe would have proved distracting.  When covering smaller meetings, it’s critical that I’m unobtrusive and ideally, I’d like my subjects to forget that I’m even there so that I’m able to capture the candid and genuine moments and we certainly managed to do that on this round of images.

A shout-out to my Assistants Whitney and Chris who once again proved to be invaluable!  And of course to everyone at Praxis, especially Jamie who helped to coordinate, schedule and prepare so that our day went so smoothly!