PictureEastern gray squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) at the DC War Memorial
You want head shots of your new associate...

taken on-site...

with natural light...

and delivered tomorrow.

Yes, I can do that.

The reality of professional photography is that most jobs can be completed in a few hours.  Once I'm on location, in your office or at your company retreat, I begin to get a feel for the character of your organization.  In less time than it takes you to browse the stock imagery of your favorite site, I will be able to see the best spot for setting up my camera.  

You want to stand in front of that picture window in the conference room that looks out onto the Inner Harbor, because the view is the reason you paid the premium for this space.  But, I see it as a terrible source of back light that will create unflattering shadows on your face.  I'm not going take 15 minutes explaining that to you.  You hired me to make your day easier, and not for me to show off my knowledge of light, angle, depth of field, etc.  You need me to set up, take the shots I need, and get out of your way, so you can get back to work.  And, then you need me to send you the images in time to load on your website before business tomorrow morning.  And, you need those images to be flattering, engaging, and unique.  When your clients see the new head shots on your site, you want them to immediately feel a sense of trust and confidence in the face they see.  

Take another look at the furry little guy above.  Immediately, you see a squirrel.  Are you thinking about what else you see?  Probably not.  But, it's there, and you see it.  You know he is a city squirrel.  Notice that line in the lower right corner?  It's not there by accident.  I captured over two dozen shots of this guy.  I picked this one for publication because it had the best combination of all the elements I needed.  That line in the lower right is a seam of cement where two large tiles meet, telling you that it is a paved path in a city park instead of loose gravel in the woods.  You also recognize him as a city squirrel because he is letting me get this close directly above him without running away.  He is comfortable around people.  Now, notice that his feet, his tail, and the pebble paving are all a bit blurred.  I did that on purpose because I want you to look directly into his eyes.  You can tell he is partly in shadows, but there is a patch of sunlight directly on his face, which makes a sparkle in his eyes and a glow to his fur.  You know immediately that he is a squirrel, hard at work, gathering his lunch, but stopping just long enough to decide if I might have something for him.  I didn't...so he went back to work.

Did you really want to read this much about a squirrel?  No, of course not.  But, you did anyway, because he is no ordinary squirrel.  He is the squirrel that I photographed and published on the web, LinkedIn, and Facebook.  He is now the most famous squirrel of all the squirrels in the park that day.  And, it only took him 8 seconds out of his daily routine.  I did the rest.  If you were looking to hire a squirrel, you would pick him, right?  

That is the power of a great head shot.

Here is how it works for you....

9:15 AM   The candidate you interviewed yesterday calls to accept the offer.  She will be in at 3 to sign the contract and meet with personnel.

9:25 AM  You call me to tell me that you need head shots and that you want them up on your site by tomorrow.  No problem.

3:15 PM  The paperwork is complete and you make the introductions around the office.

3:30 PM  You arrive at her new office and I've already got the chair positioned in front of the book case opposite the window.  I ask her to stand or sit, however she feels comfortable, and I click off a few shots.  No need for worrying about blinking because I've already taken 6 shots, so I know most of them will be great.  I ask her to adjust position just a bit.  Jacket on...jacket off...a few of each.  Then, a few shots of her with the partner.

3:42 PM  I'm packing up bag and telling you to check your email in the morning for the images, with a Cc: to your webmaster.  I need to get on the JFX before rush hour.  You've got another hour to your day and don't have time to waste negotiating with me over payment terms and delivery schedules.

5: 15 PM  I'm back at my studio looking at the images of your new associate.  I'm looking for those special elements that make one shot stand out from the rest.  Selecting and preparing the best image for your firm is my only creative task today.  I am focused on making your new associate look the best to your clients.  But, I'm also familiar with the culture and personality of your firm, so I know how to make this new head shot blend in with the overall design aesthetic of your company brand.  

6:05 PM  I've prepared two head shots: one formal and one casual.  There are six image files for each pose.  Each image is cropped and processed at the optimal dimensions and resolution for 1) LinkedIn profile, 2) Facebook post, 3) company website, 4) print publication, 5) black/white use, and 6) official framed 16x20 portrait in the library.

8:30 AM  You get to the office and see the email from me with link to the online portfolio where you access all the images.  They are all yours.  You own full license with perpetual and unlimited rights to reproduction.  There is no expiration date.  There is no additional fee for print publication.  Nothing.  They are your images.  And, I've also included the shot of your new associate with the partners, which you can use in a press release and the next newsletter to clients.  

That's it.  That's how easy it should be for you to get head shots. And it's all covered in advance in one flat-rate subscription.  You aren't paying for each picture.  You are paying for my time, to use as you need it.  All of the images I create for you are yours to keep, whether it's 2 or 20 or 200.  

My number is 443.824.4644.  Text is fine also.  

J:  "Hey, Daniel.  Can you do team photo of the office staff on Monday afternoon? We want it for next year's calendar."
D: "No problem. I'll be there at 2:30."
D: "Also, I know your office will be on reduced hours during Pesach, so I'll have it delivered by Wednesday morning."

J: "Great. You're the best."

PictureMatt (2015)
My friend, Matt, asked me take a photo of him for his LinkedIn profile. Naturally, as I do with every project I know too much about, I turned it into a major production.

I've worked with Matt since 2012. He is a smart guy in his early 20s, New York Italian, who's good at soccer and likes to travel, and he recently started a LinkedIn account.  He's never been too interested in social media, and I don't blame him. He knows what he likes, and posting photos of lunch every day is not part of his routine.  But, he has reached an age, and a level of career advancement, where he recognized the drawback of not being in control of his own online presence.  So, he asked for my help.

Declaring a disdain for social media does not make someone immune from the negative effects of not having an online profile.  Matt works directly with clients every day. He regularly meets new clients, or their staff, on site or online. Those people are using social media platforms to learn about my friend.  When Matt leaves their office, ends a call, or responds to an email, the person he was helping is going online to find out who they are working with.  

The absence of any content says as much about a person as any messages or photos that are posted on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and the rest. An online profile shows others that you are connected. For those of us who have a few decades of experience on Matt, it's the equivalent of having a number listed in the phone book.  It adds legitimacy.  And these days, people expect to see a picture of your face--preferably with a gentle smile.  Posting a proper profile photo is as important as putting on a clean shirt and matching socks before going to work.  It doesn't have to be fancy or elaborate. It doesn't even have to be expensive. It just has to look decent--like you took a bit of time to do it right.You wouldn't go to work without brushing your hair or tucking in your shirt, so don't post a selfie for your profile photo.

So, I offer the gallery below as "The Seven Faces of My Friend, Matt." These are my creative vision of how I see Matt, and my photographic interpretation of how he appears to me, and to others.  The first one is the darkest, but it's not dark. I see it more as thoughtful and somber. I added a soft glow to the image.  It's the kind of photo that he might use as the author's photo on the inside cover of a book jacket. He has shared a book idea with me, but I won't reveal anything here.  The second one, top right, is more serious. I used a high key treatment. Except for his brown eyes, I brightened all the dark areas, but retained a high contrast. I could see this used for his corporate head shot when he is running his own company. Nobody at his firm will wearing ties.  The next one, second row down, left, is the happy, bright blue shot.  Like most people, Matt has an unnatural smile when he knows he's being watched, or photographed.  So, for this shot, I had just told him to scratch something...private.  CLICK.  I got the shot.  This shot is of the Matt I know telling jokes around the office.  Next, second row, right, is a wide shot. This is how Matt would look on the big screen, in a movie about a team of young engineers who are working fast to save the world from destruction, and Matt is showing the calm confidence of an effective team leader who knows they will succeed. The next shot, third down, left, is how Matt would look as your professor in the computer science lab at MIT or Stanford. He is friendly and confident, but just a bit uneasy about whether or not everybody realizes that he is the youngest one in the department and wonders if he belongs there.  He does.

The last two, the square ones, are formatted for his LinkedIn profile. I created the black and white version as an artistic alternative to the standard color head shot.  I also like this one because it most reminds me of how Matt looks like Derek Jeter.  Well, maybe he doesn't look a lot like Jeter, but it's just all the discussions about Jeter and the Yankees that make me think of that.  This is the face of a guy who has never known what it feels like to have his team out of the playoffs for three years in a row.  This is the face of New York confidence.  

And the last shot, the square one in color, is how you will see Matt online. It's how I see him every week: bright eyes, wry smile, scruffy chin, and looking straight at you.  This photo does what a profile photo is supposed to do. It shows people what you look like if they were to meet you in person on a regular day.  It's not when you are dressed up for a special occasion and it's not when you are on vacation enjoying drinks by the pool.  So, I extend my gratitude to Matt for allowing me to share these photos, and my thoughts, with you.  If I have honored Matt, and embarrassed him a little, then I consider this project a success.

If you need a new profile image for LinkedIn, or any of the other sites, please ask me.  It takes only a few minutes, but it's time well spent.

The 5th clue in the 2015 FREE PHOTO contest is "L"