How to run a rapid, company-wide portrait session


I was recently booked by a large corporation to shoot over 200 employee portraits in just two days. With such a high volume of clients there is no time for fussing around with fancy light setups, make up artists or even much time for banter with the subjects.

Key to success is having an onsite ally within the client who can organize the schedule and keep employees to it. These kinds of mega-portrait sessions are a way for large corporations to give a real benefit to their employees in a highly cost-effective way. (Read on or skip to the end for how to price a large portrait session).

Year-end is a good time to start thinking about planning one of these sessions for your employees. A new year is just around the corner, and with it comes the new energy of a fresh start that many people like to use to level-up their online game, update the profiles across their various social media personae, and refresh their headshot.

When booking your photographer, a few questions that can be addressed ahead of time are:

What to wear?
How long will each portrait take?
Where will the shoot take place?
How to pose?
How will the photos be tracked and delivered?
How much will it cost?

What to wear?

Classic styles and simple solid colours tend to work best in my opinion. While you can wear whatever you want, especially if you are ultimately receiving a cropped 8×10 headshot, you still want to make the focus be on you and not your clothes. For men, a solid-coloured, collared shirt (with or without tie depending on your company culture/intended use) with a jacket closed at the top button does the trick. Women have more options but necklaces, large earrings or other adornments can seem out of place for professional use. If wearing a necklace, make sure it hangs straight down the centre so it doesn’t look off kilter. While it’s not necessary to stick to the collared shirt and suit jacket (though it’s fine if you do), too much of a plunging neckline can look a tad out of place on LinkedIn or your in-house network. Think of where the final image is likely to get the most use and dress for that audience.


How long does each portrait take?

On these big days, you’ll have no more than five minutes in front of the photographer. That will be enough time to shoot two shots of each side. Only rarely will you need more than four images for the photographer to select from. The lighting will be the same on all faces, and though the background can change (if you are shooting in front of a window, for example, you’ll have changing lighting in the background throughout the day), so the poses should all also be consistent.

Where will the shoot take place?

Typically these large sessions are done onsite at the client’s offices or workspace, wherever that may be. The conference room or board room is best, or if the site is equipped with warehouse space, set up in there. Pay attention to wire placement of your lights (the last thing you want is someone tripping and injuring themselves) and if shooting before a window as is often done these days, place your lights wide enough apart so that they don’t reflect in the glass sparing you hours of tedious photoshopping later.


How to pose?

You will get asked this by everyone who walks in the room, two hundred times in my case recently. While I enjoy taking my time in one-on-one portrait sessions and really working different looks and angles, this luxury is not available to you, humble corporate portrait photographer. You need to get your people in, shot and out on a very tight schedule. While you can vary the height you shoot from a little (I use a step ladder), you want everyone to give you two angles, and do your best to make those who need a little thinning look thin, and those who need a little happiness boost, look happier. The real art of the portrait photographer is in these brief interstitial moments when you must connect with your subject and quickly put them at ease and make them trust you. If it helps, let them look at the shots you’ve taken of them and for the ones who seem particularly fussy, let them choose the shot you’ll edit afterwards.

How will the photos be tracked and delivered?

If you’re lucky enough to have a well-organized client, you’ll start the day with a printout of all the scheduled people each with their assigned time slot (more or less). Jot down one file number from the range you shoot for each person so that afterwards you can either rename the files, or at least have a common language with your client so that the inevitable requests to tweak this, or edit that can be done smoothly and efficiently. For delivery, while I use Photoshelter, you can use WeSendit, Dropbox or whatever large file transfer service you prefer. (Be careful with Dropbox as many clients either can’t access the site from behind their firewalls, or don’t have professional accounts and you will quickly burst through the default 2 gb limit on free accounts).

How much will it cost?

Pricing for portraits requires a political approach. The answer really is, it depends…The reason, of course, is that you, as photographer must balance out the effort with the huge volume of work you are receiving while your client is looking to leverage the volume to get a discount. Personally, I always charge a set up fee for going into an office to cover the cost of equipment usage and transport, and start from there. As I work with minimums (and you should too if you want to stay in business), the cost per head on a portrait session decreases as the number of portraits taken increases. While each portrait in post will require the same amount of work, once you are up and running in a shooting session, your time onsite will go quickly. How much of a volume discount you offer is for you to determine vis-a-vis your client’s budget but keep in mind how the portraits are being used and for whom on the client side when you are pricing it out. A CEO portrait with his or her executive team that will be shared around the world, used in media, annual reports and company wide web diffusion is worth a lot more than the cropped headshot of the first year intern who is only using the headshot for a company intranet (effectively a digital id photo).

Last-minute portraits?

Here’s a fact that surprises people all the time when I tell it to them: more the 50% of the corporate headshots I take are last-minute rush jobs.

How is it possible, they ask, that someone could ever urgently need a photograph, let alone a headshot? Believe me, I used to wonder the same thing, until I started paying attention to the triggers. People use the same professional headshot for several years. Just do a quick scan through your contacts on LinkedIn and see how many have updated their photos in the past year. People kind of forget about their profile pics after a while, until a need arises for a new one.

Here are some of the reasons why all of a sudden, a headshot is needed, like NOW! All of the examples below are taken from real contracts I’ve had.

  • “Looking for new challenges”: People don’t change their headshots unless there is a change in their employment status. When that happens, there may be a lead up to the decision if the change is self-driven, but there are many reasons why a person’s employment status can change beyond their control. This unexpected change often triggers a need for a new look.
  • “You’re published!”: People get articles published on schedules they don’t control, and get asked to submit a bio picture along with their submission.
  • “You won!” : People win industry awards and accolades, or are selected for internal company awards they weren’t expecting and they need a picture to accompany the announcement.
  • “You’re being promoted!”: Good things happen to hard working people. They get promotions and despite company’s best efforts, HR doesn’t always keep internal comms informed of the latest personnel changes, nor provide a lot lead time before the announcement has to go out, particularly in public companies where the change in senior level appointments is material information that must be made public.
  • “You’re invited to speak at our upcoming…”: People get asked at the last minute to speak at an event, a gala dinner, or a conference they hadn’t planned on going to. Suddenly they are facing a roomful of their peers and colleagues with a 10-year old bio picture that looks like it was cut out of their high school year book. Awkward.

As with all rush-jobs, there are usually fees associated that raise the price of the product or service being purchased. As well, the last-minute pressure also usually indicates a lack of preparation and limits the number of other people in the office or on site who may also be in need of a new headshot but just aren’t given enough notice to get there for the appointed day because they are out of the office, in a client meeting or just having a bad hair day. All of these factors increase the cost to the buyer.

A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down…

Forward-thinking planners, event and conference organizers can score big savings by taking advantage of organizing an onsite headshot session when they are assembling people who may only get together once or twice a year. Annual meetings, board meetings, seminars, training sessions, workshops and conferences are just a few places where people are brought together. This allows the organizer to save on per/head costs as the set up fee for an onsite portrait session can be spread out over a number of individuals rather than just the one.

To those paying for the service, there may be the perception that bringing in a photographer to conduct a portrait session is just an unnecessary extra expense tacked on the event, but if viewed from a slightly longer-term perspective, the savings can be significant to the organization.

  • Per head costs / portraits can be reduced by 50% or more
  • Leverage the investment already made in bringing important people together (food, hotel, travel)
  • Raise staff morale – everyone loves having a little extra attention paid to them, and a professional headshot is a nice perk that saves your staff money. Happy workers are more productive ones.

Leaving anything to the last-minute creates more stress, cost and hassle. It’s great for my business, but do yours a favour and plan ahead. You will need a new headshot someday. Don’t wait till that day happens to be tomorrow.

Free headshots for your employees can help your company attract new talent

CORPORATEPROFILE101Your current employees are your company’s best brand ambassadors. Central to effective talent acquisition and recruitment today is having an effective employee referral program plugged into your hiring practices. LinkedIn is probably the most important tool in this arsenal and it has a wealth of content available for companies looking to fire up their recruitment drives and engage employees. And yet, how many of your current employees don’t have an updated LinkedIn profile?

You can help them – and yourself in the process – by setting up a simple LinkedIn training session accompanied by an onsite headshot photo session.

Alas, gone are the days when it was enough to just pay your employees a decent salary and they’d be grateful to have a job. As an employer you’re now also on the hook for making your workplace a fun place to be, that respects and provides for work life balance, as well as all kinds of other perks to keep your employees engaged in a world of distraction. Sorry, but free coffee isn’t going to cut it in a world where talent is always on the move.

Social media (where half your workforce right now is “investing” a bit of company time), is unavoidably where you have to be if you want to attract, retain and engage the best talent out there for your workforce.

An updated profile picture is a necessary tool in today’s workforce. It’s a simple thing to get wrong and if you or your staff still isn’t using one, you’re losing up to 40% of your views and you look a bit creepy.

Screen Shot 2016-09-02 at 10.31.25 AM
Would you trust this guy?

Giving your employees the tools and assets to up their own game on social media sites is a value-add benefit that will pay back dividends to the company, especially if it’s tied to a smart in-house referral program. Remember, there’s a lot more “me” in social media than you’d think.

Plan a morning or half session where you gather your social media specialists (either in-house or bringing in a consultant) and offer a short presentationCORPORATEPROFILE18 (1) on how to leverage LinkedIn for career development and to promote your own company.

A headshot session in this context is about as cost-effective as it gets. That doesn’t mean you cheap out and do it in-house. Hire a pro, but leverage the volume to get a low cost/head or negotiate a fixed rate. It’s way cheaper to get all your staff done at once than to bring in a corporate photographer on an urgent basis when you realize your executive that’s just been nominated for an industry award is still using his vacation pic from Cancun in his profile.



Time lapsed in-office corporate portrait session

My Brinno in action waiting for squirrels

I recently purchased a Brinno TLC200 f/1.2 Time Lapse Camera to play around with to incorporate into my conference and tradeshow coverage photography gigs. There is a child-like fascination with watching time speed up, like the thrill you used to get pressing fast forward and play at the same time when watching an old VHS tape (if you’re old enough to remember what a VHS is, if not check here).

Here’s my first attempt, shot recently at one of my client’s offices while we were doing a corporate portrait session.

While I haven’t quite mastered it, I can see how this will be a useful tool to showcase construction projects, or intermittent flows of people moving to and from convention halls, or the setting up and tearing down of trade show booths. The cameras are quite inexpensive relative to most photography gear and I suspect I’ll be getting a few more to play around with.

I also serendipitously came across this article on Springwise (one of my sources for finding out about new products and innovations and really really good for slacking off a bit on a Friday afternoon) about a company using a time lapse camera kit to teach kids about wild life: Camera kit teaches kids about tech in nature which inspired this afternoon’s project, where I’ve set up my Brinno out on the deck to try to capture shots of the squirrels ravaging my garden.

I think it’s a fun camera to have in your kit as a pro, and equally fun for anyone who enjoys messing around with cameras. You could bring one on your next camping trip to document setting up your campsite, and finally have proof that in fact the bear beside  your tent was really just your friend snoring. Happy trails!



Leverage conferences for updating new corporate portraits

Conference organizers know that a lot of planning goes into creating a program of interesting and relevant content and attracting a strong roster of speakers, panelists and breakout session leaders. Effort is usually spent creating a detailed shot list for photographers to make sure that nothing on the agenda is missed and the investment in hiring a professional shooter to cover the event pays off with a load of marketable images of attendees and conference activities to help promote next year’s event.

conference-portrait 1Conferences often pull together people from within and across organizations that are otherwise rarely all in one place at the same time, and this creates an opportunity for updated group photos, corporate headshots and bio pictures that is often overlooked by organizers with heads full of conference planning details.

Often the venue itself will provide interesting and useful on site backdrops and your photographer will also have the necessary lighting and equipment to set up a small mobile studio in one of the many spaces occupied by the conference. You’re paying for it already so why not leverage the space to either update your firm’s set of portraits or offer the service to your attendees as an added value for attending your event? conference-portrait 5

Everyone needs a headshot these days – something I’ve written extensively about in posts on personal branding and profile pictures  – but organizing one can be a tedious task often dropped due to other more urgent priorities. If you can offer the service conveniently and quickly to attendees who are already on-site and available, you are providing a useful service and alleviating a pain point preemptively for both your attendees and perhaps the marketing team within your own organization.

While candid photos are always good to have, there is still a need for planned, posed and conventional headshots. I am often approached by conference attendees – people not paying me directly for my work – who say things like, “I need a new LinkedIn photo” or “My headshot is ten years old, can you do a new one for me?”.  Aside from essentially asking a working professional for a freebie, these kinds of requests would take time away from what I am hired to be doing and are rarely accommodated for.  They reveal the demand though, which could be better met by including an on-site portrait option within the general conference coverage contract.

Wconference-portraithy not leverage the inherent social nature of conferences to turn a portrait session into a networking opportunity in its own right? You could promote the on-site photo booth as a place to meet other attendees, leverage its presence by offering another component a sponsor could brand, or embed it inside a collaboration or meeting lounge space that conference attendees can pop into when they have a spare five minutes.

When planning the shooting schedule and generating a shot list for your conference photographer, consider asking about including a mobile photobooth for corporate and group portraits. You’ll save time and provide yet another added value to your attendees.

Celebrate your winners with a photo book

Full length portrait shot on white seamless backdrop of Lloyd Cooper, a top-performer with Cushman & Wakefield
Shine the spotlight on your top employees

Organizations that celebrate the achievements of their top-performing employees are the kinds of companies people like to work for. One of my regular corporate clients in Montreal celebrates their winners with an annual publication of a photo book showcasing their people who really shone and stood out in the past year. A full double page spread is used to highlight this year’s heroes, usually shot against a simple white backdrop to make a group composite image that brings together in one image, employees from offices across Canada.

Why bother with extra recognition? Aren’t employees rewarded enough with pay and or proportionate commissions on their sales?

According to the HR Council, employee recognition is important because:

  • Lets employees know that their work is valued and appreciated
  • Gives employees a sense of ownership and belonging in their place of work
  • Improves morale
  • Enhances loyalty
  • Helps build a supportive work environment
  • Increases employee motivation
  • Improves employee retention

There are many ways to do it and it doesn’t have to cost a lot. Giving your employees a brand new profile photo or featuring them in an article on your website is an inexpensive way to share their success and help them boost their own personal brands. A lot of companies talk about how important their people are, but how many really walk the walk?

Have you got hidden gems in your organization that deserve better recognition and some praise? Are you doing enough to make your team feel appreciated? Recognition can be as simple as a friendly hello in the morning but shouldn’t stop there. While money and material things will add to an employee’s short-term happiness, in the long run, people who are truly happy and satisfied with their employers are those who feel recognized, appreciated and that their contributions are a part of the company’s overall success.

If you haven’t done it yet, make 2015 the year you prove to your employees that they really are key to your company’s success. Let them know how proud you are of them, and they’ll show you their appreciation by staying with you.

How much space do you need to take a good portrait?

I'm touching the walls on either side of me;)
If I open my arms I’d be touching two walls

The answer is, not much. While all photographers would love a beautiful, white walled studio with a full cyclorama, mounted studio lighting for every occasion, a view of a lovely European city below, most work out of rented studios or their homes. For photographers, like many of their corporate clients, the real working spaces they inhabit are often small, sometimes a little cramped, or shared so they are elbow to elbow with their colleagues. Most likely there is a boardroom available for meetings, but the day-to-day worker spends a lot of time in a little space and is concerned about whether such a space is adequate for having an in-office portrait done.

The truth is, a good corporate portrait photographer has to be highly adaptable and adjust to client spaces, not the other way around. While nearly all people working today require not just one but a few different profile pictures, this increased online presence has cut into one valuable resource that can’t be bought: time. The time-strapped professional doesn’t want to travel out of their office for a quick portrait to update their headshot, when the same service is available to them in their offices, at a lower cost and in a fraction of the time.

The space required for a corporate portrait is much less than you would think. I’ve worked in offices large and small, in downtown Montreal, industrial parks, hotel rooms, lobbies, boardrooms and people’s homes. The most space I’ve ever had to work with has been maybe 12 by 12 feet, and the least has been much tighter. I’ve been in closets bigger than some of the offices where I took portraits – but the thing is, regardless of the available space, the shots always come out and the subjects look as good.

I took this in my living room
I took this in my living room

Without getting into unnecessary detail on the positioning of lights, and the finagling of backdrops, the point is that a good corporate portrait a client will be able to use for at least a few years, can be taken in any sized office, and the process from start-to-finish can be done in no more than 45 minutes (with most of that time allocated to set up and take down).


Taking the corporate portrait to the streets

Smiling in the City
Stand out from the crowd
Stand out from the crowd

There are many ways to shoot a good corporate portrait, and over the past decade I’ve taken many hundreds of them in a variety of contexts but one style I find particularly interesting is taking onsite portraits in urban settings outdoors. Working with my client/subject, it is both fun and effective to use the local environment as backdrops to take candid, natural, posed but not posey photos that can be used for profile pictures, LinkedIn or any of the myriad sites that require a photograph for an account.  I recently worked with a client who had strong – and good – ideas about how he wanted his portrait done and the kinds of backgrounds he was looking for. Living and working close to downtown Montreal it was not hard to satisfy his preference for shots with an urban feel, capturing the feel of the city and providing an appropriate context for a career-oriented professional.

We met up downtown and did what I call a “creative walkabout”; we each had a few ideas about where we wanted to go but took advantage of different views and angles along the way to capture some interesting shots. While most people who work in downtown office towers spend their time shuttling from work to home to work again, rarely pausing to take in the scenery in between, there is actually a lot of great looking buildings in Montreal and wonderful settings for portraits. We wandered around the downtown core, using local landmarks and finding the kinds of backdrops we were looking for simply by paying attention to our surroundings. Call it a mindful approach to corporate portraits.

Brighten up the cityscape
Brightening up the cityscape

Both my client and I were pleased with the results. This kind of session can be useful for anyone who works independently or in a shared office space where the usual in-office portrait set-up might not be feasible or desirable. It is also good for people who require frequent image updates to refresh their profile. With autumn just around the corner there is a great opportunity for creative and colorful portraits taking advantage of fall foliage and cooler weather (no sweaty foreheads!). Consider having your next portrait taken on a mindful, creative walkabout in a setting rich outdoor environment and you may find yourself with a whole new set of great profile pictures – and a new appreciation for the area you live and work in.

Using context, collaboration and communication to create great portraits

classics 3
Classical Studies Summer Students

School may be out for most classes, but the hard-working students at the McGill School for Continuing Education are in session right through the hot summer months, and yesterday posed for their class photos on campus. The weather was hot and sunny  but this Montrealer is not complaining as winter is always just around the corner in this city.  After this brief  portrait session was done, I reflected a while on what it takes to create a great portrait whether you are just snapping a few shots of your family on vacation, or looking online to gather a few guidelines to inform your next corporate portrait photo shoot.

  1. Draw out the connections between subject(s) and their relevant subject matter or theme: whether your subject is someone famous, or just one of the millions of hard-working corporate workers out there in the world today, or a group of young summer students taking a course in a Classical Studies program, your job as photographer is to come up with ideas that can be translated into images that represent visually what is relevant to your subject. For example, if your subject is a Math Professor you could set up your shot in a classroom posing your subject in front of a blackboard covered in formulas and equations. Or if your subject is an author, you could set the subject in a contemplative space, perhaps the one where they write, or surround the writer with books. In the case of the McGill Classical Studies students, we (why we? see next point) sought out “classical” looking backgrounds to imbue the young group with a bit of the weight and substance of what they had gathered to study. In brief, contextualize your subject within the essential context of what makes your subject portrait-worthy in the time frame of your photograph.

    Cuban born artist, Alexander Poll
    Cuban born artist, Alexander Poll
  2. Collaborate with your subject(s): In my many years of experience photographing all types of people alone or in groups, from CEOs to
    Let's get married! On skates???
    Let’s get married! On skates???

    toddlers in diapers in a family living room, I’ve found that the single most important element of creating an excellent portrait is having a rapport with the subject. This rapport or relationship is created by including the subject in the creation of their own image. Even world-famous executives with a private jet waiting to whisk them away can and do enjoy a brief moment to create a photograph in which their likeness features that says something about who they are as a person. All portraits have an element of playfulness about them, even the serious ones, and the best ones happen when you as photographer can encourage that innate sense of play in your subject.

  3. Communicate with your subject: this is really just another aspect of collaboration, but it merits its own point as it is really so important when trying to capture an image of someone as they really are, which is the true call of a portrait artist. Talk to your client/subject throughout the creative process. Explain to them what you are thinking or wanting to do. I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen my initial ideas improved upon by sharing them with my clients who gamely take up the challenge and often contribute new ideas and have even better backgrounds in mind than I come up with on my own. While I don’t think it’s important, or at all interesting, to tell the client the technical aspects of what’s happening (I’m not sure how many clients I have had who would care what aperture I am shooting at or what lens I am using) I do think it is critical to engage your subject in a dialogue about what you are doing and give them the space and opportunity to contribute their ideas to how they will be portrayed. At the very least, it gains their confidence, and more often than not leads to a better portrait.
Using features of the landscape for a good portrait
Using features of the landscape for a good portrait

A good portrait, whether of an individual or a group, should aim to capture some of the context of the subject, both physically and conceptually. Using both setting and features of the context of the subject will help to strengthen the portrait. After all, what is a portrait but a window into the heart and soul of a subject. The best ones, particularly photographs like Yousouf Karsh‘s epic shot of Winston Churchill reveal the essence of a person’s character – at least as they are in that moment. Portrait photography is the short story of people-oriented photography and the artistry involved is not something that can be easily reproduced. However, the core concepts connected to creating a great portrait are accessible to anyone who takes the time to learn and implement them. Central to all great portraits is establishing a rapport with your subject by collaborating and communicating during the session. And finally, as always, cultivate a sense of play and playfulness throughout your session so that the experience reveals not just who the subject is, but the best version of themselves.

Before and after – corporate portraits with and without edits

I often do onsite corporate portraits in client offices, bringing with my the lighting and backdrop setup needed to get the shots. Not all offices are created equally, but no matter what the space, I usually find a place to set up (most commonly in a boardroom, or training room). While this service is hugely convenient for clients, who get their headshots done at work, with only a brief interruption to their day, it does have a few little drawbacks when it comes to managing lighting. The trickiest shots are those where clients require a pure white background, which is hard to attain in an office with coloured walls (which throw a tint into the white) as you can see from the Before slideshow below.


However, with just a few minor edits and adjustments to the images, the end results are just what the client needs.

CW-EDITED FINALS – Images by Julian Haber
As most shots, no matter how well taken, require a little post-production in Photoshop, this is normally baked into the session fee. People are sometimes surprised at prices for portraits because all they see is a photographer telling a few corny jokes, pressing a button and within 5-10 minutes, asking for the next victim to be sent in. But the typical office portrait session fee covers not just the actual time spent between photographer and subject (which is actually a well-honed art that takes years of experience to make look simple) but also set up and break down time onsite, as well as the computer work and revision requests once the proofs are in.

The best value for your money, of course, is booking several sessions at once (ie arrange a portrait photo day for the whole office, not just one or two staff) as you will save on the session fee and be guaranteed to have a consistent look in the images of your employees. The savings by coordinating 5 or more employees for a shoot are substantial.

Professional photoshoot for professional women

The future looks bright

Over 90% of the people who hire me directly are professional women. This may be because there are usually more women working in professions like communications, public relations, and marketing then there are men and professionals in these fields dominate my client list, bringing me in to cover events they are organizing, or produce marketing materials they are managing.

As well, I am often hired directly by professional women who are engaged in their own branding. These entrepreneurs (as they almost all are), know what they are looking for, know the image they want to project and are smart enough to invest a little time and money in working with a professional photographer to get the results they are after. Typically the images from these sessions are used across a variety of platforms such as websites, email marketing, newsletters and of course headshots to accompany the bio documents that these professional women use often when invited to speak at conferences, publish a chapter or article for a journal, or simply update their LinkedIn profile -which they do regularly as they are productively growing and developing their careers.

Lara Evoy & Stephanie Garrow: Strategic Consulting for social innovation and organizational learning
Lara Evoy & Stephanie Garrow: Strategic Consulting for social innovation and organizational learning

On a recent shoot, one of my clients had the brilliant idea to gift a professional photographer session to other women in her networking group. As we were working together on our shoot, collaboratively producing great images (because though my job is to get the best shots, I can’t do it without engaging my clients and having them participate actively in their own photo shoot) she realized that the photo session she’d booked with me was not just a ticked box on a to-do list for updating a website, it was actually fun and something worth sharing. I can’t help but agree.


Don’t let Photoshopped images deny you the pleasure of a good meal this holiday season


Here’s a quick 5 Minutes Of What The Media Actually Does To Women video,  I discovered on Upworthy, a great site I’ve recently stumbled upon that shares news worth sharing. As a photographer I often spend more time than I want to toiling away in Photoshop making people look like the enhanced versions of themselves. I’m usually working on images of regular working people for their corporate portraits, family portraits or LinkedIn headshots. These are not models with body images but even still, there is the latent desire to see oneself perfected, to have a few lines removed here, a slight restructuring of the jaw there. I admit my guilt in doing these digital cosmetic surgeries, but share the opinion voiced in this video that unrealistic images, particularly of women, are damaging to women themselves, promote self-loathing and create a space where violence against women can happen by dehumanizing and objectifying women. I’m a father of a young girl and I feel a personal responsibility in making sure she grows up with a healthy self-image. She sometimes sits with me as I work in Photoshop where I show her how images are created and hopefully she learns a little bit about the difference between images and reality. She may still love Princesses and Hello Kitty, but when it comes time to eat, she’s fed a good wholesome meal which she devours with pleasure. So this holiday season my wish is that the women of the world reject the notion of false beauty projected through dehumanized, over-Photoshopped images of women, and dig in to their holiday meals with gusto!



Best sizes for your online profile pictures in all social media

Thanks to my friend Ray Hiltz, who sent me a link to this article on How to Optimize Your Profile Photos Across Social Media, the highlights of which I’ve summarized here below. Worth checking out the full article if you are a professional photographer and/or just looking to have your profile photo looks its best on the most popular social media platforms.

One big happy family
One big happy family


  • Profile pics are displayed at 160 x 160 pixels, but the image you upload must have minimum measurements of 180 x 180 pixels.
  • Cover photos should be 851 pixels wide, 315 pixels tall and less than 100KB


  • Maximum file size for a Twitter avatar is 2MB, though it will show only as 73 x 73 pixels on your profile page and a very small 48 x 48 pixels in tweets
  • Header photos can be up to 5MB in size; the recommended dimensions for these images are 1252 x 626 pixels


  • consider what kind of image will work in a round format as the default form in Google+ circles is well, a circle
  • avatar displays 120 x 120 pixels on your profile, but not all of that will show up due to the round crop
  • Post images will be as small as 48 x 48 pixels and just 28 x 28 in comments

You Tube:

  • Since Google owns You Tube, the same image requirements for Google+ apply, however unique to the You Tube platform is cover photo You Tube calls “channel art” for which the recommendation is to upload a 2560 x 1440 pixel image


  • Max file size of 4MB
  • Upload a square JPG, GIF or PNG (default size for a LinkedIn avatar on your profile page is 200 x 200 pixels, but users can click to enlarge the image up to 450 x 450 pixels).
  • Company logos on company pages display on LinkedIn pages at 100 x 60 pixels, and the square logo is 50 by 50 pixels. You can also upload a homepage cover photo-style image to a company page. The minimum recommended size is 646 x 220 pixels.

As mentioned above, this summary is taken from an article on Mashable, worth checking out for more ample detail on the content quoted above.

Leverage your Human Resources department to get the best deal on a new corporate portrait

3P5A6506eI regularly visit professionals in their workspaces in and around Montreal to update their corporate portrait. Almost without fail, the need for the portrait is immediate, last-minute, rushed. There are many reasons for this:

  • I was nominated for an award and I won! Eek!
  • I am being featured in an article on the company website
  • My department/team hit a major milestone and we want a group photo
  • I was recently promoted and the announcement comes out in 3 days!
  • Our company will be featured in an upcoming news story and they need a new photo of me!

The list goes on and on, but the end result is always the same. I come to the office with a small, convenient professional lighting setup (with seamless backdrops in grey and white), pass a few pleasantries with my subject, shoot a series of portraits (head and shoulders, full body, tight crops around the face, etc) and quickly submit proofs online so the client can immediately choose one, have me edit it and send it out in time to reach the impending deadline.

As you can imagine, waiting to the last-minute and putting a rush order on everything has an impact on the price, as it may entail shifting around other less urgent contracts and/or other accommodations.

3P5A0547 - Version 23P5A2323A good idea and easy way to save on your corporate portrait or LinkedIn profile picture is to work with your HR resource in-house and have them schedule a half or full day shoot in your office. Any day can work, your time commitment is minimal (usually no more than 20 minutes) and even if you are paying out of your own pocket, you will benefit from a group rate as it is much more economical to shoot several portraits in one day in one location, than one or two here and there over the course of many days. It is not unrealistic to gain an 80% reduction in the price of a portrait, simply by coordinating internally to have at least 5 other people in your company have their portraits taken on the same day.

October and November are great months to book a portrait session so that your profile picture is updated and ready to whirl out into cyberspace once 2014 rolls around (it’s sooner than you think!)


Happy Valentine’s Day! 2-for-1 portraits this February only


If your restaurant dinner and special little Valentine’s Day present set you back a little more than you really wanted to spend, I’ve got some good news on how you can save big on a corporate or personal professional headshot this February.

With Valentine’s Day around the corner, Julian Haber Photography is offering a 2-for-1 special on headshots.  Whether for your corporate profile, to update your LinkedIn profile to go with your new job, or just because you want a beautiful photo of you and your loved one to put on your desk in pretty little Valentine’s Day picture frames, this special is for you.VDAYport2

Here’s how it works:

  1. Pair up with a friend, a colleague, partner, spouse, boyfriend/girlfriend (heck bring your pet) and book your 2-for-1 shoot to be taken any time between Valentine’s Day, February 14th (that’s tomorrow for forgetful boyfriends/hubbys) and February 28, 2013
  2. You both get all your photos from your session delivered via download within 24hrs + one photo printed at size 4×6 on the spot
  3. You also get to choose up to 3 high res images (good for printing) each edited to perfection and delivered to you via password protected download within 24 hrs

Book today. No limits. But don’t wait till March or you’ll be too late for this fantastic, once a year, incredible deal. Which reminds me, I haven’t mentioned the price. Get ready. (Trust me, it won’t hurt and is likely less than a dinner for two cost you on Valentine’s Day)


Special Valentine’s Day Price: $150 for both (yup that’s just $75 each. Sorry the deal can’t be split in half.)


Start 2013 with a new LinkedIn profile picture

LinkedInblogYou don’t have to pay a professional photographer to do your profile picture for LinkedIn, but if you are serious about your career, why wouldn’t you? For less than the price of one work outfit you can have an expert corporate photographer take your portrait providing you with at least three different shots to choose from so you can even refresh your image throughout the year at no additional cost. If you monetize and factor in the time it would take you to take your own photo, edit it so you look your best and then post it to your profile, the cost of having it professionally done for you is a wash.

But hey, maybe even knowing all that, one of your goals this year is to be as frugal as possible and you think you can do as good a job as a pro on your own. If so, you need to at least make sure you do a few things right – and a cropped shot of you from your beach vacation in Cancun isn’t appropriate in case you were wondering. What might look great on your Facebook profile page viewed by friends and family isn’t necessarily what is appropriate for the more professional “Facebook for adults” environment that LinkedIn represents.

While having a profile picture is not mandatory on LinkedIn, would you trust someone online who didn’t want to show a true likeness of themselves, particularly in a professional networking context? Did you know, for example, that “LinkedIn can remove your profile image if it is not your likeness or a headshot photo and that if LinkedIn removes your “photo 3 times, you will not be able to upload a photo to your profile again.”

With that in mind, you need to also make sure your photo is in the following formats (taken from LinkedIn’s photo settings recommendations page):

  • You can upload JPG, GIF or PNG files
  • File size – 4MB maximum.
  • Pixel size: 200 x 200 minimum and 500 x 500 maximum

I would recommend using the maximum pixel sized image to take full advantage of the space allotted to the profile photo. Try to show yourself in the best  light possible, ideally looking straight on into the camera with your shoulders at a slight angle to ensure you don’t look like you are posing for a mug shot. Have your hair done as best you can, apply a small amount of glare reducing makeup and even though this is a professional site, you don’t have to look like a stern prison warden (unless of course, that’s the kind of career you are pursuing).


Top five most popular blog posts

View of Montreal from atop Mount Royal, looking south to the St. Lawrence riverJust a little past the deadline for year-end reviews, I know, but I still think it worthwhile to share the top five most popular posts from blog based on how often they were viewed and read. I’ve also made a tweak to this blog to allow for comments (which I had turned off initially due to an unbelievable amount of spam), so please feel free to comment if any of the links to articles below are helpful for you.

1. Personalized family portrait sessions in your own home

2. Adding a photobooth to your next event is easier than you think

3.What’s in a photographer’s price?

4.Stop getting ripped off for wedding photography

5. What Makes a Great Wedding Photographer?

Julian Haber PhotographyAs one of Montreal’s leading corporate portrait photographers, event photographers and family portrait photographers, I want also to take this time to thank my many clients from 2012 and all the new friends who’ve liked my Facebook page and/or lePartybooth on Facebook and who’ve experienced the mad silly fun of hosting one of lePartybooth‘s madcap set ups at their event.lePartybooth If you haven’t already, please do visit either of these two sites. Many of my clients spend time on Facebook which is why these sites were created. Most (though not all) blog posts I publish here are linked to on either of those two sites so if you prefer streaming all your media through your Facebook account, then you may find it easier to follow my blog posts there.

I am always looking for new content to post here so if you have any suggestions or questions you’d like to ask a professional photographer in Montreal, please send me an email anytime.

I am looking forward to 2013 and have some exciting new ideas for a new line of personalized portraits I will be blogging about in the coming months so stay tuned and keep smiling — the best is yet to come.



Sometimes a portrait needs a little digital surgery

As a corporate portrait photographer, many of my contracts involve visiting an office to do a series of portraits in one day. This is a time and cost effective way for both the client and photographer to get the job done, and helps ensure consistency with the images. However, as with any people based business, even if corporate portraits often follow specific conventions, occasionally a subject steps a little too close to the lens, or too far away, or the crop is a little tight and suddenly a problem is created. While all the other photos show the top of the head, in one or two a tip of the subject’s head was cut off. This happened to me on a recent shoot but it is an easy problem to solve.

It’s important to take more photos than you will use when shooting portraits for a few reasons. Primarily, clients will want a selection to choose from period since it is their portrait after all. It is also, however, important for the photographer to have a few takes that can be used to “harvest” from, in the case (as above) where you may need to perform digital surgery. While the first portrait in the above series showed the requisite amount of head, the more interesting portrait didn’t. No problem.

The first thing I did was extend the canvas size of the selected image so that I would have some space to “stitch” the missing head piece onto. Then, using the lasso crop tool and feathering the selection to about 15 or even higher, I selected the amount of head I wanted to add and dragged it over to my destination image.  Since I was creating black and white portraits, once I had attached the head tip where it belonged and (using the Transform tool) slightly resized it to fit the new head, I added a new layer for black and white and made any final touchups necessary to blend the two pieces into one.

There are many other cases where having more than one portrait to choose from helps get the job done, like fixing glare on eyeglasses, or even adding in an eye on an unfortunately timed blink. It is all part of a professional portrait photographer’s tool kit and having an extra set of images in store helps ensure delivery of one final portrait for the client. These kinds of edits are best avoided of course, but sometimes can’t be helped. Ultimately, the best portrait is the one the client likes and will use for its intended purpose whether that is an updated website or a holiday card going out to clients at the end of the year. The job of the portrait photographer is to ensure that the client gets what he or she wants, even if it takes a little surgery in the digital darkroom to make it happen.

The power of the last minute

“Were it not for the last minute, a whole lotta things would never get done” ~ Cowboy Logic

I once had a little book of collected wisdom from cowboys called Cowboy Logic and among the many gems, the above quote has never left my mind since I’ve been a professional event and portrait photographer in Montreal. I can’t count the number of jobs I book with a frantic caller worried about how last minute it is, and how there is really a short window and would I be available er, this afternoon or maybe tomorrow?  I am always happy to oblige whenever I can, much to the relief of my clients, and I’m happy to have the opportunity to deliver. The reality of a working photographer’s life whose clients are corporations, PR consultants, office managers or communications professionals is that their work is almost always high pressure, deadline driven projects and they are relentlessly overworked, understaffed and regularly working to the last minute.

While it seems odd that a corporate portrait is something that urgently needs doing, I am no longer surprised by the caller asking me if it is at all possible to do the shoot and have the final edited images back within 24 hours. I realized long ago that people tend to stick with any good headshot they have of themselves for as long as humanly possible. It is not uncommon for a working professional at an executive level to be using a headshot that is 5 years (or more) out of date. And then suddenly they’ve been asked to speak at a conference, or are getting a promotion, or have an article about them or their business being published and they need a new, updated corporate headshot desperately. Like right now.

I get it. Most non-models do not like having their portrait done. They are busy, and underneath their well designed polished exteriors, they suffer from the same insecurities about how they look as regular working Joes. While that CEO may be running a multi-million dollar operation, he (and yes, men seem to worry more about their appearance than women) will be conscious of how his smile looks, or if he’s showing too much teeth. So they avoid scheduling a headshot.  Even though the shoot can be done in their office, and fairly quickly (as I’ve written about a few times here and here), hiring a photographer to come in for a photoshoot seems like a hassle and is likely why, when I am hired, I end up doing the whole team at the same time.

The last minute is on many projects, not just corporate or event photography related ones, the most important minute. And there’s no need to apologize or feel guilty about having to use it to get the job done. That’s just the way it is.

And if you like the way cowboys think, like I do, here’s another quote for you that is fairly irrelevant to this post, but good advice nonetheless: “Always drink upstream from the herd.”


Heads up! Give your clients a headstart with a professional portrait

Every job seeker needs a good professionally taken portrait to help them achieve their professional goals.  In a competitive market, any extra advantage is valuable and a good, well done portrait is just such an advantage.

In business it often seems unfair that the employed have so many advantages over the unemployed and those temporarily out of the workforce for myriad reasons (career changers, corporate restructurings, leap of faith searching for dream job). Not only do the employed benefit from the corporate rates and buying power of their employers, they also get regularly updated professional photos of themselves that they can use across their increasingly networked online accounts.  Working as an independent professional photographer in Montreal, I empathize with hard-working people who are looking to make a change in their life but who may be feeling a little overwhelmed by all the added costs of being outside of the security of a full-time job. Cell phones, internet access, computers, even new clothes all cost money that someone operating on a reduced income or tighter budget may not always have available.  Usually the added cost of having a professionally done headshot is one of the items that people know they need to do, but have a hard time justifying when they are not working. This is both unfair and sadly, counterproductive as it is precisely during this period that projecting an image of confidence and optimism is most needed — and something a well lit and professionally taken photograph will do.

Whether it is for a new Linkedin profile, or to personalize an avatar when joining one of the thousands of online conversations taking place daily, a good photo helps communicate professionalism. As a headhunter, career counsellor or career placement service, helping your clients put their best foot forward is part of your job. Working throughout Montreal, I regularly visit corporate offices and set up small, onsite studios for taking corporate portraits, and this service is available to all clients of head hunters, career counsellors or career placement services as well.  Making a career change takes time and effort and the process usually involves at least one if not a series of meetings with a professional recruiter who can offer guidance and tips. At your next client meeting, schedule a bit of extra time ahead of the meeting and bring in a professional photographer to help give your clients an edge.  If booking for more than one client, take advantage of group rates and bulk discounts that are routinely provided to corporations bringing in a professional corporate photographer for their key executives and public facing agents.

Take a look at a few recent examples here of corporate portraits taken throughout Montreal head and satellite offices in 2012 and give your clients some real added value by helping them get an updated profile picture. Not only will it help them get the new job of their dreams, they will remember the extra attention you gave them as their head hunter, recruiter or career counsellor when they are ready to upgrade to their next, even better job.