So what is life like as a freelance event photographer in Montreal? Well, after surviving February (the most feared month of the year for any freelancer), March has kicked off with a roar. It’s never easy to predict workflow or plan for last minute assignments, but sometimes they can happen fast and furious and the job of a freelancer is to answer the call.
Your 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.
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 presentation 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.
Every once in a while as a professional portrait photographer in Montreal, I get to do some work that really makes me feel good about myself and the people I am working with. There is a family I have known for many years, people I’ve grown up with, whom I love and respect deeply. They are a wonderful family, all boys (really big boys) and all smart, successful, personable and just really good people. Of course, a brood like this doesn’t come out of nowhere and the pater and mater familias are themselves true gems of humanity – the kind of people who make you proud to be a humanist and happy to know them.
I had the great honour and privilege to do a family portrait for this family, in honour of a 75th birthday for a man who is, for want of a better word, noble. It was a balmy end of summer evening, the cooler on the back deck was well stocked with white wine and beer, and the grandchildren were all shiny and freshly bathed. To keep things simple, and convenient given the number of people involved, we opted to do the portrait right there in the back yard. And I must say, the results were stunning. I’ve never been prouder of a family portrait than I am of this one, for many reasons but also for the simplicity of the set up and the ease with which we managed to get a series of families portraits done in one quick session.
(We also had a little fun recreating a family portrait taken twenty years earlier.)
I 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.
A 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!)
This fall season has been wonderfully busy for my event photography services (and new photobooth fun) throughout Montreal. One of my favourite events this September was providing portraits for the attendees to the Royal Canadian Hussars (RCH) 200th Anniversary Calvary Ball held at the Fairmount Queen Elizabeth hotel. I love any opportunity I get to bust out my black tie outfit and taking portraits of guests dressed in their full uniform bedecked with medals and shiny brass buttons allowed me to help make the event memorable for the attendees. This year marks the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812, but is also an opportunity for the RCH’s to celebrate their 200 years of Cavalry in Montreal. History and tradition are important and there is no better way to mark the occasion to have a fine, onsite portrait taken of the men and women who dedicate themselves to the goals of their regiment and wear their colours proudly. I was honour to be chosen as the official onsite portrait photographer for the event and enjoyed handing out framed prints to the guests to help them preserve the memory of this fine event.
If you are planning or organizing a gala or ball this season, don’t miss the opportunity to give your guests a lasting impression of your event by giving them an onsite portrait, printed and framed that they can leave with when the night is done.
Check out the portraits from the Royal Canadian Hussar’s 200th Anniversary Calvary Ball gallery below:
Last weekend I was called to photograph a family portrait at Chateau Veaudreuil, near Montreal. The family was gathered (from all over the world) on the occasion of a milestone birthday, and since all were well dressed and in a celebratory mood, it was an ideal time to get a quick family portrait done as well. My client was smart to realize the opportunity and I thought it worth sharing.
It is difficult with modern working families to get everyone together. But almost everyone I know would love to have an updated family portrait. Maybe a new child has come along, or a parent is recovering from a serious illness and suddenly you become aware of how important family is. I know it is for me and I am most proud of my work as a family portrait photographer when I see how much meaning and value a “simple” photograph of loved ones gives.
With agile field equipment, a practical and completely efficient photo studio can be set up just about anywhere. If you’ve got a big family get together planned, whatever the occasion, think about calling in a portrait photographer to take advantage of that rare occasion when everyone you love is together in one place. While we are all always in touch now with Instagram feeds, Facebook, Twitter, or simply email, there is nothing like being together in real time in the real world. I’m lucky to live close to my immediate and extended family. Even so, there is something special about seeing a photograph of the whole family together – not a collage of loose photos but the real deal.
If you get the chance to be a part of a big family gathering, get a portrait taken on the spot. Don’t let the opportunity pass you by, or one day you may find you are sorry that you did.
In today’s world you are everywhere. Your face is popping up on your contacts’ mobile phones when they call you. Your profile picture is displaying to complete strangers who find you on Google+. Your Facebook page, no matter how tightly you control your privacy settings is displaying your profile picture to people who may be doing research on who you are, trying to glean information about you however they can. Your Linked In profile is being scrutinized by prospective employers, colleagues working with you on a project, vendors looking for leads and old high school friends. Your Twitter picture is displayed on Tweetdecks and other tweet stream aggregators on iPads, desktop computers and laptops. And that’s just your personal publishing empire. You may also have a photo up somewhere on your corporate website, it may be sent out to media with your bio or included in a magazine article about you, your team or your organization. Wherever you live, work and play, the image you use to show the world these days increasingly is the first thing people will see when they contact you. In many cases, if you have any online component to your business (and who doesn’t?) your profile image may be the ONLY image people have of you.
Yes, we judge the book by its cover
As humans, we highly value visual stimuli (our brains are wired for it) and by extension, no matter how appealing it is to our higher natures, your book is being judged by its cover. Given its importance in a hyper-connected, always online world, it is worth investing a small amount of time, effort and yes, money, in getting a professional portrait taken for the widespread use it will enjoy.
Your photographer as therapist
As a portrait photographer, I believe my role is to provide more than just an expertly taken photograph with proper lighting, editing and formatting for all online and print use. In order to really get your portrait right I need to understand what your business is and what you will be using the photos for (primarily). I need to know and understand who you are. And we need to get along well so that you feel good, confident, relaxed and at your best when I start shooting. A perfect portrait should look effortless, like all things done well, but it isn’t achieved without hard work, experience and a sincere commitment to the art form that it is.
Don’t worry, by happy
People across all industries and at all levels of professional development, whether the CEO of a multinational corporation, or an independent artist just starting out, carry around insecurities and hang-ups about the way they look. They worry their hair is too grey or too thin, their bodies too fat or too skinny, their skin too mottled or too wrinkled…Most people are skilled at hiding these concerns and most of the time, the pace of life is such that these anxieties are simply buried – but stand before a camera, a big white soft box and a clean white backdrop and suddenly, people begin to feel nervous. One of the most important parts of my job as a portrait photographer begins before I ever press the shutter button on my camera. My first job is to put you at ease and have you enjoy the photo session we are about to start. Once that happens, amazing photos always follow and you will be surprised, and happy, that all the things you worried about, don’t matter any more.
In a competitive world you’ve got to use everything you have to get ahead. Don’t let a poor quality profile picture stand in the way of your success. My goal as a portrait photographer, whether for corporate onsite portraits, personal or professional headshots is to deliver top quality images and impeccable customer focused service. Why settle for less? Please click on image below to visit my portfolio site.
Here are a few brief tips to keep in mind, which apply not only for corporate headshots but also generally to any portrait session.
Put on your power suit
More than anything else, the most important feature of a good corporate portrait is to look professional and relaxed. A corporate portrait will be used for a variety of purposes: in-house publications, on the company websites, LinkedIn, etc. You want the photo to project confidence, skill and to make you look like the kind of person other people would like to work with. It sounds simplistic, but it is quite difficult to look good and relaxed, comfortable, poised and in control if you don’t feel it first. So choose an outfit that you feel powerful in.
Now for the technical dos and donts
While the above holds true in all situations, there are some simple rules of thumb to keep in mind when preparing for your photoshoot. A general guding principle is that you want good contrast and clothes that flatter you in which you look and feel your best. Here are a few more, easy to remember, dos and donts:
- Favor solid colours over busy patterns – you want the focus of the image to be you, not your clothes
- Choose colours that match your skin tones – we come in all shapes and colours, so choose what fits and matches you best
- Wear dark colours if you want to look slimmer – but keep in mind where the photos will be taken (i.e., if against a dark background, you will blend in if your colours are too dark. In that case, choose something lighter.)
- Take extra care of all your personal grooming – be well rested, shaved in the right places, showered, hair clean, brushed and neat looking, brushed teeth and a bit of makeup (lips, cheeks, forehead) goes a long way (even for men).
- Think about the background. If your photos are going to be taken in your office which has beige walls, don’t wear a beige suit. In general, try to wear darker, solid colours. White can work, but again, if your walls are bright white you can get lost in it.
- Don’t wear clothes in which you easily overheat. A photo session is work – lights will shine on you, you will be moving around, posing, trying out different positions and may also feel a little nervous and self-conscious. All that usually causes people to perspire. You can do yourself a favour by wearing clothes that breathe.
- Don’t be too trendy. Stick to the classics – trendy styles come and go but if you choose a straight, classic look, your photo will be useful across a wide range of applications and give you plenty of time before you need a new one.
- Don’t be too self-conscious. It is natural to feel that way, of course, but your photographer is your friend. A good one will not choose images that don’t flatter you so don’t worry and feel awkward about the way you look. Everyone has a good side!
And finally, have fun. A photoshoot can be enjoyable. Even if it is just a short break in your day, it’s fun to have someone come to your office, and tell you how good you look. Enjoy it!