Before I began my career as a commercial photographer, I owned and operated a small, Michigan Avenue advertising and public relations agency. We would send the key executives of our clients to get headshots we could use in our public relations campaigns.
I would art direct many of these shoots. This experience taught me the methods that work and the ones that do not. I also learned the kinds of headshots that got picked up by the media. Soon I came to understand how to make them better than those of most other photographers doing them people doing them, sometimes for many years.
In addition to doing headshots, when I became a photographer I also did a lot of fashion. This developed my creative vision and heightened my sensitivity to detail and aesthetics, giving me an edge over the other photographers who lack this experience.
I felt then and feel today that most corporate and portrait shooters never grasp the corporate and professional aesthetic, which is usually obvious in their choice or backgrounds, lighting, and composition. It looks like they just take pictures in a perfunctory way and follow the usual recipes rather than designing images from artistic and marketing principles. They don’t try to make an impact with panache or an awareness of a company’s branding. This is a critical mistake in today’s market where branding and trust are so important.
Now, after 30 years of doing this work, when I shoot your professional headshot, I still care very much about the shot. If I had to distill into a single sentence the essence of my work it would this:
“I care how the shot looks, and I care how you look in the shot.”