Sometimes as business people we can get so focused on the forest that we miss the trees. We forget that we are walking billboard for our companies and that our portraits are often one of the first lines of introduction to our target market. Your portrait or headshots has to convey an image that will generate a response, email, phone call or direct purchase, from your customer base. It is a core part of your branding.
It is said that a poor first impression takes thirty additional attempts to repair.
Here's why. Imagine that you're racing for a taxi, waiting for a latte at Starbucks or pacing outside a courtroom preparing for your next deposition. Someone catches your eye. You didn't intend it but, all of a sudden, you have an exchange with a human being that you will see only once in this lifetime. Immediately, your subconscious kicks into overdrive. "She looks kind," you think. Or "Good God. What fool let that ax murderer out of jail?"
The longer you look, the stronger that internal voice speaks. "I wonder if she would go out with me." Or "Does pepper spray have an expiration date?" Funny thing. That stranger you are staring at? The one you are making those assessments about? He or she is having some of those same thoughts and emotions about you. We just can't help ourselves. As human beings we make assessments based upon what we see.
When we make eye contact with someone else, even for a fraction of a second, we make thousands of judgments and evaluations about them based upon that eye contact. Some are good; others you wouldn't wish on your worst enemy.
For that reason, before you get your portrait taken, consider the demographics of your target market. What are their age, income, gender, ethnicity and geographic location? What are they looking for? What feeling or impression do you want them to experience from your website? What will make them pick up the phone and call?
In a culture drowning in a sea of information, branding yourself to your target audience makes all the difference.
That is why your portrait must convey the right message, not about your company, but about you.
If you are running for public office, you have to look commanding, someone not easily blown over by impossible obstacles.
If you deal with corporate acquisitions and mergers, you are someone who negotiates in the shark tank. So when your competitors look you up on the Internet, you want them to see your portrait and say, "That dude looks pretty sharp."
If you are a investment company, you have to remember that too many fast-talking, slick dealers in plaid jackets have sullied your world. You want to move away from the used car salesman look to an image that conveys trust, integrity, kindness and competence.
Even though a portrait is a two-dimensional, non-living thing, when we look into your face, we feel as though we are making eye contact. With that eye contact, we make a cascade of assumptions, opinions and decisions about you.
Understanding this core human dynamics essential when hiring a portrait photographer You have to work with someone with the ability, experience and know-how to capture your image in a way that will convey the message you want to send about yourself.
"I am intelligent." (I won't make your problem worse.)
"I am full of integrity". (Bernie Madoff and I are completely unrelated.)
"Trust me." (If the money in the bank were mine, I would lend it to you today.)
"I am a shark eater". (I will eat your competition for lunch.)
Bottom line, it doesn't matter if you are, as my dad used to say, "plain as a mud fence." The only thing that is important is working with a photographer who will create with you a portrait that conveys the core message about you.
Accomplish that and you are at a higher end of portraiture!
So, I tried a little humor to calm her down a bit. "So, it sounds like you would rather have a root canal?"
She chuckled. Which was a good sign.
"George, from the earliest that I can remember, I hated having my photograph taken. You see, my dad was a photographer."
"And he was constantly taking pictures of me!"
"Guilty as charged. I have been photographing my own daughter when she was still in the womb."
"I look at those shots he took. Agh. I hate them. I am just not photogenic."
"Now, just hold the presses there, madam."
"Can I tell you something? You and my daughter, who is now thirty-one years old, have an awful lot in common. The last time I tried to take her picture she stuck her finger right up her nose at me. My daughter is so sick and tired me sticking a camera in her face that she has even banned my cameras from her house."
"Smart girl," she laughed this time. We were getting somewhere now."
"I know it's easy for me to say but I do understand how you feel. But when I work with my clients, we are in this soup together. You won't have to worry about the clock. We will take as many shots as we need. There won't be any pressure or posing stuff you see in the Hollywood movies or some magazine. Every shot will go into the computer. So you can forget about blotchy skin, double-chins and even crooked noses."
"How about root canals?"
"Well, you are going to have to see my sister, the dentist, for that. I know I have her card around here somewhere. Let me see."
"O.K," she said, taking a deep breath, meaning it. "O.K."
What she would soon discover is that I know what I am talking about. Over the past forty years, I have taken over 20,000 portraits, which is not too bad for a guy who has seen the heights of celebrity fame and the lows of dog-dirty, Skid Row sidewalks. Throughout these years of seeking to be the best in my field, I have learned what great portrait photographers, like Gordon Parks, Yosef Karsh and George Hurrell, knew very well.
And it is this.
To achieve great portraits takes more than talent and life experience. You have to also understand the underlying dynamics of human nature and the vulnerability inherent in portraiture. Knowing how human beings think and feel, Parks, Karsh and Hurrell became masters in their craft, because, above all their natural gifts and technical skills, they also had the ability to make their subjects laugh, feel safe and take down the masks that we all hide behind.
So it is with me.
I am a creative artist who works with his clients to create a timeless image of their beauty, dignity, personality and unique selves. Does not matter if the shot is for the web, some brochure or headshot, I guarantee that the process will be what I have promised -- warm, friendly, without pressure and even enjoyable.
Such is the joy of my life. Few things come close to hearing the words, "George, I have never had a good picture taken of myself until now."
From PCs and laptops to smart phones your clients first choice for information is the Internet. Your website has become the first point of contact with those seeking products or services. With only seconds to grab their attention and begin to establish confidence in your products and services a finely crafted business portrait goes a long way in introducing you and helping you begin to build a foundation of trust.
As one of LA leading business, corporate, and executive portrait photography experts we bring over thirty years of experience serving the law and attorney, business and corporate community to create executive headshots and business and corporate portraits that help our clients reach their clients
We would like to suggest two options that will make getting your work completed quick and easy. The most economical option is to stop by our studios, located in Downtown LA, where you can quickly get your portrait session completed and be on your way. If you are considering one person or your entire staff, session times can be scheduled that will make it simple to complete the project.
The second option takes into consideration your time and convenience, maximizing productivity by allowing you to remain on the job with as brief an interruption in you work schedule as possible. We come equipped with full studio location capabilities, allowing us to set up a completely functioning professional portrait studio in a boardroom or foyer and photograph the entire staff in short order, with the least amount of interruption to your workday. You choose what will best suit your needs. We are here to ensure a great experience.
"A friend of a friend told me that her uncle does wedding photography on the side. Won't that do?" she said, trying not to whine.
I looked at my watch. Half-past six p.m. This assistant was working overtime.
"Well, sure. If you don't mind your boss looking like the father of bride..."
Frown. "Now, that would go over real well."
"If I may, what you need is a photographer who will show your boss that you know how to make a good choice"
Light bulbs going on. "Right." Pause. "You've had this conversation before."
"Oh, about a million times."
You didn't have be a brain surgeon to realize her predicament. Her boss was breathing down her neck because the company's social media guys were under the gun (i.e. panicking) to launch the company's website, Facebook page or Twitter site, yesterday. No. Make that the day before yesterday.
That meant this assistant was now under the gun to find someone to take her boss' portrait. However, because good portrait photographers don't grow on trees, she did what anyone else in her shoes would do.
She searched Google. That's where she found me right at the top of the list. Problem solved, she hoped.
"But what makes you a good choice, George?"
"I specialize in personal promotional portraiture"
Eyes glazing over. Say, what?
You see, in the world of portrait photography, you have two basic options. One type of portrait photographer specializes in weddings, families and kids. Their profit is made largely by the sale of prints and frames. Their goal is for you to spend a few grand before you walk out of their showroom or leave their website. That's their business model.
My clients are business people -- from small companies to international corporations. Professionals in their fields. Law. Banking, Finance, High Tech, Health. Public service, Internet. I don't need the showroom or to up-sell them on products because my services are paid for upfront. I understand business. I like business people. With each client, my goal is the same. I am there to enable them to successfully promote themselves through portraiture.
The biggest challenge that I encounter with most new clients is that they have no point of reference for hiring an artist. As a result, they monetize what I can do for them. The conversation usually goes along the line, "I saw your website. I like your work. How much do you charge?"
They are simply not aware of the bigger picture. If they called a wedding photographer or someone who does head shots for actors, these photographers might be great in their fields but what they often lack is the knowledge about how businesses works, how to navigate that environment or what corporate executives actually need.
Doesn't matter what level you work at. The person in that portrait is the company.
Every company has its values but, within this organization, that face in that portrait represents the core of the company. It is its first and highest selling point. For me, it is all about capturing an image that is real and consistent with the core brand of the company.
I photograph the ugliest person in the world the same way I shoot the most beautiful. I make them look their absolute most stunning best, striving for that compliment, "George, no one has taken a good shot of me until now."
Bottom line, in this economy, who wants to spend their money on lemons? When you need the best first impression possible, your photos have to work for you.
Right now, this assistant needed to laugh. And go home.
"Did I mention that I repair cracked teeth at no extra charge?"
"O.K. George, you got me sold. Can you come in tomorrow?"
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