Open House!

This weekend is National Open House weekend sponsored by the National Association of Realtors so if you’re in the market for a new home. thinking about it or just want to see the place around the corner that went up for sale, this weekend might be the time to do it.  Client and realtor Lyle Sorenson who is now with the Windermere Real Estate in Bellingham stopped by the studio yesterday and told me that there will be more than 200 houses open for view this weekend. That’s a lot of home viewing!

Lyle's a real estate professional with Windermere here in Bellingham.  He came in recently for an update for his business portrait.  We kept this one casual with an outdoor setting.
Lyle’s a real estate professional with Windermere here in Bellingham. He came in recently for an update for his business portrait. We kept this one casual with an outdoor setting.

If you’re home shopping, get in touch with Lyle.  He just told me yesterday about some new condo properties with fantastic 180-degree views in Blaine.  Might be just the thing if you’re in the market for a waterfront property!  You can check it out here on these on-line fliers from Lyle’s Facebook page: http://on.fb.me/1060QaB.

Lyle came in to pick up the finished images of his updated business portrait.  We did both a studio portrait and a more casual, outdoor portrait for him to give him flexibility. I advise all my business portrait clients to do that so they will have different images for different uses.  It also saves the client a lot of time and money in not having to reschedule a second appointment when they need a new image.

A studio portrait creates a different look.. It helps establish your professional image for your business' promotional purposes.
A studio portrait creates a different look.. It helps establish your professional image for your business’ promotional purposes.

It’s also a good idea to keep your business head shot current and refresh it with a new one at least every two years, if not more often. There’s nothing worse  than having a stale, outdated business portrait on your website or promotional materials.  On second thought, the only thing worse would be using an amateur snapshot to represent your professional image.

Business portraits are a specialty of my studio.  I love working with other professionals to help them achieve their business goals with a good, professional image.  Click here http://bit.ly/11r6zea  to go to my website and see what I have done for other Bellingham business professionals and can do for you!

What Not to Wear

March is ‘Getting Down to Business’ month at my studio. Schedule an appointment for your business portrait and receive a second finished image along with the one included in your session at no extra cost!  Contact my studio now for details!  http://www.southhillstudio.com/contact.htm

One of my favorite television indulgences is the TLC series, “What Not to Wear”. While I don’t watch every episode, I tune in now and then just to see what hosts Stacy and Clinton are doing for their latest fashion ‘victim.’ Sometimes I like the suggestions they make, sometimes not so much.

It’s a little like what I do for my business clients when planning their studio session. The difference being, of course, that I don’t tell clients that they must throw out everything in their closet before we start. Instead, here are some straight-forward, simple suggestions to help you look your  best in front of the camera and in your final business portrait. Thought I’d share them with you.

Attorney Jim Britain recently updated his business portrait.  Note that he selected a light blue shirt instead of the usual white.
Attorney Jim Britain recently updated his business portrait. Note that he selected a light blue shirt instead of the usual white.

1) Keep patterns to a minimum.  Solid colors, other than white, are usually more flattering to everyone and ‘read’ better in a business portrait. If you must wear something patterned, make it in the blouse or shirt beneath a jacket or sweater. Or better yet, as a scarf or tie. White dress shirts beneath a suit jacket are fine.

2)  Iron everything before  you arrive. There’s nothing worse than rumpled garments in a business portrait. Removing wrinkles from an image is costly and time-consuming.

3) Accessorize.  For women especially, a necklace or scarf can change the look of an entire outfit and is quick to do. For men, a couple different ties or a vest can make accomplish the same thing.

4) Bring two different sets of clothing. I allow my clients a change of clothing during their portrait session and encourage them to select one outfit that is more casual, perhaps even more ‘fashion-forward’  than the first. There are times when they need an image that is not quite a formal as the one on the website for promotional or publicity purposes. It’s easier, and more economical for my clients, to switch clothing at the initial session than to come back later.

For a second, more casual business look, Carolyn wore a sweater insteadl of the jacket.
For a second, more casual business look, Carolyn wore a sweater instead of the jacket.
Carolyn Coughlin chose a black suit for her website portrait.
Carolyn Coughlin chose a black suit for her website portrait.

5) Avoid clothing with fashion logos on them.  Whether you know it or not, a fashion logo subliminally sends a message to your clients. You want the focus on you, not who makes your clothing.

6)  Hats are a no-no. I love hats. I wear them all the time. But for a business portrait, unless you’re an artist with a paint palette in your hand, leave the hat off.

7) Glasses. If at all possible, ask your optician if you can borrow a set of empty frames like yours or similar to your for your portrait session. It helps to cut down on glass glare in the portrait and saves artwork time afterwards. If you don’t always wear your glasses, be sure to remove them for some images.

8)  Under-eye baggage.  Try to get a good night’s rest the evening before your portrait session. Everyone has shadows under their eyes but dark shadows due to lack of sleep are bad for business.

9) Easy on the make-up. Contrary to what a lot of people think, you don’t need to wear heavy make-up for a studio portrait. Most studio lighting used doesn’t require it. The type of make-up a woman might wear for a ‘glamour’ style portrait certainly isn’t appropriate for a business or professional portrait.

10) Hair today… Unless yours is a portrait for a hair salon, stick with your usual hairstyle, the one  familiar to your clients. If you’ve updated your hairstyle and plan to stick with it, then you need an updated business portrait as well. A trim a day or two before is fine, but if you need a cut, do so at least two weeks prior to your portrait appointment.

I hope that these tips are helpful. Your business portrait is an important part of your marketing effort. Take care in planning and selecting your portrait so that it sends the message you want to your business’ clients and customers.

Be Prepared for Your Business Portrait

March is ‘Getting Down to Business’ month at my studio.  When you schedule an appointment for a business portrait for yourself and/or your staff, you’ll receive a second image, in addition to the one included in your professional session  for no extra charge.

Every six months, I go  to the dentist to have my teeth checked and cleaned.  It’s part of my regular health maintenance program.  I’ll bet many of you do the same.  And yet, when it comes to ‘maintenance’ of your business image, some people think once every five or even ten years is good enough.  It’s not.  Like your teeth, your business portrait needs to be ‘cleaned up’ on a regular basis.  It’s often the first thing visitors see on your website or advertisements.  The impression your portrait creates could make a difference as to whether that individual decides to choose to do business with you instead of someone else.

Plan Ahead

When Jenne joined the team at Gene Bell & Associates, she needed a portrait for the website.  As someone who works closely with clients, she needed a warm, yet professional feeling to her image.
When Jenne joined the team at Gene Bell & Associates, she needed a portrait for the website. As someone who works closely with clients, her image needed to give a warm, yet professional feeling. Read her profile at: http://www.genebellassociates.com/Our-Team.1.htm

A little pre-planning before you arrive for your business portrait appointment will help both you and the photographer more successfully achieve your portrait goals.  I ask my clients when scheduling their appointment to think about how they plan to use this image.  Will it be for the website?  For a print ads? For editorial use? For the business card? Or all of these things.

Think about the image you wish to convey.  Trendy photos are fine for personal images but for the professional, consider what the portrait will say about your business, your personality, your credibility.  Will potential customers be put off if you present yourself seated atop your favorite motorcycle, for instance, unless you operate a business that sells or caters to that vehicle? Likewise, wearing a stern, harsh look on your face  instead of smile might say that you are ‘unapproachable.’  Not the image you want to project unless, perhaps, you’re a judge.  Even then you’d probably want to appear ‘knowledgeable and just, rather than grim and foreboding.

Set Your Stage

Since Jeff is a consultant to the snowboarding industry, an outdoor setting in casual dress best reflected both his work and his personality. Find him at: http://www.jeffharbaugh.com/about/

If the image is primarily for a website, think about where your business portrait will appear and how it relates to that page.  If it’s for your bio page, your photo needs to complement that information.  That may mean staging your portrait in your business environment instead of in the studio.

Generally, I advise clients to have one of both if possible because the two different settings have different applications. Clients ask for an outdoor setting because they want to create a ‘more relaxed’ impression on their customers.  That is often combined with a studio session because sometimes a more formal, more ‘business-like’ image is necessary.

An  ‘on-site’ session requires you to ‘dress the set’ just as in the movies. And just as in the movies, the background, the items on the desk and bookshelf all become elements in ‘your story.’  Clean off the clutter and keep personal items to a minimum unless they are key to your business image.

Studio vs On Location

John Walton's editorial portrait was staged at his company warehouse to accompany a feature article about him in a magazine. Read more about John at: http://waltonmagic.com/about-john/
John Walton’s editorial portrait was staged at his company warehouse to accompany a feature article about him in a magazine. Read more about John at: http://waltonmagic.com/about-john/

There are times when convenience requires the photographer come to you, instead of the other way around.  The advantage is generally one of time for the client, not the photographer.  However, for the formal business portrait, the studio is better.  Not only does the photographer have a greater command of tools in the studio–lighting, backgrounds, seating– but the studio is free of outside distractions.  In the studio, there are no telephone interruptions, no clients dropping in, no meetings disrupted.  That means that you will be focused on the task at hand and the results will be noticeable.

Remember, your annual business portrait update is an investment of both time and money well worth making.

Getting Down to Business

March is ‘Getting Down to Business’ Month at my studio!

Gaye Godfrey recently update her professional portrait for her website and says: "The thing I appreciated most about Cheryl and her photography skills is her intuitive ability to determine the perfect setup for each shot, i.e. attire, location, pose, lighting, outside conditions, and most of all she quickly understood my goals."
Gaye Godfrey, Benefit Auction Specialist, recently update her professional portrait for her website and says: “The thing I appreciated most about Cheryl and her photography skills is her intuitive ability to determine the perfect setup for each shot, i.e. attire, location, pose, lighting, outside conditions, and most of all she quickly understood my goals.”

Update that worn-out business image you’ve been using now.

My business and professional portrait sessions include a 30-minute studio session with a change of clothing (to vary your look), up to 20 images to select from and your choice of one image from the session fully retouched and prepared in four different formats for different business uses.  This month, schedule an appointment for a business portrait for yourself and/or your staff and receive a second image for no additional charge.

Keep your business and professional portrait current.  

Your  image reflects  how up-to-date you keep your business.  Likewise, using a “snapshot” or an amateur photo for your promotional materials is a mistake because that too projects your public image to your clients and customers.  Remember that old adage, “A picture is worth a thousand words?”   No where is it more true than in the professional world of business.

Hart Hodges needed an updated business portrait when he joined a new firm.
Hart Hodges needed an updated business portrait when he joined a new firm.

Regular updates of your professional portrait  is just good for business.  Styles change, trends change, you change–often for the better–so why not change the picture you use to present yourself as a professional?  Contact my studio and “get down to business” with a new, professional portrait.  Remember, this offer is only good through March.  Phone my studio for your appointment:  360-714-8241.

See more of my business and professional portraits on my website at  www.southhillstudio.com.