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Helping us be the face of our company

No matter what profession you are in, you know that working directly with clients can pose interesting challenges. However, we do what we do because we hope that our hard work will ultimately be appreciated. That’s why I am always incredibly humbled and grateful when a client goes out of their way to tell me what a wonderful job I’ve done for them.

I recently had the good fortune to work with Jackie Stuckert at NAPCO, Inc., an amazing company that manufactures and sells bathtub refinishing products and provides training for bathtub and tile refinishing professionals.

When Jackie initially contacted me, she was looking for an experienced photographer to take company headshots for their new website.

“Our need was for professional headshots. I have worked with photographers enough in the past to know that some are frankly much better than others, and I wanted the best. Our website is our virtual storefront, and I wanted out team to look their best.  When I sat down with Gary, I was floored! He’s just amazing!”

On our first phone call, Jackie explained what her goals were for the shoot: they wanted to get rid of the stock photos they currently had on their site and wanted to highlight their own people. She didn’t want overly “slick” photos but instead wanted more friendly, authentic photos of the NAPCO team and work environment. She wanted people to look great, feel comfortable, and not look like they were sitting specifically for a photo shoot.

G Thomas Ward Production Facility Photography

Jackie had a vision. I listened to Jackie, asked her a few questions, and offered suggestions for photo ideas and techniques I thought would work well for the NAPCO team. The collaboration Jackie and I shared for this shoot was instrumental to the overall success of the shoot. By throwing ideas back and forth, reviewing photos my clients like and dislike, we can land on a vision for a shoot that fits each their needs and goals.

When conducting a photo shoot, I strive to make everyone feel at home and at ease. In the days following the 1st shoot, I was pleased when Jackie told me that I “made everyone feel so relaxed and natural,” and that she noticed that I took the necessary time with each person to help them feel comfortable.

Jackie was so pleased with the results of the first session, she hired me again a couple weeks later to take additional photos of the Napco plant and the workers in action for their marketing materials.  During the 2nd shoot, while we were between shots, I had some down time, and noticed there was a training class in progress. There were 3 new trainees interacting with the instructor that I managed to get several candid shots of.  Later, I shared these with Jackie and was blown away by her response: “He took the best photos of our facility! They were casual but they truly capture what we do here…we didn’t even ask him to do that. He went above and beyond…that’s Gary for you!” Thanks, Jackie!

Fortunately, Jackie and her team had such a great experience that I’ve since been hired back for additional engagements. Since the initial headshot shoot, NAPCO has invited me back to photograph their products and services.

Napco photograph of training

I continue to have a great time working with Jackie and her team of professionals at NAPCO. I can’t wait to work with them again.

If you are looking for a professional photographer for your company headshots, marketing materials, or upcoming events, please reach out to me. I would love the opportunity to speak with you about your goals and how we may be able to work together.

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The Importance of Entertainment in Corporate Events

A corporate event plays an important role in strengthening your relationship with your clients, staff members, and customers. Whether you’re planning a conference, awards dinner, exhibition, or convention, corporate events can promote your business internally and externally.

A successful event is one that attendees will never forget. Enthusiasm and fun is the key to creating an unforgettable event. Hiring entertainers can help you achieve that goal.

Here are 3 reasons why you should find good entertainment for your next corporate event.

Keep attendees entertained

Conferences and seminars are can be boring. People will be sitting through hours of presentations and lectures. No matter how stimulating the content is, many of them will look exhausted, bored, or disengaged by the end of the day.

One of the best reasons to hire entertainment at corporate events is to keep attendees entertained.
Have bands or comedians perform during breaks in the action. When planned and executed well, this helps attendees relax, laugh, and creates a good vibe at the event. This will also stimulate the audience and energize them for the next sessions.

Generate interest

Entertainment is crucial if you are trying to launch new products. This is especially important if you choose to do so in at a large exhibition. Since different businesses will be vying for people’s attention and show off their products, you need something that would grab people’s attention. Entertainment such as live music will help generate interest and entice attendees over to your booth.

Motivate employees

Hosting a corporate event is a great way to train your staff and familiarize themselves with new products. It is also a great way show your appreciation and reward them for their hard work. By incorporating some entertainment into your event, you’re giving them a chance to have fun and let loose. A well-planned corporate event can motivate employees, which in turn will help increase productivity.

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Tips for Hiring a Professional Photographer

Photographs give life to moments in time, even after those moments fade into the past. At an event, photographers don’t just take photos. Instead, they use their skills, training, and experience to capture those memories as only a professional can.  As such, it’s important to take the time and plan according to hire a professional photographer who can meet your needs and understand your vision for the event.

We’ve compiled some useful tips to help you find the right photographer for your event – one who will provide you with quality photos capturing the heart of your event.

Photographic style

First things first. What type of photography style are you looking for?  You may know exactly what you want, but if you aren’t sure yet, that’s okay, too. Any experienced photographer should be able to walk you through their portfolio to help you understand various approaches and styles they are capable of capturing.

When hiring a photographer, take your time and conduct some research around different styles by browsing through various photographers’ portfolios. By identifying what you don’t like as much as what you do like, you’ll be able to find the right photographer for you.

Experience matters

Of course, you want to make sure that the photographer captures those once-in-a-lifetime memories. If you like what you see on their website or portfolio, don’t hesitate to setup an interview with them. Feel free to ask questions about their trainings, certifications, and experiences.

A seasoned photographer will exude confidence and will have the portfolio to back it up. This confidence comes with experience, and the more you speak with them, the better idea you will have of their comfort level of capturing your event the way you want.

Put everything in writing

Once you’re sure you have found the right photographer for your project, it’s time to dot the i’s and cross the T’s. Iron out the details from pre-shoot preparation through release of the photos. In order to avoid possible disputes down the road, do yourself a favor and put everything in writing. Go through the content of the contract with your photographer before either of you sign. Having this alignment from the very beginning helps ensure a smooth engagement and delivery of a superb product that you’ll be proud of for years to come.

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Tips for a Perfect Professional Business Portrait

For most people, having their portraits taken is synonymous to going to the dentist. The idea of posing in front of the camera makes people feel anxious and self-conscious. In reality, though, having a quality portrait on your website and other marketing materials is a must-have these days. Hiring a professional photographer to accurately capture the essence of you and your team is paramount.

If you’re like most people, you don’t normally have your photograph taken by a professional. That’s okay! A quality professional photographer will take the time to help you feel comfortable and at ease during your photo shoot.

Here are some tips for a cringe-free business portrait photo.

Location, Location, Location!

Location plays an important role in the outcome of your photos. Doing a shoot in indoors with a solid backdrop color is common and can provide great results. If you’re looking for something a bit out of the ordinary, though, consider having the photo session in an outdoor location you love. Another option is to do the session in your office or a location that best represents your business. Being some place where you are comfortable and at ease will improve the resulting photos.

Cool and Confident

Wardrobe choice and location are important aspects of your photos, but if you’re not feeling confident when your photos are being taken, your clothes and the location can’t save you. So, put on your happy face and let’s see your true smile!

Nothing looks better than a genuine smile. Even complete strangers visiting your website will know whether or not your smile is “real.” Your personality shines through when you pose with a genuine smile for your portraits. A happy portrait also exudes confidence in your business. Ideally, your portrait photo will be uploaded on your website, on your social media profiles, and will also be used for speaking engagements. Be confident and give it your best.

Wear the right clothes

Business portraits are typically taken from the waist up. Choosing the right wardrobe to fit the theme of your photoshoot is very important.

The type of clothes you wear have a significant impact not only on the resulting images but on your confidence level as well. Every client’s goal is to look great in their photos, so make sure that you choose clothes that you feel comfortable wearing and that look good on you! Your outfit should be appropriate for your position and your business, and it should be something you like to wear. If you wear an outfit you love, that is one less thing you’ll have to worry about when it comes time to take the photos.

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Reasons Every Business Needs Professional Photos

Whether you’re running a mom-and-pop shop or a multi-million dollar company, you need to understand that the images you use on your website play a significant role in the success of your business. Not only do professional photos help enhance your brand, they also help in growing your business. As such, having professional photos of your products, services, and your team is an investment that should be high on your list.

In this blog post, we explore some of the reasons why you should invest in professional photos.

Wow! Factor

With so many businesses vying for the attention of customers, you want to find a way to capture the attention of your target audience. To do that, you need to go the extra mile to feature your products in an captivating and creative way.
People are visual creatures. We like looking at pretty things. Since the advent of the camera phone, the average consumer is used to being able to capture a photo of anything at anytime, even if it isn’t the best quality. That’s why quality, professional photos that grab the attention of your target audience are so important. By working with a professional photographer, you can work on a unique concept and showcase your products in a different way that separates you from the competition. Because of this, your photos will be more visually impactful and memorable.

Professional look

Think of your website as your storefront. Your website is usually the first encounter people have with your business, and you want to make a great first impression. Make it count!

When featuring your products on your site, make sure that you use high quality photos. This will raise the perception of your business and give you and your product a more trustworthy appeal. If you have low quality, grainy photos, however, people will make assumptions that your products are low quality, as well. Avoid this common misstep, and hire a professional photographer so you can showcase your business in a professional manner.

Online presence

The internet is the first place people go to when looking for certain products or services. They search online and visit websites of businesses in order to see what they have to offer.

More often than not, people only stay in a website for about 10 to 20 seconds. That’s it. That isn’t very long for you to make an impression, so do yourself and your customer a favor: provide them with exactly what they’re looking for.

We know that good content is one of the key ingredients to success, but great photos are the ones that capture the attention of people and entice them to learn more about what you have to offer and why you’re right for them. By combining these elements, you’ll be able to come up with an excellent marketing campaign that will drive more traffic to your website. Never underestimate that power of a good photo!

Contact G. Thomas Ward to secure the best corporate photos in Chicago.

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DEDON and Designer Stephen Burks Event Photography

I was contacted by Emily Levin at BDE about photographing a presentation by Designer Stephen Burks, an amazing artist who designs furniture for DEDON. The presentation was in the morning, followed by a reception and cocktail party in the evening.

I was selected by Emily based on my ability to capture engaging photos that tell the story of an event without being intrusive and for my ability to work indoors in lower light situations without using flash. Emily’s goal in hiring a photographer was to capture photos that gave the feeling that you were there…without being overly posed or harshly lit with a camera flash.

Once the clients saw my event work, they asked me if I was available to shoot more architectural-style images (with a particular goal of capturing the details) of the interior of the showroom with Stephen Burks’ furniture. I enthusiastically accepted! When they viewed the finished images, I was told, “The photos are beautiful!”

The people I teamed up with at BDE and DEDON were wonderful to work with. I made sure to get them the images that they wanted and needed. Whenever a client tells me that the photos I’ve taken for them are “beautiful,” the feeling is something akin to what an actor must feel when they receive a standing ovation. It’s nice hear the appreciation in their voices and see their faces light up when they see a particularly striking photo. I also love being able to help clients achieve their goals in marketing and PR and knowing that in some small way, I helped move their business forward.

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How to Prepare for a Headshot or Portrait Photo Session

If you’re like most people, you probably dislike the idea of closeup photos of yourself. But as a business owner, having a professional headshot is important. Remember that you are representing your business, so you want to make sure to make a great impression.

There is more to capturing great photos than just showing up at the studio and smiling in front of the camera. There are a few things you need to do to help optimize your photo shoot and capture great photos. Here are a few to get you thinking.

Hair

Your hairstyle plays an important role in the way you look. Use hair products like gel or hairspray to tame frizz and enhance shine. Make sure, though, that you wear your hair as you would every day. Natural-looking may be better than over-done, over-sprayed and over-teased, but the best look is well-groomed and professional. If you are planning to cut your hair, do so a week before the shoot.

Makeup

Headshots are not supposed to be glamour shots. You want to look the same way as you do in real life. Your makeup should be simple, but well done. Don’t go overboard. If you wear a lot of makeup, it will not look natural. Apply makeup to enhance your facial features.

If you can afford it, hire a makeup artist to ensure that you look your best throughout your photo session.  Be cautious about having your hair and/or makeup done in a salon before a shoot.  It is better to work with the photographer’s hair and makeup artist who is experienced at preparing clients for photo sessions, which can be very different than every-day, street, or evening makeup.  Also, having a hair and makeup present during the shoot allows for changes during the photo session.

Wardrobe

Your primary goal is to capture photos that best represent you. When choosing your outfit, opt for clothing that reflects your personality. Colors look great in photos. Choose colors that will complement your skin tone and will make certain features like your eyes pop. Since you want viewers to focus on your face, avoid tops with big prints and busy patterns.  Avoid anything that adds bulk, like shoulder pads, or big scarves.

If you’re having a hard time deciding what to wear, we suggest that you bring different outfits on the day of the shoot – from shirts to sweaters to formal blouses and light jackets. Then, your photographer can help you decide which works well on camera and to see what looks good on you. What’s important is that you’re comfortable with what you’re wearing and that you feel great in it. If you feel uncomfortable, it will show in your photos.

Be yourself

While all other elements such as clothing, hair and makeup will have a huge impact on the outcome of the photos, your attitude during the shoot is actually a lot more important than your hairstyle, your lipstick shade or what you wear.

Show the camera how awesome you are! The best photos are those that reflect who you are as an individual. Bring your personality to the shoot and be your own unique self.

At G. Thomas Ward Photography in Chicago, we let our professional clients bring their headshots to the next level by including the more playful option of having their shots with Sirius Black (our studio mascot). A long time client, local commercial real estate company Telos, for example,  takes their “official” portrait, as well as these ones to show their true personalities!

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The Importance of High Quality Images for Your Website

In an era where everyone has access to smart phones and a digital camera, it can be easy for people to dismiss the idea of hiring a professional photographer for your website. Although these devices allow you to take decent photos, understanding how essential good photography is for your business is paramount.

The type and quality of images you display on your website are reflect the quality of your business. Read on, and we’ll tell you how investing in high quality photographs can benefit your business.

Builds credibility

When people visit your site, they judge the credibility of your business based on what they see there. High quality photos can immediately built trust and urge visitors to take action. Plus, it can make a huge difference on the overall impression and effectiveness of your website. Think of the images on your site as the “window dressing” of traditional stores. An attractive storefront is more likely to engage potential customers.

Creates more conversions

High quality images aren’t a luxury. Rather, they’re a necessity for attracting future customers. High resolution, professional photos are important if you want to stand out from the competition.

No matter what your products or services are, consider how you’re coming across to your customers. If you use grainy, low-quality images, people will think of your products as cheap. This is especially true in the food business.

Low quality photos translate to low quality ingredients. People won’t be willing to pay as much for your entree, if they even come in at all. The key is to use photos that will do justice to what your company has to offer.

Enhance your SEO

The images you use on your website provide you an opportunity to increase your online visibility and make your content more appealing. That said, we recommend that you take the time to invest in high quality photos.

Images, when added with a certain consideration, can enhance your SEO and drive traffic to your site. Search engines such as Google and Yahoo favor original photos over stock photos. Make sure, though, that the photo is relevant to the content.

Don’t skimp on photography. Reach out to a local photographer like G. Thomas Ward Photography to help you to capture images that will help visually convey what your content cannot. It will be worth it and your business will thank you for it.

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How to Hire a Photographer for Your Chicago Event

Planning a corporate event can be a tricky endeavor. Whether you’re planning a seminar, conference or a customer appreciation day, you probably have a long list of items to complete – venue, food, flowers, decorations, seating charts, speakers…the list goes on. But who’s going to capture all those moments during the event?

Special events for your business deserve the attention and eye for detail that only a professional photographer can provide. You only have one opportunity to capture your event in all of its glory. It can be difficult to convey the story of your event without great photos to back you up. As such, it is important to hire a professional photographer for your event.

Here are some things you need to consider when hiring an event photographer.

Photographic style

Every photographer has their own unique style. This “fingerprint” is what sets their work apart from everyone else. When hiring a photographer, take their photographic style into account. Do they focus on close-ups? Portraits? Candid moments? These are just a few styles to think about. You can’t hire a photographer and ask him to use a different style; it doesn’t quite work like that.

Check out some sample photographs from various photographers to determine whether or not their style suits your needs. This will also ensure that they’re the best fit of the occasion.

Portfolio

Before making a decision, ask to see the photographer’s portfolio. Some photographers feature their portfolios on their website. If so, spend some time and browse through those photos. Through the collection of photos, you’ll get a sense of the depth of a photographer’s work. If you like their work, go head: take the next step and reach out to them!

Testimonials

Skills and expertise are incredibly important in capturing great photos for any event. However, also consider how they work with their clients. What is their work ethic like? Are they punctual? Do they dress appropriately? This is where references prove invaluable in your decision-making process.

Ask the photographer for references, testimonials or endorsements, preferably previous customers, partners and fellow photographers. Get in touch with these people to see what they think of the photographer. Also, ask previous clients whether or not they are satisfied with the work. A true professional will have no problem offering as many references as you need.  You may also want to search online for any potential negative comments.  

Budget

Of course, you must keep your budget in mind when choosing a photographer for your event. We all need to operate on a certain budget. As such, it is important to hire a photographer that can deliver the job, while staying within budget. That being said, be sure to have a realistic budget for your needs and location.  Like most things in life, you usually get what you pay for.  Look for experience and an extensive portfolio and an established professional with a documented history.  Hire the best photographer you can afford.   

hire a photographer for chicago event

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How to Look Your Best at a Business Conference

Whether they admit it or not, people judge others based on the clothes they wear. The way you groom yourself and the clothes you wear affect other people’s’ perception of you. This is especially true at an event where you’ll be meeting a lot of professionals face to face for the first time. As they say, “You only get once chance to make a first impression!”

When you pay more attention to your wardrobe, people are more likely take you seriously and are more willing to listen to you. So if your aim is to impress people at business events, make sure you put some effort into your style and appearance.

In this blog post, we’ll give you some guidelines on what to wear at a business conference. Follow these tips and dress to impress at your next business conference.

Look the part

Smaller business conferences are typically business casual. For men, khaki pants and a long-sleeved button down shirt are a good choice. For women, a knee-length skirt or casual pants may be worn. You can pair it with a silk, knit or cotton blouse. Solid, neutral colors are always in style. Choose a top that flatters your figure without being too revealing. Think of the “classic” look, and you’ll be in good shape.

International conferences, on the other hand, tend to be more conservative. In this case, a tailored suit is a safe bet. For women, a tailored dress or skirt with blouse and a blazer is recommended.

No matter what you decide to wear, you clothes should look good, be comfortable and make you feel confident.

Keep hair smooth and simple

Although it’s okay for women to wear your hair down, make sure to keep your hair off of your face. Not only will you have to constantly push your hair back, it will be too distracting to the person you’re speaking to. A low pony tail is an easy, comfortable way to maintain a neat look throughout the day. For men, just keep your hair well trimmed.

Wear comfortable shoes

If you’re not used to wearing high heels, don’t force it. Opt for a low-heeled, closed toe shoes instead. The more comfortable you are, the more confident you feel.

Men can opt for a casual loafer or a lace up style shoe. Black or brown leather are ideal, just make sure your shoes are polished and in good condition and match your belt.

look best at conference