, , ,

4 Ways Team Building Activities Can Benefit Your Company

As you probably know, your company’s success rests in the hands of your people. As such, team building activities not only benefit your employees, but your entire organization.

As more and more businesses realize the benefits of team building activities, companies of all sizes are incorporating team building programs into their training curriculum.

Here are 4 ways team building activities can benefit your company.

Keep employees motivated

Team building activities helps your employees grow. These activities are designed to help them develop new skills, conquer fears, and increase their knowledge.

By organizing a team building activity, you display to your team how much you value and care for them. When employees feel that you care about their success, they are more likely to feel motivated and take pride in their job, which often results in increased quality output.

Improves communication

In a corporate environment, employees have to work with different people. Since we all have different personalities, some employees may have a hard time dealing with their co-workers. Team building activities can help in this department.

The fun nature of team building exercises can help foster better communication among people. Since this is usually done outside the office, employees can mingle and communicate with their colleagues casually. After this, they’ll develop better relationships with their co-workers create a more positive working environment.

Moreover, it is a great opportunity for employees in various departments that may not normally interact with one another to get a chance to spend time together and get to know each other.

Increases productivity

The collaborative nature of team building activities teaches staff how they can use their skills and abilities to get the tasks done quickly and efficiently. It also challenges them to work together in order to solve the problems that they are currently facing.

Help your team recharge

Most employees spend the entire day at their desks, working on several tasks. Add their personal concerns into the mix, and you run the risk of having a stressed-out, burned-out employee that isn’t as productive as they might otherwise be.

Employees often see team building activities as a nice break from work. This allows them to get their minds off of work, if even for just a few hours. Because of this, your staff will come back to the office with a relaxed mind and ready to take on new projects.

4 ways team building activities can benefit your company

, , ,

Types of Corporate Portrait Photography

Corporate photography is not just about taking photos of men wearing dark suits in white background. It can be broken down into different categories.

In this blog post, we’ll give you a rundown of the different types of corporate portrait photography. Let’s explore the different types of corporate portrait photography to help you decide which one to use for your website, promotions, marketing materials, social media etc.

Traditional portrait

This is probably the most common of corporate portraits. Here, the face is the pre-dominant element. The subject is asked to look directly to the camera to depict visual representation of the person. It may either be up to the bust or the area above the waist.

You can have it done against a white or colored background in your office or in the studio. This is often used in marketing literature such as a business profile, a website, press publications or annual reports.

Environmental portrait

Corporate portraits don’t always have to be studio-type shots. It is often a good idea to incorporate the subject’s business when possible. Here, the pictures are taken in a place that is relevant to the individual’s business or corporate identity. A teacher, for instance, will be photographed in the classroom; while an engineer will be photographed at the construction zone. Aside from the facial expression, the relationship between the subject and his environment is also given emphasis.

Group portrait

Group portraits may feature three to hundreds of people. In this type of portrait, the subjects would sit or stand side-by-side. The photographer’s task is to highlight the bond existing between the group members.

Business in action

Today’s corporate portraits need to tell a story, and this is one of the best ways to do that. Here, the subject uses some props of his/her workplace and the photographer captures images of the individual while in action. The focus is not on the person’s profile, but on the business activity.

types of corporate photographs

, ,

Preparing for Your Professional Photoshoot

Business portraits, head shots, profile pictures, avatars, proposal images, speaking engagement photos. You can call them whatever you like, but these photos are the first thing your clients and potential customers see when they search for information about you and your company.

Having a great headshot is very important as it speak volumes about you and your business. Most people have their portraits taken for business purposes – typically for industry publications, event print advertising, networking outlets or social media. Whatever your purpose is, it is important to look as as professional as possible.

Preparing for your corporate portrait can mean the difference between an average photo and a breath-taking image. Follow these tips to get the most out of your shoot.

G Thomas Photo professional photoshoot

Clothes

Just because it’s a headshot, it does not mean that you shouldn’t bother dressing up well.  Wear clothes that are neatly pressed and look new. If your clothes wrinkle easily, it is best to just bring it with you and change at the location.

The clothes you choose should make you look great, but do not overdress. Start with a simple blouse or shirt and then slowly add layers. Solid colors look great in headshot, but please avoid tops in flesh tones as they will blend your face into your clothes. Choose mid-tone colors in green, blue and wine and purple.  You may wish to consider bringing a few wardrobe options.  We suggest something that is “strictly business” along with something “business casual”.  Don’t be afraid to bring a few outfits.  We can help you choose which will make you look your best in photographs.

Face and Makeup

Be sure that your teeth are clean, eyebrows are groomed and lips are not dry. For men, all facial hair should be groomed. Trim your mustache, beard and sideburns.

Light, natural makeup is encouraged for a professional headshot. It can help accentuate your facial features, cover blemishes and help even out your skin tone. It should be simple, yet well done. You want your photo to be as close to how you generally look in person.

Do not wear heavy makeup. Save the smoky eyes, shiny eye shadows and dark lipstick for your date nights.

Both men and women benefit from using our professional hair and makeup artists.  Sometimes your own personal makeup doesn’t appear on camera the way it appears in life.  Our professionals will work with you to achieve the look you want for camera.  Men are often concerned about appearing “made-up”, but our artists are experts at removing shine, covering under-eye darkness and blemishes while maintaining a completely natural look.

Glasses

If you normally wear glasses, bring them to your session.  We can photograph you with or without them, or a bit of both.

Hair

If it has been a while since you had a trim, you may want to visit your hairstylist a week before the shoot just in case things go wrong. For men, it is fine to get a haircut a couple of days before the shoot.

While dyeing your hair can freshen up your look, now is not the time to experiment with hair colors. You wouldn’t look your best if your hair color doesn’t come out as planned.

 

Nails

Your photoshoot is a great excuse to head to the salon and get your nails done. A fresh coat of nail polish can make a big difference in your corporate headshot.  But if you don’t have time for that, make sure that your nails are clean and short.

Sleep

Get plenty of rest and avoid alcohol the night before your photoshoot. Not only will you feel better, you will also look better. Eye bags and dark circles won’t look good in photos. You wouldn’t want to look tired on the day of the shoot, right?

 

Practice make perfect

Confidence matters when it comes to facial expressions. A few days or a week prior to the shoot, we suggest that you practice your facial expressions in front of the mirror. You can choose to smile or not, just make sure that you do not appear too serious.  We’ll work with you to capture a variety of expressions.

 

,

Common Posing Mistakes and How to Fix Them

Let’s face it: there are infinite number of ways to pose for photos, but no matter what pose you choose, it can seem awkward and uncomfortable if not done properly.

Think of your corporate photos as your online “storefront.” Prospective clients and customers will often take the time to check these corporate portraits out before contacting you. That’s why flattering, professional portraits help you put your company’s best foot forward.

This week, let’s take a look at some of the posing mistakes you want to stay away from, along with some suggestions on how to avoid common pitfalls. Hopefully these tips will steer you clear from these mistakes and end up with more flattering portraits!

Business headshot photography tips Chicago

Smiles

A genuine smile is something that comes from within you; it isn’t an accessory you can put on like a hat. As such, it’s important that you have a good relationship and rapport with your photographer. A good photographer understands smiles and knows how to get the best from you!

If you’re still struggling getting that natural smile, take a break and think about those things that make you happy. Casually chat with your photographer about these moments, and just relax. Remember: we delete unflattering photos and take the time to find the perfect photos for you.

Straight joints

A lot of people don’t know what to do with their arms and hands when posing. Without proper coaching, some people stand straight as a board with their arms practically glued to their body. This isn’t a particularly flattering pose when you consider that this pose makes your arms look bigger, especially if you’re wearing a short sleeve polo or sleeveless blouse. Plus, straight arms generally look stiff and unwelcoming. To make your arms look slimmer and more relaxed, bend your arms slightly and pull them away from your body. Also, relax your fingers, bend a knee and don’t be afraid to take a few photos with your face directly aimed at the camera.

Shoulders square on

The shoulders are the widest part of the body. Posing with your shoulders directly at the camera will make you look much larger than you actually are.

Whether you’re standing or sitting, angle your shoulders slightly toward the camera and bend forward at the waist. This will have a huge impact in your portraits!

Obsessing Over The Details

It’s important to carefully consider your wardrobe, jewelry and grooming well ahead of your session.  Once  you’re in front of the camera, however, let the photographer worry about these details.  What people see most in a picture is not whether every hair was perfectly in place, but rather, the overall energy and positivity in a picture.  So, it might sound cliché to say, “have fun with it”, but truly being “in the moment” and projecting a positive energy will make you far more attractive than perfect hair ever will.

 

, ,

Tips for Choosing the Right Corporate Headshot Photographer

Images do not only tell stories, they also sell products, ideas, brands and experiences. When shot well, your professional headshot can not only be used for business cards or website pages, but also for marketing collateral in the future. You have poured countless hours of work into your professional appearance and your business portrait is a great way to appeal to clients and customers. That said, it is important to find a headshot photographer who can help you better establish your personal brand.

G Thomas Photography Headshot Photographer in Chicago

Here are some tips for choosing the right professional headshot photographer.

Budget

How much are you willing to invest in your image? Answering this question before you start looking will help you focus on professionals that suit your budget. Keep in mind, though, that the saying “you get what you pay for” applies when considering a headshot photographer.

If you want quality photos, be prepared to pony up some dough.

Check portfolio

Go online and spend some time looking at the portfolio of the photographer you’re considering working with. This will give you an idea about their style and ability. Take note of what you like and dislike in the various photos you see.

Field of expertise

Taking professional photos of an individual while capturing his or her personality is different from taking photos at a wedding, concert or sporting event. Be sure to choose a photographer that is experienced at taking thoughtful corporate headshots.

Experience

The more experienced the photographer is, the more extensive their portfolio is. Also, you can expect that they have better equipment as compared to those who are just starting out.  Ultimately, you’ll have the peace of mind knowing that they are capable of capturing great professional photos.

,

Corporate Portrait Photography Tips You’ll Never Want to Forget

Not every corporate photographer works with models. As photographers, we often face the challenge of posing our subjects. Our clients may not have any idea about how to pose in front of the camera. We are here to help you look your best in your professional headshot.
corporate headshots in chicago

Here are some tips for making your corporate headshot pop:

Lift the arm

When taking photos, most people would stand naturally and just place their arms on the side. No matter how relaxed the person is, he or she will look stiff and uncomfortable in these photos. Try to lift your arms slightly during your photo shoot.

Chin out and down

To hide a potential double chin, try to bring your chin forward and then down. Make sure, though, that the chin is not pressed closely against your neck.

Hands

Your hands are often a giveaway as to how your are feeling at the moment. You may look relaxed, but if your hands are clenched then you are going to look tensed. Make sure the hands are relaxed and do not overtake the shot.

If your hands are busy, try holding onto something. This provides a distraction to curb your anxiety. If you can’t seem to relax, your photographer should just focus on the face and upper body and not include the hands on the shots.

The relaxed look

Time and time again, we’ve encountered clients who would raise their chin and give some sort of blank expression. That’s how a model poses, right? Wrong!

Expression is important in portraits. A portrait without a real expression doesn’t connect with the viewer.  Try to relax as your portrait is being taken. The photos will not look natural if your don’t feel natural.

G. Thomas Ward in Action – Corporate Headshot Process

Last year I had the privilege to take business portraits at ChannelCon 2015. Take a look at the video we recorded of the headshot photography process and peruse through our gallery of the final product below!

Sample Professional Headshots from ChannelCon 2015

, ,

3 Tips for Creating an Eye-Catching Window Display

Your window displays are like billboards for your store. It is the first things customers see when they pass by your store. A standout window display piques a shopper’s curiosity and lures them to enter your shop. However, most small businesses pay little to not attention to their window display due to limited resources. Others find it difficult to harness the creativity needed in creating an effective window display.

Eye Catching Window Display for retail store

If you want to capture attention and inspire prospective customers to step into your shop, then you need to make your storefront stand out. Here are some tips for creating a window display that turn heads and drive foot traffic.

1. Tell a story

Most people would start by creating a theme. But by doing so, you might be tempted to put together all your red and green merchandise and put them on display. That won’t make an impressive display. You want to create a story based on a theme. Instead of a Christmas-themed display, consider the Nut Cracker. Use your story-telling prowess to convey the message and then incorporate your products to the display.

2. Be bold

People’s attention spans are getting shorter these days. Add to that, they’re always in a hurry. Customers won’t even look at your shop as most of them are talking on the phone, texting someone or having a conversation with a friend as they pass by. Avoid the predictable if you want to get noticed. Use bold colors and shapes. Be bold in every way. You’ll want to pull all the stops just to make sure they notice your shop. When people stop to look at your window display, they will come inside your store.

3. Show off the wants

Most people respond to the things they want. If you’re running a shoe store, you wouldn’t want to display generic black-heeled shoes that women wear to work. Bring out those Jimmy Choo and Louboutin stilettos instead. Just because they are in need of black pumps, doesn’t mean they won’t treat themselves to those expensive shoes. Put your newest and most expensive shoes on the spotlight and you’ll definitely see an increase in foot traffic.

 

,

Capturing the Cartier Window Displays

For the past 6 years I have shot for Cartier during the holiday season at 630 N. Michigan Ave. I wanted to share a few insights into the day of the shoot and the images we capture.

As there is only a limited window of opportunity to shoot where the outside light balances the inside light yet before the sidewalks get too busy with pedestrians and the street too busy with traffic, my team and I arrive at 6:30 in the morning the day before Thanksgiving to start cleaning the sidewalks and exterior glass.

The Regional Visual Merchandising Manager flies in from New York to arrange the windows and work with me on the shoot.  He and a security guard have to be there early to set up because merchandise is removed from the windows every night.

One of the most difficult challenges, besides inclement weather, is to eliminate the reflections in the windows. Many photographers who are new to the process may find themselves struggling to eliminate these reflections, but our team prides ourselves in nailing retail window shots.

The shoot is only half the job.  Post-production includes color correction for variation in color temperatures of multiple light sources, compositing of different images together, and retouching.  Surprisingly to many, post production work takes far longer than the shoot. Take a look at some of my favorites below and don’t hesitate to reach out for any retail or commercial work for your own business.

,

Things to Consider When Hiring a Corporate Event Photographer

what to look for in an event photographer chicagoIf you own or manage a business, there will come a time when you’ll need to hire a corporate event photographer to capture photos on your next conference or meeting. You may be tempted to ask a friend or your staff to do so, but you shouldn’t trust just anyone with this role. Professional photographers do more than take photos. They use their experience and training to capture the beauty and importance of each occasion.

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

Background and credentials

Event photography is a specialized field that requires its own set of skills. Just because a person owns an expensive camera, doesn’t mean he’s a professional. A camera is a tool, and does not guarantee that he’ll produce great photos.

Consider the photographer’s background and credentials. What kind of events do they cover? How many events like your do they shoot a year?

Portfolio

Believe it or not, some people would only look at the pricing and won’t even bother to look at the photos. Photographers put their best work on their website so feel free to check them out. Compare photographers by their portfolio, not their pricing. Make sure that their style is what you’re looking for.

Budget

Try to get price quotes from a number of photographers. Most photographers try to be flexible with their rates since they do understand that some clients are working on a tight budget. However, you also have to understand that the saying “you get what you pay for” usually applies when hiring an event photographer. Haggling may not get you the results you want.

Needs and expectations

Figure out what you want to get out of the event before talking to candidates. Communicate specific event details so as to give the photographer an understanding of what you want captured and where he needs to be at specific times.

With more than 20 years of experience G Thomas Ward Photography has been helping businesses in Chicago capture their business events and conferences. View our Event Photography gallery for samples of our work.

, ,

Non-Profits and the Value of Photography

Recently a friend of mine saw a post on a local marketing Facebook page where the Executive Director of a charitable organization was looking for a photographer.  I contacted the Executive Director and had a nice long conversation about the mission of the organization and what the job would entail.  At the end we got to talking about budget and he told me that their budget was $300/day for the photographer and that he had a hard time in his mind justifying more because they want to put as much money as possible into fulfilling their mission.

I’m sure almost every photographer worth their salt has run across this pitch with regard to non profits before.  The temptation is to let the conversation end there and part ways.  That is what I’d normally do.  However, part of what we do sometimes involves educating our potential clients as to the value of what we do and the cost of merely being in business.  So, I sent him the following follow up letter (slightly edited).   In this instance, we weren’t able to come to an agreement, but sometimes it’s worth the try.

“I just wanted to follow up with you after our conversation yesterday.  Oftentimes, people in your position are ambivalent about paying the going rate for a truly good professional photographer.  This often stems from hiring cheaper photographers and getting less than the desired result, and in turn it devalues what truly committed and experienced professionals do.  It’s a struggle at times in my industry to get people to recognize the value of what we do.

For every day we spend shooting pictures, we spend at least a half a day negotiating the details of the job, replying to emails, writing up contracts, editing and adjusting the “raw material” that comes out of the camera, burning DVDs of the images, archiving the images and billing the client.  Additionally, we have very expensive equipment to buy, maintain and upgrade every few years…the same for our computers and software.  We fund our own health insurance, retirement, sick days, business insurance, pay the rent on our studios, buy, maintain and fuel our vehicles so we can get to your locations, pay to build and maintain our websites and other marketing materials and myriad other expenses…this is before we  even break even…let alone pay ourselves a salary…and this is why $300/day is not a sustainable business model. 

Like people who are employed by nonprofits….freelancers who work with non-profits need to make a living.  Just to give you another perspective on this, I’m sure if someone offered you your job as executive director for $20,000 a year with the caveat “we want to put as much money as possible into our mission”….well, you’d start to understand that we all bring our talents to the table and need to be compensated accordingly. 

That being said, I understand that you may or may not be prepared to milk the photographs for what they’re worth.  They could be used on your website, social media campaigns, annual reports, fundraising materials, press releases, etc.

I hope you don’t find this email “out of line”.but I did want to reach out to you to try to give you another perspective  We all have to make a living, and high quality, professional photography has a vast potential to help you further your mission.  It’s an investment.  Ultimately, who you hire and what you pay is up to you.  I’d love to work with you, and build a sustainable business relationship if possible.  Regardless, you have a great mission and I appreciate the work you do.”