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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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4 Ways to Use Social Media to Promote Your Corporate Event

A lot of hard work and preparation goes into making your event a success. As an event organizer, there is no better feeling than walking into your event and seeing it jam-packed with people. Social media is an invaluable tool that can help drive people to attend your event.

Here are 4 ways to use social media to promote your corporate event.

Create Facebook Event

Creating a Facebook event will take a lot of the work of advertising your event off your hands. It makes it easier for you to spread the word about your event. More importantly, it also helps you expand your overall reach since people are notified when their friends confirm their attendance to your event. This added exposure is as good as a direct invitation. Since viewers and attendees can also allowed to invite their friends to the event on Facebook, provided that it is set to public, you reach another audience that may not have ever known about your event otherwise.

Furthermore, it allows you to make mass announcements to all attendees. Using the embedded commenting features of Facebook Events, attendees can begin to connect and network with one another before and after your event.

Share Behind-the-Scenes visual content

This is one of the best ways to generate buzz for your event! Give your fans and followers a glimpse into your event by posting behind-the-scenes photos and videos. Simply snap a photo of your preparations and share it on your company’s business page. You may also share stories of how you’re pulling everything together. Don’t be afraid to make them fun! Everyone knows things come up when planning an event…have fun with it!

This gets people excited for the event because they feel like they’re in on the action. It also serves as a reminder that the event is coming up, so they can Save the Date.

Feature event speakers

More often than not, people attend events to listen to and meet the speakers. What better way to highlight the caliber of talent at your event than creating a blog post featuring your speakers and sharing it on social media? Better yet, reach out to your speakers and encourage them to promote the event. After all, they benefit from positive buzz just as much as you do. Not to mention that your speakers probably have a loyal audience of their own, too. When they promote their participation in your event to their followers, your event gets exposed to another subset of possible attendees!

Use hashtags

Having a unique hashtag for your event is important when promoting your event. Use it for online conversations and in every piece of marketing content to deliver. Encourage people to use your hashtag to take the conversation to a larger, more engaged audience.

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Settlements around the Salton Sea

I recently returned from a visit to the Palm Springs area.  After seeing the film “Plagues and Pleasures of the Salton Sea“, it was on my agenda to check out the landscape and settlements around the Salton Sea.  It was truly the highlight of the trip for me in many ways.

Ever since my college days I’ve been interested in off-beat Americana, and people whose lives are their own very unique creations.

The settlements around the Salton Sea and the people who live there, certainly live up to this description.  I didn’t bring a professional camera on this trip, only my little Nikon Coolpix P 330.  Here are a few of the images I captured in and around Bombay Beach, Slab City, Niland, and Salvation Mountain.  I really hadn’t expected the area to capture my imagination quite the way it did.

My hope is to return someday and spend more time (with more professional gear!) photographing the people and settlements of this uniquely American place.

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Tips to Increase Attendee Engagement at Your Events

After spending countless hours planning an event, there is nothing more satisfying than witnessing its success. In a perfect world, every attendee would connect with other attendees and participate in activities.

There is an endless amount of proactive, easy-to-implement steps you can take to increase attendee engagement at your events. Here are some of them.

Build anticipation

Attendee engagement doesn’t necessarily start at the event itself. In fact, you should engage your audience before they even step foot in your venue. This will not only guarantee more attendees, but people will be more excited to attend.

Social media is one of the best avenues to promote your event. Create a unique hashtag and use it every time you post an update about your event. With the right strategy, you’ll have people talking about your event and your engagement will skyrocket. Publishing a blog post is also a great way to create pre-event buzz or stream a video from last year’s event.

Games

Games are a great way to entertain and energize attendees who are bored and drained from listening to lectures and presentations. With the right execution and an interesting prize, you’ll get people to interact and participate in activities.

Make time for networking

A lot of people tend to feel overwhelmed or intimidated when attending a large event, especially when they don’t know anyone. Encourage your guests to meet someone new and network by dividing them into smaller groups. This can help break the initial awkwardness that tends to happen at large gatherings.

It is also a good idea to have breaks between speakers or a cocktail hour after the event to give people an opportunity to network and engage with one another.

Allow for Q&A opportunities

Provide attendees an opportunity to address their questions. You can gather questions from attendees and have the speaker answer these questions at the end of the presentation. Attendees will be able to learn more from the Q&A session. Plus, they’ll feel more appreciated and part of the event.

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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

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Filming Corporate Events in Chicago

If you have ever hosted a conference, you already know that they’re no walk in the park. There are so many moving parts: schedules to keep, speakers to book,  venues to reserve…and those are just the “big” things.

With all of the work that goes into putting on a successful conference, it would be a wasted opportunity not to capture the moments that people will talk about long after they leave. When you take the time to photograph and capture video at your conference or corporate event, you memorialize the fruits of your efforts. This media can then be used in future promotions for upcoming conferences or marketing collateral down the road.

why you should film your corporate event

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What sessions and speakers are your “main attractions?” Focus on those first. A good videographer will work with you and ask these questions. If you know any of your speakers are especially engaging and energetic presenters, ask them ahead of time if they mind being filmed (hint: most love it!). Working with your speakers ahead of time ensures the film crew won’t throw them off during their session. Filming activities in between sessions is also a great way to find those organic interactions with people enjoying themselves.

 

Keep it Fresh

Have you ever had to sit through someone’s wedding video where Uncle Earl recorded everything without leaving his seat? For your sake, we hope not. This type of filming is more common than you think, but it doesn’t tell a great story.

Static video (think a video camera on a tripod in the back of the room) isn’t very exciting footage, so ask your videographer if multiple camera-operators are an option. When editing the material later, being able to combine clips from different vantage points during a presentation provides a nice viewing experience for your audience.

 

Testimonials

While people are at your conference, “in the thick of things,” you have a golden opportunity to get positive feedback and testimonials. Find those key stakeholders and ask them if they can do a 15-second testimonial for you. Someone you trust can even prompt positive reviews of your work and the event by asking leading questions. These sound bites can be used later on your website or as promotional material for another event.

 

Bring it all Together

By the time your conference comes to an end, you’re exhausted. For a few days, you kept a lot of people very busy and on their toes. While the event itself may be over, your videography team will be busy at work putting the video together in a comprehensive, cohesive, narrative.

The final output will be an invaluable marketing tool for you for years to come.

 

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Photographing Company Events

When was the last time your company hosted an outing for all of your employees?  Do you do this annually? Quarterly? Not at all?

Company outings are a wonderful morale boost for offices. It demonstrates to employees that you care about them. When booking your next (or first!) get-together, consider hiring an experienced corporate photographer to join the fun. Documenting the day’s events serve as a great reminder of a fun day when everyone returns to the office.

 

Boost Morale

Allowing your employees to spend a day outside of the office for a company-sponsored event works wonders. First, they appreciate a day away from the office (who wouldn’t?). Second, many realize that the company cares about them as people, not just employees. Photographing those moments of joy and relaxation pay dividends later on. These photos can then be shared on the company intranet, reminding employees of the fun they had on the outing.

photographing your corporate event

Encourages Teamwork

Often, company outings have a theme, which are often suggested by employees themselves. A well-run outing may also create teams comprised of people from various departments, which fosters intradepartmental communication and interaction. The relationships formed in these teams (often through team-building problem solving and fun activities) through the course of a day strengthens the cohesion of your entire company. Breaking down communication barriers across departments is invaluable. Who knows…a new leader may rise from an unexpected person!

 

Build your Brand

The fact of the matter is this: successful company outings accomplish a lot of things. Employees who enjoyed themselves become your best marketers and recruiters. They’ll tell their family and friends about what a great time they had and share the photos with them.

Furthermore, the photographs that are taken at these outings make great marketing material. Candidates want to work somewhere where they feel valued. Rather than write about all of the great things your company does, show them off with photos!

 

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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.

 

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Annual Heartland Health Outreach Event

Last month, I was honored to shoot an event by Heartland Health Outreach, an organization I wholeheartedly support, at the Four Seasons Hotel in Chicago. I’ve been hired to work this annual event several times times in the past and always enjoy the evening.

heartlandhealthoutreachevent event photography chicago

Heartland Health Outreach was formerly known as Vital Bridges until a few years ago when they merged with Heartland Alliance, an umbrella organization for many social services agencies. Heartland Health Outreach itself is the healthcare arm of Heartland Alliance with services ranging from primary care to treatments for immigrant and homeless populations throughout Chicago.

Here are some of my favorite images from the evening.

 

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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.