The Importance of a Professional Headshot

Your headshot says a lot about you. Do you look like a confident person? Do you take care in your appearance? Do you seem like a professional? These are all questions that hiring departments may think of or clients may wonder when choosing you. Whether they are looking at your LinkedIn profile or choosing your services based on the quality of your business card it may have more to do with your headshot than you might think.

Stand Tall No one sees confidence in a person that slouches. Stand up tall when having your headshot taken so that your posture is expert. If this is difficult for you, try squaring your hips and lifting your chest. Then imagine a string pulling you up like a balloon lifting you into the air. Nothing says confidence like good posture.

Smile Like You Mean It Some of the best headshots come from your natural radiant smile. Like the kind of smile where you just laughed. So fake it. Laugh and you will find your natural smile comes shines through.

Color Palettes for Your Skin, Hair and Eyes I love power colors for those in leadership roles, or those seeking leadership roles. Reds can come off as very attention grabbing and classic. Oranges however, depending on the skin tone could be very off putting. When choosing your palette look at a variety of options and hold the colors up to your face. To they make you look washed out or on the contrary do they draw attention to your eyes and make them pop? You want to find out what your color palate is first and then create your look from there. Do you look best in vibrant colors or earth tones. If you are uncertain which color palette best suits you, bring a few options to your session and go over them with your photographer.

Professional Headshots

Simple is Best Again, play up the textures and add in a necklace, some earrings or a nice watch but make sure you are remembering “simple”. You can really over do it with loud patterns like stripes or circular patterns on your shirt or blazer. For those of you that wear makeup, this is a time for the lipstick and mascara. Clean makeup is best as well. Leave the glitter and shimmer at home and opt for matte colors that accentuate your natural look.

High Resolution vs. Web Resolution If you want to print your headshot for promotional purposes make sure you get a release to do so as well as high resolution images. Likewise, if you would like to use your headshot online you will want a web resolution image. Make sure you are clear with your photographer to ensure that you get the images that you want at their best quality for the purposes that you intend them.

Your Photographer Can Make You Lose Weight Instantly Before you get too excited, understand that your photographer is not going to accompany you the the gym or prescribe you a cleanse for days leading up to your session. But, your photographer does know some tricks of the trade that can make you appear more thinned out. For example, say that you have been blessed with not one but two chins, we can remove that for you. And I am not talking post processing so much as when we take your headshot we can manipulate your profile to remove your double chin and overall bring the viewer into the image. A good photographer can photograph you in a way that makes the observer look for a few seconds longer at your headshot.

And sometime those extra seconds, that make you stand at the forefront of all the other applicants, make all the difference.

 

You can reach me at:

(202) 681-9848

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http://www.shotinthedarkphoto.com/

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Caring for your Equipment in the Cold

Steph & Eric_DC_023 Steph & Eric_DC_024 Steph & Eric_DC_025 Steph & Eric_DC_030 Steph & Eric_DC_031 Steph & Eric_DC_033Currently I have been sequestered to my room. I have a box of tissues, a quart of oj and have digested almost an entire season of Grey’s Anatomy. Tis the season for colds and with the change in weather also comes a change in how you should handle your camera equipment in cold conditions.

Keep Your Batteries Close If you are going to be outside for a long period of time between shoots or if you are in below freezing temperatures be sure to keep your camera batteries close to your body by placing them in an interior pocket. This will keep them from losing their charge.

Treat Your Camera Like a Baby You would not leave your baby in a car overnight but I have seen countless people put their camera or other technologies in the car overnight. Think of your camera as a living thing that is sensitive to extreme temperatures. If you leave it in the cold your battery will no doubt be dead but in extreme temperatures your screen could also crack as well.

Changing Lenses If it is snowing, avoid changing your lenses outdoors. The moisture could get inside of your lens or camera body. You also want to be careful changing your lenses indoors where it is warm when coming in from the extreme cold. I tend to leave my camera and lenses in their bag put them in the coldest part of the house until they regulate again.

Fogging Up Fog could occur on your lens if you take your camera from a warm house or car into the cold. And moisture could develop when you take it back into a warm place from the cold. To avoid this, you may wish to put the camera and lens in a sealed ziplock bag until the equipment has regulated to the new environment.

What to Wear Depending on the conditions, I would wear hiking boots with wool socks and layer, layer, layer. Try to avoid bulky coats and scarves that could catch on your equipment. Instead, tuck your scarf into your jacket or sweater and employ the use of fingerless gloves.

I will be on holiday for the next three weeks so I will look forward to writing to you all again in the new year.

 

You can reach me at:

 

(202) 681-9848

[email protected]

http://www.shotinthedarkphoto.com/

 

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Holiday Print Gift Ideas

Portrait, Photographer, Northern Virginia, Del RayI am a photographer so of course I have a LOT of photos of my family. That is not to say I have a lot of photos of my family hanging in my home for all to see. So I was thinking I would remedy this with a few holiday gifts this season. Take a look at the gifts below that you could give to your loved ones this year.Family Photography Montgomery_005 Quirk-Hofman_060_e Wed_265

Prints. Prints. Prints. I am a huge fan of Pinterest and love photo collages! Maybe take photos from this past years family photo session and cluster them in your living room. You can create one large canvas,  two to three prints framed together or even cluster a bunch of smaller frames. Have a commonality like “all black and white images” or “all red frames.” This will not only draw attention to the photos but create some beautiful wall art in the process.

Personalize It Go to a craft stores to get some ideas. I like to take photos of my friends kids throughout the year and give them ornaments with photos of their own kids or for my parents, photos of their grandchild. You can also make mouse pads, mugs and calendars at most online printers. My girlfriend made me a photo mug a few years back of my now husband and me and I was so touched by her thoughtfulness. It is now a mug I cherish.

Create a Photo Book Did you travel to Italy on your honeymoon a few years back and still have no photos to show for it? Take some time to assemble a book online and personalize it to your partner. I am a huge fan of photo books, because otherwise your photos are just A.) Sitting on an SD card. B.) Floating around on social media or C.) Taking up space on your external hard drive. Show them off in a beautiful album.

Where to Print There are so many printers out there so really you will have to find one that works for you. In the past I have had really great luck with Costco but I also had my monitor calibrated to their printer. I also started getting photo books through My Publisher and although their quality was better than my experiences with Snapfish or Shutterfly I was overall unimpressed by their lack of customer service. If you want superior quality with archival inks and materials I highly recommend MPix Pro. If you are not a professional you could try MPix, as it is the Old Navy to the Banana Republic.

Holiday Deadline Try to get your online print orders in during the first two weeks of December or better yet before that. Every company has a different cut off date for their products and often albums, prints and canvases will all have different cut off dates. So if you need something in time for the holiday, try to plan ahead as much as possible.

You can reach me at:

 

(202) 681-9848

[email protected]

http://www.shotinthedarkphoto.com/

 

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Owning It

Owning a small business is like starting a family but often I feel like a single parent with quintuplets.

When I first began my business in 2012 I filed out all of the correct paperwork. As it would seem, I did so in the most backwards order I could imagine. This was not by my poor planning as much as it was my overall lack of knowledge about the entire process, which between you and I is not incredibly obvious even after having gone through it. I do have to give credit where it is due and I owe a lot to the Small Business Development Center as I may not be where I am today without their guidance.

As a small business owner I have had to wear many hats and to keep my costs low I have had to wear all of those hats on my own.Meghan

The Photographer As a lead photographer I have enjoyed the ability to be as structured or organic as I like and have been able to be creative with on the spot changes due to weather, venue and wardrobe mishaps. I feel that this is my strongest role and one that I am constantly improving and honing. A big thanks to friend and fellow photographer Sam Dingley for my stunning headshots. That comes off like I am bragging about me, but I promise I am bragging about his photography skills.

The Website Designer In all fairness the bare bones of my website was originally created by a friend Kendall Totten Design who is an incredible developer but is now ran almost entirely by me. I try to check in with her once or twice a year to do an overall update to my site when I need assistance with code or say, I accidently delete a section of content. Oops. But other then that, all content, now comes from me in all of my glorious grammatical errors.

The Ad Executive I do my best to funnel all social media traffic back to my website but at this time do not use any paid advertisements to gain clients. My social media presence is crucial to my image so I do my best to keep my brand consistent. My logo was again created by a dear friend Mindy McPeak Illustration and my business cards and header by another Graphic Designer friend Danielle Webb who I think I traded the designs of for wine and cheese. Overall my business is driven by word of mouth. My clients return year after year and tell their friends about their experience with me and in turn become new clients.

The Attorney I cannot afford one at this time and so I am my own legal counsel. I have done my best to be upstanding and have tried to protect myself by using contracts and holding a Limited Liability Corporation (LLC). I even keep my business bank account separate from my personal account. I figure there is no excuse for being careless so I might as well be prepared.

The Salesman I like to pride myself on my ability to sell. I used to sell for J.Crew and could sell corduroys and chino’s like it was my job. And at Cheesetique I used to sell cheese and wine like it was my job, because at one time it was my job. But now, I am in the business of selling myself. Gasp. And this is not easy for me. I believe I am an incredible artist and yet it takes everything in me, to sell me. It is not like I bathe in confidence but I do have to overcome myself sometimes and sell my experience, skill and artistry.

The Accountant I file my own taxes. I create my own budget. I try to keep my advertising costs and business expenses low. I pay sales tax in three states and currently for an LLC in one. I file everything on my own that I need to keep my business running and upstanding with the law.

The Balance I am a full time wife and mother and so it is essential that I maintain a balance with my work. I tend to work nights (editing) and weekends (photographing) when my partner can be with our little one. The lifestyle of a Wedding and Portrait Photographer lends itself well to my available schedule.

Starting Your Own Business? Ask for Help The Small Business Development Center of Alexandria was an excellent resource for me when I began my business and they helped to point me in the right direction and showed me where to file my LLC, Business License, Trade Name and Sales Tax. I also had to set up an Employer Identification Number (EIN) with the IRS and I would not have known this had it not been for their assistance. I also took advantage of their social media counseling which has proven to be priceless.

You can reach me at:

 

(202) 681-9848

[email protected]

http://www.shotinthedarkphoto.com/

 

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Food Photography 101

I have seen you unconsciously pulling out your camera phone at dinner. Yeah you. You know who you are. I know this, because you also saw me from across the dining room. I too had my phone out, and poised to capture that decadent photo of my voluptuous cheesecake. I would say that I cannot stand you for flaunting off your flan or bathing in your bread pudding on Pinterest. But I stand with you, guilty as charged.
In the age of camera cell phones we are able to easily snap photos of just about anything we are doing, including broadcasting to the nation what we are about to eat for dinner. However, for the sake of this blog I will be showing off some delicious dishes from Cheesetique that I shot (with my Nikon) when creating the photography for their website.Food Photography Northern VA_017
Hot off the Press Be sure to photograph the food as soon as it has been prepared. You want to capture the steam off of the soup and the crisp arugula on the salad. Nothing says, “I’ve lost my appetite.” like wilted lettuce and soggy bread.Food Photography Northern VA_016
Natural Light I cannot say it enough that natural light is going to give you the best hue on your spread. Fluorescent and Tungsten bulbs are going to no doubt make your food look unappetizing. If you do not have access to natural light when you are shooting professionally. I highly recommend a mini portable studio like this one.Food Photography Northern VA_025
Dress it up! Add in a spoon or fork. Use textures and fabrics or be creative with corks for example. Complement with color accents to tie the foreground into the background. Like the red in the cheesecake and the red on the wall. If the dish has basil add in a fresh basil leaf or sprinkle on some coarse salt for effect.

Have Culture And by that I mean read Culture. To research for my photography shoot at Cheesetique I studied up on what the other professionals were doing right. I loved the angles and accoutrements and began to get a feel for how to dress a dish up.Food Photography Northern VA_026
Try a New Angle Shoot straight down on the spread. Prop up the plate. Shoot level with the table. Most of all have fun, and be sure to not let that food go to waste. After all, eating the beautiful dishes and enjoying them is the best part!

You can reach me at:

 

(202) 681-9848

[email protected]

http://www.shotinthedarkphoto.com/

 

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Del Ray Wedding Venders

Earlier this year I met with Katie Wannen, fellow Small Business Owner and Wedding Planner at The Plannery and we decided to start a group for wedding vendors in Del Ray. Over the Summer we collaborated on the logistics of the group and then after some interest from quite a few folks, a website was born. Del Ray Wedding Venders is a one stop shop Del Ray For Your Wedding Day!Print

I am so excited to open  this group up to all of you who may be looking to tie the knot and who may also have an interest in supporting predominately Small (Local) Businesses.

If you are looking for specialty wear for flower girls look no further than Darling Betty who offers handmade 1950’s fashions for little girls. For gifts, we feature truly life  who not only make their own skin care products but grow the ingredients and loofahs in their own backyard. It does not get much more local than that! And for invitations, the unique and truly talented duo at Sediment Press. See our other blog about their printing process here.

If you are looking for local vendors look no further. If you are a local vender and you want to join the group please contact us here.

A special thanks to Katie, the brainchild of this group and the creator of our beautiful new Del Ray Wedding Vendors website. And to graphic designer Maud Bentley of Maud Bentley Design the for beautiful creation of the DRWV logo.

I am Meghan Stewart, a photographer and small business owner of Shot In The Dark Photography.

You may reach me at:

(202) 681-9848

meghan@shotinthedarkphoto.com

http://www.shotinthedarkphoto.com/

 

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Sometimes we Need a Little Space

The other day I was at the park with a friend taking our little people on a hike. We got to chatting about photography and eventually about printing. My friend mentioned how frustrating it was that when she had a digital photo printed as an 8×10” that her printed image came back cropped. I then explained to her what I will now share with you, as it inevitably will affect the way that you shoot.Aspect Ratio, Printing and Cropping

Playing it Safe Take this first photo of a portrait of a family. You can see the original image, the image if it were to be printed as a 5×7” print as well as if it were printed as an 8×10”. You can see that I left enough space around the family so that I did not crop into their faces or bodies. The grayed out area shows what would be cropped from the image.

Consequences of Tight Framing However, if you look at these three photos that I took during the beginning of my photography career you will see that although the original images look well spaced, that when I went to print them, that I would lose a significant portion of the photo– thus cropping into the subject.Aspect Ratio, Printing and Cropping Aspect Ratio, Printing and Cropping Aspect Ratio, Printing and Cropping

Aspect Ratios The reason that you lose your a portion of your image when you print it comes down to ratios. Most DSLR have a sensor with an aspect ratio of 3:2 which is great if you wish to print say, 4×6” which are also at a ratio of 3:2. On the contrary, an 8×10” print will be at a 4:5 ratio, which is why some of your image will be cropped.

Choose Custom Cropping When you go to print your photo most kiosks or online printers will allow you to crop your image to the size you want, and if they are good at what they do, they will inform you if your resolution is adequate for the size you wish to print. Always choose to custom crop your image. Otherwise the default will be to center crop your image automatically cropping the same amount from each side of your image and taking the control away from you.

Native Print Sizes Some sizes that will be native to your Dslr are 4×6”, 8×12” and 12×18”. Some print sizes that are not native are 5×7”, 8×10”, 12×16”.

Work Arounds But what if you have already composed your subject in a tight shot?

1) Add a Digital Border to Your Image. Although the border will not be even, it will allow you to keep the space around your image and could create an artistic look. One time I took an image into Photoshop, created a new layer, added a gaussian blur to the bottom layer and thus had all of the colors from the image in the background layer to create a nice border. If you find this is too busy, solid white or solid black are great options as well.

2) Clone Your Image. Although tedious, cloning your image can add that extra space that you may need. In Photoshop use the Clone Stamp Tool and click “alt” to select the area you wish to clone. For faces you will want to set your opacity to around 11. For a wall or grass you could use an opacity of around 60. I almost always use a soft brush. It will take some finessing but with some practice you’ll get the hang of it.

3) Change Your Print Size. Say you want to frame your image in a 12×16” frame. Take your image and print it as an 8×12” instead of an 8×10”. Although you will have to order a custom matte for your frame you will not lose any of your image.

4) Allow Three Inches. If you are planning to print your image on canvas, try to wrap the sides of the canvas in black or white. If you would like to wrap the image around the canvas then allow yourself up to 3” around to ensure you do not lose any of you image. Assuming you wish to print a 12×18” canvas, be sure to crop your image from its RAW state into a 15×21”. The convert your file to a high resolution JPEG at 300 dpi.

Lasting Tip Give yourself more space around your subject when you take your photos. Then, when you go to print you will not have to worry about aspect ratios.

I am Meghan Stewart, a photographer and small business owner of Shot In The Dark Photography.

You may reach me at:

(202) 681-9848

[email protected]

http://www.shotinthedarkphoto.com/

 

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