Covid-19 Safety Protocol Statement

To Our Existing and Future Contacts and Clients:

Please be assured that we will be doing everything we can to ensure the safety of your team.

It’s a strange new environment in which to do business which involves direct contact with people.
But that’s the business FayFoto is in, and that’s what you have relied on us for in the past.
We want to be sure you know we take the Covid-19 environment very seriously. Your safety is at the forefront of our mind.

First, we want to know what your specific workplace safety protocols are, so we can anticipate and meet them with a minimum of delay on the day of a photo session. Any documentation you can provide will be added to the records we keep internally.

Even without that client-specific information, you can be assured of the following:

  • We will bring only the minimum amount of equipment necessary into your environment
  • We will wear a face mask while interacting with your team members.
  • Only one member of the FayFoto team will be present at an assignment. No assistant, no stylist. If a specific assignment requires additional personnel for any reason, you will be notified in advance.
  • Our team works out of our own homes now, so we don’t gather together physically. If one of us feels ill another will be available to cover your assignment.
  • We won’t touch your team members, even to pat down hair, straighten neckties, or greet with a handshake.
  • We will do everything possible to maintain safe distance while reviewing portrait captures. If necessary, we will email proofsheets instead of asking subjects to make a selection at the photo session.

It honestly feels so strange to have to express what should be  commonsense points explicitly, but we do want each of our clients and contacts to know that we have thought through the present and future workflow thoroughly. It’s not going to be as easy or as casual as it was, but we are prepared to do what it takes in order to provide the reliable photography you have counted on in the past.

Zhoosh

I'll end 2019 with a quick story.

In our day-to-day work at FayFoto Boston we mostly photograph real people. Civilians, as opposed to actors or celebrities or professional models.

Many of these real people are uncomfortable being photographed by a stranger in an oddly formal context. Some have never had a professional headshot taken before. All are acutely aware of the importance of looking like the ideal version of themselves, and are grappling with whatever that means.

I'm used to this. I arrive in a situation with some expectations of my own. I expect at some point I'll be asked if I can add hair, or erase pounds or years, or make a bank branch manager look like George Clooney. (I'm not making any of this up.)

Even so, as I was smoothing down a female executive's stray and flyaway hairs and straightening her necklace recently, I was a bit taken aback when she commented "You must judge people all day long."

"Oh goodness no," I replied quickly and with what I hoped was reassuring earnestness. "I never judge, though I'll admit I do evaluate."

"Zhoosh," she said. "You must zhoosh people all day long."

When we both stopped laughing at my misunderstanding I agreed that yes, I do a fair bit of zhooshing, both during and after the photo session.

It's what we do. It's as much a part of a business headshot as lighting and exposure.

I hope you'll consider asking FayFoto Boston to treat your staff and coworkers to a little zhooshing in the year to come.

Happy New Year!

Steve

Client specifications

collage of lighting diagrams

Client Specifications

Please note that this article is directed at corporate clients. We’re accustomed to getting a tight layout from advertising agencies. We are less likely to interact with a creative director in the day-to-day interactions with corporate marketing and practice development professionals.

This topic is on my mind because this year we had one client unhappy over an apparent misunderstanding about who was supposed to silhouette the subject (the client or the photographer), one new client who didn’t have a clear idea of what would best suit their various needs, one client for whom the background brightness and color specification turned out to be exact and inflexible, and one new-ish client who asked to have revised files because they neglected to mention that their primary presentation is a circular crop.

FayFoto Boston takes pains to provide images which meet client needs. Almost none of our clients need the same thing, so today I’m thinking about how those requirements can be developed and communicated.

Matching or Developing a Style Spec

What do you need from your photographer? At FayFoto Boston this matters, because we’re in the business of giving you what you need. If you know your requirements in concrete terms, and can communicate that to your photographer, the odd are better that you’ll get what you need on the first try.

Long ago in the days of film…

…when a 5×7 black and white print was ubiquitous (at least for business headshot portraits), things were less complicated.

In today’s digital era, with so much marketing taking place on the internet and with every website striving to be at least a little bit unique, conventions don’t exist like they used to.

If I’m expecting you to use a portrait as a traditional vertical rectangle, cropping a bit into the shoulders, but your design presents bio photos in a circle (or, even more unexpected, a horizontal rectangle), what I send you might not be ideal unless you tell me in advance.

How does a client convey specifications to a photographer?

The information our clients provide comes in various ways.

  • Sometimes we’re provided with a detailed specification in the form of a PDF document developed by the client’s creative department. (One of our clients, bless them, took this up a notch by providing a clear cropping guide in the form of a Photoshop file, including clear guides for head size and placement. Amazing.)
  • Sometimes we’re shown an image to match, or a URL to reference.
  • Sometimes we’re asked to make a recommendation.

If you are a new contact, reaching out to FayFoto Boston for the first time, expect to be asked what you need for a final product. If you don’t know, see if you can find who does. Failing that, we have some generic defaults.

Generic vs. Specific

If we aren’t given any specifications, our default for a business headshot portrait is to photograph the subject against a charcoal gray background, and send a JPEG file saved as a vertical rectangle at 4×6 inches at 300 dpi. That default works well for general PR usage but…

  • unless you have someone in-house who can resize an image, that’s quite large for a web page,
  • gray might not match preexisting portraits on your website, and
  • a vertical rectangle might not be the ideal shape. Why? Because if it turns out you need a square (or a circle) and we have cropped to a nice vertical rectangle, the rectangular crop might not leave you with enough room on the sides to get a comfortable square crop.

Providing Multiple Versions

It’s not at all uncommon for our clients to request multiple versions of each finished image. For example, we might provide a square crop for a LinkedIn profile, another version for a web bio page and a third for print and press releases. We can give you just about anything you need if we know what that is, preferably before taking the pictures!

FayFoto Boston will help develop a spec if your marketing department doesn’t have one

Here’s a bit of reality: every client has a specification, even if our direct contact doesn’t know what that is.

It saves everyone time if you can clearly communicate your needs for final product in advance, before the photo session.

Absent a clear specification, we are more than happy to make suggestions. Here’s one example we proposed to a new client. For each selected image, we will provide the following variations:

  • 500px square for LinkedIn, “LastName_FirstName-linkedin”
  • 200x300px for web use, “LastName_FirstName-web”
  • 4”x6” at print resolution for press releases and media distribution, “LastName_FirstName-print”

Bottom Line

In order to get what you need from your photographer most efficiently it’s critical that you share your requirements clearly. And if you don’t have requirements, ask your photographer for recommendations or live with that photographer’s best guess. If your business is in the metropolitan-Boston area and you need portraits of your team, we invite you to get in touch. We know this discipline, and we’re happy to provide you with exactly what you need!

File Size: What website maintainers should ask their website developers

Photoshop jpeg compression setting dialog

subtitled…

How Much Should Your Photographer Think For You?

( tl;dr: Ask your website developer for an optimal image size in kilobytes; then share that with your photographer )

When shooting for an ad agency, I would never crop too tightly, sharpen very much, or compress an image. The expectation is that someone downstream from me is going to do additional work on the file, and that professional will expect some latitude to work with.

Expectations are different with our corporate clients. The file I send will very likely be posted to a website immediately, exactly as I sent it. The expectation in this case is that the file we send should be ready to use, as-is.

Read moreFile Size: What website maintainers should ask their website developers

Labels, Distinctions, and Discoverability

We take a lot of professional photos of and for business executives.

I personally prefer to label what we do portrait photography.

That label feels more dignified and valuable than another (more common it turns out) label, head shot.

For the longest time we resisted using the latter term. It seemed superficial. It felt like slang. It felt like what aspiring actors and models seek. It didn’t seem business-like.

But when Google’s pay-per-click advertising began to sound like a practical sales and lead generation tool for our company, I began to listen more closely to the language our clients commonly used. Language they and their peers would presumably therefore use in online searches.

You saw this coming, didn’t you? “Headshot” is what most people seem to call what we do. Or maybe “head shot” if spell check disapproves of the concatenated variant.

So much for dignity and value considerations.

Go where the searches are

When it comes to marketing a professional service, it’s important to see beyond your personal biases or industry-insider terminology and stay attuned to the common vernacular. Potential new business from search results makes this seemingly subtle difference more significant than simply “You like tomato and I like tomahto.

For that reason our web site now uses both forms. If you discover FayFoto Boston while searching online for a headshot photographer, we are more than happy to provide a solid business portrait of you or members of your team.

But is there a difference?

Is the distinction between a head shot and a portrait merely semantic?

Well, actually no. Not in my mind anyway.

The difference comes down to time and attention, both in the image capture and the post production stages.

A Head Shot can be thought of as a high quality ID photo

Let’s say you have a large group of people (imagine a sales meeting, bringing employees from all over the country together in one place). Or you would like to add photos of a department’s worth of people to an internal intranet. You want to have a presentable photo of as many as you can. You need to move along, though. You allocate 5 minutes per person. We can do that. We’ll still bring studio lights and a background, but there isn’t time for the subject to review and select an image. In such cases we frequently edit each subject’s images to 5 or 10 per person and either send you a PDF proof sheet to select from or just simply send you moderately sized and cropped JPEG files of the whole bunch. In the latter option it’s on you to decide which image to use for each person. We will apply color and exposure corrections and custom cropping, but that’s it for post production.

For some use cases this is entirely sufficient.

This would be a headshot.

A Portrait affords more time with the subject and more post production

On the other hand, let’s say you present images of your firm’s Partners or executive leadership team to the public on a web site. Presentation of these executives reflects on your company. The image may also be used for press releases or LinkedIn profiles in addition to the company website.

In such a case it’s more appropriate to schedule 10 or 15 minutes per person, allow him or her to review the captures, take more photos if necessary, and approve one. Significant care and attention is paid to every inch of the image in post production. Several variations of crop and resolution may be applied to the final image to comply with various media specifications.

That, in my mind, is a portrait.

Evaluate your needs

Give some thought to what your needs are realistically. Then give us a call and outline your needs, expectations, and budget. We’ll work with you to give you what you need – nothing more but most certainly nothing less.

Start Here

If you are a business professional who works with photographers… Start Here!

Blog posts by their nature get pushed down as new articles are added.

While we would like to think that everything we write has value and is useful, we do have some foundational articles aimed at professionals who work with photographers. We want to ensure that this “evergreen” content remains visible and accessible.

A Brief Index to Helpful Content

Here’s a short list of articles we feel are of particular value to business professionals whose job involves working with professional photographers.

Related to Business “Head Shot” Portraits

Setting Up a Photo Session

Other Topics

Managing a Successful Group Photo

empty room waiting for group to arrive

A group photo is like a piece of performance art

I personally find group photos at once terrifying and exhilarating.

If you have never observed a professional photographer organize and capture a group photo, let me outline the stages so that remark makes sense.

The Stages of a Group Photo

  • Your photographer arrives early to get ready. The set is empty.
  • People gradually assemble and make small talk. There is amiable chaos.
  • Your photographer encourages people to pay attention, and starts to arrange people by height so faces aren’t obscured. (This stage is often humorously described as “herding cats.”)
  • Chaos gradually diminishes and the group quiets down.
  • Your photographer fine tunes the placement of subjects.
  • For 5 or maybe 7 minutes there is an splendid sense of order.
  • After the last exposure, people mill about, resume conversations, and gradually drift away. Chaos resumes.
  • The set is empty. Your photographer packs up and departs.

It’s predictable, and yet it’s magic every time I witness it.

Why would you want a group photo?

University reunion groupFayFoto is called to do groups for, among other things, College and University reunions, graduating classes, professional organizations, business units, award recipients, and workshop attendees.

What can you do to ensure that a group photo goes smoothly?

Advance Planning makes all the difference. Following are some key areas to consider when planning and preparing for a group photograph.

Read moreManaging a Successful Group Photo

Why don’t you show more photos on your website?

Well, I guess that’s a reasonable question.

I’ve seen plenty of photographer websites containing many hundreds of images.

I’m guessing you have, too.

So here’s my response to your reasonable question.

FayFoto Boston has been around for a very long time, and we hope to be around for a long time to come. We work primarily with Corporate clients. We have some internal limitations regarding what we can show. These aren’t “industry standards;” they mirror our own ethical position which has evolved over time and over many business interactions.1

Here are two questions I’d like you to consider:

Read moreWhy don’t you show more photos on your website?

Head shot portrait retouching

portrait retouching notes

Head shot portrait retouching

What’s in a word?

I’ll begin this article with a few words about the word retouching. We understand that this is the word everyone uses and understands, so we use it, too.

Reluctantly.

Frankly, most of the connotations about that word are negative. At best it implies fakery. At worst it suggests repair work on a flawed subject. We don’t want our work to suggest either of those! We are much more comfortable using the term polishing, which suggests making something good even better. So we’ll continue to honor the term which is used by most of the world but, between you and us, polishing comes closer to what we do.

These days, just about every head shot portrait image we release to our clients has been looked at carefully by an experienced digital technician. 1

You don’t have to specify or explicitly request the basics of retouching – you can count on that being done as part of our service. It’s built into our pricing.

Read moreHead shot portrait retouching

Client-Vendor Relationships

At a recent networking group meeting, customer service became a topic of discussion.

As part of the conversation a smaller, local hardware store was contrasted with the "big box" store across the street. How does the smaller shop survive in the shadow of the larger?

The consensus was that the customer experience at the local store was far and away better than the customer experience at the Big Box store.

I don’t know that FayFoto has a "big box store" parallel, but I can say that, because our market is saturated with competent photographers, we work very hard to make customer support our distinguishing attribute; our brand; how we want to be remembered and described.

I really enjoy knowing our customers. I love knowing their kids' names. I love knowing their dog's name or their favorite soccer team. I love picking up a conversation a month later. I love starting an email reply with "It's good to hear from you again!" I love walking up to a client’s reception desk and greeting the receptionist by name.

Read moreClient-Vendor Relationships

How to Give an Award

How to Give an Award

Alternately titled:

Giving awards with your photographer in mind

Recognizing your team by giving awards is an important way of expressing the value your company places on achievements or other contributions. Sharing these moments on the company website or newsletter or press release is an important way of sharing. With just a little bit of foresight you can improve the odds of getting great photos of your award presentation.

You might be the presenter. Your might be the event coordinator, needing to “coach” the presenter. Whatever your situation, you probably want usable photographs of the award presentations or you wouldn’t be reading this article. We have witnessed great award presentations and hopeless ones (from the point of view of the photographer), so here are a few tips.

Read moreHow to Give an Award

How to book a portrait assignment

How to book a portrait assignment

We try hard to make it easy for you to work with FayFoto but there are a few things to be aware of when setting up an assignment. This article will focus on setting up a headshot portrait session at your office, but much of the information applies to assignments of other types. (Note: Portraits in our Brighton studio don't require setup time.)

Details Matter

With a little attention given to clarifying a few critical details, arranging for a photo shoot at your office becomes a lot easier. Here's a little script:

The x-Company would like to arrange a photo shoot for x-Number of employees on x-Date at x-Time (am/pm).

That was easy, wasn't it? So here's a little additional information. It takes us 20-30 minutes to set up, so when you specify a time we'll invariably ask "is that ready-at or arrive-at?" For example, if you state that 10:00 am is the ready-at time (meaning when the first subject has been told to show up), we'll probably arrive at your office by about 9:30.

Read moreHow to book a portrait assignment