Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Selfies Vs. Professional Portraits

Top row my portraits, bottom row clients' selfies

I've blogged about these lovely clients before (on my other blog khollinrake.blogspot.com) but not on this makemepretty blog as here I'm focusing primarily on women. However, the more I see self-portraits in online profiles, the more I wanted to acknowledge and address this trend in comparison to what we professionals bring to the table. And yes, I can make men "pretty" too.

 I'm sure their situation is similar to that of many potential professional portrait clients. When they  launched their website initially they knew they wanted to include images of their staff, physiotherapy being a very people oriented profession (as are many other businesses offering professional services). So not wanting to blow their budget on photography they got out their perfectly decent little digital point and shoot and took the pictures themselves. Eventually though, once they had the time and the means, they knew they wanted to match the quality of their (portrait) imagery to the quality of their business. They were kind enough to allow me to post the old and the new pics here to subject to the scrutiny of my viewers.

It's not my intention to criticize. But, these represent a great example of images that were "good enough" compared to images that are actually "good" (if I may say so myself). Maybe as a photographer I'm biased; the flaws inherent in many non-professional portraits really jump out at me. However, I have to believe that many viewers of people's profile pictures see the same things I do, even if they're not as sure of the specifics, or of how these subtle flaws impact their view of the companies and individuals represented.

Without getting into an entire photography lesson here, I'll just list a few differences that I think matter. First off, the selfies look as if they were made without quite enough thought about the background or environment (notice the crooked door frame). I've seen some "instructions for getting a great business selfie" and they tell you to find a plain wall, but I'd assert that in some cases an out of focus background with some stuff in it makes for a more interesting picture, and gives the viewer more of a sense of where the subjects actually are. At the very least they could have stood further away from their door and wall to avoid casting those distracting shadows behind their heads. The lighting is inconsistent (ie. the two portraits don't really look the same), and not really flattering in either snapshot. And the colour balance is also inconsistent, again impacting the portraits' ability to create or maintain the feeling of a purposeful and consistent brand. As for expression, the snapshots aren't terrible. The therapists look happy. But in our shots I'd suggest they look not only happy, but also professional.

If you feel it's your time for a portrait upgrade, please get in touch with me.


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