Monday, January 25, 2016

A Headshot: Is it Your Greatest Asset?

"In recent studies, up to 90% of human resources people say they check out social media profiles, especially LinkedIn and Facebook, before inviting a candidate in for an interview. This means the wrong headshot can kill your chances of even talking on the phone stone-dead." -- Martin Yate, CPC 

People are judging you.

It's a reality. For as much as we think that we don't judge a book by its cover, we do. We especially judge professionals with whom we potentially will or will not do business.
You've done it, haven't you? "He looks like he still lives in the 70s."
"Can't an attorney afford something other than a cell phone photo?"
"She looks bored in that picture."

Wouldn't you rather know that potential clients think good things when they see your photo?
"He looks so friendly in that picture, like he won't think I'm dumb for messing up my books."
"She looks so competent. I'll bet she knows what she's doing."
"They look like they really enjoy what they do. That means they'll do a better job for me."

Sure, it sounds silly... but the fact is, it happens all day, every day. People are making emotional decisions based on appearances. 

Why not put your best foot forward with a great professional headshot? 

Take Nola Fennessy, for example. She sat with me recently to have her headshots updated, and I loved the way they turned out. Below are just a few previews from her session. 
maine headshot photographer
maine headshot photographer

maine headshot photographer

Doesn't Nola look friendly and professional? She looks modern, relevant, and knowledgeable. 

It's wonderful what a professional headshot can do for your image - for your business. 
Are you ready to draw more clients to your business? Then it's time for a new headshot.
Give us a call or email to schedule your session. 

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

New Headshots After 9 Years!

Jenn Stonehouse is a licensed mortgage loan originator with Franklin American Mortgage Company here in York County, Maine. She contacted me and lamented that the last time her headshot had been updated, it was the year she began with Franklin American: 2006.

Jenn's previous headshot

Jenn is definitely one of those people whose whole face lights up when she smiles. She is vibrant and funny and sharp as a tack.

As far as wardrobe goes, I told Jenn to bring lots of choices, and we ended up trying out every single one of them. In between frames, we talked about how fun it is to own horses, that Adele was fabulous, and that karaoke is always a good idea.

And when we were done, Jenn paid me a great compliment by saying, "Well, that was fun!"

Having a headshot is one of those things that seems to often be put aside for more pressing matters, but ... take a look at some previews of her new headshots and tell me if it was worth it.

Maine headshot photographer

Ah, Jenn... you look younger, you lookup-to-date, and can I just say... we actually captured you in these photographs.

If you are in the Southern Maine area, why not schedule an appointment with us to update your professional headshot? Your clients will rave!

Our studio is in Sanford, a short driving distance of Wells, Kennebunk, Biddeford, Rochester, Dover, and Ogunquit.
We can also arrange travel to your office for groups of 3 or more.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

4 Do-or-Die Photography Tips for Social Media

You're a new business owner and you can't afford to hire a professional photographer for your social media.

Do I EVER understand your plight.

But fear not, my friend. I am here to help.

Let's start at the beginning.

  • You need - I repeat: You NEED to have an active social media presence if you are a small business. If you cannot get on board with this concept, just stop here. (But I think that if you've found this article and are reading it, you're probably in agreement with me.)
  • Your social media is relatively worthless if you don't have photographs.  Let's be honest: most of us have the attention span of a goldfish these days. Photos grab our attention until your words can keep our attention.
  • Nothing kills the value of a photo like a bad photo. Everybody's a critic. Even if your clients are not professional photographers, they KNOW bad photo when they see one. Let's take an example:

You own a country-themed gift shop and you want to show your wonderful followers on Facebook these new snowflake canisters. So you fill them with dried grains (good call) and snap a photo of them.

Bask in all the glory of this terrible picture. BASK IN IT.  

I'm proud to say that I took this myself on my iPad. I resisted the urge to pick up my gorgeous Nikon camera with the breathtaking 1.4 lens because YOU don't have one of those. You have an iPad. Or a camera on your phone. Or if you're lucky, a great little point-and-shoot.

I did a little thinking and 3 minutes later, I took another snapshot with the same iPad on the same table. Here's what I came up with. 

There are 4 main technical differences in these two pictures. And in these 4 differences, you can learn how to take better photos for your business' social media pages.

1.  Razor Sharp Focus.

I'm telling you: if your photo is not in sharp focus, delete it. Don't ever, ever let your wonderful customers or clients see it. Do you know what a blurry photo says to your potential customers? It says, "I do not care about this product enough to take a good photo of it." So take the picture, zoom in on it, and make sure that the prominent point of focus is SHARP. In this photo, it's the foreground: the front of the canister which displays that cute little snowflake.

2. Mind Your Background.

I have a studio full of backdrops, but I intentionally grabbed a scrap piece of plywood to demonstrate a point: If you can't have professional, aim for uncluttered. See those file folders in the background of the top image? Yuck. See the floor in the foreground? Super distracting. 
[Some may argue that there's a distracting little beam of light coming out from the left side of the bottom photo (under the plywood). Yeah, that bugs me too. But we're not striving to make a professional photo here. Just something better.]

3. Consider a Different Angle. 

The default setting for most people is to stand with the camera at arms' length and take a snapshot. *Yawn.* For the second photo, I crouched down, set the iPad on the table, and shot slightly up at the canisters. The changed perspective allows you to see more of the canister, and gives the perception that the canisters are larger than the other photo. Play around with different vantage points. You'll probably find something more visually appealing.

4. Soft, Even Lighting will Save Your Photo's Soul

In the top photo, the window light casts a dark shadow on the front of the canisters. You don't see anything really appealing here; the light is either too bright or too dark. When you're setting up a shot, go for good light, but make it soft and even. If you're shooting something small, take the photo in a shady area near good window light. But make sure that the overall lighting in your photo is the same from one side to the other. 

There are other details that are different in the photos. Photographing an odd number of products instead of an even one is more aesthetically pleasing. I also intentionally positioned the canisters to catch the light, and this is a little trickier, but with practice and persistence, you can make it happen.

So in conclusion: before you post a photo online, think about how your potential customer or client will see it. Don't settle for documentation. Make sure your photos really flatter the subject. Your cash flow will reflect the care and consideration you put into your social media photos. 

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Why is a Professional Headshot Important?

professional headshot photographer

Of course a professional photographer is going to tell you that a professional headshot is important.

There are many reasons why, but as a professional of whatever field you happen to be in, here's the reason you should care the most:
Your potential clients, agents, employers, and customers can tell the difference. And if you haven't invested in a professional image, they will conclude that you are not a professional.

Is that a tacky conclusion?  Perhaps. But you've got to know it's a conclusion that we all make.

As a professional, whether you're a business owner, a playwright, a realtor, an attorney, an actor, a CEO, a chef... well, you get the idea; a true professional will have a professional image. This is what society expects, and that expectation is not about to change.

But you don't have to take my word for it.

Read the words of Claire Boyles, a Start-Up Marketing Consultant. In her article, she explains in beautiful detail exactly why you should invest in a professional headshot. She shows you why a casual snapshot is not good for business, and why a friend with a nice camera is not a good substitute for a true professional photographer.

First Frame Studio serves southern Maine (Portland and southern areas). Our studio is located in Sanford, a quick drive from Biddeford, Wells, Kennebunk, and Rochester, NH. For companies with over 3 agents, we offer on-location photography services as well.

Questions about professional headshots? Drop us an email at

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

LinkedIn Users: Are You Being Scammed?

If you're a business professional, chances are good that you have a LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn can be a great asset for business networking. It doesn't take long, however, for the bad guys to ruin all the fun.

Symantec, a leader in information security, reports that there are a growing number of incidents targeting members of the LinkedIn community.

LinkedIn Scam: How Does it Work?

Most people on the business network are accustomed to being contacted by recruiters from other companies. Symantec blogger Satnam Narang reports that the scammers' primary goal is to map out the networks of business professionals. Scammers can also glean contact information from these connections, including email addresses and phone numbers. This contact information is valuable for phishing schemes.

How Can You Identify a Scammer on LinkedIn?

Narang says there are two primary ways you can identify a LinkedIn phony:

  1. Do a reverse-image search on the headshot  of the potential contact.  If the headshot comes up under someone else's name on Google, or even under a stock photography agency, you know the contact is not legitimate.
  2. Many times scammers will copy and paste their profile content.  Narang shows an example of this. If you suspect a potential scammer, copy their profile info and run an internet search on it. If the text appears in a real profile, it's a dead giveaway.

Of course, the simplest way to avoid falling victim to a scammer is to be skeptical in the first place. Only add contacts that you know.

First Frame Studio aims to help local businesses succeed. One of the best ways we can help is to make sure your online and print advertising features appealing, professional photography. Is your LinkedIn photo a professional one? If not, give us a call at (207) 651-1842 or email us at to set up a professional headshot appointment. We can't wait to make you look great.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Crisp Autumn Photo Shoot

What a wildly busy summer it's been! Here in Maine it's already turned cold at night, and I know there are precious few warm days left in 2015.  Earlier this month, I was so pleased to re-visit some of last year's clients and do an early morning photo shoot. Here are just a few highlights. 

I just love the bottom photo. Such sweet moments! 

These photos would work beautifully in a grouping of stretched canvas in the family room. 

As the weather continues to cool down, I hope to be posting more of the great photo shoots we've had this year. It seems I'm always in the process of catching up!

Keep smiling,

Friday, October 2, 2015

Why a Current Headshot is Important

For those of us who do not like to have their portrait taken, it's all too easy to forget that a headshot needs to be updated on a regular basis.  Or maybe we think we looked younger, thinner, better in that photo we had taken 6 years ago. So we keep it, thinking it's the best we can do.

Stacie Ericson, Owner of  Eco Baby Boutique in Sanford, Maine

The truth of the matter is, it can hurt your business if your headshot is not current. Perhaps your attire or hairstyle looks dated. Or, according to small business coach Melinda Emerson, prospective clients may not recognize you. She says, "The most important reason to update your brand photos is to make sure people recognize you when they meet you in person."

You can trust a skilled headshot photographer to make you look appealing and professional, even if you don't feel confident about your appearance. The goal is to look current, relevant, and comfortable in your own skin - while appropriate to your profession.

If you are a professional in southern Maine or New Hampshire and need a business headshot, we would be pleased to create an image that will appeal to your ideal client.

Friday, July 24, 2015

What I Wish I had Known Before I Had Kids...

I've been thinking so much about yesterday's post, and remembered that I wanted to share this brilliant essay by Dawn Hallman, M.A., Executive Director of the Dallas Association for Parent Education. The site for the organization is

Her words struck me when I first read them more than a year ago. I keep this excerpt posted on my fridge to remind myself daily that if I am wildly frustrated with one of them, it's most likely because my expectations are skewed.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.

What I Wish I Had Known Before I Had Kids
(That I Know Now)...

I wish I had known that 
my children's behavior was
a language - that their actions
and words were telling me 
something about what they were
feeling or thinking. I wish I'd
remembered that they did not
get up in the morning plotting 
to do things to frustrate me.

I wish I'd known that meltdowns 
and explosions usually
meant my kids were tired, or
hungry, or bored or frustrated
themselves. I wish I'd known
that they needed an adult to
help them find the words to 
express what was troubling them.
But they sure didn't need
a frustrated adult.

I wish I'd known more 
about child development, brain
development and behavior. 
I wish I'd known that growing
up is a slow process. I wish I'd
known how each development 
stage has its own way of seeing 
the world. I wish I'd known
that most times they saw things
very differently from me.

I wish I'd listened more to 
what was true about their hearts
and spirits and personalities
than worrying about what other
people thought of their behavior.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Screaming Kids and Marcy's Diner: a Parent's Perspective

Working and living in Maine has me interested in the parent/proprietor drama that unfolded this week in Portland at Marcy's Diner. Haven't heard the story yet? It involves a crying toddler and pancakes, and a proprietor who took matters in her own vocal chords and decided to speak up. 

So was the little one screaming her head off? Maybe. Was she screaming for more than 30 minutes? Possibly. But here's the thing:

There are always solutions. If a little one is crying, where were the offers of crayons and paper? Crackers? Complimentary juice? Bottom line: if the business is yours and your customers for the large part are uncomfortable, isn't it worth giving the parents something - anything for the child to get it to be happy? Here is where, as a parent myself, I see the proprietor of the diner failing all of her customers that day.

The story strikes a nerve with me. But I can see both sides of the coin: I'm a business owner and a mother... of three. So believe me when I say that I have done my fair share of carrying around a screaming child in public.

It's not fun. 

But here's where the classy business owners rise above the rest: offers of balloons, coloring books, snacks have been given, and they were very much appreciated. Even those with a sympathetic glance or a kind word made an impression. "Hang in there, Mama."... "Aw, she's having a rough day, isn't she?"... "Dry those tears, sweetheart! Your mommy loves you; it can't be that bad!" These were words of comfort, and they made a rough afternoon a little more bearable. 

As a photographer, I know that kids are NOT always easy. Unimpressed, uncooperative, and some, well... some are downright stinkers. Take, for example, my three stinkers below:

Classic children's portrait? Nice, kids.  Nice. 

Still, as professionals, we learn to deal with sour faces and their accompanying sour attitudes. Compassion, patience, silly faces, and sometimes unabashed bribery: these are the tools a good family portrait photographer will use to cajole the little ones into cooperation. 

As a parent, you can be assured that a quality photographer will give your family the time you all need. A family portrait session should be fun! Fun for you, fun for them. You aren't rushed into a strict 20-minute session, with kids feeling the pressure, and egged on to being uncooperative. A beautiful photograph should be just part of a thoroughly enjoyable experience.

Some time after your family session, when you gaze at the wall in your living room, you'll see their sweet little faces smiling back at you from their portrait, and you'll remember that day. You'll remember watching them running and hugging and screaming and being silly in the golden sunlight. You'll remember the awe that welled up in your heart when you realized again how blessed you really are to have them. 

Because, kids, even in their worst moments, are always a blessing. 

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Superhero Brothers: The Best Kind of Family

"I, who have no sisters nor brothers, look with some degree of innocent envy on those who may be said to be born friends" -- James Boswell, Scottish Author

We met on a warm, sunny afternoon at Beach Plum Farm in Ogunquit, Maine. The light in the sky was beginning to soften and glow as it began its slow descent in the sky. Our goal was to take family portraits, and we did; but what ultimately unfolded was part imagination, part preschool fancy, and lots and lots of love.

Having three children myself, I know that siblings quarrel and love; they spat and hug and kiss in moments that come and go like the waves of the ocean. These two chaps were different... they got along splendidly; they REALLY loved each other. It impressed me deeply that these two were the very best of friends. It was a beautiful thing, and so rewarding to capture.

They climbed trees, ran through fields with wild abandon, and had the most adorable superhero nicknames for each other. This was childhood at its best and most beautiful.

Many thanks to this charming family for letting me spend the afternoon with you. Your children are a testament to your love and hard work. I hope you enjoy your family portraits for many, many years.