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How to Choose a Photographer

In today’s competitive professional world, photography is vital for your personal brand. Many professionals are unsure about how to choose a professional photographer for business, actor, or staff headshots. Kyle Bondeson Photography has put together a list of tips and tricks to help you choose a photographer that will provide quality photos that suit your […]

Your Guide to Incredible and Professional Realtor Headshots

As a Realtor, your headshot is a powerful marketing asset that can help you make great first impressions with potential clients. Your Realtor headshot should represent you as a whole – what you look like and what you stand for. At Kyle Bondeson Photography, we understand that your headshot represents your commitment to your clients […]

How Corporate Headshots Can Enhance Your Personal Branding

Branding involves creating a unique visual identity for your business and the product or services you provide. While many businesses focus on logos, fonts, and color palettes, your corporate headshot is often the most memorable part of your marketing. Exceptional corporate headshot photography can enhance your resume, assist you with networking, or even add the […]

Why Is It Important to Do Staff Photos?

It can be easy to forget in today’s digitized business world that companies are ultimately made up of a group of individuals working together toward common goals. More companies are offering remote and hybrid working options, which can make it harder to remember humans are behind their success. Staff photos are a great way to […]

Headshots Outside or Inside: Which is Better?

Headshots are tightly cropped portraits that only include the head and shoulders of the subject. The focus is entirely on the person’s face. That may sound faintly similar to a passport photo or even a mug shot. However, a professional headshot is much more than just a quick snapshot. A professional headshot will reveal your […]

How Should Staff Prepare for a Business Photo Shoot?

Employee photos are an exceptional tool if you want to enhance your brand image or just show off your company to potential clients. A business photo shoot and staff headshots can provide a professional company impression. To have a great business shoot will require planning, persistence, and flexibility. And you’ll also need an experienced professional […]

What is Personal Branding Photography?

If you’ve been in the business world for even a short time, you may have heard someone say that you need to know your own personal brand. With the rapid growth of social media, the gig economy, and digital dominance, personal branding photography is becoming an essential element for those who desire a successful career. […]

Realtors Marketing Without Headshots: Is It a Good Idea?

Real estate professionals do a lot more than help their clients buy or sell properties. They must sell their personal brand. Buyers and sellers have lots of options when choosing a real estate agent. Branding and marketing strategies can help you stand out and show clients you are your best choice. Realtors marketing without headshots […]

What is a Headshot?

What is a Headshot? Defined There are many terms in the photography business, and it may seem a bit confusing at first. One such term is ‘headshot,’ which instantly conjures an image in your mind, but is it the right one? No matter what you think a headshot is right now, we’re going to explore […]

Who Needs Professional Headshots? Do I Need One?

You might be wondering if your profession requires you to get a professional headshot. Even if it doesn’t, you’d be in a better position if you decide to get a headshot anyway. After all, there are many, many reasons to have a nice, professional photo of yourself taken. Everyone from the CEO to the janitor […]

How to Plan a Personal Branding Photoshoot

If you own a business, especially one online, you’ve more than likely heard someone say “personal branding” at some point in time. You may or may not know what the term means. Let us explain. It’s simple: When people refer to personal branding, they’re referring to branding (read: marketing) themselves. So your personal brand is […]

Why a Professional Headshot is Important

You know that old saying “first impressions make the best impressions”? Well, it’s true. Research has shown that it takes people about .10 seconds to judge you based on their very first encounter with you. Furthermore, research also suggests that those first impressions are very difficult to change down the road. So what people see […]

10 Tips for an Amazing Family Spring Photoshoot

Have you taken a look out your window yet? If not, run! Spring has sprung, folks. Budding trees. Beautiful flowers peeking out. The sun is actually starting to feel warm again. That means it’s the perfect time to schedule your family photoshoot! With such beautiful weather, you just can’t go wrong. Especially not if you […]

10 Professional Photo Shoot Tips For Your Photo Shoot

So you’ve decided to do a professional photo shoot with a Chicago portrait photographer. Congratulations! A photo shoot can be a fantastic memory in and of itself as you create photographs that you will carry with you through life and hand down through the generations. But in order to make the most of your photo […]

Market Your Business With Professional Headshots

You know this already, but it bears emphasizing: image is a vital part of any business. We live in an increasingly visual society. Much of the business you do will be online and so the image you portray there may be the only way people can engage with you. They’ll either like it or they […]

3 Reasons to Hire a Professional Headshot Photographer

It goes without saying—but I’ll say it anyway—cell phones are everywhere. There’s nowhere you can today where you won’t find someone using their phone, whether for business or pleasure. And frequently, whether you’re at work, a concert, or wandering a store, you’ll see people using their phones to take photographs. With the advent of phones, […]

7 Reasons Family Portraits Are Important

You see it everywhere today—people capturing the world around them using their phones, whether it’s a concert, sports event, school play, or any family gathering. To be clear: there is absolutely nothing wrong with that picture (pun intended). It’s wonderful that people can capture memories so easily and conveniently on the go.  However, when it […]

Tips for the Best High School Senior Portraits

What are senior portraits for high school? Senior portraits are the photographs you take toward the end of your final year of high school, when you are preparing to graduate. Whether you have the portraits done by a photographer contracted by the school or by an individual you yourself hire, a portrait will involve a […]

Building A Compelling Brand With Personal Branding Headshots

Some people overlook the importance of clearly establishing a personal brand. Today’s world is indisputably digital—and every bit as visual. Online platforms are increasingly your first opportunity to create a lasting, positive, professional impression on prospective clients. They’ll be looking at all the little details, and that includes examining your headshot for signs of professionalism […]

Do I Really Need a Professional Headshot?

It’s easy to overlook a headshot. It’s just a picture, right? Why would you need one? Well, the truth is there’s a very good reason why you absolutely need a headshot, ASAP: first impressions. The way the world works today, business is conducted online more often than not. You apply for jobs online. You submit […]

How to Get the Perfect Portrait Taken By a Professional

While you’d think having a professional portrait done should be easy, many people find it nerve-wracking. It makes sense—a portrait is something you’re not only going to share with people but is a memory that you will cherish for a lifetime. And you want that memory to encompass the whole photoshoot! To that end, here […]

How to Make Family Portrait Day Go Smoothly

When you decide to get your portrait of your family and/or children done in Chicago, it’s an exciting occasion! There’s all kinds of work involved in finding the right photographer, and once you’ve put in the work and settled on the photographer who you know will help you craft the perfect family portrait in your local Chicago area, then it’s time for Portrait Day.

Environmental Headshots vs Portraits: Marketing with Photography

What is an environmental portrait and how can it help you market yourself or your business? The simplest way to break it down is to explain the difference between a professional headshot, a business portrait and an environmental portrait.

What is a Headshot?

A professional headshot is the most common type of photograph taken for the specific purpose of marketing or branding. A headshot is a close-up photograph of a person which is traditionally cropped from their chest to slightly above their head. (Rules are meant to be broken). A headshot puts the focus squarely on the subject and works well to put a face to a name or give viewers an idea of who they’re doing business with.

Headshot of Chicago Female

What is a Business Portrait?

A business portrait (this is where things get confusing) is a portrait without defined cropping that in some way represents the subject as they would like to be seen by their customers. This type of portrait can be cropped anywhere from 3/4 to full length and is taken in a neutral setting that isn’t associated with the subject’s work or life. Think of a photograph of a subject standing in a formal outfit in a photography studio, or a writer photographed in a park. The background or setting in this type of photograph serves no function but to compliment the subject.

What is are Environmental Headshots?

An environmental portrait is a portrait taken of a subject in a surrounding that is specifically chosen to help tell their story; often their home or workplace. They are a great way to give your clientele a glimpse into your work or workplace culture. While it’s true that a headshot fits best on a business card or the “meet the staff” section of your company’s website, an environmental portrait can be just as powerful of a marketing tool if used correctly.

Portrait of commercial sales rep in Chicago showroom

Why Consider an Environmental Headshot Session?

Consider a real estate agent who’d like to stand out from the pack and get out the message that they are the person who you’ve been looking for to help you find your dream home. Yes, a nice headshot of their smiling face might give you a good impression of their overall vibe (friendly, serious, creepy), but a brightly lit portrait of the same real estate agent standing in a fantastic-looking modern kitchen lets you know that they are the person who can land you a place like the one on the photograph.

How about a chef or a restaurateur? Food tv has created celebrities out of people who, not long ago, were completely anonymous to the average person who didn’t put a whole lot of thought into who was cooking their food. Foodie culture has taken over and websites like Eater, TimeOut and Infatuation are constantly hipping us to the best new place in Chicago to bánh mì or Duck Confit Hash Browns (full-disclosure: I’m sort of a fast-food guy). More than ever before, when customers go out to eat they want to know whose behind their culinary experience. Sure, a nice website with an easy to read menu is helpful but a portrait of the restaurateur or head chef inside of his establishment gives your customer a better a look at the people behind their night out.

When most people think of a large company or corporation they don’t think much past the name on the building. Portraits taken in offices and conference rooms are a great way to portray your people in their element.

The list goes on: from small business and startups looking to show off the culture of their workplace to bloggers needing imagery to compliment the lifestyle they write about to artists with their work, musicians in the studio, fitness coaches in the gym – the list goes on.

Simply put: when simple head and shoulders headshots aren’t enough o tell your story of you or your business then you may want to consider environmental portraits.

Portrait of a man in a chair

I recently had the opportunity to photograph a Chicago-based commercial furniture sales company called LevelReps. They were a great example of how an environmental portrait can be used to display a company’s culture.

Prior to the photoshoot, if you’d asked me to describe to you my idea of a commercial furniture sales rep, I’d likely have described something out of the used car salesmen book of stereotypes; a bad toupee stuffed into an ill-fitting suit, desperate to make a sale. I couldn’t have been more wrong. The team at LevelReps is an enthusiastic group of young professionals.

Before every shoot, I like to do a little research into the company to get a feel for what I’m walking into. After digging around on their website and reading through their employee bios, I was left with the impression that they we’re a tight-knit group, with a good sense of humor about themselves. While you never know what you’re going to get before you show up, I walked in hoping to deliver photographs that aligned with the vibe of their bios.

Throughout the photoshoot, I worked with alongside one of their team members to create casual portraits that utilized their new showroom in Chicago’s Merchandise Mart as a backdrop. (The posing options in a furniture showroom are limitless!) . Not only were we successful in showing off the LevelReps team and their personalities but the photographs give their clients an idea of the style of product that they as a company represent. A headshot can’t do that.

Not all environmental portraits need to be strictly “professional.” (Whatever that means?) This type of portraiture works wonders for people operating in creative fields, too.

Portrait of a Chicago artist staring into the camera

I recently had the opportunity to take some portraits of Chicago artist John A. Kurtz in his home studio. John works in multiple mediums: painting, photography, illustration, and sculpture whose work has been shown at many museums including the Art Institute of Chicago and the Evanston Art Center and published in several publications such as Playboy Magazine and Chicago Magazine.

I’d been on the hunt for interesting people to photograph when it was suggested to me by his niece that I should photograph her uncle in his studio. I was excited about the opportunity. Several months, a few canceled dates, and an art show where I was finally able to introduce myself to John later, he was kind enough to let me and his niece come over and take some portraits of him in his element.


Candid portrait of a Chicago artist in his kitchen

If the basis of this blog post is to answer why an environmental portrait could be the right marketing tool for you, then you might be asking yourself “how does an environmental portrait benefit an old artist like John?” It’s true, John’s the rare individual whose been able to carve out a successful and life-long career in, what essentially amounts to, being creative. We should all be so lucky. The guy’s displays more personality in the hat that he wears than most of us is capable of on a three-beer-buzz. So, yes it’s a valid point that John’s probably not overly concerned with marketing or personal branding at this point in his career.

However, let’s say that John’s got a show coming up. We’ve all been given flyers or invites to facebook events for someone’s art show or theater performance, etc. We’ll take a quick glance at the piece that they’ve chosen to represent the show, the date and time and decide whether or not we want to attend. (Just how close are we to the person in question?)

These portraits give the viewer a glimpse into John’s life and work. They stoke your curiosity, and instead of thinking “I wonder who I can drag along to this thing with me?”, you’re thinking, “This guy looks interesting. I bet his show’s going to be interesting. I should check it out.” John’s allowing you into his world in these portraits and you might just decide that you’d like to see more, which is a hell of a lot more effective as a marketing tool than one his paintings on a postcard with a date and time.

Portrait of a Chicago artist at work in his studio

To put it simply, in today’s internet era, people want to see who they’re dealing with. Headshots, business portraits, and environmental portraits are all extremely effective ways to emerge from the shadows of your website and give your clients and customers an idea of who you are and what you and/ or your business are all about. When a close-up shot of your smiling mug isn’t enough then you might want to consider scheduling an environmental portrait session.

Data Reveals the Importance of Image in Job Search

One-tenth of a second is the amount of time that it takes for a person viewing a photograph to form a lasting impression of the subject.

A 2005 study by Princeton psychologist Alexander Todorov showed participants photographs (headshots) of opposing political candidates and asked them to choose which they felt was more competent, based on 1/10 of a second exposure to a photograph of the headshot. The result was that 68.6% of the time, the candidate who was determined to be most competent, matched the winner of the political race.  

Simplified: Nearly 70% of the time random strangers were able to correctly predict the outcome of a political race by looking at the candidate’s headshots for the amount of time it takes for you to blink your eye.

Why Does This Matter?

You’re probably thinking “That’s interesting but I’m not running for office.”

A 2016 study done by CareerBuilder.com found:

  • 60% of employers use social media to research job candidates.
  • 59% of HR professionals use search engines to research candidates.


Well, that study is a few years old at this point, and according to Martin Yate, CPC, New York Times best-selling author of Knock ’em Dead: Secrets & Strategies for Success in an Uncertain World, these all-powerful HR gatekeepers have only gotten nosier. In a recent blog posting on CareerCast.com Yate claims, ” 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.”


There’s Good News

Before you get too freaked out, you might be interested to learn that the same Careerbuilder.com study found that the 2.000-plus hiring managers and human resources professionals surveyed weren’t intentionally looking for negatives in a candidate. In fact, 60% of those surveyed said that they were “looking for information that supports their qualifications for the job.” Meaning, they want to find information that confirms their belief that you are a solid candidate to fill the position.

Why Get a Professional Headshot

Now we’re back to that super, ultra, exceptionally important 1/10th of a second. Let’s sum up what we’ve already gone over:

  1. Science has proven that people form lasting impressions of complete strangers within a tenth of a second of seeing their photograph.
  2. Somewhere between 60 – 90% of the people looking to hire you are checking out your Linkedin, Facebook and Instagram pages.
  3. They’re hoping to get a positive impression from what they find.

What’s the first thing that you see when you look for someone on Linkedin? Yes, their photo. And, whether or not you want to admit it you’re forming opinions about them before you even take a look at their profile.

A professional headshot is your opportunity to control your first impression. A well-done professional headshot will help you stand among the other avatars and look like a professional and serious candidate for the position.