Shooting for Success at Dorn Real Estate

Dorn Realty Headshot RT-3.JPG

I was hired by a dynamic realty firm in the Northshore area - Dorn Real Estate. Led by Tiffany Dorn, this is a team of energetic and dedicated professionals.

The job at hand was twofold: first, create headshots in a clean style to match their website that could be duplicated as more personnel are added.; and second, they wanted a team picture.

Developing a Style for the Headshots

Before the first picture was taken, I visited with Rachel Thomas, the managing broker, and Tiffany to discuss their ideas and how they wanted clients to see them. After all, a headshot is the first impression for the person whom they want to think they are the right office for home buying and selling.

As I mentioned, they also planned to add more people to the roster as the business grew. This is something I see on a lot of company websites - as people join, the “meet our team” page can start reflecting a hodgepodge of styles and lighting, compromising the consistency of a polished and professional website. As a photographer, that meant that I would have to have complete control over the lighting and camera settings so that when the time came to photograph a new employee, their headshot would match the others. I could not rely on a variable like natural light - the sun does not shine the same each day!

But where to do it? I live by the philosophy of “studio anywhere.” My clients lead busy lives and sometimes it makes sense to bring the studio to them instead of coming to mine. Fortunately, for headshots there does not need to be a lot of space - a typical conference room at a business will work fine, and that’s what we used!

I also suggested that they bring in a hair and makeup professional. I have used the services of Stacey Dhom before and knew she could understand the type of services needed and work quickly. I had to keep in mind that for professionals like realtors, time is money, but I also knew that a light touch of makeup can even out skin tones and make eyes pop, enhancing the images. Tiffany and Rachel agreed and Stacey set up in a meeting room easily. Stacey did not do any sort of elaborate style - just enough to keep people looking polished. I know from experience that when people see themselves looking good, that feeling comes out in front of the camera.

While Stacey did her work, I developed a lighting pattern that I knew would produce the style we decided upon and documented my settings for Dorn Realty.

The results speak for themselves.

Before was a mixture of images of varying quality - now the “Meet Our Team” page displays professionalism, earning the trust of potential clients.

A Composite Can Make a Changing Group Photo

The second part of the challenge was the group photo that needed to be expandable as the office grew. The solution could be found in a project I did a few years back for the Knoxville Police Department. For their “Take A Stand Against Bullying” billboard campaign, they wanted several billboards, each having a different set of people or some of the same people but in different poses.

What I did then is what I did now with Dorn Realty: photograph the folks individually and then extract them in Photoshop so that I could give Rachel an image for each person, where they are isolated against a transparent background. As she later reported to me, this made it easy for her to arrange the staff as she liked. Again, since I controlled the lighting, future employees can be photographed and added in without problems by replicating the look.

Collaboration Is a Step to a Successful Shoot

It was a a break from routine but one where the team got to smile and laugh a bit. The camaraderie at Dorn Realty not only translates well in front of the camera but showed me this is a successful business, one that is succeeding and will continue to do so. In all, this took a morning from the business.

Success comes from hard work. As a photographer, I seek to collaborate with the client and in this case, Dorn Real Estate also worked hard to give me the time, to get makeup done, and to put up with a disruption to their work.

And if they are willing to do what it takes for this, imagine what they will do for you as their client!


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