Indermaur Media, inc.
Visual Narrative
IMG_4128.JPG

Indermaur Media - Visual Narrative Blog by Scott Indermaur

Informational blog about techniques, ideas,industry trends, clients and projects of Indermaur Media. Written by Scott Indermaur, professional corporate photographer.

What is Visual Narrative?
Ellinwood-Edit-2.jpg

In recent years, many people express what they do as if they’re telling a story and one way to do it is through visual media or “visual narrative”. Visual narrative is a way to tell a story using visual media such as photos, videos, and even graphics. Wikipedia also defines it as "visual storytelling."

I started my career as a photojournalist for newspapers, wire services and magazines. Back then, I did not use the term “visual narrative” for my work though it is what I have been doing for my entire career. What I learned as a storytelling photojournalist has been of great significance and help to me on corporate and commercial photography, as well as video assignments. 

What is a suggested visual narrative for a corporate mission, you ask? As with any story, there are multiple ways on how to tell it. 

IMG_0889 2.jpg

I have one client in the banking industry. They help other financial institutions by providing a broad range of financial products. These products boost community banks to be more efficient and competitive, contributing to great changes in their respective communities. They give impact by helping those that are in need of their services, allowing communities to practice proactivity

The stories of the residents are important because they actually showcase how the local banks have been a part of their success. This adds up to the contributions of our client who helped make it all happen. We partner their financial product with a multimedia visual narrative of heartfelt stories from residents of the community. 

Some feature the lives of their employees. It can be either in the office or their work area. With video and photography, we can tell the company’s story through the eyes of its employees evoking a sense of belongingness and realness to the audience. 

Fort Morgan, Colorado community has a love of family and pride in the work they do every day. They share stories of how their local community bank, Morgan Federal Bank, stepped in and made things happen and what they mean to their families. Fort Morgan is located in Northern Colorado.
 
Why Having a Makeup Artist is Helpful
New England Makeup Artist Maryelle O'Rourke applies makeup on an actor before a Boston video assignment.

New England Makeup Artist Maryelle O'Rourke applies makeup on an actor before a Boston video assignment.

I get often asked if we should hire a Makeup Artist (Makeup Stylist) for their corporate and commercial photography or video assignments.
Does it make a difference? 
I have worked with Maryelle Makeup & Hair Artistry for many years on Boston Photography assignments as well as video assignments and New Rhode Island projects. We recently discussed how it makes a difference and these are her insights.

  • An artist will create the right amount of color on the subject's face to allow the photo/natural lights to work with you rather than against you.

  • Save on retouching time and expenses as a result of a makeup artist. Retouching is always more natural and less has to be done when a makeup artist has evened out the skin tone, created a smooth, consistent, nonshiny skin texture.

  • Style, soften and eliminate frizzy and flyaway hair.

  • Makeup appears very different in photographs and on video, having an artist will ensure that you are “camera ready.” It is quite different from everyday makeup and having an artist to apply the makeup for this makes all the difference.

  • Having a makeup artist prep your subject will help them feel more confident and more at ease in front of the camera which creates a more comfortable environment and as a result helps you with natural/healthy body language and facial expressions in front of the camera.

  • Eliminate the bald head shine that is so distracting in images.

  • Wardrobe check: an artist will help with small adjustments to wardrobe (wrinkles in a shirt, adjust ties and gathered material) that make a significant difference in overall appearance and prevent retouching after.

  • Makeup artists have the experience needed to help you look your very best and add to your confidence level during a photo shoot or video production. They will choose and apply makeup for you that works in harmony with the lighting and as a result will create your best look for the photos. Your photo is the first impression people have of you, make it count!

I recommend we use a Makeup Artist because there is much more going on than just applying eye-liner. It starts with creating a relaxing environment for our subject and then applying the appropriate makeup and offering an extra pair of eyes to make sure their wardrobe is in check. Of course, we can also bring in a wardrobe stylist for an additional level of perfection. This extra team player allows us to create a more profession and better quality end portrait or video.

How to Look Great in a Portrait
 Portrait of Kate Jackson in her home

Most people (including myself and Personal Stylist, Jill) have some anxiety about getting their picture taken. What to wear, how to pose, among many other thoughts.

It can be tough to relax enough to capture a photo that looks like the real you. And yet most of us need a headshot for one reason or another, be it work, social media, public relations, creative projects, online dating, you name it.

So, how can we get that perfect portrait shot?  I sat down with my friend and Personal Stylists, Jill Marinelli to ask for some advice.

I feel the best way to cope with anxiety about being in front of the camera is to follow the photographer’s lead. A good photographer will help you feel strong, empowered and comfortable. These feelings may occur through conversation, humor, and guidance through different poses. Sometimes it is not the perfect pose that I am looking for, but the unguarded moment that happens afterward. These moments often result in images that look authentically YOU.

It is important to remember that a good portrait photographer will probably take 100 pictures of you. There will be bad ones! Just like taking a selfie, it takes few (or 10!) tries to capture a look you love. Try not to worry about the shots where you have closed eyes, or you have a weird facial expression. It is ok to be unguarded, silly, or laughing because even though those shots may not result in “the one,” the photo was taken moments after might just be your favorite.

What should you wear?

I recommend staying away from solid black or white, and Jill agrees.  Jill says that white can make you look washed out and black doesn’t “pop” against a neutral background. Jewel tones like emerald and sapphire are almost universally flattering.

Portrait photographer in RI

A simple, well-fitting top or dress with a bit of texture and a piece of jewelry is a great option.  Place color and pattern where you want to draw attention and try to incorporate pieces that make you feel powerful and confident. You will be far more relaxed in something you love.

Generally speaking, avoid wearing many patterns with a cluttered background. However, as you can see in the image below, rules are meant to be broken!

Environmental portrait example

Always bring an extra outfit to your shoot and men, a couple of extra ties.

Ladies, apply a little more makeup than usual, and if you are not skilled at this, I recommend using a professional makeup artist like MaryElle O'Rouke.  As well, if you need help with your hair, get it. A professional blowout may just rock your world 😉

Overall, keep it simple, wear a bright color, make sure your clothes fit perfectly and are wrinkle-free. Then, do your best to relax and trust the photographer to help you shine!

Personalized Portraits by RI photographer
A Diverse Onsite Video Production Crew
Video production project manager Boston

The crews I create for business photography, and video assignments are always cross trained in more than one specialty. The projects I manage typically receive are more fluid in nature, and I need a crew that is willing to take on unexpected tasks. For example, if an extra person is required to hold a reflector, my makeup artist may take up that task. If the crew needs help setting up some lights, I will jump in and assist. Moreover, when it is time to strike our set, we all jump in to pack it up with a smile.

Recently we had a Boston video assignment with the following production team:

On site video production crew Boston MA
  • Director of Photography - Scott
  • Camera Operator - Mike
  • Sound Engineer - Nonni
  • Grip - Isaac
  • Makeup Artist - MaryElle
  • One client and 8 actors

 

That is the traditional lineup. With a flexible crew our Camera Operator Mike was a big part of the creative discussions with myself and our client. Also, our Sound Engineer Nonni and Grip Mike switched role at times since they are both experienced with sound and being a grip.

During our second scene, we decided to add a 3rd camera, and Grip Mike became the 3rd Camera Operator. Setting up a 3rd camera was a decision made at that time and gave us more diversity with what we wanted to accomplish. Having a crew that is flexible allowed us to shift his focus to being a camera operator.

This flexibility makes it possible to shift gears with an assignment if needed and to make it happen rather quickly. When you are creating your next business video project, keep in mind that a larger team may not always be necessary to create your corporate video. A smaller crew that is diverse in their experience and enjoys working as a team can create a successful video assignment.

210 Headshots in 30 Seconds

Photography assignments are a full gamut of what some will consider glamorous jobs. Moreover, other times routine, but still fun.

As a business portrait photographer in Rhode Island, I was awarded an assignment to photograph over 200 participant's headshots at an event located in Providence. The client liked the idea of setting up outside, only spending a few minutes on each subject and keeping it simple. We setup under a building overhang to protect ourselves from the rain that occurred throughout the day. Blurred out the background and created professional business portraits to be used for the associate's website and the individual's LinkedIn page.

As a corporate location photographer in New England, I have learned to deal with unpredictable weather, while using all the available tools. Including situations like using the building overhang, taking advantage of window light for inside portraits, given very short time span to work with a subject and creating an entire studio at someone's office.

Building your Multi-Media Team - Behind the Scenes

The intended audience of a portrait or multimedia project only sees the final product, not the stages of its development. In some cases, it takes one photographer to create that image or video, while other assignments it may comprise of a team of individuals. Any projects may be joyful or stressful. In either case, I look for a crew that can go with the flow during the fun and stressful times.

I like to build a team that collaborates and enjoys the day working as a team. When there is a bump in the road, our crew can step up and smooth it out, then move on to the next task. Building a team that fits the tone you prefer on set is necessary for a creative and fruitful project.

When it is time to get serious with a corporate photography or videography production, we do. In between those moments, we enjoy our comradely and synergy. This energy allows for more creativity to blossom and fosters a friendly environment. I Thrive when collaborating, I grew up sailing a forty foot wooden sailboat with my dad, and he taught me collaboration was necessary for survival on the water. I have extrapolated that mindset to my art.

With a sailing crew of five, we all had assigned tasks that required us to work as a team although in a moments' notice, if a teammate needed some extra help, someone would jump in to help them. We wanted to win the race as a team. As with racing, when on an assignment, our crew needs to make a victorious finish happen, so we work together to make the client look like a rock star by creating a superior final product it is a real team success when we can do that while we all get to enjoy the project the experience.

Similar to hiring a new employee, keep in mind your photographer's personalities and their experience and who is on their team. Align this with your vision of how you would like your still photography and video assignment's experience to be. 

Do you want a creative (photographer or videographer) with a who has as their stronger style collaboration, vision, excellent with collaborating or someone who completes the tasks exactly as you request? Do you need a photographer that is decisive or prone to remain quiet with their process, vision and or preferences? Be confident your creative team handles the stress related to your assignment demands?

Communicate for a Successful Visual Creative Project
corporate or commercial visual project photographer in RI or Boston MA

I have worked with visual narrative productions projects with excellent clients, from simple to large scale productions. Even during the conceptualization phase, I am also looking at building a relationship so we can work on future projects together with a deeper level of efficiency, trust, and collaboration together. It is highly advantageous to evaluate the work style of a client so you can maximize efficiency but to the artistic end, to create deeper and more meaningful collaborative chemistry

Here are a few tips for a corporate or commercial visual project that can be helpful in creating a long-term relationship with your photographer. 

The most important action is to be active with your communication. The more clarity you have with the photographer and creative team, the More accurately you can bring a team to full, an infestation of the initial concept. Share your budget, layouts, your original thoughts, technical concerns, short and long term use of the visual assets. All ideas and thoughts should be encouraged. Even what might seem like a bad idea, because it may begin an unexpected creative thread that leads to originality.

  1. Budget - Be open to talking about your budget with your photographer. Much time can be wasted with a back and forth on estimating when there is no budget discussion. If the first choice of a photographer is more expensive than your budget, have that discussion with them and don't just walk away. For me, I am always striving to make the visual assignment a success, and sometimes a simple budget conversation allows for a more realistic fruition of the project with your first choice for a photographer.
  2. Have a vision - I have worked with clients (art directors) with a strong vision and others who just want myself to figure it out. I enjoy working both ways though I mostly enjoy collaborating with the client, art director, and even the subject and assistant. We have to communicate, work as a team, respect each other's ideas, be flexible to change course and at the end of the day, the client needs to be happy. If you (as the art director) does not have a vision, just an idea. Then communicate with the photographer to make sure their vision is in alignment with your idea.
  3. Do not forget details - communicate all your needs during the estimating phase. If your portraits need to have a vertical crop, but you feel there are times it will need to be a square, then communicate that detail. If you want to plan a small thing to be photographed on the side, then discuss that beforehand. I realize some things just happen at the last minute, but the less overlooked details, the better as that helps with the assignment's flow, making sure you covered the potential future use and creating a deeper trust with you and the photographer. 
  4. Be flexible and listen - The photographer is a business professional, and may have some good ideas that match up with your vision. You know what is best for your brand and be open to discussing and possibly implementing new ideas that match your vision and brand.
  5. Compare apples to apples when bidding a project among a few commercial photographers. Sometimes the client calls one photographer, gives them the specs, then during a conversation with a second photographer new ideas arise and the projects are being estimated on different specs. If specs change, drop a quick email to the other photographer(s) to make sure you are getting an estimate based on the same job specifics.

Many enjoyable collaborations and long term clients come from communicating their needs, vision, and budget up front. Feel free to share your experiences in the comments section.

8 Steps for a Successful Headshot - Portrait

Portraits and headshots have many uses in social media for your LinkedIn profile, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and many other purposes. I am often hired by corporations to photograph headshots for an individual and or an entire department with uses for their website, associate's bios, sales brochures, public relations, social media, and many other applications.

When a corporation is in need of portraits/headshots, we usually set up a studio at their office--that way the subjects only need to take about 10 minutes of their day for the session. Few people have the time it takes to drive to a photographer's studio during busy work schedules. A large space gives us more options with lighting, though it is not necessary. We have photographed headshots in offices, conference rooms, a corporate lobby and even hallways. I often am hired to photograph assignments in New England and throughout the country, and headshots are part of the schedule.

Headshots can be a simple portrait taken in a few minutes. There have even been times when we have to photograph 20 subjects in about an hour. Other times we may spend 20+ minutes with a subject. I do find that non-professional models will fade energetically after about 10-20 minutes.

To give you a sense of the possible images and their uses and versatility: all the sample images below may be cropped tighter, or the entire image may be shown to fit a layout better.

Remember - they may be cropped

Environmental Headshots

Another modern style of a headshot is the environmental portrait. Environmental Portraits are very popular among corporate and commercial clients. These pictures use available and meaningful surroundings as a background. The background is often blurred to make the human subject a unique graphical element as well as providing more of a sense of place.

 

8 Steps to a Better Corporate Headshot:

  1. A working studio created from a conference room, office, cafeteria, among others works well. If a room has furniture, it is best to move it to the side. I have photographed headshots in hallways (must be wider for lighting equipment), lobby, offices, conference rooms, unfinished rooms and even outside.
  2. Less production may work best. The above doctor photograph used only the ambient lighting. While the image may not be as high quality as a studio style portrait, it allows for a more straightforward journalistic style. It may fit your purpose better than a more "polished" portrait. The other advantage is it allows photographing in a high traffic area in which setting up a mini studio is not ideal. This environmental style headshot also makes it possible to capture the "doctor office" feel of the orange door.
  3. 15-minutes is an appropriate time to spend with a subject. If you have a large group and just need some basic headshots in a short period, allocate 5-minutes. I have done less than 5-minutes and more than 15.
  4. If a subject wears glasses regularly, leave them on.
  5. A makeup stylist is very helpful if there is enough money in the budget and time in the schedule. It allows the subject to have a little down time between meetings and being photographed to shift their mindset and relax. It also provides a higher level of makeup application since an expert is now doing the touch-up with photography/video in mind. For females, I like to leave about 20 minutes for makeup.
  6. Wardrobe should be kept simple, with solid colors usually work best. I typically say to stay away from solid white or solid black. Though I find there are times that subjects look great in those colors. It is helpful for men to bring a few ties for the creative team to pick and females to bring a few outfits if there's time for a wardrobe change. Remember, if you have a group of people for individual headshots, you may not want four of your five men to show up with similar ties or females with same color outfits. While unlikely, I have seen it happen. A discussion beforehand on what looks good with the background color can be constructive. Keep in mind what is most comfortable and makes a subject feel good helps them to relax and be more themselves in front of the camera. So, all the rules with wardrobe can be thrown out the window at times.
  7. Most subjects do get nervous about being photographed. As a subject, be serious, be silly and express yourself on how you want the others to see you. Also, work a bit outside your comfort zone. Follow the photographers lead and don't fixate on that bad frame/photo or awful expression. I will take 100++ photographs of one subject to get that perfect portrait. Focus on the positive and the perfect portrait of you, and it will happen.
  8. Retouching will elevate the quality of your headshot. Allowing to eliminate stray hairs, better skin tones, fewer skin blemishes, among a few other improvements. I did share a few headshots above that were not retouched, maybe you can identify them.
 
July Portrait Sessions Availability

Scott Indermaur and Nonni Sansoucy are excited to offer 2-days of creating portraits in the Pawtucket, Rhode Island studio on July 15th, 16th, and Saturday, July 29th.

We are offering portrait sessions for individuals and couples. These sessions will include personal portraits and business headshots that tell your story. Use your picture for Facebook, Linkedin, blog, personal website, and other applications.

Each image delivered will be a high-resolution file. Gallery quality prints are also available. The sessions will take place at a studio in Pawtucket, RI. We will be in contact with the address and more insight on what makes an excellent session after you sign up.