When was the last time you reviewed your headshots? Do you think they’re still relevant?
Regardless of the industry you are in, your headshots matter. How people perceive you is directly linked to the images you use to market yourself as a professional.
To help you better decide whether it might be time for a headshot update, here are a few things to consider:
1. Headshots Help Build Relationships. Want to form a stronger connection with customers or potential employers? Show them your face. A great headshot can portray your personality and authenticity more clearly and help build a great connection with your audience. Plus, if your appearance has changed in recent years, there has never been a better time to update your headshots. What people see online should be what they get in person.
2. It’s Not Just for LinkedIn. When people think headshots, LinkedIn generally jumps to mind first, but this is not the only use. Headshots can be used almost anywhere you want to promote yourself. From your business cards and website to a flyer for an event you’re speaking at–they are a worthwhile investment.
3. You Need a Professional Photographer. Before you decide to take a few selfies, consider the benefits of having professional headshots. Not only do you have a professional photographer to guide you, but the equipment and editing software that’s used makes all the difference to the end result.
Take a closer look at your existing headshots. Are you happy to keep sharing them with the world? Or is it time for an update?
Reply to this blog to find out more about available headshot slots.
We are looking forward to capturing headshot you will love!
Melissa M. Harden
Photographer, owner/operator of Studio 21 in Mattoon.
3 Simple Ways to Choose a Senior Photographer You’ll Want to Recommend to Others
Your senior year is going to be one of the most memorable times in your life and what better way to
keep those memories alive than with a senior photo session. However, your experience and photos
are only as good as your photographer, so you need to choose wisely.
Luckily, it’s much easier than you might think. Here are 3 simple tips that will help.
1. Homework is a Must
Yes, it can take some time but finding the right senior photographer is well worth the effort. Along
with using a trustworthy search engine, you can also do some searches on social media sites such as
Instagram and Pinterest – this will give you a good idea of the photographer’s capabilities. Read
through any reviews that are available as these are invaluable.
2. Stick to the Pros
It might be tempting to get a friend or amateur to take your senior photos, but it’s a huge risk. You
could spend weeks planning everything from your location and outfit to the props you want to use
only to be left with photos you don’t want to share. When you work with a pro, you can be sure they
will understand how to translate your vision into photos you love!
3. Stick to a Senior Photographer
A photographer can have many different specialties, but it’s advisable to pick a photographer that
actually photographs seniors. It’s fine if they also specialize in other forms of photography, but
senior photography should be one of them. These photographers know what looks good for these
types of photos, ensuring you will be happy. If you will be searching on social media, start by
searching for hashtags related to seniors to help narrow down your search.
There you have it, you’re now ready to start your search.
Let's schedule your complimentary consultation today!
Anyone who hasn’t been in front of a professional camera before or simply doesn’t like photos can
end up looking a bit stiff when posing.
It’s completely natural to feel nervous before your senior photoshoot, but you still want your images
to look natural and highlight your personality and style.
Here are a few ways that you can pose more naturally and enjoy your upcoming session.
1. Keep It Light-Hearted
One way to feel more relaxed throughout your session is to talk to your photographer. Get
comfortable, be a little silly, and have some fun. The result is photos that look more authentic. Your
photographer is there to get to know you and make sure you enjoy yourself. If you haven’t found a
photographer yet, make sure you choose someone you feel comfortable with.
2. Lean Back Slightly
This is a very slight lean and should be done from your waist. This minor movement stops your body
from tensing, making you look more natural in your photos. Yes, it’s going to feel weird at first but
don’t overthink it.
3. Lean Into the Frame
Another way to make your poses more natural is to lean into the frame. Again, this needs to be very
slight, almost as if you’re leaning in to listen to someone telling a story. If you had to try doing this
right now, you would immediately see how your posture and demeanor changes.
4. Keep Your Hands Busy
It’s only until you’re standing in front of a camera that you realize your arms and hands aren’t doing
anything. To stop your poses from becoming awkward, keep your hands busy. Place your hands in
your pockets, twirl a finger around a lock of hair, or use some props. What you do with your hands
depends on the photo style and story you’ve decided on.
5. Get Moving
Not every photo needs to be posed, you also have the freedom to move around and have some fun.
Walk, spin, laugh, lay on the grass, do whatever makes you feel most like yourself. If you’re not sure
what to do, ask your photographer for some guidance – they are there to help.
It’s important not to overthink your session. When you get too nervous about doing the right thing,
the anxiety will automatically affect how you look in your photos. Do something that will help you
feel more relaxed before your session and let your photographer help you with the rest.
We can plan your senior session during your complimentary consultation. It only takes less than thirty minutes!
217-962-0048 Call or text
There are a number of decisions you need to make when planning a senior photo session and
choosing a location is one of them. You can’t choose just any location either – it needs to fit in with
your personality and the style of your shoot.
Here are a few tips to help you narrow down your options a little quicker.
- Decide what you want your photos to say about you. Who are you? Do you love the
outdoors, art, sports? Are you a bit of a flower child? By jotting down the things you love, a
few location ideas should spring to mind. Your photos need to showcase your personal style,
so choose your location accordingly.
- Look for locations with different features. To ensure your photographer can capture a
variety of photos, look for a location with different spots and features. Examples of features
include fences, trees, a swing, water or anything that could act as a backdrop.
- Find out about possible restrictions. If you’re considering using a commercial location, find
out whether you need a permit to take photos. Keep in mind that permits can sometimes
take several weeks to process.
- Consider timing. Some locations are busier than others and if you want to avoid crowds of
people, you will need to time your shoot well. It’s better to have as little people in the
background of your photos as possible.
- Lighting matters too. Natural light is a must for photos, including your senior portraits. You
could have the best background, but if the lighting is bad, you won’t get the best results. It’s
also important to remember that you might need to time your shoot around the best
- Decide what you want to wear. The outfit you choose for your senior photo session also
matters when choosing a location. For example, wearing an evening dress to the park
doesn’t exactly work very well. Your outfit should also match your personality, so decide on
this before you start looking at locations.
- Get creative. There are no set rules when it comes to choosing a location for your photo
session. Get creative, think outside the box, and choose a location that suits you. Ask around
about interesting venues, take a drive through your city, or turn to Pinterest for some
If all else fails, explain your vision to your photographer – they will have a number of location
suggestions to offer.
Call 217-962-0048 so we can plan your senior session!
There is no one answer to when you should book your senior photo session – there are several
variables to take into consideration.
To ensure you find a time that works for you, start by looking at your availability. You never realize
just how little time you have until you try and work a photoshoot into a busy senior year. Before you
know it, it’s a month before you graduate, and you don’t have a date for your session yet.
For example, many extra-curricular activities take place in the fall, leaving very little time for a senior
photo session. If you are more involved in sports such as softball, spring is a difficult season to plan
The main goal is to not be stressed before or on the day of your senior session – it will show in your
photos. On the day of your shoot, you want to be relaxed and enjoy every second.
Most likely you already have some idea of the types of photos you want to take to commemorate
your senior year. Outfits play an integral role in the overall style of your shoot. If you want to wear a
beautiful boho outfit for your senior session, shooting in winter isn’t quite going to work. Get a clear
idea of the style you would prefer before you choose a date for your photo session.
Your location will also fit in with the theme of your shoot. However, not all locations and settings
look good at certain times of the year. Want an urban shoot? This works at almost any time of the
year. Prefer to take photos at a local park? Spring and fall create the best backdrops.
There really is no right or wrong time to schedule your shoot, you just need to plan for it. The minute
you have an idea of what your senior schedule will look like, start selecting a few dates – you won’t
Call/text Melissa for your free consultation 217-962-0048
It’s the start of spring, which means it’s time to set new professional goals and map out the coming months.
If your 2023 plan includes leveling up in your industry, or you plan to enter an entirely new industry, you’re going to need headshots to go along with it.
Perhaps you already have some headshots–is there really a need to take new ones?
The answer is a resounding, yes!
As with most other things, headshots have changed. New trends have emerged and it’s clear to see who has adopted them and who hasn’t when you browse online profiles. Notice the profiles that stand out.
Naturally, your headshot should always match your industry if you want to get hired. If professionals in your sector dress in suits, you probably should too. The good news is there are ways to integrate industry norms with today's headshot trends.
Headshots can be centered around vibrant colors and both natural and dramatic studio lighting. And, with easier access to hair and makeup professionals, as well as high-end photographic equipment, headshots are now more about the close-up.
Backgrounds are also playing a more integral role as they give the viewer some extra insights into your personality and profession.
Basically, it’s about using the finer details to help you stand out among your peers.
Your headshots are one of the easiest and most effective ways to level up your professional profile online and we want to help.
Reply to this blog to get [special offer] on your 2023 headshot session.
You deserve recognition and to celebrate this important milestone!
Here are the elements you need to focus on.
The Guest List
Deciding who you want to invite will help you determine whether you need a venue, entertainment, and a caterer. Do you just want it to be family or friends and family? How many people do you plan to invite? Will it be a grand party or something more intimate?
Set a Budget
Sit down with your parents and work out a budget for the party. Start by listing what is most important to you and allocating budget towards that first. Whatever is leftover can be used to pay for small extras.
Search for Venues
Many seniors choose to have their parties right at home. If you would prefer to hire a venue, start searching for something in your area that fits in with your theme and your budget. Once you have a shortlist, find out about venue hire fees and whether you have to purchase food and drinks directly from them. Being able to supply your own food and drinks always works out much cheaper.
Decide on the Food
Food that’s easy to make and eat is a popular choice for graduation parties, unless you prefer to have a more formal sit-down meal. If you are having a party at home, opt for food you can prepare the day before. The other option is to have a caterer take care of the food for you. In fact, many restaurants are catering parties now too. If you have some additional budget, you could even consider a food truck.
Plan Your Décor & Entertainment
This is one of the best parts of planning a graduation party. Once you decide on a theme, create a Pinterest board and start collecting ideas. There is so much you can create right at home without spending a fortune. Whatever theme you decide on, have fun with it and make it your own. In terms of entertainment, a good playlist is all you really need. However, if you want to go big, you could hire a local band or DJ, or set up a games area. Since you will be sharing this celebration with the people you love the most, ask your senior photographer about photo booth options too.
Remember, this is your graduation party, which means you don’t need to do what everyone else is doing. Celebrate in style, your way!
With the help of the right photographer, you can catch the attention of more casting directors and agents. In fact, visuals can often make or break your chances of landing your dream audition, which is why it’s essential to get your headshots right.
Here are some tips that will help:
- Stick with a basic backdrop
When it comes to taking professional acting headshots, a basic studio backdrop is a better bet. This way, you minimize any distractions and keep the focus on you. It’s fine to shoot headshots on location, but you should still ensure your background is fairly simple.
- Practice your facial expressions
Before you schedule a headshot session, take a look at what other professionals are doing in terms of poses. Once you find a few poses and expressions you like, practice them in a mirror prior to your photo session. Knowing how you want to pose will also make time for more headshots while you’re in studio. And since you want to walk away with a variety of photos, make sure you are going to your session with a variety of poses in mind.
- Don’t overthink your outfit
Since headshots focus more on your head and shoulders, you don’t need to overthink your outfit too much. Stick to solid colors and statement pieces such as a blouse or blazer. You should also be wary of any accessories that might take the focus off your face. With that being said, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t plan your outfit at all (you definitely should), but it’s okay to stick with something basic, but professional.
- Think twice about the photographer you choose
Picking the right photographer will make a big difference to your results as well as your overall experience. Only go with photographers that offer headshot sessions and preferably, someone who works with actors specifically. Don’t forget to review their portfolio to ensure you like their photography style.
With these simple tips in mind, you are on your way to taking better headshots that will benefit your career as an actor.
Contact Melissa to schedule your headshot appointment!
Senior portraits can be displayed just about anywhere, but there are certain spots in a home where they really stand out.
To help you think outside the box, we have put together a few ideas you can use once you receive your child’s senior portrait prints.
Use Your Favorite Spots
Which spots in your home do you love spending time in? This could be anywhere from a dressing area, to the living or laundry room. Add one of the prints to a frame, so that you always have a special reminder of this important milestone.
Over the Fireplace
Have a fireplace in your home? This is the perfect place to hang a senior portrait, whether it is framed or printed on canvas. If you have more than one child, you can create a small photo wall above your fireplace, so that everyone gets a spot.
Change Up Your Bookshelf
Yes, your bookshelf is designed to house books, but this doesn’t mean you only need to use it for reading material. Get creative by combining your favorite books with one or two framed senior portraits and other knick knacks.
Move Away from Frames
If your décor has more of an artistic feel, you can always place small canvas prints on easels. These look great on side tables in either the bedroom or living room. Plus, they make for instant conversation starters about your senior.
Spruce Up Your Foyer
It’s always nice to be met with beautiful family photos and portraits when you enter a home. Change up the frame sizes and colors to create movement and to add a creative touch to your foyer.
Incorporate Them into Their Grad Party
Planning to host a grad party at home for your senior? Why not use some of their creative shots as décor? This is a party to celebrate them, after all, so make them the center of attention in every way possible. If you want to take it one step further, you can even use these professional photos to create Christmas decorations.
Whatever you do, make sure that you print your child’s senior photos. You are hiring a professional photographer for the occasion, so make it count.
Call or text Melissa at 217-962-0048 or click here to schedule a complimentary consultation.
For most parents, senior portraits are a distant memory. They have changed a lot over the last two decades, incorporating more creativity and individuality than ever before.
Seniors have a lot more options available to them, ranging from traditional sessions in a studio to trendy urban shoots. This is the perfect opportunity for them to showcase their unique talents, passions, and personality, while also creating a lasting memory.
However, with all the available options, portrait sessions can quickly become overwhelming for both parents and seniors.
Here are a few quick tips to help you prepare for your child’s upcoming senior session.
Make a Note of the Yearbook Deadline
Knowing the yearbook deadline encourages you to schedule a senior session instead of putting it off until the last minute. Depending on your requirements, a senior photo session will start with a yearbook portrait followed by creative shots that are unique to your child. In most instances, it takes at least 2 weeks to receive the final images, so plan accordingly.
Keep Your Senior’s Schedule in Mind
As a parent of a senior, you already know how frantic their schedules can be. Before you go ahead and schedule a session, sit down with your senior to discuss a good time. They should be just as involved in the planning as you are. Even the specific time of day matters when scheduling a senior session. Ideally, you want to take photos just after sunrise and just before sunset, as this is when the lighting’s the best. However, the right photographer can make any time of the day work. Midday should be a last resort though as the lighting is far too harsh.
Compromise with Your Child
You may have a specific idea about the photos you would like to see, but this is about your child and what makes them feel confident and comfortable. Most senior sessions allow for several outfit changes, so use this as an opportunity to find a happy balance between what you want and what your senior wants. Be patient and hear them out before you brush off their ideas. Their portraits should represent who they are and what they love.
Prior to a senior session, get your child to open up about their passions, hopes, and dreams. This information will help guide the shoot and ensure the most authentic photos. Knowing what your senior wants these photos to represent will also guide their outfit and location choices.
Don’t forget to include your senior in the search for a photographer – a photographer’s style needs to fit in with the images you hope to create.
If you would like to schedule a free, in-studio consultation, just click here: Schedule
Melissa M. Harden
Driving east on Route 16, toward Charleston, IL for twenty years or more there was a billboard proudly displaying a headshot of an insurance agent. The longer it was up, the more faded it got. The years of sun-bleaching made that man appear younger and younger. Now, if that were only the case in real life… that we look younger as we grow older….
So back to the question, is it time to update your headshots? Ask yourself these questions;
Having an old, outdated headshot can cue your future clients to think perhaps you just don’t care. Clothing trends, hair style, and background can tip a savvy client to whether or not this is a fresh or an archaic version of you.
Below are headshots of Haley Watkins, owner and operator of Sapphire Salon and Spa in Mattoon. Her hair color was a perfect reason to update her headshots. So, if it's time for you to get fresh headshots. Please call me at 217-962-0048 for details and we can set up an appointment. It’s truly a quick process and I’ve been told multiple times that it’s painless to boot!
Hope to see you soon!
Taylor Swift Inspired Session
Maddie absolutely loves all things Taylor Swift!
When she asked me to capture her in the 'Folklore vibe' I was thrilled to do so!
MATTOON ARTS COUNCIL PHOTO SHOW
Click the link below to see all of the fabulous art our local photographers submitted!
Lacie Dague Haarmann of Designs by Lacie did some sprucing up on my logo. Small adjustments yet I think it's just right. Let me know what you think. :)
Mattoon High School Prom '22
Mattoon Flower Shop and Melissa M. Harden at Studio 21 collaborated by creating a space for gorgeous prom photos. There were over fifty prom goers at the event between 4:00 PM and 6:00 PM. Sit back and enjoy the show.
On April 9th, I went to Doudna to set up a pop-up studio for the Charleston High School prom goers. Everyone looked sooo good! They were a little shocked that I was photographing them for free. What is more fun and rewarding than photographing a bunch of gorgeous people going to a fun event?!
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What is your DREAM Senior Session?
Is your DREAM session outdoors, with horses? In a flower field? If not, where? If your click the button below, we can set up a free consultation and studio tour. While you are here we can chat about everything you want your session to be and then some!
SUPERCHARGE YOUR SENIOR PHOTOS
Your wouldn't leave one of the most important time of your life to an amateur now would you?
Contact Melissa to make your senior portrait dreams come true!
THIS IS IT!
This is what a VIP session at Studio 21 looks like. Fun outfits, accessories, posing direction, lights, fog, and awesome portraits!
Want to learn more?
Just click the button!
My office is slowly becoming a mini museum of all sorts of cool items. Some of my treasures are from my family and friends. See the name plate in the photo above? That was on my grandfather's mailbox. My late brother, Lester, was named after him. I didn't know my grandfather very well since he lived in California and I grew up in Mattoon, IL. We didn't even meet until I was a preteen. I am grateful for the time, however short, that I had with him.
The pencil sharpener on the wall to the far right, that was my late Uncle Jack's. He used it a lot in his line of work as a foreman at a company called International Extrusion in California.
The camera is a welded metal-work piece that was created and gifted to me by a client-friend.
Looking around my office and seeing all of the different tools and imagery inspires me daily.
What inspires you?
What? More New Products?!
Want a fabulous gift item?
I just couldn't resist adding this classy crystal holder to my offerings. It holds six-two sided 8x6 sturdy, mounted portraits for you to proudly display on a desk, counter, or bookcase. You can change up the portrait whenever you want to.
Just in case you are curious... portrait consultations and studio tours are complimentary. All you have to do is hit that button, I'll contact you to set a date. Easy as pie!
Some of the advantages of becoming a Studio 21 VIP are the unique or exclusive locations, one-of-a-kind props, and modeling opportunities!
Liv is the OG VIP here ate Studio 21! We had so much fun creating art together. Check it out!
APPLICATIONS ARE OPEN!
Applications are only open for 4 weeks!
Let's see if you think this program is for you...
Hit this LINK if you want to apply. There are limited spots so don't think on it for too long. ;)
Gift Prints vs Wall Art
Today, my mission is to share the difference between those awesome small prints and what we should admire on the walls of our home and office. Studio 21 is a full service photography studio. I will guide you on which prints will work best for gifting and the different sizes and materials for installing your masterpieces. You may be asking yourself, "Materials?". Studio 21 offers wall art in metal, acrylic, linen, and mounts. At your consultation and ordering session, we will discuss which will suit your decorating style.
Let's get started!
What is a gift print exactly?
It is an 8x10 or smaller. These are intended for you to gift to others. They are wonderful for displaying on desks, table tops, shelves, and bookcases.
Wall art pieces are substantially larger. They make a statement all on their own.
Wall art galleries are a collection of wall art pieces that compliment each other.
In my experience, most people think that an 8x10 is a large print and needs to be on the wall. As you will see in the photos below, that it is really too small to showcase by itself. A fantastic presentation is a collection of 8x10s. I personally prefer metal prints on float mounts however, in 11x14 frames with mats are another great presentation.
As you can see, one tiny 8x10 on the wall just isn't working. To create an interesting gallery, it takes multiple prints. The larger ones are nice by themselves however they present much better and even "tell a story" with more than one.
I would love to meet you, show you the different wall art materials, and to see how we can get some gorgeous art work on your walls! Click this button for your complimentary consultation and a tour of the studios.
Melissa M. Harden