Prepare for the unexpected. Or how to get the most out of 15 minutes of a photoshoot.

To be honest, the photoshoot with my buddy Jerome Mercier did not go exactly as planned. Normally, I do like to predefine ahead locations for my sessions and figure out what can be done there. Also considering how the light of the sun falls and how one wants to be depicted. However, this one was a bit different, in a good sense.  : )

Originally from the raw climate of the Bretagne, Jerome is an avid surfer and long-time yoga teacher, and now in charge of Power Yoga East, the original donation yoga studio in Santa Monica.

“ Meet me at tower 20 “ was the sole instruction I got over a hard to understand call on my cell phone. Where the heck is Tower 20 again? 

Portrait of Jerome Mercier in his Surf Van by Patric Pop Photo based in Geneva / Genève.jpg

I found Jerome on his break between two classes, for a quick surf. Carpe Diem!
In the spirit of seizing the day, we gave priority to the glassy, clean waves. We met in the lineup and enjoyed a couple of raw waves (with me getting my biggest wipe-out of the summer!). Now, he truly lives the life of a yogi and surfer, wearing no wristwatch in the water and using the sun to read the time. Back on the beach, it turned out we had 15 minutes left before he would need to leave for his next class at 11am.

Portrait of Jerome Mercier by Patric Pop Photo based in Geneva / Genève.jpg

You can have the best plan worked out, only to throw it over and adapt to the new situation, namely when you are photographer!

Instead of the nice vista point with some edgy rocks and whitewater splashing on shore, the new plan involved the parking spot and cars to all sides as the backdrop. 

Still dripping wet, and with the feet full of sand, I quickly did set up for the shoot.

The good thing was that we wanted to include Jerome’s mystical Chevy Van into his portrait. I wished we would have been able to explore all angles of the van and get Jerome into some really heroic poses and dramatic lighting with the van and one of his classic surfboards.

However, the timing was super tight: all I had available was invested in coaching him to get into a proper pose I wanted to see him in. 

Yet, one of the cooler shots included Jerome chilling in his hammock, suspended above his old school surfboards. Again with little time on hand, improvisation is king and I quickly figured out an interesting set up of the light for a catchy visual.

This short glimpse at his personal kingdom is part of personal branding, of reflecting one’s true nature seen through the photographer’s eyes.

For my next visit, I am looking forward to do a proper “ Day in the Life ” photoshoot with Monsieur Jerome.

Maybe this involves some rocks, waves and dramatic light. Maybe not.

And if the latter is the case, it is okay too. I am already working on how to improve my own qualities as photographer to make any spot – be it as ordinary or ugly as you can imagine – a hell lot sexier to portray the true nature of the people in front of my lens.

Reading the available light is most important. And so is experimentation.
And in this case, lighting the van with only one speedlight was totally possible. As the van is cover with insulation foil, it created a very interesting light even with the sliding door closed. The choice of cropping is also essential in order to capture the moment. 

Finally, all details count. Whereas I would normally tidy up the location a bit, I just love the slight chaos, mainly the fact that Jerome showed up with two different flip-flops on his feet!

Portrait of Jerome Mercier in his surf and yoga van by Patric Pop Photo Studio based in Genève / Geneva.

The Importance of Updating Your Headshots

As professional Headshot Photographer, I do keep preaching my clients the importance of updating their headshots on a regular base.

Some might argue that this is a sales tactic to generate extra business. While they are not wrong that clients returning for a new photo session do make me happy – but then, I do offer them a repeat client discount on future sessions – the reason behind my statement reaches far deeper.

 The new updated me, reflecting my personal branding.

The new updated me, reflecting my personal branding.

 My old Headshot as used on my business card. Time to change the cards!

My old Headshot as used on my business card. Time to change the cards!

It has been scientifically proven that a good headshot portrait increases the recognition value of any candidate or prospect business partner.

In short, having a headshot that represents you does help the other party identify you more easily. A prospective employer will be reassured that the candidate tells the truth, even if only when the headshot matches the real person. Can you believe how an up to date headshot builds trust and has any first conversation starting with the right energy?

Over the past year I did experience it at numerous occasions that my own clients did expect someone else!
When they looked up my website, they saw a creative, with longer hair and shaven.
However, some time ago, I decided to get my hair cut quite short, and to grow a hint of a beard.
You could say, going from semi-hippie to modern day hipster.

Often times, when a new client arrived, I found some of them confused as to seeing my headshot not reflecting my current look. Occasionally, this even created a moment of distrust as my personal branding did not match with the present moment. They would say “… but it is so easy for you to get a great headshot, why did you not update it?
Truth is that it is super hard to get, what I call a “high-end selfie”, a decent self-portrait.
There is no one to direct you, who guides you in minimal increments of millimeters. Sometimes, I wished I could clone myself for art-directing my alter ego!

Now, that I just took the time to redo my own headshot, I do feel better. Much better.
My personal brand lines up again with my persona.
It is a true confidence builder.
And I am also confident that the future prospects who inquire for their headshots taken, book the guy who is in charge of crafting good stuff for himself.

Looking forward to hearing your thought on this subject.

Patric Pop
The Geneva Associate of Peter Hurley's global Headshot Crew.

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Professional Photographers Work Better With Professional Gear

 Discovering the Think Tank Production Manager 50, my professional gear for all of my on-location photoshoots.

Discovering the Think Tank Production Manager 50, my professional gear for all of my on-location photoshoots.

I am by no means a gear head.
Whereas some folks spend a dinner party convincing other guests that their gear is the best – and, annoyingly like to camp on their position – mainly if they are Canon, Nikon, Sony or Pentax shooters, I usually step away from such discussions.

To me the gear that I use at this moment, is the best I can imagine for the job and I know how to handle it for the best quality results wanted.

When I was studying at Art Center College of Design, first in La Tour-de-Peilz, then Los Angeles, California, my photo teachers kept preaching to look for cost effective alternatives to expensive gear. And in all the years art directing other professional photographers I have seen the multitude of techniques, accessories and approaches leading to fabulous results.

Whenever I have been leaving my humble photostudio near Rive and the Rue du Rhône in Genève / Geneva, to travel to a corporate photoshoot, I always felt like a fraud not owning professional gear to stash away all my precious equipment. You know, the lights, strobes, softboxes, lighstands, cables, extensions, reflectors and deflectors, and finally the camera body and lenses.

I had been considering getting a hardcase wheeled golfbag to travel to the locations. But then again that solution did feel too much of «bricolage», a do-it-yourself approach.

Come in the day that my path crossed the latest product of ThinkTank, the Production Manager 50. And I fell in love.

This is one beast of a trunk. The quality looks and feels great.
And I am blown away by the number of functional details that make this trunk probably my most important addition to my gear.
It really changes my life. A couple of months ago, I did hop on the bus to a corporate shoot. At that time, I had 5 different bags with equipment hanging on my shoulders

Now, with the Thinktank bag, I hop on the tram at Rive or the bus at Rue du Rhône and arrive with one single piece holding all my professional equipment.
Setting up on location is a piece of cake, as everything is neatly stashed and organized to my likings.

And boy, everyone is just so impressed. It says professional photographer to the connaisseurs and turns heads as I could wheel a corpse around.

The only downside I have noted in using it for the past year, is the weight. It aloneweighs over 10 kilos. And it is a sheer pleasure to carry it down and up again on a flight of stairs! That is why I practice my yoga at INNERCITYOGA, to keep my core strong and my back healthy!

Indeed, an indestructible true workhorse for professionals shooting portraits and headshots for companies and international organisations.
See you on location!

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