The big resignation creates a rush for new LinkedIn portraits
Photographer Jennifer Buhl, who got her start as a paparazzi in Los Angeles, has been shooting headshots since 2015, when she founded Happy Hour Headshot in Denver. She and her team of photographers, now based in more than half a dozen cities, meet clients at cafes, shoot their shots right outside, and then return to the cafe to review the images.
“Your first impression is usually online these days,” Buhl says. “People want a good first impression, and that’s the headshot.”
After an initial lull at the start of the pandemic, his team is busier than ever. “We’re seeing an uptick in all of our markets,” she says, adding that her company’s “dating cafe” style approach is a much better fit with the current moment than the formal studios of yore. People want to convey that they are “professional and smart, but also friendly and approachable,” she says.
The pandemic has triggered a dramatic reassessment of the role work plays in American lives. Some demand more from their employers. Some are family oriented. Some prioritize their health. Some are reducing their hours or looking for more fulfilling work. Last year, nearly 48 million Americans, or about one in five adults, quit their jobs. Call it what you will – the Great Resignation, the Great Renegotiation – but the desire for change is real. And great.
Head photographers, who are on the front lines of the job market, are seeing this work culture shift happening in real time. On LinkedIn, the number of users adding a photo to their profile has increased by 20% over the past year, according to the company.
Photographer Michelle Kaffko, owner of Chicago-based Organic Headshots, sees a surge in her one-on-one sessions and her business of photographing entire teams. Thanks to the high turnover, employers are realizing that the staff pages on their websites are woefully out of date.
“We’ve noticed, at least, the energy is a little bit different,” Kaffko says of his team’s recent shoots. People starting corporate jobs, for example, seem more resigned than excited. “Before the pandemic, they would have been nervous and wanted everything to be perfect,” she says. “Now people are tired. It’s just like, whatever, take my picture in your head.
As for the people who come to his studio, some take their careers in entirely new directions. A lawyer who had booked a shoot quit her job to open an ice cream shop.
Merrick Chase, a Colorado-based photographer, has also noticed a shift in energy in his photography business. “A lot of my clients have changed their attitude about work,” he says. “Before the pandemic, everyone was very nice, very friendly. But everyone is just looser now. They don’t take the job so seriously. They are more interested in living the bigger life. In Colorado, that often means “allow more time to go to the mountains.”
Like other photographers, his activity rebounded last year: “2020 was fair, all bets are off. 2021 has started to explode, full force,” says Chase. People who have never taken the time to take a professional photo in the past “recognize the value of investing in their image”.
In Palo Alto, Dean Birinyi has built a career photographing technical executives and their teams. It has seen an increasing number of people, especially those at the end of their careers, cut their hours by moving into consultancy or consultancy roles. “They don’t want to work,” he says. “People have realized that there is more to life.”
Some clients seek professional photography to help them pursue a dormant dream. Jessica Osber, a Brooklyn-based photographer, remembers a woman who quit her 9-to-5 job in the healthcare industry to become a fashion designer, after seeing a positive response to her designs on Instagram. “The day she quit, she walked in,” Osber says. “She felt this immense relief, this lightness. People come to themselves and let go of that fear. »
Smaller style or lifestyle changes also make people look for a head refresh. “If they’ve dyed their hair, they may have decided to embrace gray,” says Bay Area photographer Nadine Priestley. “The pandemic has changed a lot of people.”
Priestley says 2021 has been her “best year yet,” and she’s found it particularly rewarding to photograph teams that include new recruits meeting their colleagues for the first time. A shoot in early December, orchestrated to coincide with an end-of-year party, marked the first time a team had seen each other since the start of the pandemic.
Capturing this long-awaited reunion, she says, “was very special.”