How to Look Good on Zoom: 8 Easy Tips

How to Look Good on Zoom: 8 Easy Tips

If you’ve been asking for some advice for how to look good on Zoom, you are not alone! These are interesting times of virtual conferencing and online meetings. We ALL want to keep up that professional presence in any setting. And let’s not kid ourselves. People want to look their best in any context. That feedback loop you get when looking at yourself on video conferencing platforms is real. It’s hard not to keep fluffing your hair, straightening your posture, and adjusting the camera.

So, we’ve compiled a series of quick and simple tips to help you look your best on Zoom!

… even if you’re not the most tech-savvy! Where does our expertise come from? (Hint: as a commercial photography studio we are always studying what makes the most flattering light for the people we work with!)

Truth be told, one of the most common questions we get asked is, “What can I do to look good on camera?” Having taken many headshot photos for people in all sorts of professions, we’ve given advice on this countless times. Because we know a little can go a long way, we’ve made our list low-tech so that your Amazon shopping cart won’t explode in the process.

Here is our list of team-tested and approved Gold Grid Studios tips for how to look good on Zoom!

Dog curled under desk working from home
Pets are a constant when you’re working from home, and we’ll be the first to admit that they can and will interrupt a Zoom call. But it sure is nice to have some fuzzy company while at the desk!

1. Raise your laptop so you aren’t looking down at it.

No one wants the angle that’s coming up your neck and into your nose. Something as simple as a stack of books will do the trick.

2. Achieve flattering lighting by setting up so you are facing a window.

Woman enjoying coffee working from home
Added plus to facing a window is that you can break to look out the window, rest your eyes from the screen, and sip something delicious.

This simple move will ensure even light across your face. This is the most simple lighting option for a flattering on-camera appearance. If you have great natural light in your home, you should even be able to turn off the other lights in the room. This way, you can avoid those yellow reflections on your hair. Additionally, the dark shadows under our eyes are created because of overhead lights.

Most important of all, (and we are sure you’ve already seen this many times): Be sure to not have a window directly behind you. You are bound to only appear as a mysterious silhouette.

3. Drink enough water!

Your skin will thank you. Every single makeup artist will tell you this: The key to looking great on camera starts with a healthy skin routine. A healthy skin routine starts with enough water. After all, your skin is your largest organ! Luckily, we are all at home and can find bubbly seltzers and tap water without having to walk all the way to the vending machine. Our Gold Grid Studios team member, JaNae, recommends adding a little fruit-flavored bitters to your seltzer to keep it interesting! Coconut LaCroix + peach bitters is her current jam.

Hands typing on keyboard
Consider this article to be the private message we send you in the Zoom chat… but you asked us first!

4. Consider wearing a touch of undereye concealer and a bit of powder – guys and gals alike!

Your camera will absolutely show the oil on your skin and the slight dark circles under your eyes. Mediocre computer cameras, and even splurgy webcams can be pretty unforgiving. Amazingly, adding a tiny bit of makeup can do wonders without going through a full makeup routine!

Woman posing for headshot
We tell our headshot clients that a little definition goes a long way! This proves true on your webcam as well.

5. Wear a plain, solid-colored top.

However, don’t wear bright white or dark black (white can be too bright, and black can make you look like a blob.) Avoid patterns, which can distract from your face. Also, you should check out our How to Prepare for your Headshots Case Study for tips about the best types of clothing on camera.

Female posing for environmental headshot
A simple-layered look is always a great go-to!

6. Audio Quality is Key.

While it’s not technically about how you look, how you sound is just as important. It can make or break a professional experience on Zoom. Using a microphone or a good pair of headphones is super helpful, especially for blocking out background noise. Anyone have kids and pets at home?

Any simple pair of wired headphones will give you way better sound quality than your laptop’s built-in recorder. Plus, you won’t need to rush to Amazon and buy a full podcast AV set up.

7. Pants vs. No Pants: The Great Debate.

We don’t have a 100% opinion on this one… But, Gold Grid Studios Founder Rebecca puts it this way: “Put on real pants at least 3 times a week. While the feeling of your skinny jeans might not be your favorite going into Week 7 of all of this, I promise it will make you feel like a grown up again.”

On a Zoom call, your colleagues won’t be able to tell if you’re wearing leopard print leggings (like I am as I write this!) However, actual pants might be that added boost of put-togetherness that keeps you focused and influential on your next video call.

Woman working from home with laptop
That being said, a fun dress can provide professionalism, personality, and comfort all at once! We love this emerald dress on our friend, Jen.

8. Here’s the greatest trick of all: Have you tried the “improve my appearance” setting in Zoom?

Yep, that exists. You’re welcome. And, you can easily turn off and on this setting like this:

All in all, these are some super easy things you can do to look good on Zoom without any large equipment investments. Best thing is you don’t even have to leave home to pull them off!

That being said, if you are thinking about improving your home as well, check out our Case Study on How to Prepare for Your Real Estate Photography. There are definitely some interior-design-inspo images that can up the ante on your Zoom background! Actually, we even put together a gallery for you of images you can download:

Zoom Backgrounds Gallery

Check it out!

This gorgeous kitchen is just one of many Zoom backgrounds you can download in our gallery linked above.

Want to chat more with us? Send us a message and we’d love to hear from you about your best work-from-home techniques!

How to Prepare for Your Real Estate Photography

How to Prepare for Your Real Estate Photography

Whether you’ve just finished remodeling, wrapped up finishing touches with your interior designer, or you’ve put your brand new property on the market, you’ll want to start thinking about how to prepare for your real estate photography. Because most people and realtors start their research for the perfect place on the world wide web, you need your interiors to stand out among the others.

Plus, in a growing real estate market like Chicago, you  need to know how to prepare for your real estate photography, if only to avoid the #badrealestatepics hashtag (yes, that’s a thing).

Below, we’ve listed our top tips for getting your space ready, so you can showcase gorgeous interiors and entice people looking for the perfect place.

Tip #1: Hire a stylist, interior designer, or professional stager to help prepare for your real estate photography (if you haven’t already.)

Styled Living Room at Luxury Apartment
A modern, styled interior like this one can transform a blank room into a living space we’d love to cozy up in!

Bringing in a professional stager or stylist will bring your space to a new level! They will take care of the furniture and arrangement for you. Because of their expertise, they understand how to stage furniture for photographs.

However, if hiring a stylist falls outside of your budget, start your process with a mindset of “less is more.” Your space should look as clean and minimal as a tastefully furnished hotel. Your furnishings should be somewhat generic, but also stylish and refined.

By the way, feel free to contact us if you need recommendations on stylists! We can put you in touch with high-end interior designers, professional stylists, or more budget-friendly alternatives.    

Tip #2: Plan a time frame that includes perfect light for your exterior photos.

This photo was taken at 7:00am, when the sun was rising and the perfect light dramatically illuminated the exterior.

Also, take note of what direction your building faces, and communicate that with your photographer as soon as you start planning the shoot. Some buildings look best 30 minutes before sunrise, others look better 30 minutes after sunset. For other kinds of residences, you’ll want to note what time of day they are in sunlight or shadow.

Tip #3: Detailed cleaning goes a long way. Spin your favorite tunes and take the time to eliminate the grime!

Modern Community Area Amenity and Lounge at Luxury Apartment Complex
Several hours prior to this photo session, the management team took the time to carefully detail every surface in their modern, shared amenities and lounge.

Make sure to mop floors, clean counter tops, and dust (even on top of the ceiling fans!) and have everything clean at least an hour or two before your photographer arrives.

You don’t want your photographer taking photos when your floor is two different colors from being partly wet and partly dry. 

Next, you should grab your favorite window cleaner, and spritz on all glass surfaces, wiping them down for a streak-free appearance. For television screens and computer monitors, be sure to use appropriate screen cleaner. If there is any build-up on surfaces that you can see with your eyes, odds are they will also show up in the photos.

Tip #4: Find your inner Jackie Chan and karate chop your pillows. All of them.

Great Room Community Area at Luxury Apartment Complex
The two things to note in this photo are: 1) the fluffy pillows and placement (definitely have been karate-chopped!) and 2) the shiny, smudge-free surfaces of the TV and the glass surrounding the fireplace.

Don’t simply fluff your pillows… give them a gentle karate chop right in the middle!

This way, the pillows lay looking flat and natural but still have fluffiness. (We’ve met real estate agents who swear by this method. And we’ll always keep an eye out for any extra karate chopping needs before we start shooting!) We’ve got your back on this one.

Tip #5: Hide your cables and wires.

Styled Bedroom Real Estate Photo
You wouldn’t notice it if we didn’t point it out, but the lamp on the far right has it’s cable completely tucked away, which helps to de-clutter the look of this bedroom.

Totally unplug your appliances from both ends, whenever possible. TVs, lamps, and audio speakers should be unplugged with their cables hidden behind them.

Additionally, for larger, bulky appliances like printers, your best option is to clear them off the table. Hide them in the closet for the duration of the photo session.

Tip #6: Eliminate clutter on counters and in bathrooms.

Styled Kitchen for Real Estate Photography
This kitchen was styled only to include a few matching objects that add a utility and home-like quality to the space. A roll of paper towels is nowhere to be seen.

Clear off soaps, jewelry, paper towels… anything personal that you would not see at a hotel. Counters should be as clear as possible.

Also, anything that has a brand name on it (that you aren’t trying to promote) should be removed.

Tip #7: Hide your trash receptacles.

Even the nicest stainless steel trash receptacle should be hidden, unless it is built into the wall.

Tip #8: Keep a few extra light bulbs on hand, and think about color consistency.

Styled Modern Kitchen at Luxury Apartment Complex
This shared kitchen amenity is absolutely flooded with natural light, so we didn’t turn the main lights on, other than the single light in the walkway around the corner.

Turn on all your lights prior to the session, and leave them on as the photographer is working. Ideally, all the lights are the same color temperature (think warm, daylight, etc.) Consistency with lighting is KEY, and having a few backup bulbs is a great plan.

Unsure of your light bulbs? Take a quick cell phone photo with all the lights on and send it on over to us prior to your shoot! We believe in the power of communication. The more that you prepare for your shoot, the better the results. 

Tip #9: Your outdoor landscape needs love, too.

Outdoor Pool Amenity at Luxury Apartment Complex
It was a gorgeous, sunny day when we photographed this pool amenity!

Stash away your poolside toys, and ensure the lawn has recently been cut and pruned before your photography begins. Rake leaves and sweep them off of outdoor patios if your session is in the fall.

Tip #10: Straighten your rugs, chairs, and tables.

Interior Design Bedroom Style for Real Estate Photo
Details of placement are so important, like centering lamps on tables, pulling back a corner of the bedspread but not letting it feel too flat, and making sure window drapes feel symmetrical.

While this is something your stylist will have an eye for when you are getting all your furniture in order, be sure to walk around an hour before your photographer arrives. Make sure all furniture looks straight, and rugs haven’t been upturned!

Tip #11: Consider fresh (real!) flowers.

This is an easy way to add that WOW factor to your space! While fake floral and succulents look okay from a distance, real flowers naturally liven up the space.

Additionally, consult with your stylist – or your favorite florist – on what might look best based on your overall color scheme.

Tip #12: Open all of the blinds.

Modern Styled Lounge Area at Luxury Apartment Complex
We are obsessed with this cozy, modern lounge. There is so much natural light, and an inviting nook of soft couches.

Flood your space with natural light! Your rooms will automatically look fresher, larger, and more modern. If your blinds or curtains look outdated, simply remove them.

Tip #13: Let everyone know!

Workout Amenity in Apartment Complex
Workout rooms are amenities that so many people value in their lifestyle, often scheduling time to spend with the equipment. This is why it is so important to give residents plenty of advance notice that the room will be closed for a given time frame to allow cleaning and photography.

If your space has social lounges and workout areas available to your residents, let them know with a kind email and/or posted flyer. Include the date and time the photographer will be there, so they can plan accordingly.

Tip #14: Consider including a few photos that showcase the neighborhood, attractions, and local culture as you prepare for your real estate photography.

Downtown St Charles Illinois Waterfront
Walking distance from a property we photographed in historic downtown St. Charles, Illinois is Hotel Baker, which has an incredible view of the Fox River.

If the property is located near the most legendary pizza place in Chicago, your residents should know about it! (Right, Chicagoans?) If there is a public park walking distance away, or a museum, ask your photographer to make sure they take a few photos of the local scene. These add so much value to the location.

Plus, if you have your own images (not lifted from Google), they will be the right style and format to complement your other real estate photographs. Trust us, everyone can spot a stock image from a mile away.

Shedd Aquarium and Chicago Skyline
We photographed the Museum Campus, near one of the properties we photographed in Chicago’s South Loop neighborhood, so it could be utilized on their website and in their listings.

Of course, the BEST thing to do is talk to your photographer prior to the session. Ask questions, and explain where you might be posting your photos (website, Zillow, real-estate sites…) and make a game plan.

When you are thinking about how to prepare for your real estate photography, make a list of all the rooms, amenities, and spaces you want photographed, and share that with your photographer in an email as you are making plans.

What questions does this bring up about how to prepare for your real estate photography? Send us a message, and we’ll be happy to share our advice!

Chicago Bus Stop Public Transportation
Proximity to public transit is a factor for many Chicagoans searching for a new residence, so we included this image of a bus stop right across the street from one of the properties.
Historic Downtown St Charles Illinois
Showcasing the character of a community is also important, so we photographed this street in St. Charles, Illinois, showing the historic architecture throughout their downtown.

Want to see more of our real estate photography work? Check out this gallery showcasing work we did for Ansonia Properties here in Chicago!

Things to Do During Chicago Winter

Things to Do During Chicago Winter

Friends, we are happy to report that there ARE things to do during Chicago winter! As photographers and residents of Chicago, we know our city inside and out. So, our team compiled a list of fabulous suggestions that will liven up your scenery – even during the gross months like February and March.

(By the way, does anyone else think of a mint-flavored Chex Mix when the weather forecast is “a wintery mix”?! We digress.)

Without further ado, here are our top-rated suggestions!

View of South Loop in Chicago
No matter what you think of the weather, Chicago architecture is ALWAYS in season! Check out this gorgeous view of the South Loop!

Maggie Daley Park Ice Skating Ribbon is one of the most classic things to do during Chicago winter!

This is one of the most popular things to do during Chicago winter – and for good reason! This unique skating ribbon is located in one of Chicago’s beautiful Maggie Daley Park, and is a place where ice skaters at any skill level can come out to relax, skate, and take in the Chicago skyline. Maggie Daley Park describes it as a “multi-sensory experience” where you can take in the rolling landscape, and then break to sip on a cup of hot chocolate!

Garfield Park Conservatory is a wonderful way to find 75 degree weather all year round.

If you are craving greenery and humidity while in Chicago, the Garfield Park Conservatory is one of the best things to experience during Chicago winter. Over 100 years old, this “landscape art under glass” location is one of the largest conservatories in the country.

Couple at Garfield Park Conservatory in Chicago
This photograph, by our team at Rebecca Marie Photography, was taken in December in Chicago. But, you would never know from all the tropical plants in the fern room at Garfield Park Conservatory!

Also, it happens to be one of our favorite places to photograph people! Our sister brand, Rebecca Marie Photography, specializes in weddings and engagements. Rebecca and our team members adore the lush walkways, cactus room, and constant 75 degree climate! (If you’d like to see more of our work, check out our @teamrebeccamarie Instagram!)

Couple walking at Garfield Park Conservatory in Chicago
There is something wonderful about this room housing hundreds of native desert plants.

The Chicago Riverwalk during Chicago winter is absolutely breathtaking.

Truth be told, you might need to walk outside to take in the full length of Chicago’s newly expanded Riverwalk. One of our favorite spots along the Chicago Riverwalk is River Roast, a rustic-meets-modern restaurant with warming comfort foods and a perfect view of the new Riverwalk expansion. 

There are so many places to stop, duck inside, and enjoy a beautiful view of the river. If if suits your fancy, you can grab a warming cocktail or glass of wine.

Table decor at River Roast in Chicago
A cozy ambiance can liven up any room! From Valentine’s Day, Galentine’s Day, to any “just cause” celebration, the Chicago Riverwalk is a wonderful place to celebrates!
Room at River Roast in Chicago
The rustic interior of River Roast walks straight out to a beautiful view of the Chicago Riverwalk.

Speaking of warming cocktails and wine… you should see the outside of:

Bridgeport Art Center where you can escape the cold inside of a cozy globe!

Warming globes at Bridgeport Art Center in Chicago
The team at Venue Logic is responsible for adding these cozy globes to the entryway of Bridgeport Art Center! Just wait ’til you see the inside…

During colder months, this destination will actually construct outdoor warming globes you can sit inside of while enjoying your old fashioned. Truly, the definition of cozy!

And, on the 3rd Friday of the month, Bridgeport Art Center hosts open studios, where you can walk through artists’ studios who have residence in their space.

Inside of warming globes at Bridgeport Art Center in Chicago
Craft bourbon cocktails in a warm, intimate space? Yes, yes, and yes.

Chicago Architectural Boat Tour is one of the top-rated things to do during Chicago winter!

Conference attendees on Chicago Architectural Boat Tour
The views from the top deck of the Chicago Architectural Boat tour are worth it, even if you duck back inside to lounge by a window right afterwards.

On these year-round tours, a knowledgeable guide will describe the history of various buildings in Chicago as you pass them on a double-decker river boat. Don’t worry – you don’t have to sit on the chilly top deck! The lower level interior has cushy seats where you can still see out the window and listen to your guide while sipping a hot drink from the bar.

Group photo on Chicago Architectural Boat Tour
The White Dress Society team took a group photo on the top deck after their retreat!
Panelists at White Dress Society Retreat in Chicago
Panelists at the retreat inspired wedding professionals to incorporate their city’s culture during any season.

We hope you check out The White Dress Society full gallery to see even more from their retreat in Chicago!

The Chicago Music Scene will lift your spirits!

One of our favorite classic Chicago venues is House of Blues! This incredible space hosts numerous musicians each week, and has tiers of seating areas where you can pitch up to see the performance. We photographed the Jordan Kahn Orchestra launch party at House of Blues, and they rocked the house.

Jordan Kahn Orchestra performs at House of Blues Chicago
Jordan Kahn’s launch party was filled with dramatic moments like this! They rocked the stage.

Be sure to check out this Fortune article, featuring Jordan Kahn AND our photography from the House of Blues!

Jordan Kahn Orchestra performing at House of Blues in Chicago
We love the view from the balcony seats at The House of Blues!

If you want to learn more about Jordan Kahn, here’s his rockstar website!

And last, but definitely not least,

Chicago Museums are a great way to experience art and culture in Chicago.

There are so many options here depending on what fascinates your intellect. Everything from The Field Museum (check out Fifth Third’s event among Maximo’s skeleton!], The Art Institute of Chicago, The Museum of Science and Industry, The Adler Planetarium… each of these institutions contains an archive to satisfy your curiosity. 

Field Museum special event for Fifth Third Bank in Chicago
The Field Museum Special Events team creatively lit the interior during Fifth Third’s event. We think it looked pretty epic.
Field Museum's Maximo in Chicago at Fifth Third Bank event
Maximo, the dino skeleton you see here, is one of the Field Museum’s most recent (and largest!) displays!
Adler Planetarium Cafe corporate event
The cafe at the Adler Planetarium is one of our favorite museum retreats, and a Chicago favorite for corporate events!
Bride and groom at Art Institute Chicago impressionism gallery
Our team at Rebecca Marie Photography captured a wedding at Chicago’s Art Institute – and it was the perfect space.
Chicago wedding at Art Institute Chicago
We love the sweeping staircase in the center of the historic wing of The Art Institute. The building itself is a work of art.
Conference outing at Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago
The Museum of Science and Industry is wonderfully interactive!
Conference goers at Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago
Conference attendees from the APA conference at McCormick Place had a chance to take in the multiple exhibits and floors of The Museum of Science and Industry when they came to Chicago.

To wrap up… 

Chicago in the winter might not sound ideal, but there are definitely ways to keep your conference attendees and yourself engaged AND warm! We love the new ideas we see amazing planners come up with. Send us an email! We’d be happy to connect you with our favorite DMC and planning teams here to make sure your next event is amazing no matter the weather!

Reach out if you have any questions about your event photography needs or about things to do during the winter months in Chicago.

In the meantime, we might just be at London House (you should see our Case Study from The Knot Workshop!) sipping a warming winter cocktail ourselves… Cheers!

How to Spoil Your Team in Q1 – With Examples!

How to Spoil Your Team in Q1 – With Examples!

It’s the new year and everyone is finally back at the office! Q1 might take a little bit more time to get back into the swing of things, but also might just be the perfect time to show your appreciation for your team. The good news? Figuring out how to spoil your team in Q1 doesn’t have to be difficult. And, the return on investment is simple: people who feel appreciated value their work. This is a win-win in sooo many ways.

In fact, according to a recent report (2010, Robert Half International) cited by Business Insider Magazine, we know employee appreciation is a heckofa* positive thing (*our word, not theirs). Over 50% of managers and HR reps believe that employee appreciation is a HUGE opportunity to improve morale, productivity, loyalty, and innovation in their company.

So, how do you achieve this? We have a few ideas on how to spoil your team in Q1… with photographs to prove it!

Spoil Your Team with Intimate Lunch Meetings in Unique Spaces

This intimate lunch meeting at the historic Lyric Opera of Chicago had a feeling of regal importance, yet decor was whimsical and fun. Personalized place settings and long tables made for a conversational, banquet-style outing!

We are putting this one first on the list simply because it is one of our favorites. For smaller teams or departments, finding a space that inspires can TOTALLY alter the tone of the first meeting of Q1. From hosting a lunch at The Lyric Opera to dining in a small conference room with a view in Downtown Chicago, we’ve seen how innovative spaces can completely alter the mood of a meeting. There aren’t a ton of people to coordinate or account for, which allows a myriad of flexibility. This applies to the intimate design, floral, or even personal mini champagne bottles you might coordinate for your event! Your team will feel pampered. You’ll feel accomplished. And, the camaraderie of being together (and feeling a tiny bit epic about it) goes a long way.

Team members take a group photo at The Lyric Opera in Chicago, a great example of how to spoil your team in q1!
After their lunch meeting at The Lyric Opera, team members took a photo together in the space to remind them of their experience! This is absolutely a great case for having a photographer capture your Q1 events!
Chicago intimate meeting for The White Dress Society
For this off-site for The White Dress Society, team members had white-themed, on-brand decor that made the space feel like their own.
Partyslate company luncheon in Chicago
Personalization is key! At this celebratory corporate luncheon, each team member had their own mini bottle of champagne waiting for them at the table upon arrival!
Personalized mug at White Dress Society meeting in Chicago, a great example of how to spoil your team in q1
Speaking of personalization, team members at this event received mugs with their names printed! That’s a wonderful way to show appreciation.
Partyslate meeting at historic warehouse in Chicago
We LOVE converted warehouse spaces with exposed brick, high windows, and a feeling of a industrial importance. What better way to liven the space than with succulents and colorful decor?

Plan a Company Off-Site (with memorable activities…)

Corporate outing to Whirlyball in Chicago, a great example of how to spoil your team in q1!
Professional photography can do a few things your iPhone can’t… like capturing a close-up of your team about to snag a Whirlyball mid-air! This was such a memorable outing after two days of conferencing in Chicago.

If the majority of your team works 9-5 at a desk, one of the best things you can do to spoil them is taking them away from the normal routine! In fact, hosting a day-long outing at Whirlyball, Top Golf, or even a dedicated Ping Pong bar like SPIN in Chicago is a great way to get your team engaged. Added bonus: If you hire a photographer, you’ll be able to look back and laugh at all the memories from your outing… and then pick your favorites for your social media narrative!

Corporate outing to SPIN ping pong in Chicago
At SPIN! in Chicago, you can take your team to face-off against each other alongside ping pong pros! This company had their logo inscribed on the ping pong tables, for that added touch of engaging branding – and it looks fantastic in their photos!
Company outing to Whirlyball in Chicago
Definitely a non-traditional group photo that looks FABULOUS in that post-conference wrap-up email.

Spoil Your Team with Massages

Massages available for conference-goers at Langham hotel in Chicago, great example of how to spoil your team in q1
At this Chicago conference at The Langham hotel, attendees could take a break to enjoy a complimentary massage or manicure before heading to the next breakout session.

Don’t even question this one – we’ve actually taken headshots at a conference for attendees who had a massage upstairs just an hour prior, and everyone was SO relaxed! (Not to mention, they still had their best professional look on!) Working a job in any industry almost BY DEFINITION causes some level of stress, and massages help to assuage the tension almost instantly. Spoil your team by planning to hire massage experts for your next conference, or bring their expertise directly into your office! Obviously, pick a day without client meetings, or else plan to offer massages to your clients as well… it will be too luxurious an opportunity to pass up!

Give Your Team VIP Access

Company outing to see Bears stadium in Chicago
Attendees at this Chicago conference took an outing with a private tour of Soldier Field, the Bears Stadium! We are pretty sure that the photos showing the looks on everyone’s faces says it best.

This is probably one of the most direct ways to make your team feel extra important. Whether spoiling your team with tickets to a sporting event, access to a unique Chicago museum, or even a private concert, VIP access makes one feel… well… like a Very Important Person!

Conference attendees tour the Bears stadium in Chicago
…And this happened when everyone first arrived to the stadium. That’s how you VIP! (VIP as a verb, in this context 🙂
APA conference attendees visit The Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, a great example of how to spoil your team in q1!
At the APA (American Psychological Association) conference in Chicago, attendees visited The Museum of Science and Industry after hours. Our photography helped capture epic moments like this, and the image below.
APA conference attendees visit The Museum of Science and Industry
Two APA members stood with their tote bags learning about science and technology at The Museum of Science and Industry.
Conference attendee visits Soldier Field in Chicago a great example of how to spoil your team in q1
Need we say more? It feels good to be a VIP for a day!
Conference attendees enjoy a private concert at Wintrust Arena in Chicago
Salesforce conference attendees witnessed a private performance at Wintrust Arena after the first two days of conferencing. This is a fantastic example of how to spoil your team in Q1!
Conference attendee dances with roller girls
This hilarious moment happened when a Salesforce conference attendee joined to dance with the roller girls! …If you look closely, her cell phone completely flew out of her pocket… and didn’t break!

Time for New Headshots

Speaking of win-win ways of how to spoil your team in Q1, you should schedule new headshots! While headshots might feel like another necessary procedure, employees will appreciate the opportunity to have a new, professional photo on the website alongside an updated list of their accomplishments in the new year. If you’re worried it might be a lot to coordinate, just send your team our Gold Grid guide for How to Prepare for Your Headshots! Let your photographer (or us) do the rest.

Authentic female headshot by exposed brick wall
One of our strong suits is natural, authentic headshots. For the team at Venue Logic, we came to their company party and made sure each individual looked their best!
Venue Logic group photo in front of exposed brick, a great example of how to spoil your team in q1!
Of course, group photos are always a great idea when everyone on your team is dressed and ready!

Still trying to figure out your strategy for how to spoil your team in Q1? Reach out to us and we will be happy to share additional expertise! Plus, we can give some pretty great reasons why you might consider hiring a photographer at your Q1 events.

Do I Need Flash Photography for My Speaker?

Do I Need Flash Photography for My Speaker?

“I’m planning a conference and our speaker has requested to have no flash photography during their presentation. Will the photos be okay?”

We are asked this question so often. And, we always want to create the best possible photos in the least disruptive way. Just like you, we want your attendees to remain focused on the main event. We agree – there is nothing worse than the photographer who stands two feet in front of you blasting a flash like a disco dance strobe directly into your eyes while you’re announcing your thoughtful and exciting plans for the next fiscal year. All of a sudden, the whole situation feels distracting, rude, and unprofessional.

The good news is this: We never do that. It’s not our style, and it never will be.

However, there are some situations when non-intrusive flash can be useful. If you are wondering, “Do I need flash photography for my speaker?” here’s a list of questions to consider when planning your event:

Keynote Speaker at APA Convention in Chicago
When the light feels right, your speaker will feel right too. This was one of our favorite moments from the APA Convention in Chicago, at McCormick Place!

Is my Speaker presenting during the day in a venue with a lot of natural window light?

If your venue has rows of windows on the side (note: NOT behind the speaker), and/or your event is happening in the middle of the day, we can probably rock it out with available light.

That said, are you sure it’s ENOUGH light?

Consider this: Does the room feel bright enough even before turning on those typical overhead, fluorescent lights? As a guest, would you be able to see the presenter without any of those lights on? Then, no flash needed. Even in a brightly lit room with windows during the day, there are still some variables that might make you want to consider having flash. So, be sure to read on:

Female speaker at Chicago's White Dress Society Meeting
While this room had some window light, we used flash to cancel out some of the yellow light coming from the overhead chandelier.

None of us want to accentuate the lack of sleep under our eyes… which very well might LOOK the case with overhead lights!

Overhead lights are common, but definitely aren’t the most flattering. Flash photography at your event can help minimize those harsh shadows. 

Chicago presenter pauses to laugh while at the podium
This presentation took place in a windowless conference room. Our flash helped to illuminate the speaker’s face and make him stand out from the typical, beige background.

My speaker is in a bright room, but has a slideshow presentation.

Even if you’re in the brightest warehouse space in Chicago, if the speaker is giving a presentation with slides, you probably want to curtain the windows so attendees can see the information. If you want the slides to be legible in photos (especially when they are the brightest thing in the room), flash for can help. 

Speaker shows slides at Chicago event
At this event, flash was super helpful to ensure that both the slide presentation and the speaker could be seen. Without flash, the speaker would have been too dark against the bright screen behind him.
Panelists at a Chicago corporate event
With the powerful stage lights during this panel discussion, we could see the panelists and the projection behind them.

Is my Speaker presenting while standing right in front of a window?

Without any flash photography, your speaker will be silhouetted and dark against the window light behind them. It will be difficult to see the expression on their face, let alone their identity. We highly recommend flash in this scenario.

Is my Speaker presenting in a windowless conference room or convention center room? Do I need flash photography for my speaker if this is the case?

If yes, then there are definitely other variables to consider. The vast majority of our events take place in these kind of environments – hotels, convention centers, historic venues with a touch of stained glass. Each space has a different set-up, and your event planning team is probably already asking specific questions related to the overall level of technical production and impact you want your event to have.

Are there stage lights that come with the venue for the presentation?

If yes, it ultimately comes down to the amount of light and direction of light from the available stage lights. Sometimes, available stage lighting provided by the venue can work well to highlight your Speaker, but in other cases, the lighting may not look the best in photos. In some theatre venues in Chicago, the lighting works wonderfully for a stage performance or off-the-cuff improv show, but does not have the level of professionalism you may want for your CEO.

Speaker presenting at Salesforce Connections at McCormick Place in Chicago
During the Salesforce Connections event at McCormick Place in Chicago, lighting crews flooded an entire circular fireside chat-style keynote space. Even attendees in the first several rows were well-illuminated.
Panelists discussing at Chicago event
While this photo demonstrates an engaging moment between these two speakers, the small lighting units in this theater space cast dark shadows under the speakers’ eyes. Due to the nature of the event, we were unable to utilize flash here, but this photo proves as an excellent example of the limitations of some types of stage lighting.

If you want to talk through the best options for lighting, send us an email!

Did my team hire a lighting crew to install stage lights specifically tailored for the presentation?

If you’re bringing in a pro-team (like Frost Lighting in Chicago) to install lighting for your presenter’s stage, specifically tailored to your brand, odds are they’ve got it covered. But sometimes, spot lights are too small and don’t always cover the stage.

That said, here’s one thing you want to make sure of: Ask your lighting team to create an even flood of light across the stage. If your speaker wanders while they talk, you want them to be well-lit regardless of where they stand.

Additionally, we have one more note on stage lighting. Ask about the color of light. This is definitely a factor we can discuss with you! Overly cool or overly warm colored lights might work for stage illumination, but are not always ideal in photographs.

Panelists discussing topics at Swisshotel Chicago
While this dramatic and colorful lighting looked fantastic from the audience’s perspective, the extreme color choices did show up in our photographs. The green cast from one of the stage lights was very noticeable.
Panelists discussing topics at Swisshotel in Chicago during corporate conference
And the light colors in the background kept changing throughout the presentations and panelists. By no means do we consider this a “bad” photograph (we can absolutely adapt to most any scenario!), but it does make a good case for you to make sure you’ve asked about stage lighting and color with your lighting team prior to your event.
Keynote speaker at APA Convention in Chicago at McCormick Place
At this event, the background was super colorful, but speakers were lit in with natural-looking white light. No green light issues here.

If we use flash, it will be minimal, or used to simply highlight a few of the seated guests as they engage with each other and the presenter.  Which brings us to the last question:

Do I want photos of attendees while they are listening to the speaker or getting into break-out sessions?

Most likely, your guests are sitting in the darkest part of the room. You’ve beautifully lit the stage for your speaker and naturally, the rest of the room is dark. If you’d like photos of your attendees, flash can help! And it won’t blind them.

Attendee engaging at Chicago conference
This is a great example of flash used in a way that isn’t easily noticed! This conference attendee was in the midst of an engaging conversation that never stopped while we were taking his picture.
Engaged conference attendees in Chicago
Just like you, we love seeing a full room of engaged conference attendees!

Okay, so it sounds like I might want to consider talking to my speaker about incorporating flash photography. What kind of experience can I expect from Gold Grid Studios?

Generally, we place our flashes out of the way of attendees and the speaker, raised up high and nowhere near eye-level, in the back or sides of the room. We use flash in a non-direct way that won’t blind your speaker, and won’t call attention to itself.

In most scenarios that are not equipped with professional stage lighting tailored to your event, we do recommend considering flash. We want to make photos that you’ll feel excited to share on social media, on your next company-wide email, and on your website! We take pride in our craft. And, we know that you want your public-facing imagery to show the pride you take in yours.

We know this might all sound like a LOT of variables to consider. Don’t hesitate to contact us! We are happy to talk through all of the possible variables with you. We’ve photographed inside of countless event spaces in Chicago over the years, and have become familiar with the lighting solutions that work best in any scenario. Our goal? For you to receive the best possible photos for your event.

Male Speaker presenting at bank conference in Chicago

Reach out to us if you have any questions, and we’ll get to them in a flash! (Yep, we went there…)