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!
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!
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.
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!)
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.
Speaking of warming cocktails and wine… you should see the outside of:
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.
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.
Be sure to check out this Fortune article, featuring Jordan Kahn AND our photography from 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.
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!
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
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.
Plan a Company Off-Site (with memorable activities…)
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!
Spoil Your Team with Massages
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
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!
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.
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.
“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:
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Reach out to us if you have any questions, and we’ll get to them in a flash! (Yep, we went there…)
Salesforce Connections at McCormick Place was a 3-day conference of 13,000+ attendees. However, it provided an engaging experience for each and every one of it’s guests. First, Salesforce transformed McCormick Place (the nation’s largest conference center!) into an interactive campsite. Salesforce ensured attendees would remember their experience. Second, Salesforce’s iconic outdoor-adventure-themed branding created an engaging, fun space for learning and networking.
Salesforce holds the core idea of meaningful engagement at the heart of its company culture.
Therefore, it’s no surprise that Salesforce was ranked first in Fortune‘s 100 Best Companies to Work For in 2018 and second in 2019! For Salesforce, it’s not only about their broad steps and research in developer innovation, AI, and cloud-based marketing. At Salesforce Connections at McCormick Place, we witnessed their focus on creative engagement through branding.
What was it like?
Think high tech learning meets outdoor forest adventure. When we go off to summer camp as kids, our parents expect us to come back with new friends. Maybe, we come back with a little more knowledge about the world. Salesforce hosted a conference that excites the same energy as a camp in the woods, but with a focus on technology innovation. After all, companies who have integrated Salesforce’s technology are called “Trailblazers” for a reason!
Great conferences aren’t possible without great branding.
Salesforce orchestrated a uniquely branded experience by making the space their own. Salesforce transformed each and every room in the conference center.
The most immersive space was “Campground”.
This was Salesforce Connections’s trade show in the main exhibit hall in McCormick Place. Landmarks and trailhead signage created an environment perfect for meeting sites and exploring. Additionally, each environment was completely integrated with Salesforce’s iconic branding and signage.
Salesforce kiosks fit the Campground theme as attendees gathered around these inviting, interactive huts.
These stations glowed under banners with each of Salesforce’s core services. That said, these seating areas became home-base for meeting clients and colleagues.
Larger sponsor stations like Google’s invited attendees to learn about Salesforce integration. Collaboration across platforms is key to Salesforce’s mission. So, it made sense that attendees could visit each unique sponsor station as its own welcoming retreat.
And, the Salesforce characters were there!
One of our favorite parts was photographing the Salesforce characters (these super cute mascots!) as they walked around Campground. They gave everyone the thrill of seeing an adorable illustration come to life.
Are you investing time and resources to create and brand an engaging conference for YOUR attendees?
You can ensure your ROI will last longer with equally engaging photography. With this, photos from the event will remind you and your team how awesome of an experience it was. Then, they will come back year after year.
It’s officially party planning season… which means you are probably in the midst of getting ready for this year’s holiday party for your team! There are so many aspects to the planning process to consider: decor, entertainment, cuisine, perhaps an awards presentation, the perfect venue… but have you considered hiring a photographer for your holiday party?
With all the effort you are putting into planning the event, wouldn’t it be nice to extend the ROI well past the end of the evening? Here are 8 simple ways photography can just do that:
Photos for your beaming awards recipients! If you have award recipients, you’re celebrating leadership, or individuals on your team who have made a difference in your company, there is no better way to make it “official” than through photographs that are shared in your email newsletters, internal announcement boards, or social media networks. Shout your excitement and appreciation for these award recipients from the rooftops with photos they can even use for their own archives. Not everyone may be able to attend your event, and with photography, your awardees can walk in to work on Monday with continued recognition by the whole office!
Social Media Content: You can control the narrative of the night. With a holiday party photographer capturing all of the night’s events, your employees can enjoy themselves rather than worrying about trying to post on Instagram with your company hashtag. This way, you can curate the most beautiful moments of the night, and keep the late night shenanigans on the dance floor. Plus, if you have any branded giveaways, coffee mugs, or treats at your event, these are always fun to talk about on social!
Give a gift to your team through photos: Do your team members often bring their partners or spouses to the holiday party? Team members will appreciate a professional photo of themselves and their significant other dressed up to the nines! Let’s be honest: When was the last time YOU and your partner got all glitzy for an event? Wouldn’t you want to capture yourselves in a professional photo to send to your friends and family? We are strong believers that the super dark and grainy photo from your phone just won’t do it justice. In fact, our gallery sharing service with Gold Grid Studios makes it super easy for you to share photos with all your attendees without your staff having to do extra work. Simply share a link in a company wide email and we’ll take care of the rest for you!
Group photos of team leaders. Your leaders will look poised and professional in a beautiful venue, dressed for success. What better time to get everyone together for a group photo?
The Company Archive: Whether a member of your team or a seasoned event-planning DMC like 360 Destination Group is planning your event, you may want photos for archival purposes. What did you do at your holiday party this year? What might you do differently next year? How did you brand the room uniquely to your company? We know you have a lot on your plate with all the daily tasks and meetings at the office, and calling to mind the color and brand of table linens that match a particular floral arrangement you had last year probably won’t be top of mind next year…
Company Culture: You’re planning an event that’s uniquely fitted for your team, and you know that everything from the decor to entertainment, the theme of the night, and the atmosphere will reflect who you are as a company. Photographs will showcase the spirit of your team, and provide everyone wonderful memories of the night that will speak to your brand and your mission. What new hire isn’t going to be excited about attendees next year’s party once they see all of this fun captured by your holiday party photographer?
Need help planning your Holiday Party? Shoot us an email and we’ll be happy to send over a list of some of our most trusted professionals to complete your vendor list! When it comes to events, there really isn’t a merrier time of the year, and we can’t wait to celebrate with you!
How to prepare for your headshots: Well, you’ve put it off for months (maybe years?) and now it’s finally time to refresh your headshot. Whether you are starting your own business, transitioning to a new position, or just updating your LinkedIn, your headshot is often your first impression. The most common question we get asked is “What do I wear?” You always want to look your best, and sometimes certain clothing styles photograph better than others.
That’s why we’ve put together this list of helpful tips so you can work on your next interview, not fret about your headshot. Obviously, different industries have different expectations, but if you’re looking to play it safe and professional, these 10 Tips outlining how to prepare for your headshot won’t fail you!
Tip 1: Pick the outfit that makes you feel incredibly confident. We all have one. It’s that dress or blazer that has you checking yourself out in the window reflection as you walk to your next sales meeting. Whatever that outfit is, choose that! “But how formal should it be?” is the follow up question everyone asks the most. Our rule of thumb: Wear whatever it is you would choose for a first new client meeting. I.e. If you don’t show up to meetings in a tie, then skip the tie. If you always have your glasses on, keep ‘em on!
Tip 2: Keep it fitted. Loose or ill-fitting clothing will add unnecessary extra weight when viewed in a photo. We aren’t suggesting skin tight clothing, but something with structure and that fits in all the right places is a must.
Tip 3: If you’re not sure what color looks best on you, neutrals will always stay classic and keep a headshot looking timeless. When you’re considering how to prepare for your headshots, you can never go wrong with blues and grays are our favorite suggestion for not being quite as heavy as all black.
Tip 4: Play it safe with solids. Some patterns can work, but loud, bold stripes or big floral patterns will distract from what the main focus should be – You! Bringing in patterns in a great tie or pocket square for the gents or more of your personality with statement jewelry for the ladies is a great way to keep the solid shirts from getting boring.
Tip 5: Cover your arms and shoulders. Seriously, anything without sleeves loses that put-together sense of professionalism. And, you definitely don’t want any arm insecurities getting between you and the camera.
Tip 6: Bring options and layers to try out several looks! Something as simple as taking a blazer on or off can give you two different looks quickly. For example, scarves, ties, necklaces and pocket squares are all simple items to toss in your bag. Plus, you can switch out for different looks as a great way to bring in more color if you are sticking with the neutral top.
Tip 7: Dress professionally from head-to-toe. Even if you only need a LinkedIn photo that shows from the waist up, dress like you would for the interview. Dressing up your shoes will automatically improve your posture. The total look also boosts your confidence – you should want to own your outfit long after the headshot is over and rake in those compliments when you wear it to work.
Tip 8: Makeup: A little goes a long way. Just because you’ll be on camera for your headshot doesn’t mean you should cake it on like you did for your 8th grade musical. What’s most important here is definition not quantity. Even if you don’t wear eyeliner on a daily basis, simple eye liner and a great mascara will help define your eyes beautifully in photos. We get asked about makeup all the time. So, we had to include it in our list of how to prepare for your headshots!
Tip 9: Hair: Keep it simple and professional. Definitely pack a brush or comb if you like driving with the windows down… For the ladies, consider a quick stop at your local blow out bar for that added touch of confidence.
Tip 10: Practice! Try out your wardrobe combinations in front of a mirror. Solicit your trusted friends or significant other for their opinions. Or even feel free to email us over some quick cell phone snaps! Importantly, you should feel confident in whatever you are wearing. The best advice we can give when it comes to how to prepare for your headshots is this: Confidence is what makes all the difference in photos!