A Sharp-Dressed Councillor

One thing I enjoy shooting are folk who are nervous about jumping in front of the camera. Taking the time to ease them and walk them through the steps so that they are ultimately having fun and looking their best in their shots is what I'm all about.


Deciding to run for city council in our fair city of Guelph, Rob came to me asking to get some headshots done for his campaign.

He's naturally a funny and very positive guy, but like most people who aren't professional models he was uneasy when put on the spot with a lens in his face.


Even with the best camera gear, make-up and hair styling, fantastic lighting and a killer backdrop it all comes down to the subject feeling comfortable. And personally I feel that it is the photographer's responsibility to ensure that this happens.

It started with a very quick, impromptu photo session. Rob needed a shot very quickly. As in that night. It was for a print ad the next day. We met at his place and I had a very basic setup and just a little time to get it.

He hadn't shaved, so he dashed into the bathroom for a minute and emerged with a fresh face and slightly bleeding chin. His apartment was a fair size, but space was an issue with my flash and umbrella setup. And the walls I was using as a backdrop were begging for some clean-up action in Photoshop. (not to speak ill of his abode, it was very nice but let's face it, most household walls are not fit for perfect portrait backgrounds).

This is the resulting image we got.

 Little time to get ready, no make-up artist and a last-second face shave results in a so-so headshot.

Little time to get ready, no make-up artist and a last-second face shave results in a so-so headshot.

It served it's purpose but what we really needed was a full portrait session and some time to do things right. Let's list the issues with this image: skin is a bit shiny (everybody's face has oils on it that the camera brings out, even if you're fresh out of the shower), his hair could be styled better, and his chin was still bleeding a bit from his shave (easily digitally removed but still, the subject ideally should not be bleeding). But the real downfall of this session? Rob was tense, rushed, nervous and overly conscious of his appearance. That placed him at unease and puts the final images at risk. Plus they won't enjoy their photo shoot. That just will not do.

So when we were able to take the time to do the full portrait session, I brought in a make-up artist (credit: Danielle Glam Veats, check out her website for a portfolio) to take care of Rob's face and hair. Just a little attention from an expert can go a long way to set the subject's mind at ease. That's why I love bringing in a make-up artist for shoots of any size, big or small.

When Rob asked what wardrobe to bring, I answered "Only the kinds of things you feel comfortable in." His University of Guelph sweater and scarf was a great idea from him once we got some "cleaner" shots out of the way and I wanted him to have more fun with the camera. Plus it shows his Gryphon pride.

In the end, the shoot was much more enjoyable and fun, we got some decent shots of him that would look good gracing a billboard with the words "Vote Rob!" and we got a few goofier shots that allowed him to open up with his personality (Not all of which I will share here. I'll leave him to release those on his own.)

Follow Robert Routledge on Twitter (@RobertRoutledge) and read about what's making him run for city council in 2014.