AboutFace | The Headshot Project
AboutFace is a Canadian charity, founded in 1985, to support individuals with any type of facial difference. Its vision is the elimination of the stigma and discrimination encountered by individuals with a facial difference.
A friend introduced me to the organization, and I wondered how my photography could help support them, their members and their vision. What lead me to specialize in headshot photography, was a desire to help people feel good about themselves. My goal was to master the technical skill of photography in tandem with the ability to connect with people and put them at ease, so that I can capture their distinct uniqueness with my camera.
Namrit Sidhu, Program Manager- Peer & Community Support, at AboutFace and I discussed the concept and The Headshot Project was created. The project was to provide AboutFace community members the opportunity to join me in the studio, for a complimentary professional headshot session. Namrit says:
“In this digital age, AboutFace understands the importance of a good headshot. We launched an employment campaign titled, My Difference Should Make no Difference, which aims to lessen the discrimination faced by the facial difference community in the workplace. By collaborating with Peter and Vanessa on this project our aim was to provide resources to community members to increase their opportunities in attaining employment relevant to their qualifications.”
A fellow headshot photographer Vanessa, Vanessa Burn Photography, graciously provided her studio space, support, and expertise.
“I had the tremendous privilege of welcoming the AboutFace community to my studio for The Headshot Project. It was such a pleasure to meet these talented individuals and their family members. Seeing how happy each person was with their new headshots, and how much fun they had, really made the day a special one."
Prior to the shoot, I connected with a fellow photographer Rodrigo Flores, as both a photographer and a burn survivor, I sought his advice. He kept it simple and said:
"Just be yourself, talk to another human, and make a connection.”
The personal connection is where the magic happens, and it’s about the smiles, laughs and humanity and in the end, it makes the camera disappear between the two of us.
On the day of The Headshot Project, Namrit and Vanessa helped coordinate the comings and goings of the clients, greeting them and their friends and family. There was a steady supply of big hellos, coffee, food, and some delicious cookies from Georgian Bay Sweets.
The photography part was more like a casual visit between friends, with a few photos interspersed throughout the conversation.
It was a day of meeting interesting people, laughter, shared stories, and dreaming about great adventures ahead.
"Thank you so much for an amazing afternoon. It was an incredible experience. I had sooooooo much fun"
Laura’s words were particularly meaningful to me as a photographer, as most people who step in front of the camera, are generally hesitant. Common phrases that most headshot photographers hear include things like “I am not photogenic”, “I am nervous, or “I always blink”, and the list goes on. A key goal in the studio is to create a relaxed and comfortable environment, and capture images that clients are excited to share with their families and friends, or business and social networks. It’s certainly rewarding when clients are happy with the results.
On occasion, there are deeper moments in the studio, that could best be described as transformative, and this happened with Duncan.
As he left the studio he said:
“This was the best experience of my life”.
We may, or may not, have had a few laughs during the session!
When the dynamic in the studio is just right, and after a client sees their images, there is a shift in the way they see themselves, it is elevated, and it is a particularly moving experience. It doesn’t happen every time, but when it does, it is magical.
It was both empowering and rewarding to get to know each of the individuals and it was a privilege to do the best that I could to capture their unique selves in the images.
What an awesome day!
In this short video, Namrit and Vanessa recap the day
If you are interested in participating in the next Headshot Project, let us know.
Peter Istvan Photography
Peter is a professional headshot photographer. Available in studio, or on location. Serving Parry Sound, Muskoka, Sudbury, North Bay, Barrie, Toronto, and surrounding areas. View pricing and scheduling.