The Sidewalk Studio by Ian Tuttle

The Hot Stone Bowl from Bibim Bar

I (almost) exclusively photograph people, but as luck would have it I was hired by Ryan and Jaydon to create amazing photographs of food. Yep. (Can't anyone just enjoy their lunchwithout taking a picture anymore??). GoDish helps customer and merchant alike (and that's more than I can say for most apps.....), and if you're in downtown San Francisco and hungry for lunch, GoDish will help you discover delicious food at steep discounts. The restaurants will welcome you with open arms. Everyone wins. (Obviously I'm biased, but seriously, check it out).

Anyway, enough of the love song.

The reason I'm totally blogging about this is because one of the funny things with photography is what it leaves out. There's the frame... and there's everything outside the frame.

I am in charge of making this food look as good as it tastes. We show up at a restaurant, the restaurant cooks 5-15 dishes one after another, and I photograph them all. We might be in an underground food court, or a swanky sit-down restaurant, or a food-truck idling in a parking lot... the lights could be fluorescent or candles or noon o'clock sun. No matter. The photographs have to tell the story because the food is really good (trust me, we've tried all of it), even if the setting isn't always ideal.

Turkish Delight is amazing. Have the lamb burgers.

Turkish Delight is amazing. Have the lamb burgers.

Here we are under the I-80 Bay Bridge approach surrounded by parked cars.

There are no tables, no walls, nothing to put the food on. So I make a little studio right there in the parking lot.

Yours Truly, working with high technology.

Yours Truly, working with high technology.

MacGuyver was my favorite tv show growing up. He could make anything out of nothing. I think of him daily. Here I set up a surface with some construction paper, and create a backlight by bouncing a flash off a reflector disc, and away we go!

The lamb burgers. Seriously, try them. Officially it's known as Akçaabat köftesi

The lamb burgers. Seriously, try them. Officially it's known as Akçaabat köftesi

The salad. Amazing.

The salad. Amazing.

This was but one of five stops in a 5-restaurant tour on Monday. Later that day we visited 77 Chinese. The restaurant was packed with people, so shooting inside was a logistical nightmare. Luckily there was one tall table available. We heaved it outside to the sidewalk and I made a studio right there on Battery Street.

The diners inside had front-row seats to the whole operation.

Really the only difference between photographing people and photographing food is that with people, you can ask them to move. Food is not so responsive. But it's tastier, so there'sthat.

How a Salesforce Recruiter Sees Your Headshot by Ian Tuttle

My goal is to provide the best headshot you’ve ever seen. It’s a tall order, and my success depends not just on technical knowledge of camera equipment, lighting, and body language, but also on the context in which a headshot is used.

 

To that end, I am always looking for expert knowledge and guidance. I recently took professional headshots for Devin Brooks, who works at Salesforce, and asked if I could interview her about what she sees when she’s going through applications. Ms Brooks is an Inbound Candidate Sourcer. She processes around 200 applications every week and looks for appropriately talented individuals to fill specific sales roles.

 

Ian Tuttle: What is the first thing you look for in a candidate?

 

Devin Brooks: My roles require a very specific skillset and number of years of experience, so first and foremost, I look for amount of experience a candidate has in the industry, and then review the specific experience to see how relevant their sales experience is to the roles for which we are hiring.

IT: How often do you see a picture of a potential recruit?

 

DB: For international candidates (I hire in Brazil and Mexico City as well as the US and Canada), it is very common for candidates to include a headshot on their resume. Otherwise, I don’t necessarily see a photo unless I am on the fence, and may go digging for more information on LinkedIn.

 

IT: How can a person’s picture affect their desirability as an applicant/recruit, either negatively or positively?

DB: A photo is our first glimpse into whether or not you might be a culture fit at our company. While it may not be a hard yes or no from the picture alone, it could raise a flag.

 

It also really depends on what types of roles one might be hiring for as well. In my previous role, as a Recruiting Coordinator at a staffing agency, wherein all of our time was spent on LinkedIn, the picture was much more important. We were hiring for roles where companies asked for very polished individuals, typically in the Administrative Assistant and Executive Assistant space. If someone couldn’t demonstrate that in their photo, it was easy to pass on those folks. If you are in the market for a particular role, you must know your audience.

 

IT: What sort of photos would you consider “unacceptable” in a business context?

 

DB: NO SELFIES!!

 

IT: What sort of photos actually help?

 

DB: I think the team would agree that a photo that shows a bit of your personality, through a smile or the background, is appreciated, and helps us to see you more as a human than just another candidate.

 

IT: Does smiling matter?

 

DB: I think a smile is great! We are a fun company, and we like our employees to be the same.

 

IT: Do you notice what someone is wearing in his/her picture?

 

DB: Not necessarily unless it sticks out for the wrong reasons…too much skin showing, or in one special case, a giant fur coat…

 

IT: Okay, but really, does a photo actually matter?

 

DB: Will it make or break you, if you are an otherwise quality candidate? No. But don’t give us an opportunity to even lean in the wrong direction and have any doubts.

 

IT: What do you think of your new headshot?

 

DB: Interestingly, the people who have noticed my new headshot most have been my coworkers…At Salesforce, we utilize a company-wide social media channel within our company called Chatter. It is essentially the Facebook of our company, but we use it to communicate on a variety of issues, with customers and co-workers alike. So, much like Facebook, we have a profile and a picture and that picture is shared with anyone who looks me up. Since I deal heavily with employee referrals, I have employees all over the globe looking me up and reaching out to me. Having a professional headshot to share internally has been fantastic – it is a photo I am proud of, and I think sets a great tone for me when people see it and choose to reach out. I feel like I look like me, personable and accessible and here to help, but also professional. So I have loved the new pic big time.

 

IT: Any last thoughts?

 

DB: Think about the value of a fantastic photo even when you are happy in your work environment…how many people look at your photo just before they call you or reach out for a meeting. It is a valuable first impression. And from a hiring perspective, it will always depend on what type of role it is that weighs most on your photo’s first impression. Give us a hint of who you are while keeping it professional and ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS have a photo. No photo is even worse than selfies. If you know your ideal role requires an extra polished exterior and a lot of customer service and smiles, then step it up with your photo and really make it count!

The Really Real Smile by Ian Tuttle

Coaching facial expressions as a portrait photographer is a tricky task. In day-to-day life you don't consciously manipulate your face muscles the same way you do, say, your legs or fingers (unless you're a mime or a politician). Your outward expressions are the visible reactions to what is going on in your brain. When you try to fake an expression it usually results in a terrible portrait.

Prof Paul Eckman (University of California), is the godfather of our understanding of expressions. In the 1960's he built on the work conducted by Guillaume-Benjamin-Amand Duchenne (shown above performing facial electrostimulus) a century earlier and determined that the difference between a real smile and a fake smile is rooted in the signal generation in the brain; that is, totally different parts of the brain are responsible for creating real and fake smiles.

It all comes down to muscle control. You can consciously trigger the zygomaticus major, which creates a "fake" smile. But it's really tricky to tense your orbicularis oculi, which automatically contract during a "real" smile! Famed portrait photographer Peter Hurley figured this out after photographing faces for decades and teaches "squinching" to look cool when you're getting your portrait taken (Watch it! Please!!). Basically, squinching all comes down to--you guessed it--flexing the orbicularis oculi!  

And then there's another little muscle problem... According to body language expert Vanessa Van Edwards, the zygomaticus minor is the critical muscle in a "real" smile. While it's easy to consciously flex the zygomatic major, and you can work your orbicularis oculi if you really try, the zygomaticus minor isn't as responsive to conscious control. In fact, only 1 in 10 people is capable of moving it at will!

(Click to take the test)

(Click to take the test)

Now that you're a real smile expert, do you think you can tell who's smiling for real, and who's a phony? Go ahead, take this test that the BBC put together. (I only got 17 out of 20. Must've been some mimes in the bunch!)

PS: I always heard that it takes more muscles to frown than to smile. ("Smile! It's less work!"). In fact, a genuine smile uses 12 muscles. A frown... only 11! If you want to know specifically which muscles are put to the task, read this rundown by plastic surgeon David H. Song, MD.