First Impressions: Photographer Offers Free Headshots for Job Seekers | Off Message

First Impressions: Photographer Offers Free Headshots for Job Seekers


Paul Richardson taking a headshot - COURTESY OF PAUL RICHARDSON
  • Courtesy of Paul Richardson
  • Paul Richardson taking a headshot
Professional headshots aren’t just for those auditioning for an acting gig anymore. In our increasingly online world, the pictures are ideal for those trying to make an impression in the job market. 

That’s the assessment from an admittedly biased source: Paul Richardson, a Montpelier-based photographer. And while he usually charges for that great advice — and the pictures he takes — Richardson is offering free headshots at an event Wednesday in Burlington. For eight hours, he’ll set up inside the CityPlace Burlington mall and take photos of up to 50 people who are unemployed (or underemployed).

The event is part of a nationwide effort by photographers in all 50 states to take 10,000 headshots on July 22, spurred in part by the millions who have become unemployed in the months since the coronavirus pandemic hit the U.S. So much of the job search takes place online, from using a LinkedIn profile to recruitment to emailing résumés, that having a decent picture of oneself can act like a “digital handshake” and show a potential employer you care, Richardson said.

“If you’ve got a selfie taken from the end of your arm, it looks like a selfie taken from the end of your arm,” Richardson said. “This is a skill we have, this is something we can offer, and we can help people get a leg up.”

The group of photogs partnered with malls owned by Brookfield Properties — owners of the notorious stalled CityPlace project in Burlington — to host the event. Each person will get a 10-minute slot to take a headshot at the former LeZot Camera shop in the mall. Richardson will be wearing a mask and taking other health precautions. He won’t edit the images and instead will instantly send them to each participant using software called SpotMyPhotos.

As of Monday afternoon, Richardson had just 15 or 16 people signed up and was hoping to fill more time slots. He sees donating his time and skills as a way to give back and help those who could use it.

“If you want to make a powerful first impression, you gotta focus on the visual,” Richardson said. “A headshot is really important.”

Click here to register and reserve a spot for a headshot photo session.

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