John DeMato - NYC Branded Lifestyle Portrait Photographer

NYC Branded Lifestyle Photographer - Blog

NYC Branded Lifestyle Portrait Photography Blog | Hi, I'm John DeMato, and I collaborate with thought leaders to create powerful, purposeful and authentic images. This is my blog where I talk all about the magic behind the portraits we create.

Jedi Mind Tricks behind the camera


Yeah, you can say I have some jedi mind games I like to play...


Whatever works, right? :)


Recently, I was contacted by a past client who had hired me a couple years ago when she was at another startup, and my business was exclusively headshot photography.

While working for a new company, she wanted me to capture headshots of company employees and executives for their website and the employee’s individual, LinkedIn pages.  

This is not my usual work these days, but, I had an opening in my schedule, and Erin is a wonderful person with which to work so, why the hell not go a little old school, right?

Even though my focus is centered on branded lifestyle portraits, headshot photography represents a huge, foundational piece of my methodology.  

The way I direct a branded portrait client’s head and body movement, as well as inspire a relaxed and confident expression on their faces, all stems from my years as a headshot photographer.  

That’s why I enjoy the occasional assignment to get in some target practice, :)

Although it’s a fun departure, being scheduled to shoot an entire office of people does come with a hefty set of challenges - height differences, a bevy of personalities, etc - but, the biggest challenge is that instead of nurturing just one client through the process of getting over their anxiety in front of the camera, I’m dealing with a group of people.

And, in this case, that group was 28 people - 99% of which greeted me by saying  “I’m not photogenic” rather than “hello” the moment they walked into the room.

Oh jeeeeeez - jedi mind trick time, :)

Regardless of how they felt, I knew what I had to do - ignore their perceived flaws, overwhelm them with heavy direction and make ‘em laugh, so they can get out of their heads, and into the moment.  

And then, we were off to the races:

After all the sessions were complete, I sat down with Erin and asked her a couple questions related to this headshot experience:

Q: How did most of the people feel going into their sessions?

A: I think for many people the idea of having a professional headshot taken fills them with dread; it's hard to be vulnerable and exposed, especially around coworkers. Standing in front of the camera can feel like having a spotlight on one's insecurities. I heard others mention they felt like they were back in school at picture day, which none of us probably escaped without some awkwardness.

Q: How did John help get people out of their heads and into the session?

A: John uses humor, playfulness, and sincerity to establish quick rapport with subjects. He tries to capture authentic expression rather than the standard fake smile we're all used to putting on when the camera flashes. John makes everybody feel like a rock star and knows how to work with people to emphasize what they like best about themselves.

Q: During the review session, how did John help each person get over their hangups and choose a headshot that was right for them?

A: John is part therapist, part photographer. So much of looking at yourself is learning to see past your own insecurities and be able to recognize what others see. John helps people do that. Your face is your face, he'd say to folks, and get them to focus on the present moment rather than live in some fantasy about who they'd like to be or what they'd like to look like. It was wonderful to see people transform from seeing only their flaws to seeing themselves through John's eyes, in which we are all beautiful beings just as we are and with whatever we got

Q: Why would you refer John's services to other colleagues and associates?

A: I've hired John numerous times because I know he delivers more than a quality picture; it's an experience. I feel great when employees immediately change their profile pictures and feel proud about how the picture represents their best selves. I'd recommend John to anyone who wants to see themselves in a new way and work through their picture-taking hang-ups.


At the conclusion of the session, Erin alerted me that they will be calling me back in for some branded lifestyle portraits that they can use for their website and social pages - isn’t it great how all of that works out, :)

Have you ever taken part in an office headshot scenario like the one above? How did it work out for you?

PS - For those of you who aren’t in the know, I mail out these blogs 3x a week, and lemme tell you, they’re a real party, so, if you’d like to get in on this, sign up for it here and I’ll throw in a free gift for you, because I care, :)