Photographers across the country stepped up on July 22 to help thousands of unemployed people by taking their portraits for free as part of a single-day project called “10,000 Headshots.” The initiative was created to improve the lives of workers impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.   

From her Bedford Hills studio, photographer Jamie Kilgore contributed her services by taking photos of 50 people while following the necessary health and safety precautions. In business for 19 years and known for her portraiture of children and families as well as for headshots, she provided each participant with a first-rate image for their personal profiles.  

The effort was the largest of its kind, according to Headshot Booker, the company that created and coordinated the project along with Brookfield Properties, which co-hosted photo shoots in all 50 states. 

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“I just wanted to give back and help people. I know that a very good and polished professional headshot is so important when you are looking for a job,” Kilgore said. She explained that having a quality, digital identity for a resume or for social media platforms can make a huge difference when seeking employment and cited statistics from LinkedIn showing that people who include headshots receive 21 times more profile views and nine times more “connection” requests.

“Everyone I do a headshot for is so happy and they usually say it is the best picture that they ever had taken of themselves. I just want to be able to give that to people who could really use this service, especially at this time,” she said. 

The complimentary, 10-minute photo sessions were open to anyone who was currently unemployed and signed up in advance to secure their appointment. 

Small business owner Elena Becker of Katonah jumped at the opportunity for a fresh photo. As she looks toward the future, she is contemplating a new job that makes use of her background in public health.

“I was hoping that this headshot would sort of open some doors or help me do that,” Becker said. “I wanted to create a more professional image on LinkedIn.”

For those who were not able to get a professional headshot at the event, Kilgore offered a few key tips to keep in mind when taking a photo for work purposes. She advises women to wear a solid, simple shirt (no arms showing), not to overdo hair and makeup, wear only minimal jewelry—and for men, to make sure their facial hair is groomed and that they sport a fresh-pressed, solid-color shirt with a collar that fits just right. 

Beyond reaping the personal rewards of delivering a beautiful photo that improved the prospects of job-seekers, the 200 participating photographers also donated a service of significant monetary value. Kilgore said that a full session for a headshot would normally cost $495—and that giving this gift to others was an inspiration for herself, as well.

“Anything to give somebody a boost, to elevate their spirits, to feel better about themselves—they are going to see a great picture of themselves and say, ‘Wow, I’m like a winner, I can do this,’ “  she said.