COLUMN: Executive glamour shots and the art of the business card photo

Originally published on the Money & More cover of the York Daily Record/Sunday News on Sunday, February 26, 2012.

Daily Record/Sunday News

I love business cards.

I'm not so sure about business card photos.

On occasion, I’ve been known to distribute mine at bars, parties and other venues that would probably make my editors cringe.

It sows seeds for potential stories, I convince myself.

That. And I’m just vain.

In 2012, it’s much more practical to enter a colleague’s contact information into a smartphone. Save the rainforest.

But I’m hooked on that ecstasy – a high only achieved in the millisecond where you slip someone that rectangular piece of cardstock that says, with a hint of arrogance, “Hey, I work here.”

Sometimes I disgust myself.

But in my one year as reporter on issues of commerce in York County, I’ve discovered something even worse creeping through the pages of my business card binder.

Its translucent pages resemble an awkward yearbook. Or a game of “Guess Who?”

You know, that dumb game – a staple of my 90s childhood – where you flip over a collection of faces with different physical features to deduce the secret person your opponent has picked.

Enter the executive glamor shot, corporate America’s rendition of high school senior pictures stamped firmly next to a phone number and e-mail address.

While the common man settles for his name and a company logo, my highly scientific research leads me to believe that the business card photo phenomenon runs rampant among the overlords of big bucks transactions – like real estate agents, for instance.

“I’m sexy. Let me sell you a house,” is how it was once explained to me.

“Some of the oddest ones are of a 60-year-old woman whose picture is from her high school yearbook,” said Steve Snell, executive officer of the Realtors Association of York and Adams Counties.

In any case, “they want to make a personal connection,” Snell added. “You’re doing business with an individual.”

“But what if that individual is weird-looking?” I asked. “What does that accomplish?”

Snell weighed in.

“We don’t have any weird-looking individuals in our association,” he laughed.

Ah, okay. Gotcha.

For more information, I went straight to the source – artists of this peculiar portraiture.

“You just want them to look friendly. That’s the main thing,” said Philip Given of the Susquehanna Photographic in York.

Given and his fiancee, Allison Bitzer, have taken dozens of these pictures, which cost under $100, they said.

Sometimes they prop a suit-clad gentleman against a backdrop.

Other times they get creative, taking their models out on the town in their casual Friday best.

“They have to look friendly,” Given added. “You’re putting your life into their hands.”

I’ll admit it. Halfway through our dialogue, I started to feel a little jealous.

What about me? The only professional photo I have of myself is the one above this column, where I look so serious not even I want to hang out with me.

I’m a journalist. I’m important.

If I had my way, I’d get my face on a billboard. Or maybe one of those placemats at the Lyndon Diner.

Maybe I’ll be next to pony up for a portrait. Or at least have the York Daily Record spring for new business cards.


2 responses to “COLUMN: Executive glamour shots and the art of the business card photo

  1. Pingback: Presenting for York Young Professionals AND a news editor’s hatred for the giant cardboard check | BY LAUREN BOYER

  2. Pingback: Primping for my close-up: New year, new reporter headshot | BY LAUREN BOYER

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