If you own or work at a business, or are in any way involved with city, tourism, or other issues on the island of Key West, there is likely one name that you have heard: Virginia Panico.
However, unless you are an active participant in those arenas, you might not necessarily know her if you ran into her in the grocery store.
As the long time Director of the local Key West Chamber of Commerce, Ms Panico has been at the forefront (and in the trenches) of all matters related to living, working, and visiting Key West for over 20 years.
Just check out this interview by Britt Myers of The Keys Weekly newspaper in 2015!
She knows her stuff, is well respected, and plays a big role within the community.
I had the honor of being chosen to photograph the annual Key West Chamber of Commerce Awards Banquet, where I was able to grab the above quick image of Virginia as part of a lineup of past Athena Award recipients.
But if you were to do a Google Images search for her name to try to associate it with the person, you would be served a mish-mash of poorly-lit indoor action shots, quick 'get together!' group photos from various events, and, ironically, a slew of photos in which Ms Panico is not even present!
Where's Virginia?Searching for the well-known director of the Key West Chamber of Commerce on Google, ironically, you're served up a variety of photos, many of which do not even have Ms Panico in them!
One might expect someone like that to have a highly curated collection of images, amassed over a long career of activism, events, speaking roles, and board memberships.
But Virginia is a woman of action, getting things done, and staying involved. I would imagine that staying busy with two decades of official duties did not leave much time for stopping to schedule a formal portrait of herself, which I can totally understand as well!
VIRGINIA PANICODirector of the Key West Chamber of Commerce. Photo Credit © Keys Weekly This image, taken by the Keys Weekly staff photographer to accompany their interview when it was published, is one of the few decent publicity photos I could find of Ms Panico.
It's a nice-but-flatly-lit snapshot with a casual look to it, but as the original version from which it was cropped also incorporated the Visitor's Center sign as well, it served mainly as a visual for the story, not necessarily ticking any boxes for a great portrait.
So, when she called me and told me she needed to update her headshot, I was of course delighted to be the one to provide it! After all, this is someone who has been in her position, leading the local business networking organization for over 20 years!
I needed to make sure I did justice to her position, showcased her professionalism without coming across as stiff or overly-corporate, and also conveyed an approachability as well. I admit, I was feeling a little pressure, but up for the challenge to deliver.
The bright tangerine/coral color of her shirt, which complemented her skin tone and hair color perfectly. We went with a neutral white background so that she could use the image as a transparent PNG cutout if needed for future marketing materials, and to contrast nicely with the brightness of the clothing.
One common thing I hear with headshots, from both men and women, is the desire to look "fresh and a little more youthful". Of course we want to look like ourselves, so while we want to retain the shape and overall appearance, there is no harm in putting forward an image that appears rested and vibrant.
To achieve this, I use a lighting technique specifically designed to reduce the appearance of lines (effectively, reducing the shadows), which has the bonus side effect of brightening up the eyes with a little sparkle, and helps minimize skin tone variations as well.
What couldn't be achieved with lighting alone, we took care of with post-production retouching, delivering several iterations of the requested edits before settling on the final version.
Being a lifelong entrepreneur myself and having a long background in marketing, I find professional headshots to be one of my favorites types of portraits to do, because not only can it help a person feel good about themselves, it actually has the power to help them succeed in their business and professional life as well.
I'm quite proud of the images Ms Panico and I made together, and am happy to have been selected to help her share her image with the world.