Affordable professional headshots available for students


Matthew Alford. Courtesy of Alford

An economics professor has been providing students an opportunity to get professional headshots for $20.

Since the spring of 2016, Matthew Alford, instructor in the College of Business and Management, has been teaming up with local photographers Catherine Masters and Katie Charbonnet to provide affordable headshots for students and faculty.

The idea for the project arose when Alford was grading assignments that required students to give information about themselves. One of the assignments had a professional headshot attached to it, which caught Alford’s eye.

“I kept thinking about it and I thought, ‘You know, if a really nice picture made me give this person a second look, if it got my attention, maybe that could work for a student,’” said Alford. “Somebody that’s on the job market, somebody that’s not established and maybe doesn’t have a reputation or a big network built.”

Alford emphasized the importance of a first impression and how often a picture can play a larger role in the job application process than many would expect.

“Visuals are important,” said Alford. “Make sure it’s a nice photo that you have because it does matter. That’s just one little thing that you can do to kind of separate yourself because, you know, the job market is tough. It’s hard to stand out when so many people have degrees and so many people have similar job experience. Just one little thing like that can really get you off to a good start.”

While Alford had the idea that headshots would be useful to students, it was not until he pitched the idea to a photographer that he thought the idea was feasible. 

“I pitched it to a friend, Catherine Masters,” said Alford. “She’s a local photographer. She loved the idea. Part of her passion of photography is having someone see themselves in a photo, like a really nice photo for the first time, so she was really passionate about that part of it. I liked it for the professional development part, and she said, ‘Yeah, let’s try it.’”

The project took off larger than Alford had anticipated, and it has evolved into a service he provides every semester. 

“We filled up, I think, the first semester I think we did 40 or 50 little mini sessions, like a 10 or 15 minute session, and as soon as I got back to campus the next semester, they said, ‘Hey, are you doing it again?’” shared Alford.

Alford shared that the photos are useful for more than just job applications.

“Especially something like LinkedIn, a place where professional – I guess it’s not social media, but a professional networking site platform,” said Alford. “I’ve seen students use it for things like portfolios and things that they’re working on, especially students that are in more creative classes and majors where they have to submit works like that.”

For interested students, Alford’s team uses an online sign-up to reserve sessions. 

The university’s Phi Beta Lambda chapter of Future Business Leaders of America, for which Alford is a sponsor for, shares the link on their social media, and the link will be shared through the College of Business’s social media as well.

Alford mentioned that the enjoyment for him comes from being able to see students enjoy their pictures, and do something that might be out of their comfort zones.

“Doing something a little out of the box, getting to do something a little bit that you wouldn’t think about as being like a college type activity maybe, that’s fun too,” shared Alford. “But really, just when you see that little light bulb click, and they’re like ‘Wow.’ You get to see them have that experience, that’s the best for me.”