Category Archives: headshots

professional headshots western mass college presidents

Professional Headshots Western Mass: College Presidents

I’ve had the opportunity to photograph college events and people, in NYC and in Western Mass.

Dr. Robert Pura is President of Greenfield Community College, and Marty Meehan is now President of UMASS.

Both presidents were affable and kind, and it was a pleasure to work with them.

Marty was actually in Manhattan at the time that I photographed him, a few years back.


I’ve also done quite a bit of work for Smith College, my alma mater, and the number of winning pictures are too numerous to post here.






linkedin headshot photographer

Hmmmm people who know me wonder why my blog has become so boring, like why ‘linkedin headshot photographer’ is the title of this post. Blame it on Google, or the person who told me that in order to get the word out, you have to have focus keywords that have to do directly with what you want to talk about. How very…. predictable. Unironic. As a blogger since 2004, I’ve enjoyed speaking obtusely about a number of subjects, not just things for which I wanted to attract business.

Well, here I am linkedin promoting. This past year, I’ve had a number of people approach me to photograph them for the sole purpose of publishing on Linkedin, or their personal website. Most people want it plain and simple. I light it, turn my camera vertically, which is something I rarely do. I mean, our eyes don’t see a vertical 8×10. We see a horizontal image. I for one have great peripheral vision. I see panoramic. But anyway, I usually go vertical, unless someone’s website demands some negative space and I’m allowed to go horizontally. And then I try to get the subject to ‘be themselves.’ Now, that’s easier said than done. After a while, when I feel like I’ve found the person’s real smile, my job is done.

I enjoy headshots, since I get to spend some QT with the person on our own time. We change backdrops, they change outfits. I almost invariably ask the long-haired subjects to let their hair down and almost every time, they resist or refuse. Fine, but IMHO having the hair down is not unprofessional.

For expediency, I’m using Simon Van Booy as an example. Mind you, these are more environmental than the typical Linkedin professional headshot. These were specifically for a children’s book, though he’s used these for other things. I’ve got candids and ‘stuff’ in the background. But if I can do this, a sterile, simple background is done in a snap. These are good for websites, and for social media. In fact, Simon has been using this first shot for his homepage for quite some time.

Years ago I asked Simon to write a short recommendation for a fellowship grant for which I was applying. He said this: “I have been the subject of many photographic portrait sessions over the years. For the home page of my website, and for countless international magazine articles, my publicist and I haven chosen portraits by Ms. Solaka. She took the photographs with a box camera, and used black and white film. Instead of posing me in front of my vintage typewriter, she caught me at my laptop computer, working, but in a mirror. It was an accurate portrayal, rendered beautifully, and in a way reminiscent of the great American historical photographers.  Ms. Solaka captures time by revealing the timelessness of human emotion and desire.  She captured the author (myself), but also revealed some of the mystery of the creative process. ”

So if you’re ready for a fresh start, call me for a headshot. Now, if you prefer to wait for this winter season to end, and wish to get some rays in before your picture is taken, I completely understand. Our skin could use the warming rays of the springtime sun and vitamin D to relax us. As much as I love winter and would never trade it in, I’m always fighting against stiffness.

Now, off to a newfound discovery, a hot bath.





studio days, headshot time

It’s unseasonably warm this winter, and I’ve been doing headshot photos outdoors. Even still, it’s nice to come inside and get your picture taken. Why, because studio photography is special. There’s nobody around watching you. I can control the environment. I’m renovating my studio. It’s going to be amazing.

I aspire to the work of Irving Penn my studio work. I once wrote him a letter of thanks, and he actually wrote me back. It was so nice. The black and white film days were a special time. I’m not saying I want to try to emulate or copy him. I just want to make exquisite images like he does. I love using low light and vibrant colors and soft dreamlike focus. If it’s a standard headshot you need, I can do that too. No problem.

Studio headshots are great fun. We can get a great make-up artist and a stylist. We can do different looks. Let’s get inside and take some pictures of you. It will be fun. Get that long awaited Linked in professional headshot updated; be the future movie star that you are with an actor headshot; and glam up for studio pictures.

Scared? It’s normal to be nervous about getting your picture taken. I personally don’t like it. Bring your favorite music. Bring your favorite clothes. Bring a friend to help you and to give you moral support.

See you soon!


photography coupon on everything

cover photo final-2488

Photography coupon, valid if you book by March 1, 2016 or before.

Dear Friends,

As 2015 draws to an end, I wanted to ring in the photographs of 2016 by doing lots of pro-active things. First, I’m renovating my studio, so that I’ll be able to create wonderful indoor pictures for everything from couples to moms-to-be to rock stars and actors. Second, I’m buying a cool new camera that’s supposed to be delivered today, along with a new fancy lens. Nothing excites me more professionally, than a new fancy lens. It’s like getting new eyes. And lastly, I’m offering a 20% photography coupon discount to anyone who books at 2016 photo session with me before March 1, 2016. I hope to have some wonderful studio days before then.

Oh yes! I serve mainly Northampton and the Pioneer Valley, but also love all of New England, and the New York tri-state area.

This can be for anything: children, family, maternity, musicians, artists, authors, CEOs, linked in profile pictures, dancers, boudoir, engagement, bridal you name it. I’ll even include brand storytelling, where I’ll go into your place of business and document the environment and products, and the people who work and shop/eat/drink there.

Incidentally, it hasn’t even gotten cold here in New England yet. Well, to my sister who visited from Florida for Thanksgiving, it may be cold, but to me, it’s balmy. It may not even be necessary for many people, to take indoor pictures, as it’s in the 50s these days. But for those who want studio pictures, use the photography coupon and let do this!

Today I’ll be taking pictures of a family by a creek. Delightful. In this crazy time in our world, I want to wish everyone a peaceful, joyous holiday season and a prosperous new year!



Senior pictures in November light

I got a call from a father of a senior in high school for senior pictures. He said that the school recommended a photographer in Connecticut, but he didn’t want to use them. Instead, he wanted to hire a local photographer who would go around town and take photos of his son in his son’s favorite places. I appreciate it when someone opts for non-corporate looking school pictures.

I love going to people’s favorite places, simply because the person feels comfortable and happy there. As an added bonus, I get to see new places.

This time, I went to the top of a hill near the Community Gardens

in Northampton. It offered lovely light and a pretty vista. The walk to the spot was natural in the sense that there were lots of scratchy shrubs and ground cover, and critters, mostly grasshoppers, along the way. I was wearing loafers and cropped pants, so my ankles got bitten and scratched. But it was all worth it. We have been having really warm weather this fall. The light is almost wintery but the temperature is not. So I’m able this year to get pictures that I normally wouldn’t get.


Northampton traffic

There are people in this world who study things that most of us don’t even think about, and this person studies many of these things, among them, Northampton traffic.

If you live in Northampton, you know that the Main Street, Pleasant/King Street intersection is special. Cars do a tango, and take turns in wonderful ways, and then, there’s a sound. A birdie sound that let’s pedestrians know that it’s their turn. I had a friend from Vancouver BC who’s band was touring through Northampton. We met before his show. I asked him how he liked this town. He replied, “I like it. There is that intersection, where people cross and it’s like, anything goes.” I know what he meant. He meant that people can cross in any direction, straight or diagonally.

We had an intersection where people could cross diagonally on York Avenue in NYC, but it didn’t seem as intricate.

When I met the above pictured man, named Greg, he told me that he did a paper on this intersection. “Wow, that’s so cool. Is this intersection really efficient? It seems like such a long wait.” He assured me that it is optimized and that waiting periods are at a minimum.

He and I crossed many crosswalks as well, during this photo shoot. He made sure to step out onto the curb and start crossing, only when there was a red light ahead of the cars, so as not to clog traffic flow. He also studied the bright brick building pictured above. We also discussed the benefits of public v. charter schools and how we both prefer straight up public schools.

It was a fun day, if you’re interested in these types of things. I am.