Latest Posts

  1. supporting local businesses

    Your Local Photographer!

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    I’ll be honest in this blog. As your local photographer in Downers Grove, Illinois, it’s not easy. I’m building a small-business and it’s a slow process, but it would be much slower and near impossible without local support. Continue Reading

  2. Headshots for Branding

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    I want to dedicate this blog to talk about something more important that just your headshots/portraits and that is, your business. Too often, people take headshots for personal branding and business lightly. Continue Reading

  3. Backstage Account Tips

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    Backstage.Com is can be a powerful resource for actors trying to keep busy in the competitive entertainment industry. This post is an expert from an article on referencing backstage account tips that can lead to better profile presence. Continue Reading

  4. Business Highlight: Holly O’Donnell

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    Welcome to the Business Highlight: Vol. 1! These blogs are designed to shine a spotlight on businesses who’ve been my headshot clients, and to talk more about you and what you thought of my headshot photography. We will update our blogs periodically to talk more about different businesses big and small, and what your experiences are like in the field you’re working in, or the business you’ve built. Please, enjoy! Continue Reading

  5. New Year New You: January 25th Headshot Event!

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    Hit the ground running in 2019! Get shiny, new headshots at my upcoming event happening January 25th! 

    This event is meant for those who may be new to professional headshots, or those who are looking to rebrand in the new year. It can be tough to prioritize new headshots but not having properly updated ones can hold you back, especially if you don’t get it out of the way early on. You’ll hear about the importance of professional photos anywhere, even if you’re not a business owner any professional has an upper hand in any industry with the right headshot, especially when first impressions matter so much. More often than not, in this digital age, you have one chance to impress even before you meet someone face to face. This is why personal branding matters so much, and 2019 is all about how you brand yourself. It may sound like complicated but this is why I’ve set this all day event to get you in and out the door with great new photos!

    This stress free sessions gets you 20 minutes and 2 high resolution photos for just $150 per session.

    Location: 5021 Fairview Avenue, Downers Grove, IL. 60515

    Book your slot by emailing:




  6. Future Professionals From College of DuPage

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    There’s nothing more daunting than taking the risk to start your own business, even more so for students who are still learning the ins and outs of their craft. One can feel quite far from the previous experiences of beginners when looking in comparison to experiences built now.

    I was recently invited for the second time to College of DuPage by professor Miles Boone who teaches in the photography department. I had taken many classes at CoD and I was happy to be back to talk to the students. As a full-time real-estate photographer and headshot photographer, I spoke about my journey to become my own boss. It’s not easy and requires not only a lot of discipline, but a lot of things that don’t seem so obvious. A lot of nuances go into building yourself and your brand! It takes more than just understanding yourself and how you work, which is tough in and of itself. While on this journey of building my brand and business, I realize it’s also a journey of self-discovery. While I reflect on the steps I took to be where I am and become who I am, I took an initiative to know more about the people I take photos for. While this interview is about me and my personal experiences, I took this format as a way to dive more into the businesses/groups/organization whom I photograph. I’ve started asking for more information about my models because, it’s one thing to get to know your clients from behind the camera, it’s a totally different experiences to get to know them without the camera.

    It was an honor being able to come back and talk to the students. my favorite part was being able to connect with them because I’ve been in their shoes and it made me realize how far I’d gotten, how every year I’ve gotten more and more confident in who I was as a photographer and as a business owner. The biggest takeaway that I want the students to remember is that, show up! Whether it’s meet-ups, workshop or gallery exhibition, show up and make connections. Practice your craft but don’t forget the photographing is just one part of running your business. Understanding your industry and your competitors are vital, make sure to surround yourself with other business professionals. At the end of the day I’m just so excited for the journey that these young professionals are about to go on.

    Major thanks to the College of DuPage Photography Department for everything that they do! To learn more about their program visit their page:

  7. What Keeps You From Updating Your Headshot?

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    Because of the handiness and accessibility of smartphones, our generation thinks that we can get away with using a selfie to portray ourselves professionally. Though this is the fastest and most inexpensive way of doing so, it lacks the professional touch of a Senior Photographer. There are many LinkedIn profiles that use a selfie as a “professional” photo on their “professional” profile. However, “professional” and “selfie” do not belong in the same sentence. LinkedIn is like the preliminary interview round for potential new hires. Businesses that are looking to fill open positions will sift through LinkedIn for potential talent, but will often shy away from people’s profiles whose photos aren’t a singular portrait of themselves. If the point of being professional on a website, such as LinkedIn, is to land a new job, why use a selfie to show how ‘serious’ you are? Why not take a professional headshot? What’s holding you back from updating your look? Let’s find out.

    From personal experience, I’ve gotten a lot of clients telling me my headshot packages were too high or downright unreasonable. I’ve had a few telling me they understand the value of a professional headshot and what it means to be relevant with a professionally made photo. I’m here to tell you that a  Professional Photography Service doesn’t have to be expensive for you to update your look. Those clients who understand the value of their updated headshots and pay for it are the ones whom I’ve spoken to and asked for their input as to why others don’t believe hiring a professional photographer is beneficial. My clients have expressed three of the same reasons I’ve observed throughout. The first is cost. The reason for this is due to the accessibility of smartphones and their constantly upgraded camera features like portrait-mode on the iPhone, for example. Clients will come up to me and say “Why should I pay to have my photo done professionally when my iPhone can do that and more?” or, they’ll say “I can cut out the cost and middle-man by simply clicking the button on my phone”. While this is true, and certainly the case almost 90% of the time, it still lacks that certain finesse that a headshot photographer like myself knows how to make. By finesse, I mean lighting, makeup, pose and posture, close-ups without making features irregular, and so on and so forth. At Martina Magnusson Headshot Photography, you’re not just paying for a photo or anything resembling a ‘selfie’. What you’re receiving is the personal touch and care of a Senior Photographer.

    The reason for the cost of going to a professional is much higher than the cost of taking a selfie is due to the labor, equipment, and time it takes to edit multiple photos at once before finalizing and sending them out to clients to use. Of course, professional headshots aren’t free. The cost of a new camera alone is enough to create an amount of debt no one wants on their hands. But the reason for an expensive camera is the quality of photos it is able to take. The reason you want a professional photographer behind the wheel, so to speak, is because they are trained and seasoned in this art. For example, Corporate Headshots aren’t just group photos you take for fun. They’re meant to drive up the marketing on their websites, and promote their businesses altogether. Think of it in simpler terms: if you wanted to buy a birthday cake for a special birthday party, you wouldn’t go to a butcher to get a cake made, would you? Of course not. You would go to a baker who’s made hundreds upon hundreds of cakes in their lifetime to be certain the birthday cake you want is up to your standards. Same goes for professional photographers. If you want to look sophisticated and be taken seriously by corporations out there looking to hire someone like you, then why would you debase yourself by taking an ordinary, and unprofessional ‘selfie’?

    The second reason is relevancy. “I’ve already had my photo taken by professional four years ago! I have tons of clients! People know who I am and what I look like! Why should I keep paying for a new headshot every year?” I’ve heard many clients say this many a time. It’s not every year that you should update your headshot, in fact, it should be once every two years at least. Relevancy is such an important factor to renewing your headshots, as well as your employees. Just because your business is booming and you’re gaining new clients nearly every week or every day, doesn’t mean you can’t stay relevant to clients that are still out there looking for someone like you to do business with. It’s important to change your photo because, like it or not, your looks change. Keep your photo up to date with your face, and all will fall into place for your business.

    Third and final reason is for the sake of your business. While your looks are changing, so is the look and pace of your business. You may have added a new product, a new employee, or even a new department. No one tends to take the time to read, nowadays. Everything needs to be promoted with a photo or the point of your message won’t get across as quickly and effectively. When you update your business website, you want to showcase your newest additions and evolvements with photos. Take a new employee, for example. If you updated your website with an announcement saying there’s a new member of your team, people will want to associate a face to the name. Take the time out to contact your Senior Photographer – Martina Magnusson – to take the professional-grade portrait of your newest addition to the team so that your clients will be able to trust your business, and your newest employees, more.

  8. What is Your Agent Looking For?

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    You’re an actress, actor, or model. You’re looking for you’re next big break, so you talk to your agent. Your agent says s/he has an opportunity for you, but the headshot you have is outdated by three years. The producers need someone to take the lead role ASAP. You, on the other hand, need to apply but you already know your outdated headshot won’t make the cut. What do you need to do? Hire a senior photographer – like Martina Magnusson, for example. Professional photographers like Martina know exactly what agencies are looking for in a headshot before sending them out to producers for hire. Do you know what your agent is looking for? If not, let’s find out.

    First and foremost, your agent, and the producers your agent is in contact with, are going to know right away whether or not your headshot is professional or mediocre. They have seen hundreds, maybe even thousands of headshots in their line of work. They know the difference between someone who’s serious about their career and will go the extra mile to pay for the right kind of photos, versus someone who thinks they can get by with looks alone or the kind of experience they’ve gained that’s written on the backs of their headshots. You want to stand out. You want to be called back. If this is the case, then you want to go pro. As a professional photographer based in Downers Grove, Illinois, I have had my fair share of up and coming actors, actresses and models alike who want to be chosen for their big break. When they come to me looking for a new headshot, I never turn them down because I know what agents are looking for nowadays. This isn’t your run-of-the-mill Instagram glamour shot. This is professional grade, commercial-level, fine art photography. Anything less than that is an ordinary Facebook profile photo. Don’t go with ordinary. Go pro, it’s worth it.

    While I’ve seen many clients laying their claim to fame, I go out of my way to hire my own professional makeup artist. This is because, for actors/actresses/models, it’s important to highlight the best features of your look. The thing about makeup in a professional headshot however, is that we’re not looking to put glamour over personality. What your agent wants to see in your headshot is you, not how much makeup you can put on, not what kind of jewelry looks great with your outfit, or anything that takes away from your personality. This is the greatest part of professional headshot photography. As the person behind the camera, I get to see the real you: the reason you’ll be hired for your big break, and not the clothes you wear or the winged eyeliner that you think will put you on the spot. It’s important that you put on as little makeup as possible and wear something not too flashy or too revealing. You’re trying to sell you. The reason I hire a professional makeup artist is because she knows just as well as I do that agents want to see the person producers are hiring for who they really are, bare all.

    It is important for you to communicate with me the kind of roles you are targeting your auditions for. If you are interested in landing a sitcom role, or a film, please let me know during the booking process. The reason for this is because agents and producers also look into the kind of lighting casted on your photo. What I mean is this: let’s say you wanted to be the star of a new sitcom on TBS or TNT. If you tell me this in the booking process, I will suggest a more polished, and neutral background with studio lighting. If in the booking process you tell me you’re trying out for a role for a new film starring George Clooney, I will recommend outdoor lighting. The reason for the former (sitcom, neutral background, studio lighting) is because of the way sitcoms are filmed. If you’ve watched shows like “Friends” or “Will & Grace”, you’ll notice that all the sets are quite uniform and streamlined. The lighting they use is very much the same. There is no reason to add outdoor lighting to an indoor situation on a sitcom. To be able to hire you for a sitcom role, producers and agents will look into your photo and judge based on the lighting how well you’ll look on camera with the same kind of studio lighting they will be using for filming. The reason for the latter (film, outdoor lighting) is because films are nothing like sitcoms. Depending on the director, the films will either take place on location for the story, or they will build sets to depict the location, but the lighting will not always be the same. Agents and producers judge the lighting cast on your face in your headshot to see if you’re a good fit for the kind of production they’re trying to achieve.

    For more information on lighting, makeup, clothing, etc. for your next headshot, visit Book your appointment today!

    Source: Backstage. Article author: Matt Newton. Published February 19, 2017. (


  9. Importance of Lighting in Photography Part 2

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    Smartphones like Apple have continuously updated their software, speed, screens, and most importantly – their cameras. In the age of Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, the ‘selfie’ has become a widely used photograph to portray a person’s identity through various social media outlets. The ‘selfie’ in itself, has improved because the smartphone cameras have improved tremendously. The reason for this goes back to the basics: pixels, shutter speed, aperture, depth of field – all of which are seen in the photo. But what highlights these aspects of the ‘selfie’ through a simple smartphone camera? The lighting. Lighting in photography is useful in that it helps to manipulate images. Lighting also manipulates moods, sets the tone for portraits, etc. Just take a look outside your window on a cloudy day. The absence of the sun makes the outdoors look gloomy, devoid of life almost. When it’s sunny, and the sun is at its highest in the sky, the outdoors look joyful, playful, vibrant and colorful. When you take a group selfie, you don’t do it in the dark. If it is dark, you turn on the flash because you want to be able to see your friends and the moment you want to capture. The same exact concept goes for professional photography. Headshots require a tremendously specific kind of lighting, and amount of lighting. For example, too much light on your face will saturate an image and make your image too soft and almost washed out. Not enough lighting will make your image look like it’s promoting a horror film or you just won’t be seen at all. In headshot photography, a professional photographer knows exactly where to position the lights in order for you to be seen in your best light.

  10. Importance of Lighting in Photography

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    Let’s go back to basics. What’s the number one factor that helps bring life to photography (other than a model in front of the camera)?  Think about it, you can’t have a group photo of you and your friends and not be able to see who all was with you the day you took it,   right? You have to actually see the faces of the people you know and love, and what better way to do so than with some lighting. Your camera phones have flash settings for this specific reason. Your professional photographer does as well, but this lighting is a little different. Lighting in headshot photography specifically, is designed to bring life to your photos. While the makeup and outfit, as well as that million dollar smile, does the trick, it’s the beaming beacon of warmth that surrounds you during your photo session that brings the magic to life.

    Just ask your professional headshot photographer! 😉