FORT SMITH -- The University of Arkansas at Fort Smith officially opened its portrait on demand studio Nov. 14, offering students and staff access to no-cost, studio quality headshots for use in their professional biographies and online profiles.
The portrait on demand studio, called an Iris Booth, is on the second floor of the Smith-Pendergraft Campus Center and is available during all hours the second floor is open.
Rachel Putman, the university's associate director for strategic communications, explained the booth was founded by a professional portrait artist Sue Siri, who designed quality headshots with soft, balanced lighting and a high-resolution digital image.
"It's selfie style, so you can see yourself as you're taking the photo, which I think for Gen Z is really great," Putman said. "They're used to taking photos of themselves. They know how they look best, they know how they like themselves best, so for all of us it's really easy to see yourself, know what you're doing, adjust, then you can just push a button and take a photo. So it's just so nice, so easy and it makes everything really accessible."
The booth occupies about 20 square feet, features energy-efficient lighting, a sleek gray backdrop, and an adjustable stool to ensure a comfortable experience for every user. Each session takes about five minutes, using a touchless mobile app, and final images are uploaded to a private server and emailed to the individual.
Putman said the university is the first institution in Arkansas to offer students this kind of on-demand access to portrait photography. She said the university came up with this idea while looking for ways to continue providing access and opportunity for students during the covid-19 pandemic.
"That health and wellness stays important, but also I think we've all learned being on Zoom, meeting people on LinkedIn, connecting with people across the country and the rise of remote work, a high-quality headshot is really important," Putman said. "For some people, that will be the first way they know you. It might be the way they know you for months. So getting that high-quality headshot is more important than ever."
Johnathan Brewer, a sophomore working in the marketing communications office and president of Men of Excellence group, said his first time using the Iris Booth was very simple and convenient. He said he plans to use it to update his LinkedIn profile, as he's often in professional development spaces and it'd be convenient for people to see his face.
"Everyone's going to need a headshot done, whether you're in a group organization or not," Brewer said. "You're always going to need a job. So having a LinkedIn profile will help you get that and being able to have a headshot will present you as more professional.
"Me personally, I believe I'll need it all the time. I took a few headshots, I liked some of them, I didn't like some of them, tomorrow I might not like them at all, so I might want to come up here and take another one, and it's completely free for me to do that."
The Men of Excellence is an initiative focused on preventing male minorities from dropping out of college, Brewer said. He said they do a lot of professional development including interview training, and he plans to have all members get their headshots taken once the group gets their blazers.