John David Pittman is more than a photographer, he’s a storyteller.
I met JDP in the spring of 2014 as we hosted the first ever High School Startup Weekend at the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service. He volunteered his time that day because of his connection to education and his interest in what we were trying to accomplish over a 3-day period with 80+ high school students. His work was awesome and it made me think about more ideas for collaboration.
Both of JDP’s parents are retired educators. His father was a high school teacher, coach, principal, and superintendent. His mother was a high school english teacher, gifted and talented coordinator, and elementary librarian. And his brother is currently a high school teacher and coach in Gravette, Arkansas. That’s just his immediate family.
When you start talking education with JDP, he has many opinions and also connects his current occupation of photographer to the possibility of utilizing it for the education sector, specifically K-12.
Since our first encounter, we’ve talked about doing projects together that would be mutually beneficial while serving a higher purpose and we’ve managed to do that through a couple different avenues, one being our Noble 301 Apprenticeship Course.
He’s also volunteered his time to provide our students with an opportunity to visit his studio and receive professional headshots of their own. We’ve seen our students use these headshots on their social media pages and in applications for college.
In addition to projects with Noble Impact, JDP has been a guest speaker in many of our classrooms and his message of being “tuned in” resonates with me every single time I hear it.
“Being tuned in is being aware of yourself, your strengths and weaknesses, your environment, and how you fit into your environment…it’s a sense of hyper-awareness and not just walking through life half on.”
JDP connects the “tuned in” message to photography in many different ways but he’ll be the first one to tell you that it all starts with a professional headshot.
“Whether it be an athlete, an artist, or a teacher, I want everyone to be invested as a human…in themselves and their own identity, which connects to others through story.”
As we embark upon our most recent collaboration, I’m very happy to again focus our efforts on education while attempting to lift the teaching profession to new heights. With a professional headshot as the beginning, we’ll be laser focused on building a culture of identity. We both believe in the power of teachers and we also believe it’s a profession that has been slighted. In fact, one of the problem statements from this past summer’s Noble Summit was this…“The problem with education is that teachers are undervalued.”
The purpose of collaborating with JDP is to put teachers first while making sure that value is communicated at a very high level. A professional headshot signifies the importance of identity building and is an industry standard that most companies adhere to. Why not schools? Therefore, professional headshots for every single individual contributing to the organizational school culture should be non-negotiable. Here are a couple takeaways that connect JDP’s words to the significance of a professional headshot…
“This is important. This is a big deal. Research shows that people make snap judgments about who you are as a person within two seconds of looking at your headshot.”
“Handshake to headshot, people judge everything.”
“I want their ZMOT (zero moment of truth) to be confident and approachable.”
“Your headshot is the first line of your story…that’s the way I look at it.”
As we continue our series of professional development workshops with eStem Schools, the individual identity workshop will add significant value to cultivating a healthy school culture. We believe that individual identities feed into the collective identity, and it starts with valuing teachers for who they are.
As JDP would say, “It’s time to get tuned in.”