• Dean Birinyi

What Brought Me to Business Headshots

How I Came to be a Business Headshot Specialist


I’ve been asked to tell the story of my career arc and what motivated me to specialize in headshots after 32 years as an interior design photographer.


Humble beginnings to living the dream:

After serving in the US Navy, I went into business with my father building custom furniture in Denver, CO. This went well for several years until I nearly took off my fingers on the table saw. I decided to find a career that didn’t involve power tools.


Photogrpah of woman at the countter of a co-working space ordering coffee with other patrons in the background. Carefuylly staged by the photographer using available light only.
Interiors photography was my exclusive specialty for 35 years.

I decided on photography as a career when I got a job doing baby portraits in K-mart department stores. Throughout the summer of 1986, I traveled around the Rocky Mountain States, photographing children and families in rural farming and ranching communities.

As winter approached, I decided to get a job in a photo lab because I wasn’t about to drive back roads through the Rocky Mountains in winter.


For five years, I practiced and studied photography and art while working in large photo labs and managing a few small ones in Colorado and Florida. All the time, I dreamed of being a full-time professional interiors photographer.


In 1992 I opened my business “Dean J. Birinyi Photography” in Denver, CO. For the next 28 years, I lived my dream photographing hospitals, offices, libraries, and some of the most beautiful homes you could imagine. It was great, and I got to be pretty good at it. I won over 150 awards in my career. (I stopped counting when I hit 150 back in 2013. If 150 awards don’t impress someone, 180 won’t, either.)



Seeking new horizons:

After 28 years, I was ready for a change and started looking for new opportunities. I decided to teach in my retirement but found I needed to get a degree before I could be hired. So, I started work on an MFA.

iPhone snapshot of a woman immersed in a Mark Rothko painting at SF MOMA
Art Appreciation

After telling the story of doing baby portraits at the beginning of my career to my classmates, a young woman asked if I didn’t like the work. Without thinking, I responded that I loved the work but hated the job. This realization motivated me to look at what creative opportunities there were that involved photographing people. I soon found professional headshots and fell in love with the simplicity of the genre because it’s the opposite of the interiors that I used to photograph.


Man's professional headshot on neutral grey background by Dean Birinyi, owner of Professional Headshots Palo Alto.
Professional Headshots. What a long strange trip it's been.

Seeing what’s over the next hill:

Unlike interiors, headshots are a profoundly intimate expression of the personality, presence, and being of the person I’m photographing. The simplicity of headshots appeals to my minimalist artistic nature while paying attention to all the details of hair, clothes, eyes mouth and brow satisfies my need to be engaged in challenging mental work.





So, that’s how I came to be a headshot photography specialist, and why I look forward to dedicating the second half of my career to this fascinating creative effort of helping people with their personal branding while guiding them in expressing themselves as confident and approachable professionals ready for the next opportunity.


Dean-


Check out these articles on headshots to learn more:


Dean Birinyi is an award-winning photographer, founder, and owner of Professional Headshots Palo Alto. He specializes in expression coaching to guide his customers on presenting themselves as confident, approachable professionals ready for the next opportunity.


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