By Jessica Easthope
The coronavirus pandemic has left an estimated one and a half million New Yorkers out of a job. But some feel they’re still not out of that big city luck, and that maybe a headshot could give them the head start they need to get back to business.
“We don’t only uplift their chances and their hopes for employment, but also the spirit that they lost during the pandemic,” said Rom Matibag, the CEO of Romp Studios.
Rom was working hard July 22, taking professional headshots with the “10,000 Headshots” initiative. 200 photographers in locations across the country are taking headshots free-of-charge to help people gain a job and some self-esteem.
“This is a great idea of how to give back, especially us photographers who have been there and been unemployed as well,” he said.
Rom knows the feeling well of being lost and sometimes having to reinvent yourself. He was once in the seminary, preparing to be a Catholic priest. Now he’s fighting on the frontlines of the pandemic as a nurse and photography is his passion.
This month, New York City’s unemployment rate rose to more than 20 percent. Nationwide, around 11 percent of people are out of work.
The quick click of a headshot can be costly: a set can average from $400 to $500, making this opportunity a godsend for people like Persefoni Anastasopoulos, an architect who was laid off.
“What we put out there is very important, and definitely having a professional photo makes a world of difference in the presentation you put forth,” he told Currents News.
According to LinkedIn, people who have a professional headshot on their profiles get 21 times more views, and nine times as many connection requests as those who don’t. But some who came down Wednesday worry their jobs won’t exist after the crisis ends.
Carmen Corzo is an event planner, and she thinks the industry may never fully recover.
“It’s going to be a really slow comeback and a lot of us are going to venture out to different fields and have completely different jobs and that’s why I was grateful to get this photo and be able to update my resume,” she explained.
The goal is 10,000 headshots in one day, but what Rom and the other photographers are really hoping to accomplish is a boost in confidence.