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Career Services is offering a photo booth in the basement level of the McNeil Building for free professional headshots. Credit: Anna Vazhaeparambil

Career Services unveiled its Professional Photo Booth at the beginning of the school year, allowing anyone in the Penn community to take free, professional headshots.

Co-sponsored by Graduate and Professional Student Assembly and the Undergraduate Assembly, the photo booth is open during regular Career Services business hours, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Located in the Career Services office, the first come, first serve photo booth — called the Iris Booth — can be used by Penn undergraduates, graduate students, postdocs, alumni, faculty, and staff for high-quality headshots.

As of Monday, Sept. 11, the photo booth has been used by 171 unique people for 273 photo sessions.

The UA helped purchase the Iris Booth to better fill the need for professional headshots while eliminating the time staff spent taking and distributing the photos, according to the UA’s proposal. Prior to the photo booth, a student’s ability to get a headshot depended on “the time of year, on-campus connections, and financial freedom.”

“We want to make sure people can get access to a nice quality photo whenever they want, regardless of the time of the year, what clubs they’re in, and if they know one of our many amazing student photographers,” UA President and Wharton senior Xavier Shankle said.

A blog on LinkedIn states that a good professional headshot increases a user’s chance of being noticed by recruiters, resulting in 21 times more profile views and 36 more direct messages than other users.

“If you don’t have that friend [with a fancy camera and photo-editing skills], this is an opportunity for you to really assert a strong, professional online presence,” said third-year Wharton and Penn Carey Law student and GAPSA President Michael Krone.

According to Shankle, this initiative is part of a broader UA effort to look at different parts of campus and make sure that there are no equity gaps. Shankle emphasized how he hoped the photo booth would draw more students to the resources at Career Services.

“This is something that they [Career Services] thought would be another asset to attract people to Career Services," Shankle said. "You start with a headshot, but then later on, you end up going for counseling or interview prep or any of the other resources they have.”

In an interview with The Daily Pennsylvanian, Career Services Senior Associate Director Michael DeAngelis said that Career Services first started offering digital headshots during career fairs around ten years ago. Occasionally employers, such as LinkedIn or The Wall Street Journal, would sponsor headshots at these career fairs.

However, the demand for headshots was so high that DeAngelis began doing headshots on demand upon request by certain groups, such as classes or student clubs.

Around two years ago, DeAngelis was holding headshot events every week at the Career Services office when his colleague told him about the Iris Booth, which was being used at the University of Miami.

While Penn Career Services had investigated purchasing the Iris Booth, DeAngelis said they were limited by a lack of funding. In the winter of 2022, the UA and GAPSA approached Career Services about helping to fund the photo booth.

The UA and GAPSA equally split the cost of the booth, with each organization directing $17,000 to Penn’s Career Services Center.

Photo booth users can take up to three photos by navigating the touch screen device in the booth or scanning a QR code with their smartphone to use the Iris App. After retaking and editing the photos, the digital photos will be delivered by email to the user. The entire process should only take minutes.

Wharton sophomore and Peer Career Advisor Alivia Jiang assumed that the photo booth would take a while to gain traction, but reported seeing many students using the resource.

“After working there just these few weeks, I was surprised to see how many people came in just to utilize the booth, even with lines at times,” Jiang said.

According to DeAngelis, the reaction to the photo booth has been positive. 

“Everybody is so grateful that they have it on campus and that it takes really good photos," DeAngelis said. "It has a very bright light, so they’ve come out really nice.”