Hi There! Ok time to be frank with me. What do you think when someone says “ Headshot”?
Besides, “oh man, please no.”? Probably something along the lines of boring, stuffy, or maybe even fake. There are a lot of negative feelings around headshot portraits and yet the world has been moving towards a digital networking focus for years. It isn’t just Facebook and online dating sites now, your online presence can affect your career aspirations, business success, and more.
Sounds like a lot of pressure when I word it like that but it is true. The good news is that a headshot doesn't have to be boring. It can, and really should reflect who you are and how you want others to see you. Last week I was chatting with a client who I had worked with on a community photo project. When we were doing that project she had mentioned that she needed a new headshot, she also told me how much she hated to have her picture taken, more than once. So I was hoping but not expecting a call from her to schedule her headshots.
One of the first things she said was that her current headshot was so corporate, not her. It is a nice picture but I had to agree with her, the image just didn't reflect the caring, fun-loving personality that she really has. We talked about a plan for her portraits and what might work better for her.
This got me thinking that maybe others feel that way about their current headshots or worse it is what is holding you back from getting them done at all. A quality headshot is priceless and very important to your business profiles so don’t ignore it, do it your way.
Here are some tips on making your headshot less corporate and more YOU!
The location of the shoot can help set the tone of your images. Think about the feel of the physical location you choose to shoot in. There is a location in Denver that has beautiful street art and I love the colors, modern- hipster feel of it. I have done a few sessions there and just love it because it speaks to me. Not that I am a hipster by any means but the bright fun colors and the art make me smile. Although there is something to be said about the natural feeling of a simple field or mountain backdrop. Don’t get me wrong, in studio-style backdrops have their place too. What you need to consider when choosing a location is the purpose of the photos and how you want people to feel when they look at them.
Location can also help create a connection to the viewer. A well-known location could spark recognition and tell the viewer more about who you are and where you work.
Consider not only the location of the shoot but also what you want people to know about you. If, for example, you are a baker shooting in your kitchen will add a powerful storytelling element. Talk to your photographer about the story you want to tell with your photos.
Shooting in the studio, that is ok, bring props. Ok, if you have scheduled with me before you may know I don’t encourage props in general however when they serve a purpose they can be amazing. Let's say you are a baker but right now you work out of the kitchen at home and it isn’t what you might call photo-ready. Shoot in the studio but bring some props that you can use to show what you do. I would also say to consider branding when you pick those props. If your brand colors are chocolate brown and pink bring bowls and utensils that are those colors. Another idea is to bring your logo to life. Meaning if your logo is a strawberry tart incorporate that into your shoot.
Headshots are not passport photos, you can get those at your local pharmacy for some crazy low price. They call them professionals photos because they use a “professional camera” but it isn’t the camera that takes the picture. I could buy a real professional race car but that doesn’t make me a professional driver. Whoa, sorry that is a whole other soapbox and I am stepping down. Speaking of emotions though, adding a touch of personality into your images can portray to the viewer a little more of who you are and if they would enjoy working with you. If you were to share a genuine smile or laugh it would indicate a little bit about your sense of humor, be it over the top or just quite amusing.
Give it time
In my experience, the best pictures come about 30 minutes into the session, on average. Don’t go for the “Click-Click-Done” approach. Sure it sounds appealing time-wise and probably easier on your wallet if we are being realistic. However it takes time to feel comfortable with your photographer, it takes conversation. Sure you can get a decent headshot in a short session but if you want something that really reflects who you are with a natural smile and a little personality you should expect to spend 45 to 90 minutes with your photographer.
As a matter of fact, the more you hate having your picture taken the more time you should give yourself to feel calm and into it. Remember this is not an item on your checklist so much as it is the first impression you are giving to new potential clients.
Just not the way you might think. Something I see all the time is people dressing for their photos in a way that is so out of character. Instead of wearing a suit for your images because that is how you envision headshots, wear what you would when meeting a new client. How you dress says a lot about you and your brand. You will also want to consider your hair and makeup before your session. If you want more information on how to get ready for a session click here for my best tips on getting ready.
I say this all the time but I think it may come off like a slogan and not me preaching. It is important. We want to work with people that we know like and trust. If your headshots make you look like a high-end jerk it may detract from your genuine caring personality. It may work if you are a high-stakes corporate lawyer, but if you help families in your community in a family law practice you may want to appear more approachable.
So don’t be afraid to be yourself. So whether you are a refined and polished sort or a happy bubbly over-the-top kind gal own it! Let it shine.
That is really what it boils down to though if you want to have a great profile picture that represents you and your brand then it should reflect your personality. I doubt you are anything but boring!
Go for an authentic and professional look for your next headshot and you will feel a lot more confident in your online presence.
So leave a comment and let me know how you feel about headshots, in general.