THE IMPORTANCE OF A PROFESSIONAL HEADSHOT

It’s not ‘just’ a Headshot!

With social media and our online presence playing such a huge role today in the success of our businesses, it is now more important than ever to be seen often, and in the best possible light.
Sometimes we try and short cut this critical element by looking at our headshot as redundant, and as an unnecessary expense. But we should actually be looking at it as an opportunity to portray an image to our potential clients, to share our brand, and to show ‘the face behind the business’. We forget that when potential customers are looking at our businesses online, they are also looking at who we are and how we conduct business. They want to make sure that we are serious about quality and good customer service. If the photography on our website is done with a point-n-shoot and on-camera flash against a plain wall with a dark shadow around our head, it sends the wrong message. It shows lack of professionalism. And if we don’t appear to care about our own personal image, then why should our potential customers believe that we would use higher standards for the product or service we are offering?
What then, are the elements that determine a strong professional headshot versus an amateur snapshot?
The physical side of taking a ‘proper’ headshot requires the usage of standard professional equipment- camera, lenses, lighting, and photo editing software. But more importantly than that (about 100x more important) is the intangible aspect – Experience. Without the knowledge of how to effectively use camera gear, lighting (even daylight), or to be able to trouble shoot problems should they arise, leaves you back at square one.
And having a trained artistic eye for posing and directing people in order to achieve the individual’s optimal look, is probably on the top of my list. Everyone is different and needs to be photographed a certain way according to their shape, hair color, gender, skin, and profession. Knowing what lighting to use, in what direction, with each face shape, makes all the difference in the world between an okay shot, and an amazing portrait. A good professional photographer will suggest the proper clothing, analyze the model’s face and then pose and light them accordingly. The last thing to consider is that depending on your profession or what the shot will be used for, you might want to add a little personality to your portrait. Showing your audience a little bit of you, will help them make a connection and start a bond before they even meet you.
Another aspect that is often overlooked but is so important is the use of a professional hair and make-up artist. This is true especially for women, of course, (but men can always benefit from a little shine removal and evening-out of the skin). Just because we do our own make-up every morning, even if we do a good job, doesn’t mean we know what looks best on camera. And while you are concentrating on posing, the last thing you should be doing is worrying about how your make-up is holding up, or if your hair is out of place. That is the make-up artist’s job.

And lets not forget the importance of our profile headshots on sites like LinkedIn in which we are directly representing our business. How do we want to be seen? Do we want our audience to see us as real professionals with high standards, or are we satisfied with showing them our ‘mug-shot’?!
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