written by Marta Hewson
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 of poor quality, it sends the wrong message, and it shows lack of professionalism. 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?
The Elements of a strong Professional Headshot
What then, are the elements that determine a strong professional headshot versus an amateur snapshot? Here are 5 points of importance to consider for a quality business portrait (in no particular order)
- Proper Gear and Experience. 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.
- Lighting and Posing. Having a trained artistic eye for posing and directing people in order to achieve the individual’s optimal look, is on the top of my list as well. Everyone is different and can be best photographed a certain way according to their shape, hair color, gender, skin, etc... Knowing what lighting to use and in what direction, with each face and body shape, makes all the difference in the world between an okay shot, and an amazing portrait. A good professional photographer will analyze the model’s face, body, and clothing and then pose and light them accordingly.
- Makeup and Grooming. One aspect that is often overlooked but is so important, is the use of a professional hair and make-up artist. Just because women do their own make-up every morning, doesn’t mean we know what looks best on camera. And this is not limited to women. Lets not forget that men can always benefit from shine removal, evening-out of blotchy skin, and general grooming including hair. 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. The make-up artist's job is also to make sure everything looks good on set.
- Environment and Style. Your headshot should represent you and your brand in the best way. Your clothes and environment should be a direct reflection of your business. Choose your wardrobe wisely and ask the photographer for help. The photographer will be able to tell you what photographs best on you, and is within your image. If you are shooting an environmental portrait, chose and environment that compliments your brand. It doesn't have to be directly related, but it should send the correct message.
- Personality. Last on the list, but probably of the most importance, is personality. 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. A 'Mug Shots' is not an image that will sell you fairly, and actually it might just scare the clients away. Relax, unleash, and don't be afraid of the camera. If you can work with the photographer and give a little bit of yourself to the camera, you can certainly create a compelling image together.