Your head shot is often the first point of contact you have with your clients. They might see your photo before ever meeting you in person. Your head shot gives people a lot of information, whether or not they’re consciously processing it. Here are a few tips and tricks to maximize the effectiveness of your head shot.
1. Dress for Success
I had a client in for a head shot. He was impeccably dressed, with a dress shirt and tie, but couldn’t get comfortable. No matter how he sat or stood, he couldn’t relax. After a few minutes, I asked him a question. “What do you normally wear to work?”
“What I walked in with.”
“Well for Heaven’s sake, go put that on!”
The session proceeded much better after that. Whether you’re a real estate agent, or a carpenter, or a baker, wear what you wear to work. Wearing a three piece suit doesn’t always work.
There is the inevitable temptation to take a good picture of yourself at a wedding or formal function, crop someone out of the shot and post that up online. Try to avoid this. When you go for a professionally done head shot, it shows you take yourself and your business seriously.
2. Be Yourself
I’ve discussed it before: the misconception that a ‘good’ picture has to be someone looking at the camera and smiling. This doesn’t hold true for everyone. One thing I’ll frequently tell my clients is that if they are naturally smiley, to go for it, but if they’re not, there is nothing wrong with a more serious picture. Your photo should be welcoming, should be warm, but most importantly, it shouldn’t be fake. If you are a person who smiles constantly, by all means go for it. If you’re not, then don’t feel pressured to be someone you’re not.
If you work for a large company, check if they have any specifications for head shots. This is a common practice that helps business maintain a level of cohesion on their website. Make yourself aware of any requirements and pass them along to your photographer. These specifications can be as simple as having a certain background color or as detailed as wanting certain expressions and clothing colors, as well as photo dimensions. Make sure they haven’t been updated since the last time you had a photo done.
Have a favorite side? Have ideas you’ve searched out? Share them with your photographer. This way you can get exactly what you’re after. By communicating these details, you might inspire your photographer and together you can come up with something you’re both happy with.
Be sure to mention how you will be using your head shot. A photo that will be used for print advertising or on a business card will have different requirements than one being used exclusively online. Photos for print use should have more even lighting overall; this will give you a better result on the flyer or business card. Online photos can be lit more dynamically, making use of light and shadow and having a more artistic feel overall.
4. Stop Procrastinating
A new head shot is not always top of mind, but it’s something that can easily get dated. Time can slip away from you. Clothing and hair styles change and it’s easy to look out of date. The new year is a good time to see if your photo needs updating. When you’re planning out your branding for the year, you can see if your shot needs to be changed.