Headshots & Personal Branding Photos
In today’s digital world and with social media websites on the rise, a professional headshot is becoming more and more in demand and valuable. It’s the visual handshake. Companies are also adapting to the changing world by adopting a more modern approach to branding to connect with their specific audience. Headshots are some my favorite types of photoshoots. I love working with clients to create unique images that truly represent them and their businesses.
What is a headshot?
A headshot is technically an image from the top of your head to your shoulders for professional use. However, I feel that the word ‘headshot’ has become a loose term. Clients often come to me asking for a headshot and after some inquiry to better understand their needs, they will request additional images that sound very much like environmental portraits, which is an image of a person in their home or workplace and tells a story about the subject and their life. Or they ask for contemporary portraits much like an image out of Vanity Fair magazine. Most of my clients need more than just a simple head and shoulders shot. They need a portfolio of images that differ in look and feel that communicate their business, personality and brand. So, I think a more accurate term for these types of images is personal branding.
This is a headshot:
But to my clients (and therefore to me, as well), this is also a headshot:
Why do I need a professional headshot?
We’re not only meeting face to face anymore. A headshot on your social media websites or website can often be the first time a client or employer meets you. Making sure that your headshot creates a top-notch impression is key. Here’s an analogy – it’s common sense that one shows up to an interview dressed appropriately for the job, well-groomed and communicating confidence and approachability. What do you think would happen if you showed up in t-shirt and with a nonchalant, devil-may-care attitude? Even with an impressive resume, the interviewer would likely have trouble taking you seriously. These first impressions are instinctual, instantaneous, and difficult to break. Are you using a headshot that was taken with a smart phone or a snapshot from a company party? Then you could definitely stand to have a more flattering and compelling headshot. Set yourself up for success by creating a killer first impression.
What should my headshot look like?
It’s also important to note that not all headshots are equal! Your profession, audience and personality will dictate the look of your headshot, including what to wear and how you should be photographed. Do you want to come across as an expert in your field? Or is your goal to communicate warmth and approachability? Is your personality more stoic and reserved or vivacious and outgoing? If you’d like a more traditional, corporate headshot, then a suit and tie will get the message across. If you work for a fun, creative design firm, then a headshot with vibrant color or lots of personality would totally work! Also consider how your ideal audience communicates, dresses, where they hang out…what’s cool and not cool to them. Once you can answer these questions, you’re onto something! Get as specific as you can. The answers to those questions will result in a productive session and ultimately an eye-catching, honest headshot that will attract your ideal audience and clientele.
What should I wear in my headshots?
In order to alleviate pre-shoot anxiety, I offer a complimentary in-person style and concept consultation for my custom headshot clients. I visit their home and help pick out wardrobe from their closet and we create a game plan for the shoot. I take on more than the role of photographer, I become your wardrobe/brand consultant. Here’s a safe, general rule: wear clothing that fits well, is free of distractions including bold patterns/logos and represents what you’d wear to the office, client meetings and events.
Emily works for Dress for Success, a San Antonio non-profit that empowers women to reach their personal and professional potential. Plus, with a background in fashion consulting, we had to create some images that had a bit more of a fashion/magazine flare. So that’s why it’s totally okay that she’s wearing bright colors and that awesome statement necklace. It represents who she is a professional and this is what Emily wears at the office. That’s why this headshot works. But it probably wouldn’t work for an insurance agent at New York Life. Imagine if Emily was wearing something more conservative, like a black suit and no accessories. You’d get a totally different impression of her, right?
Where should I use my headshots?
Nowadays, there are so many opportunities and places a headshot can live. LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, company directories, different pages on your personal/business website, email and print newsletters, business cards, book jackets, billboards, advertisements, magazine articles, and speaking events…the list goes on and on. Let’s say you want a headshot for the banner image for the home page of your website, like we created for Christine: We knew Christine had many different needs for her website so we created a gameplan to meet those needs. This banner image would only work with lots of negative space on either side of her. You could also totally layer text over this image to create an interesting graphic. She also knew that she wanted some images for the about me page of her website and this headshot was perfect that need:
When potential clients visit your about me page, they want to get to know you. They are likely meeting you for the first time! So we have to make sure the image that lives there is a friendly, firm handshake that communicates who you are and leaves a fabulous first impression. Something closer up on the face with a warm expression is perfect, especially for Christine who is a a life coach. What if Christine got featured in a magazine for her work? The image below would be great for that:
An environmental portrait in portrait orientation with some negative space would be great for that, like the image above. This image has a bit more of an editorial feel is more interesting than a simple headshot for this use.
More Headshot & Personal Branding Inspiration
I hope this post has been helpful! Feel free to leave comments below with your thoughts. You can also check out my headshot/personal branding gallery for more headshot inspiration. Contact me to book your own headshot/personal branding photoshoot.