A great headshot leaves a great first impression.
The statement that we judge a book by it’s cover is very accurate. In our digital age, we often “meet” people online before we ever, if ever, encounter them in person. It’s more important today than in the past to put your best photos forward. A headshot can be the first introduction that people have of your personal brand and first impressions can last. J.K. Rowling said, “a good first impression can work wonders” and she was right. According to LinkedIn, a professional photo in your profile dramatically increases your chances of being found.
Headshots are very useful in nearly every form of marketing for your business. I include my photo in nearly every communication that I have with potential clients. My picture is even on my business card so that people remember me specifically when they see my card.
It’s important to get your headshot right and we’ve got four tips for successfully getting a great result that aligns with your personal brand. If you are an Enterprising Mom who works remotely, or digitally, it’s even more critical that your photographs offer the best presentation possible.
Use a professional
Save the selfies for Facebook and partner with a professional photographer to craft the message that you envision for your personal brand. You might take wonderful pictures but a pro can really set the tone and quality of your digital image. Professional photographers are a better choice than the regular shutterbug for the following reasons:
• They are experts at using their camera equipment.
• They are artists who understand, and utilize, lighting and composition to maximum effect.
• Pros also know how to pose you for the most flattering look.
• They may have a studio complete with professional backdrops or may be able to bring backdrops to another location.
• Professionals also spend more time in the editing phase compared to the actual time that they use to take the photos. It’s best to leave the post photo work to the pros if you are not familiar with photo editing software.
“A photograph is shaped more by the person behind the camera than by what’s in front of it” – Canon.
Ashley Hugghins, owner of Urban Trend Studios, is a professional photographer in the Atlanta area and she urges people to communicate with their photographer. Ashley suggests that you should, “discuss your needs with the photographer. Describe what your business does, what feeling you want to convey to potential clients, describe your branding and how you plan to use the photographs. Your headshots might turn out great but can be useless if they don’t fit your website or marketing materials correctly.”
A pro can also suggest the best venue for your photos, for example, if you are an artist, they might recommend that your photos be taken in an outdoor shoot that uses a lot of natural light versus a polished, studio shoot.
Developing an ongoing relationship with a photographer can be particularly useful if you have headshots of your staff online, or in directories, that change often or if you simply want all the images to have a consistent style.
What to Wear
Trying to decide what to wear for a headshot photo can be tough for women. Aiana Woods, a Fashion Stylist with My Stylist Macys, has solid advice on picking a wardrobe for your headshot photoshoot. She says, “when choosing outfits for a photoshoot, stay authentic and pick something that makes you more comfortable, therefore confident. For example, if you prefer blue, don’t choose a pink blouse just for a photo”.
She also suggests to, “always go for classic styles, including jewelry: you want to portray timeless chic, unless you are in a creative field and want to convey a different message.” Aiana adds, “as a wardrobe stylist,
I recommend tailored or even a bit looser fit rather than very tight. Make sure all pieces match and you look immaculate: clothes freshly pressed, hair is styled, and nails manicured. Remember that traditional headshots are usually cropped at or above the sternum. Therefore, choose higher necklines: V-necks are flattering on anyone, boat- and scoop necklines are great as well. Same with necklaces and scarves: ask your photographer if those are centered and fit cohesively within the frame.
Go for more formal blazers of classic navy or soft gray color. Jewel tones are universally flattering.” She also recommends that you avoid white because it “can “wash” you out and black may be too harsh (unless it is part of your branding concept).”
Hair and makeup
Don’t forget hair and makeup. Photographers who do headshots, often team up with hair and make-up professionals. Ashley recommends this type of collaborative approach because, “someone who has experience working with photographers will know what products will look best on film. If you want to do [your make-up] yourself, stay away from products with SPF as they make your skin look oily and be sure to avoid shadows and blushes with shimmer as they do the same.” Aiana agrees that hair and make-up are important and comments that, “when it comes to makeup and hairstyles, you want to look like yourself, so your audience will recognize you immediately when you meet in person!”
I had a hair and makeup person at my last headshot photo shoot and she did a great job of keeping my hair tamed and professional looking.
Keep it Current
How often to get a new headshot can be a matter of opinion but you should look into getting new pictures if you have gained or lost more than 10 pounds, if what you are wearing in your last headshot is very dated, when you’ve drastically changed your hairstyle or when you’ve changed your branding or business and your current headshot is not in line with that change. If you have a staff, make sure their headshots are current as well.
You do not get a second chance at a first impression so make it a good one. Determine your personal brand and work with professionals to keep your headshot in line with that image. Quality photographs can be used across multiple media so spending the money on a professional photo experience can be well worth the investment.
Thank you to Ashley Hugghins and Aiana Woods for their contribution to this article.
You can follow up with the Enterprising Women who were interviewed in this article at:
Ashley Hugghins, Professional Photographer at Urban Trend Studios. 404-259-3676, urbantrendstudios.com
Photo credit, featured photo: Ashley Hugghins, Urban Trend Studios
Aiana Woods, Fashion Stylist at My Stylist@Macys, 770-410-2856, macys.com/mystylist
Sheryl Van Aken is the founder of the Enterprising Moms and runs a travel agency in Milton, GA, called Van Aken Travel -Dream Vacations. She specializes in cruises of all kinds for individuals and groups. She is a certified event planner through Emory University and the Cruise Line International Association.
Sheryl has 4 great children and is happily married to her husband Mike for over 23 years,