Everyone who has tried online dating can tell you a story or 20 about the time they met up with someone whose photos turned out to be taken at least 10 years ago. It’s frustrating, but you shrug it off and move on to the next swipe right.
Unfortunately, many of your potential clients and customers do the same when they visit your website and find no trace of company leadership. People need reassurance that they’re working with a legitimate company and real people — photos and bios go a long way in establishing credibility.
Of course that credibility comes into question when they see you at a meeting and discover your photo is a throwback to younger years. Likewise, a poorly lit or blurry photo conveys a lack of professionalism or attention to detail.
Still not convinced you need a good headshot? Think of the other ways you can use it:
- Organizations require them when booking speakers so they can include in promotional materials.
- Publications require them for contributed articles and award nominations.
- If you’re on LinkedIn and any other social media (and you should be), you need a good profile photo.
- You can use your headshot in social media posts promoting upcoming speaking engagements, awards received, tips/advice shared, milestones achieved and more.
Turn Yourself Over to the Pros
Once on board with the idea that they need a headshot, some executives decide DIY is the way to go and have someone snap a shot on their phone. Sometimes these turn out OK, but more often than not, the lighting is poor, the photo is blurry or the background is dull. The resolution will work online, but not for many print applications.
Leave the cell phone photos to the dating sites and have your headshot professionally taken. View it as an investment and hire a professional photographer to help you look your best. They specialize in putting you at ease and taking flattering photos that create a positive impression.
Location, Location, Location
Indoor studio shots are often dated and stilted; look for other environments that showcase what your company does or represents. For example, manufacturing executives may opt to be photographed on the production floor or in a warehouse, while an interior designer can be photographed inside one of their creations.
When their offices or facilities don’t provide a compelling visual, companies often use outdoor locations as a backdrop for their headshots. Local landmarks, including architecture and scenery, can add an interesting layer of texture. As a bonus, natural light is generally more flattering, especially during the golden hour — the first hour after sunrise and the last hour before sunset.
Professional photographers shoot at a variety of locations and can recommend places with interesting backgrounds and textures to provide visual interest. The background shouldn’t distract from the person being photographed but should provide some dimension.
The Clothing Conundrum
People working in professional services generally wear what they would to an important business meeting, but those working at companies with a different dress code (uniforms or a more relaxed vibe) will want to match their working environments.
Some of our advice is universal:
- Avoid wearing white as it interferes with the camera’s ability to capture natural-looking colors and skin tones.
- Jewel tones are great for all skin tones — the pastel versions commonly used for dress shirts also photograph well.
- Solid colors tend to look better on camera than patterns, especially large ones that pull focus from your face.
- If you usually wear glasses, keep them on for your photo so you are recognizable, but make sure your lenses are clean and smudge free. If you wear glasses that darken in the sun, you’ll want to remove them or your eyes won’t be visible.
Clothes Make the Man
ZZ Top was onto something — people go crazy for a sharp dressed man, but that can be interpreted widely.
- Jacket optional – We recommend a suit and tie for many executives seeking a polished, professional look, but an IT developer or contractor would look and feel out of place. When in doubt, wear what you would typically wear to work — either way, an iron is your best friend as the camera will amplify wrinkles.
- Ties – When a tie is appropriate, patterned ones provide nice contrasts, but you’ll want to avoid busy patterns.
- Fit – A collared shirt should always fit snug to the back of the neck and not be too loose.
- Accessories – Keep them simple to avoid overwhelming or distracting from your face.
- Hair – If you’re planning to get a haircut, do it a week before to give your hair time to grow in a bit.
The Lady in Red (or Other Jewel Tones)
When it comes to fashion, women have many more options:
- Clothing – If you like the look of a blazer and dress pants, we recommend medium-to-dark tones like navy or gray instead of black or white. The top you wear underneath should be a complementary color. Dresses also photograph well and are an opportunity to introduce texture. Either way, solid colors photograph better than prints, which can pull focus from your face.
- Accessories – Although a necklace and earrings or scarf can complete your look, you don’t want either to be the primary focal point. Long necklaces tend to be cut off in headshots, so if you plan to wear one, you may want to clip it behind your neck so all of it shows.
- Makeup – Wear more makeup than you normally would, but not to the point that you’re unrecognizable. It may feel too heavy to you but won’t look so on camera. If the weather is warm or the shoot is later in the day, it’s a good idea to bring your makeup with you for any touch ups needed.
By following these guidelines, you’re ready for your closeup and will be happier with the results. And if you still need a little Photoshop magic, Aker Ink’s creative team can help make your photo and the rest of your website sing.