Having a professional headshot has never been more important than now, with the continuing growth of the internet and social media. People make very quick, sometimes snap decisions about what to look at when on-line, and the impression you create with your headshot is one of the factors that will contribute to the overall impression they form about you and your company. Having a professional headshot is your opportunity to portray who you are, what you want to say about your brand and to send a message about how you do business. If you haven’t taken the time to present a professional appealing headshot image then your customers may well question your attitude to quality and customer service in other aspects of your business.
So what does “professional” mean in this respect – and what is the difference between a professional headshot and one that a friend with a good camera might be able to take? Well I think the difference lies in a number of different areas.
Firstly, an understanding of your requirements is critical, and this is probably the most important, both in terms of how you intend to use the image, and the sort of brand or image you wish to create. A professional photographer will discuss how and what the headshot is to be used for, whether you are looking for a fun, informal image or something more traditional and formal. Where you would like the headshot to be taken – in the studio or on location? Black and white or colour? Colours that are important? What to wear? There are different technical requirements for an image that will upload easily to websites/ social media sites, compared to ones that will be used on printed media, and a professional photographer will understand the different resolutions and colour profiles required. Similarly, it is worth considering who and how the image will be viewed. If it is a headshot for Linked In or Twitter and it is viewed on a mobile device, it may be no more than 2 cms big, whereas a profile article on a website would be displayed much larger. Many businesses deal with more than one type of customer and may want a different profile picture or headshot for the different channels.
A second important consideration is equipment – having the appropriate range of equipment to create a suitable image. This will obviously include the camera, but also different lenses, lighting, studio equipment etc. A headshot taken on location may require a different camera and lens from one taken in the studio, and a professional photographer will understand what is required for different types of photography.
Another area that is important is that of posing. Different body shapes, skin colours and clothing types will lend themselves better to different poses, and a professional photographer will know how to get you looking at your best, and how to accentuate your best features, and minimise those you are less confident about.
A professional photographer will edit your photograph. Most of the hard work has already been done in selecting the appropriate location, equipment, lighting, clothing and pose for the photograph. However, there is always just a little bit of magic that can be done at the last stage to ensure that the colour range and balance is just right, skin blemishes are appropriately edited and the image is presented in the best possible way. A decision about colour or black and white might be relevant too.
And a final word – do keep your headshot up to date. Nothing is more disconcerting than finding out at a first meeting that the person in the photograph is actually ten years older than you thought!