What does your headshot say about you? Simple tips for putting your best foot forward in 2020

What does your headshot say about you? Simple tips for putting your best foot forward in 2020

At this time of year, many of us are settling back into the office, whilst also writing plans for the new year and setting goals for 2020.  But many professionals often forget to review one of their most valuable business touchpoints.  A resource that pretty much every new prospective client comes into contact with, on a daily basis.  Their headshot.

Here Ross Dean, a professional photographer based in Suffolk, provides advice and guidance on how to achieve that perfect headshot.

In my experience, as a headshot photographer, I really see the difference in the success between someone with a strong, inviting headshot, to someone with a maybe outdated ‘selfie-style’ shot they have quickly taken on their smartphone.

So, as we start the new year, I would like to invite you to get out your phone or laptop, right now, and bring up the photo you currently use of yourself, on your website and across your social media profiles.  I’m hoping that when you navigate to these places online, there IS a photo of you, there? If not, that’s a whole other article 😉, but let’s get moving.

Done it? Great.  So, let me take you through some of the things to consider when reviewing your current headshot.  Kind of like some of the secrets I guess that many people do not consider.  This way, you’ll have all the tools you need to set a plan for your next headshot, ditching that selfie and getting yourself a strong, warm photo of yourself to be proud of.

Also, before we start, I appreciate that many of you reading this may already have a stellar headshot that currently works wonders for your business, and if that’s the case, that’s amazing! I congratulate you on the attention to detail you obviously have for your business.  And for others, depending on what stage you’re at with your business, you may not yet be in the position to hire a professional to help you out.  But rest assured, I’ve got you! All the tips and considerations here are things you can think of and set a plan to fix, whether you’re hiring someone or whether for now, you’re just looking to create a better headshot yourself, using your smartphone.  I’d just love you, for now, to get the strongest headshot you can, for your current situation.

Sound like a plan? Great, OK – here we go:

Don’t keep yourself in the dark

For many of us, what prompts us to take a photo of ourselves is often an interesting background or to showcase a great new top we’ve just purchased in the January sales. Whilst these things are both great reasons to grab a cool photo of ourselves, many of us just don’t consider something vital which can make or break for a great portrait.  Light!

You see, you can be looking your best in a beautiful location, but if we can’t see you or if the light on you just isn’t flattering, then we’re not starting with our best foot forward.  Remember that a strong headshot is all about giving prospective clients a clear, inviting photo of you so that you’re easily recognisable online or off.  How many times have you taken what you think is going to be an amazing photo, but when you look back on your phone, the gorgeous background looks cool, but you’re completely in darkness, yourself? Not a good look, right?

So, a simple quick fix is to always find a vital piece of photography equipment that everyone has in their home and office.   A window! So, when you’re ready, head on over to that window, make yourself comfortable on a chair or leaning against a wall, FACE the window and then compose and shoot your photo.  A great rule of thumb, to get good flattering light on your face, is to generally position your nose towards the main source of light.

Look interested

I get it.  Having your photo taken may not be one of your favourite things to do, but what I’d invite you to do is for the few moments it takes to take your photo, you project your best self.  My best tip is to lean in.  If you look at a selection of people’s selfies online, you’ll see that many people lean themselves back, away from the camera.  This is usually down to the fact that they’re not keen on having their photo taken.  My question to you on this point is what do you think this approach communicates to your prospective clients? You’re right.  The body language doesn’t make you seem so approachable.  So gently lean into the shot.  It shouldn’t be a full lean, but just gently.  This will give the impression that you want to engage in conversation and twinned with a subtle warm smile, you’re instantly super-approachable too.

Look like you

I know it sounds obvious, but you need to look like the same amazing person in your photo, whom I would meet if I met you at a networking event.  For some people, the urge is to go out and choose a new hairstyle, makeup or clothing, which they think they need to have, in order to look great.  But on reflection, they’re often left feeling uncomfortable as it’s just not ‘them’.  So, the recommendation I give clients is that they should simply prepare themselves in the way they would usually when going to meet a prospective client for their first meeting.  This, in experience, is the best version of themselves as they are conscious that they want to look their best, in order to impress, but also feel comfortable too.

Always think ‘on brand’

My final piece of advice is to take some time before your next headshot to consider your brand.  Now if you’re working with a professional headshot photographer, they will take some time to discuss this with you ahead of your session, but if not, here are some things to think about:

  • Colours – Do you have specific colours you already use for your branding and can you incorporate these into your headshots.  Think about your choice of clothing, background and makeup, where appropriate.
  • Perception – How can you project the right message with the viewer of the headshot so that it aligns well with your brand?  Think about the location you’re using, your expression and the tone of the photo to ensure it speaks to the right people.
  • Wardrobe – The clothes we choose to wear can also play a big role in our brand story, and so it’s important that our choices in this area align well also.  Always wear a sharp suit to client meetings. Make sure you get a headshot in the same wardrobe.  Dress in a specific uniform when you go about your day-to-day house visits? Ensure your headshot incorporates this clothing, to always make you easily recognisable on and offline.

I hope that these tips have got your thinking about how you can approach your next headshot with a bit more planning.  By just considering these, you’ll find that you’ll start to create headshots that really speak to your ideal clients more clearly and no doubt will be more effective in your marketing.

Should you have any further questions on this topic, Ross would love to help.  Feel free to drop him an email at any time at info@rossdeanphotography.com.  You can also find more about headshot and personal branding photography at https://www.rossdeanphotography.com

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