Last week I did a mini-shoot for Sue, a makeup artist, who was needing a couple of headshots for her online profiles and website. That reminded me that I had been asked a little while ago to write an article about Corporate Headshots that Communicate with Intention. So I thought I’d share my thoughts here.
5 Tips for a Headshot that Communicates with Intention
In this age of online existence, much of the business relationship building is done long before meeting someone on a face to face basis. Picture the scene: After a few back and forth emails of introductions and value propositions, two professional individuals agree to meet in person. A few years ago, the immediate next step would be the aforementioned meeting. Today, with the prevalence of online profiles, a new step has emerged prior to the first physical encounter. Online profile research. This not only gives business professionals the opportunity to gain an understanding of their cohort’s expertise, but at a more basic level, it enables them to begin the process of interpersonal communication based on appearance, long before a physical handshake. It stands to reason then, that the importance of that first impression and thus, your headshot, needs to communicate with intention.
Here are 5 tips to ensure that your headshot communicates professionalism.
This should go without saying. Clean and tidy. If you’re going to have a professional photograph taken, which is something most people don’t do on a regular basis, make the effort to have your hair (and makeup if you’re a woman) done professionally. Coincide your photoshoot with your next appointment at the hairdresser. Call in the professionals. They know what good looks like.
Ensure that your wardrobe is representative of the kind of work you do and in line with your position in the business. Avoid distracting patterns & logos, unless it forms part of a uniform, and stick to black, white, grey or primary colours, again, unless there is something very specific about your brand that necessitates a divergence off the ‘safe’ path. Most importantly, ensure that your clothes fit you properly.
Make sure that your headshot is taken in front of a plain backdrop, either solid colour or repetitive patterns like a brick wall or wall of ivy. If your photo is intended as an environmental portrait, in which the backdrop reinforces what you do, ensure that it is free from distractions and clutter.
4. Body Language
Be aware of what your body language communicates in the photo. For example, a tight headshot of a man with crossed arms and a scowl directly towards the camera communicates a stern authority as opposed to a man with crossed arms leaning on his shoulder against a wall with a smile, which communicates a more relaxed, friendly body language.
Consider whether you are closing down your body language with crossed arms, or opening up with hands to the side (on hips or in pockets) and shoulders back.
Again, the nature of your business will determine the appropriateness of your smile. Smiles can range from a small smirk indicating knowing and trust, to a relaxed middle smile indicating approachability, to a full teethy smile indicating friendly and relaxed and ultimately a full-on guffawing laugh which indicates fun. Decide what is appropriate for what you are trying to communicate and then – go practice it!