You need a head shot. It’s as simple as that. And you need one taken by a professional photographer. I’m not just saying this because I am a professional photographer, I’m speaking as a consumer who shops for products and services on the internet. I would like to know what you look like before I hire you, especially if it is a purchase that will require us to meet and work together. I also want to know the people behind the company. Even if I never get to meet Ms. CEO or Mr. Vice President, I like to know who I’m giving my business to and that they are real people.
Images help us to connect with those around us. Just as consumers wish to have images of finished products or photographic examples of your services, they want to get to know you as well. You may have a Bio or an About Us page, but a professionally produced head shot will say what words cannot. We all like to feel comfortable when doing business, and a head shot can ease a client's awkwardness during initial sales meetings, create rapport while networking and help build reputation in your industry. The image you project is just as important as the service you provide, and can help to define your brand - driving business to you and your company.
If you’ve never experienced having your head shot taken, or haven't loved your head shots in the past, take a look at these tips. They'll help you choose the right photographer and get the most out of your session.
You better shop around. I hate to say it, but you’re going to need to invest a bit in this endeavor. This isn’t like going to the studio in the mall where you pay fifty bucks to sit in front of the backdrop and have your picture taken by a teenager. A custom session is an investment. Depending on the photographer, you may have a sitting fee with the option of procuring several files or it may be all-inclusive. Sessions can run from a half hour mini-session to several hours with wardrobe and location changes. Make sure you know what the package includes (or doesn't include) so you’re making reasonable price comparisons.
Choose a photographer that fits your brand. This is incredibly important. Not every photographer shoots head shots in the same way, and you want someone whose style fits yours. If you plan events for corporate clients in DC, you may want a more conservative polished image from a studio. If your floral shop believes in environmental sustainability and uses only local farmers, a casual outdoor portrait might be best. Be sure to view photographers' portfolios, not only to ensure that they have experience with head shots, but that their style is conducive to the message you wish to send. Take a look at their portfolio, ask for references or speak with them personally about the process to make sure you are comfortable with their approach.
Dress the part. I suggest bringing several changes of clothes so you have options. If you’re not sure exactly where you’ll be using the photos outside of your website, I suggest thinking dressy, then business, then casual. Having done this several times myself, I was pleased to have different styles to choose from, as I initially did not anticipate submitting images for guest blogs or speaking engagements. I was also surprised that I preferred the casual images over the business attire. On a final note, make sure your clothes are laundered, pressed and in good condition. There’s nothing like an odd wrinkle to ruin a perfectly good photo.
Get your hair and makeup done professionally. Even if you are dressed casually, even if you are a guy, even if you hate going to the salon and you never wear makeup and you like the natural look, do it anyway. A good stylist and makeup artist will work with you to create a look that fits your personality. You want to look like the best version of yourself. Plus, it’s nice not to worry about this the day of the shoot and to pamper yourself once in awhile. You will thank me for this after.
Relax. Pretend you’re a celebrity and the magazine just wants a few shots of your fabulous self for their next issue. You do this all the time, right? So just have fun and think about how great you look. Seriously, the more relaxed and comfortable you are the better your head shots. This may be the hardest task so wear comfortable clothing, practice laughing in a mirror and take breaks to shake it out when necessary. If you have a good photographer they will help you with this by talking with you, offering suggestions and working with your stance or pose.
The difference a great head shot can make is immeasurable. Making sure the process is comfortable and the final product is brand-appropriate means the difference between a head shot you want to broadcast everywhere and one you want to hide away.