You know you need a new business headshot. Your web designer/book publisher/boss/colleagues are clamoring for a new or updated portrait. You need it for LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, the jacket of your new book, speaking engagements, or your website and publicity materials. So why haven’t you made that appointment?
Here are the top seven excuses I hear most often, coupled with suggestions to help push through to your goal: a photo you will love and be proud of!
1. “I’m the least photogenic person on the planet.”
I hear this all the time. I’d say the biggest culprit in producing a stiff or unflattering photo is self consciousness. The key is to think of something meaningful to you (a promotion? A lucrative contract?) or someone you care deeply about (a child, pet, dear friend?). This will get you out of your head and allow a natural expression to take over. Don’t let negative thoughts keep you from getting a fresh new portrait.
2. “I just need to lose a few pounds before I call for a photo session.”
If you wait until you shed those pounds, you will never book the photo session. Your photographer can help you pose in ways that will flatter you as you are now.
3. “I want to wait until I get a tan so I won’t look so pasty.”
People usually don’t tan evenly, so what you believe to be sun-kissed skin may look dry and mottled in a photo. A foundation or bronzer is a better bet. A professional makeup artist can help.
4. “I’m so busy that I can’t find the time for an appointment.”
This one is tough. It’s just a question of forcing yourself to pick up the phone or send an email. Try booking a few weeks out when your schedule looks less crammed. Your session will be on the books, and you can relax.
5. “I don’t know what clothes to choose.”
Your best bet is to wear an outfit that you would choose if you were meeting your best client. Be sure it fits you well, is not too trendy, and is a three-season fabric. Avoid turtlenecks and strong patterns. Bright colors and scarves are fine if you like to wear them.
6. “I can’t decide what to do about makeup.”
A good makeup artist is a wonderful investment for both women and men. Ask the artist if s/he has experience in doing makeup for photographic lighting. If you prefer to do your own makeup, wear a little more than usual to even out your skin and bring out your features.
7. “I already have a picture that I got ten years ago that I really like.”
Your photo may have served you well all these years, but do you look the same? Do you want to send the same message as you did back then? Would people recognize you when you meet? Do your clothes/accessories/eyeglasses look dated? People like to work with professionals who are current.
8. “I don’t want to spend the money.”
No doubt about it: a professional photographer costs more than a friend with a digital camera. But when you think about what a beautiful photo of you means to your professionalism, your image and your self esteem, it’s a bargain.
Sophie bought a mermaid tail with her allowance, so we took advantage of a gorgeous sunset on a Rhode Island beach to do a photo shoot.
Getting ready for the shoot
Mermaids have trouble walking on land
It all comes together!
A good business headshot is an essential part of your branding and social media presence. Whether you decide to have your photo done in a studio or on location (this is an emerging trend), here’s an update to my pointers on getting the best possible professional photo:
1. Get one! If you haven’t been asked for a professional headshot, you will be. It’s just a matter of time. You will need one for your web page, as well as for social media, newsletters, news releases, articles, profiles, brochures and speaking engagements.
2. Hire a professional photographer. Your clients can tell when your photo has been snapped by a friend or spouse. The message is, “I don’t care enough to establish a professional presence.” A good photographer will know how to use lighting and posing in a way that flatters your face and body type, and will help you relax for a natural yet professional expression. The more authentic your expression, the more people will want to work with you.
3. When possible, have your makeup applied by a makeup professional who understands lighting. Strobes or even natural light can wash out your features, so enhancement of eyes and lips is important. For both men and women, a good foundation powder can smooth the skin and reduce glare.
4. Ask if retouching is included in the package. Light retouching (skin softening, blemish removal, reduction of eye circles, etc.) helps you look Oh so much better!
5. Choose a solid-color, well-fitting suit and/or top that is multi-seasonal. Textures such as tweeds can be distracting. You have a wide range of choices here, including gray, blue, green, purple, red, pink, orange or beige. Deep gray or navy blue photographs better than blacks. Avoid whites or light pastels, as they may show clothing wrinkles and add pounds. A good stylist can help you choose flattering, appropriate clothing for your shoot.
During the session:
6. When posing, angle your body a quarter-turn away from the camera. Then gently turn your shoulders and head back towards the lens. This pose avoids the straight-on mugshot look. Leaning forward slightly from the waist will elongate your neck and give you a welcoming demeanor.
7. Imagine that the lens is your best client. Think of the relationship you have with this person. Welcome that client with your eyes and expression. This exercise will make your energy become outer-directed and add approachability and warmth to your portrait.
8. Don’t take yourself too seriously. After all, it’s not only about you. It’s also about your clients and how they feel when they interact with you.
Examples of business headshots
Here are a few photos from a great family trip to Montana to visit my sister!
As the photographer for the Walls of Hope at Massachusetts General Hospital and the Lahey Clinic (two of my favorite projects ever!), I loved photographing mentors for the Asian Breast Cancer Project! This worthy group, which supports Asian women with breast cancer, is celebrating its outreach and is providing information at a special event at Tufts Medical Center on March 29, 6-9 p.m. The guest list features many members in the greater healthcare and Asian communities. I’ll be attending, and this photo will be on display at the entrance of the auditorium. http://abc12.eventbrite.com/
Pinterest is being touted as the hottest social media tool since Facebook. (For the uninitiated, Pinterest is a photo/image/recipe-sharing site where members can create virtual pinboards of subjects that interest them. Images can be “pinned” to boards from the Pinterest site or from anywhere on the web. Pinned images are, for the most part, credited to the original site they came from.) I have photographer friends who love it and are inspired by it, photographer friends who are alarmed by it, and all kinds of friends who have never heard of it or think it’s dumb.
Who loves it? People (mostly women, as I gather from the stats) who are creative, visual, and love to share and organize ideas in a social media context. Many find it addictive and a heck of a lot of fun. Some photographers love having their images “pinned,” as it can add visibility to their work.
Who is alarmed by it? Some photographers and other artists see this site as a violation of their copyright. Many are alarmed that portraits posted on their websites are fair game to be “pinned” by Pinterest users, thereby violating the photographer/client agreement. Others see their ability to sell images for commercial use going out the window. Some are equating it to the Napster controversy, and the jury is certainly still out about where all this will end up.
I recognize that the Internet has changed the image sharing game forever. Some photographers embrace how easily their images can be shared, and others are concerned about unauthorized use of their photographs and take steps to ensure they cannot be reproduced. I see both sides of the argument, and am continually reading opinions and keeping up with the ever-evolving points of view.
As for me and Pinterest, I did create an account and started pinning on a (very) small scale. I wasn’t hooked by the process, and my interest waned after creating a couple of boards. Although it wasn’t for me, I can see why people love it.
But here’s the thing. Pinning design images felt fun and innocuous. But as I created a board about my favorite photographers, I realized that I had no permission whatsoever to pin images by these masters to my boards. And Pinterest specifically states that when we pin an image, it is our responsibility to ensure that we have the right to do so. I’ll bet that almost Nobody does that. So, although my account is still active, I have deleted those boards that I feel may cross the line when it comes to the copyright issue. It will be interesting to see how all this shakes out.
Another fun session with an adorable family!
Based on some simple guidelines I gave them, this family chose clothing that worked perfectly for their photo shoot. The green, orange and brown outfits coordinated with each other and with the outdoor scene. Everything works together and gives a feeling of harmony.
When Lisa’s family comes for the holidays, I like to rope them into the studio for portraits. This year I almost forgot, but 6-year-old Sophie made sure the photo shoot happened.
The lovely six-year-old.
Such a cute family.
My daughter and granddaughter. So beautiful!
Looking forward to next year’s shoot!
Kids love it when I photograph them in their own homes. They just kick back and have a blast! I love it too, as I get to play with natural light in a new environment.
These children were a pleasure to photograph!