Not sure if you should have a professional headshot taken? Type your name into Google…
If you’re in doubt about whether you need a photo branding session, imagine the following scenario: you need to take on a consultant for a work project, and your network refers you to the websites of two different individuals.
They’re alike in all key aspects, but one individual’s photo is a slightly blurry selfie, and the other individual has a high-quality, professional-looking headshot. Who do you hire?
It’s easier to feel more positive about someone who looks confident and approachable. That’s just how we’re wired.
Whether you’re an online entrepreneur, a creative, or a small business owner, few things are more vital than your personal brand.
Still not convinced? Here are a few reasons why you need to reconsider.
1. Help people connect with you
Ultimately, the purpose of your photos is to make your audience trust you. For that to happen, they should look at your photo and feel like you’re in the room with them.
In real-life, we trust and connect with people who make eye contact with us and show confident body language; the same is true of photos.
A high-quality photo that focuses on your face and shows you looking directly into the camera builds a close relationship with the person viewing it, making them more likely to trust you.
Yet so many profile photos I’ve seen are a million miles away from achieving this. If an image is taken from a distance, is low-quality, portrays the subject looking away from the camera, or features someone covering their eyes with sunglasses, it feels less intimate.
And even if you don’t make any of these key mistakes, it’s notoriously difficult to achieve the right balance of approachability and confidence in a picture. Save yourself the bother and book a photo branding session.
2. Demonstrate your professionalism
Lots of people like to tell themselves that they’re a relaxed and casual sort of person and therefore want a relaxed and casual brand. Maybe that’s true — but there’s a fine line between being informal and being unprofessional.
If you use a photo that was clearly taken at a restaurant, bar, or on vacation for your main picture, then maybe some people will appreciate the casual vibes.
But how many others will assume that you’re just too lazy to take a special photo? Or so camera shy that the only picture you have of yourself was taken by your spouse on a trip to Hawaii five years ago?
All in all, these types of photos scream poor attention to detail. If you can’t be bothered to take care of your personal brand and image, maybe you also won’t think it’s very important to show up to meetings on time or respect deadlines.
Besides, just because you’re having a professional photo branding session, it doesn’t mean that your headshot has to show you against a bright white background wearing a gray shirt — if that’s not what you’re into. A good photographer will work with you to craft the image you want to give off and highlight your personality.
3. Create a photo branding library you can use time and time again
Initially, most people are only looking for a new headshot they can use to update their social media profile pictures or add to their website.
But this is just the beginning!
When you attend a photo branding session, you’ll leave with an entire portfolio of images showing you in various poses and sporting several expressions.
Here’s a handful of other ways you can put your photos to good use:
- Post them on social media with insightful captions related to you or your business
- If you have a website, add them on different pages instead of using stock photos
- Put one in your email signature
- Rotate between different profile pictures to freshen things up
- Use them in articles you write
- Submit them to features or articles about you or your company
- Add them to marketing materials
You might be concerned that plastering pictures of yourself everywhere will make you seem vain, but this is just a common misconception. Most people like to know who they’re talking to or buying from — more photos signals greater legitimacy and puts people at ease.
4. Take your photos to the next level
These days, everyone thinks they’re a photographer. If you have a phone camera with lots of megapixels (or maybe even a mirrorless/DSLR camera) and friends that offer to help out, you might think it’s not worth hiring a professional.
Truth is, it takes years of trial and error to master the art of portraits. You need technical mastery of your camera, an understanding of how light works, the ability to put the subject at ease — and far, far more.
Trust me — every single one of my clients has been shocked at the difference in quality between their photos and mine after finishing their session..
5. Show the best version of yourself
For my final point, allow me to target your vanity. It’s practically a given that you’ll look better in a professional portrait than in any photo you take of yourself — both more confident and more attractive.
No matter how awkward you feel in front of the camera, a photographer will put you at ease and ensure you look relaxed and confident in your pictures.
Having the right equipment and knowing how to use it makes a phenomenal difference in bringing out the best in you. Let someone else worry about your best angles, getting the light perfect, and telling you how to pose.
Even if you’ve been perfecting the art of the selfie for years and know your most flattering side (or at least, you think you do), a professional photographer will go one step further.
Daniel Turbert is a philanthropist, president of a non-profit, and published photographer who runs a commercial photography studio in Chapel Hill, NC for headshots and fine art portraits