Creative Uses for Headshot Photography you may not have thought about

While you were growing up, it’s likely a photographer came to your school every year to take your yearbook photo. These were, in essence, early headshots. A chronicle of the changes in your development from just the shoulders up year after year. 

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It doesn’t matter that you’re no longer in school. Headshots are still important. While you may not change as drastically every year as you once did, updating your headshots every couple of years or after a significant change (such as after weight loss or a drastic hair change) is a great idea. 

Headshots also have more uses than you may think. Many people think of these as going on the “About Me” section of a website, but you can actually use your headshot in several other areas of your online life. Today, in the business world, you are as much a product as whatever you might sell or do. 

Keeping current headshots and using them in multiple ways can actually help improve your overall professional life. Here are just a few of those ways: 

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Most e-mail platforms allow you to upload a profile picture that is displayed next to your name whenever you send and receive e-mail. A headshot, because it is just a shot of your head and shoulders that can clearly be seen even at a small size, looks great as a thumbnail. 

A headshot also puts the focus on your face instead of the background or your wardrobe choice, so whoever is sending to and receiving e-mails from you would know exactly who they are dealing with. This would be especially important for a business e-mail account, but you could also use it for your personal e-mail account. 

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With the prevalence of working from home going on currently across the world, many of us have used Google Meet or Zoom meetings probably more than we would like to admit. 

Whenever your video is not turned on while you’re in Google Meet or Zoom meetings, your profile picture is displayed. While you might want to upload a profile picture that shows you doing something you personally care about, like kayaking on the river, trying out a new brew from your favorite brewery, or dancing with your spouse, those don’t necessarily convey the right level of professionalism that would look the best for you in your job.

Consider instead uploading your headshot to your Google Meet or Zoom profile, so that even if you don’t have your video on or have to step away from your computer for a moment, you are still conveying looking like a professional member of your team. 

Bios for media

In the event that you present at industry-specific conferences or conventions, it will be likely that the organizer will ask you for your bio as well as an updated photo. This is what individuals will see in their programs and/or on the conference/convention website. It would be very important that your pic look like you do now. You definitely wouldn’t want people coming to your presentation and not knowing that it’s you!

You’ll likely too be asked to contribute a headshot if you contribute an article to a publication, are a guest on a podcast, etc. Having these photos already on hand will make those that much easier to respond to.

Having updated photos will also differentiate when you participated or contributed in these capacities. For example, someone may search your name and realize that you presented in 2003, 2013, and now in 2020, all at the same convention, yet you used the same photo for each event? It’s unlikely you still look the same after 17 years! (Though we all wish, right?)

Any social media connected to your business

While LinkedIn is considered the preeminent social media platform for business professionals, that’s not to say that you may not have a business-related platform on Facebook (like a Facebook page), Twitter, Instagram, or even Tiktok. 

Social media is extremely powerful for helping people form first impressions of you. An unprofessional photo could hurt your chances of networking with a valuable colleague, receiving messages from a recruiter for a competitor, or getting asked to present, lead a workshop, be a podcast guest, etc. 

Marketing materials

Today, YOU are your brand. When people hear that Gary Vaynerchuk (or Gary Vee) is going to be speaking, they don’t care about the topic. They care about seeing HIM. He has become a seminal expert on entrepreneurship, and I’m sure people would show up to hear him speak if he decided to talk for an hour about the lifecycle of crustaceans.

You may not love having your face out there and everywhere, but you simply can’t avoid it nowadays. It is the way the world has shifted, and you have to get on board or…not succeed. 

Whenever you’re creating SOME kind of marketing material that involves yourself, whether it be advertising an upcoming event you’re hosting or how you’re going to do a Q&A on Instagram or Tiktok, you should use a professional headshot in all of those materials. People will want to see your face before they decide to attend something. It’s not as much about the content as it is the person delivering that content. Plus a nice smiling headshot of you can go a long way to making you look approachable and personable.

While you may not see the value in having headshots, they have so many uses for your professional—and potentially personal—life. They help you convey exactly how you would like your potential clients, employers, co-workers, etc. to see you. Further, they connect back to your personal brand, of you as your main selling point. People will show up for and purchase from someone they can connect to, and a professional headshot can provide that bridge for you. 

Daniel Turbert is a philanthropist, president of a non-profit, and published photographer who runs a commercial photography studio near Chapel Hill, NC for headshots and fine art portraits.