“Each person should be authentic with who they are in the professional world.” – Sara Shirley, Sara Elisabeth Photography, on the subject of professional headshots.
Professional headshots are a must for online corporate profiles, professional social media sites, and anywhere where your public image has a stake in your business.
But how many headshots have you seen on corporate profiles that don’t convey the proper image?
This applies to authors as well!
This week, Sara Shirley from Sara Elisabeth Photography discusses the importance of personal branding images, and how they can impact your business. She also answers the question about whether or not to use a “selfie”.
1) You have the ability to view professional headshots with a critical eye. When you see a headshot, what kind of things do they tell you about the subject?
I look at these images as “personal branding images” rather than “professional headshots”. After first noticing the technical aspects of the image, I notice the type of expression the subject has on their face. The person’s smile, the engagement in their eyes and small differences in posture and body language are some of the factors that contribute to making the subject look authentic. If someone looks stiff and uncomfortable in their picture (like often in the standard “professional headshot”), it shows. On the other hand, if the person is warm, engaged and authentic, people will view them in a different way. They’ll be seen as someone that people will want to work with. That is why some photographers prefer to use the term “personal branding images” – the images are supposed to be representative of how a person wants to be viewed by others.
2) What are the most important things a subject should consider when posing for professional headshots?
Trusting one’s photographer is number one. People should make sure they select a photographer they have a good rapport with and that can show you some samples of their work. Together, they should pick a location that represents the subject and their personal brand (how they want to be seen by others).
Clothing choice is also very important. Subjects should choose clothing that is appropriate to their field, clothing that is clean, ironed, and lint-free, and clothing that is of a solid colour. People want to avoid anything that has a busy design (like floral print), or anything with logos or text on them (unless it’s their uniform).
Lastly, subjects should just allow themselves to let loose and have fun. Most of us don’t like having our pictures taken, but having a great-quality professional headshot that we love is important to our brand image and to our ultimate success. Subjects should let their photographer guide them through the process and don’t forget to smile.
3) You deal with professionals with many different roles and from many different industries. How does one’s title and industry play into the headshot?
One’s title and industry definitely play a factor in the image, but I give my clients the ultimate decision as to how they want to represent themselves in their final image(s). Some high-level executives enjoy laughing with their employees and having a more equal relationship with them, and subsequently want to be seen as extremely warm in their image. Others prefer to be a little bit more serious and be seen as an authoritarian-type. There’s a full spectrum of choices for people to choose from. Each person should be authentic with who they are in the professional world.
4) Should a professional ever consider using a “selfie” on their professional profile?
Professionals should never consider using a “selfie” on their professional profile because, whether it’s consciously or sub-consciously, prospective clients, partners or employers will not take them as seriously. Making a small investment in a professional photographer can set you apart from the pack. It demonstrates that the individual puts effort into the way they present themselves, which in turn demonstrates that they’ll put effort into other aspects of their professional life.
5) I’ve seen more and more companies using the same photographer for their entire staff. It suggests unity through a common image. Do you see this as a growing trend as well?
More and more companies are opting to use the same photographer for their entire staff. Companies, large or small should consider hiring a photographer to capture professional branding images of their staff because it demonstrates unity and consistency in a world where the image is more and more important.
Next week: Sara analyzes two professional images in terms of personal branding.
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Richard Todd is a novelist, screenwriter, and President at The Editor’s Desk. Plus a few other things that get lost in the clutter. Visit him online at www.richard-todd.com.