As they say, we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. But, the reality is, we all do. We judge products, emails, website layouts and photos in a matter of seconds. And, in those moments, people decide some very important things like whether they want to do business with you, if you seem approachable and if they are going to continue to read your email. Simply put: everything that you push out for the public to see is important because it can have implications on your business.
In a market of clutter, people want to feel connected to a brand and showing the face behind it is one way to develop a relationship because it adds a humanizing factor to the business. This is just one reason why it’s important for you to invest in a professional headshot. Plus, as an entrepreneur, you will use them in a variety of ways such as on your LinkedIn profile, media kit, press requests and any other features or awards you may receive both online and in print.
A good headshot doesn’t have to be expensive, but it does have to do a few things:
Fit with your brand’s DNA
Your brand is a fusion of you and your products. Everything thing that you put out should relate back to your brand’s make up. If you’re touting an urban, cool vibe, then your headshot can speak to that. Designer Emily Saunders said her brand SAUNDER is a reflection of her eclectic taste and “global influences as well as an overall flavor of downtown New York” and communicates that in her headshot.
As a designer, you are a business professional and your photos need to show that. Here are few considerations when taking a headshot:
1. Features you: Your photo should communicate your personality. Paying attention to your facial expressions and the tone of the image is important. Handbag designer Adriana Castro, known for her exotic skins and colorful offerings has a headshot that is stylish, approachable and shows her personable smile; all great qualities to highlight.
Clothing and accessories are important too. You, of course, should be wearing your product and as designers, have some leeway in how creative you get compared to the traditional suit and tie headshot typically seen on most business professionals. However, it doesn’t mean that your photos should be over the top or be too sexy, unless that is what your brand is offering. Layla L’obatti, founder and designer of Between the Sheets, a New York-based lingerie brand does it right by wearing a harness necklace and taking a photo that shows a confident and captivating look.
If you are the face of your business, then you should be the only one featured. This means that photos with your friends at a bar, at a wedding or with your family won’t work despite how good you look. And, trying to crop out a drink, another person or a body part like someone’s arm usually doesn’t work because most people can tell the original context of the photo.
2. Proper background: Shooting your headshot on a solid background is standard and works. Designers such as Alexander Wang and Rachel Dooley of Gemma Redux have done this well. However, as long as the background is not distracting and connects you and your brand, then using a nontraditional setting is fine too. This could be somewhere in your neighborhood, your studio or factory as long as it feels right for your brand.
3. Quality image: Whether you choose to get your headshot done by a photographer or try to do it own your own, your photos should be clear, quality images and never appear pixelated. You may want to consider taking multiple angles or even different types of shots such as full body, above the waist and of course, one that focuses on your face so you will have them ready for different opportunities and requests that may come your way. And, stay away from selfies for professional use. You can take them for posts on Instagram or Tumblr as that’s where they are deemed most appropriate.
4. Be current: As you evolve both professionally and personally, your face and style may change. You may lose weight, get a new haircut or change your brand’s positioning and aesthetic. What you’ll have to decide is whether your photo is still relevant and connects you to your brand offering and voice.
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