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Headshots and Beyond: Professional Portraits Are A Powerful Branding Opportunity

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When you think of branding, you may be thinking about logos, the look and feel of your print and online marketing material. But what about photos that say something about you? Making the time to get a high-quality headshot for your web site, social media, and email blasts is an essential part of your personal and business branding.

A well thought-out headshot or environmental portrait can help send a subliminal message about who you are in a way that connects and builds trust with your current and future clients.

That’s right: Your branding includes YOU. Along with your mission statement, values and a clear description of your product or service, people want to know what you look like. And, they want to know what you look like now—not how you looked in your high school yearbook.

For many people, whether you’re job hunting, spouse-hunting, are updating your profile on social media or your company web site, a headshot may be sufficient, but you might want to go the extra step and get an environmental portrait. What’s the difference?

A headshot is typically a close head-and-shoulders portrait against a plain backdrop (some social media outlets require a white or black background), but a colored, patterned background is an option. It’s a simple way to show what you look like, even if the picture is run small, as is often the case with social media.

An environmental portrait shows more of you, usually in a place that says something about you: your job, your hobbies, your interests. Environmental portraits may require a little more thought and planning, and a good photographer can help guide you towards a setting that will help you accomplish your goals with the image.

Why hire a pro instead of, say, doing a selfie?

A professional photographer has the appropriate camera, lens, lighting system and backgrounds for portrait photography; the little lens on a smart phone tends to distort, and it’s hard to pose properly while holding a camera in one hand. A pro photographer understands how to size images to fit web sites and social media, and has experience posing people to get the best possible expression.

Example: A few weeks ago, I photographed a young lady for a dating portfolio. It was outside, near sunset, and the golden sunlight lit the back of her head and shoulders while my flash provided light so we could see her face. As we were getting started I took a couple of quick shots and showed them to her. She gasped: “What kind of magical camera is this? This is the best photo anyone has ever taken of me, and we’re just getting started!” It turned out all other photos of her were shot with a smart phone by her mom. She immediately saw the difference a professional approach made.

Here are some quick tips to make your headshot or portrait session go well:

Dress the part: A bright tie, a bold necklace, informal clothes andinteresting fabrics could send a message that you’re a a creative, free spirit. A tailored suit with muted tie or a basic blouse indicates you have a professional approach. Choose the clothes that fit the role you are in or aspire to.

Background: As noted above, for headshots, the background may need to be a simple white or black, or a color that reflects the brand of the company you represent. If you’re going for an environmental portrait, do you want to shoot it at your place of work? What about if you’re an outdoorsy type and want to show that? You could do the shoot at a state park or other outdoor location.

Pose: Keep your eyes open, look straight at the camera (this will help you connect with the viewer), and be prepared to follow the photographer’s directions. Beyond that, a pose could be serious or fun, depending on its intended use. Fun poses might be more appropriate if the photo will be used in a dating site or social media; if you’re an accountant, you MIGHT want a more serious pose.

Ready to upgrade your portrait photo or headshot? Give me a call or email me today!