Head shots many times cause SMH (shaking my head.) Admit it…we all have a favorite photo which we just know everyone must see! But as far as using it as your head shot, what does it say about you? If you’re going for the professional, confident, approachable look, your latest gator-kill- on-the-Bayou snapshot might be missing the target. Your photo can still portray a fun and friendly look while still maintaining a professional presence. Here are some do’s and don’ts to consider as you look through your photo collections:
First the don’ts (mainly because they’re more fun to discuss):
- Was the “studio” of your most recent image, the front seat of your car? WHY do people think a photo with a seat belt next to you, an empty Big Gulp in the back seat and a “Baby on Board” sticker on the window, is the winning shot to place on their LinkedIn and yes, even on their business card? Let’s not even venture into the backseat shots or sitting on the tailgate. Oh yes, they’re out there. Stop it! You’re better than that!
- Is the best shot you can find, one where you’ve obviously cut someone out of the photo? Is your arm extended around a missing person? That might work if you’re a crime novelist, foreshadowing your latest story. If not…Stop it!
- Smoking jacket? What? Are you a young Mr. Hefner? (If you didn’t get that reference…ask your parents.)
- Your Meetup photo is a picture of an expensive car. Do you sell cars? Are you trying to make someone believe this is YOUR car? If neither of the above…Stop it! It’s really not impressing anyone and also it appears that you may be trying to hide.
- When you posted your photo, did it end up sideways? Upside-down? If so, why didn’t you fix it? This throws up a red flag for being either lazy, careless or not knowing to ask someone to help you fix it.
- Does your image say “Badass?” Well, unless you’re a personal trainer, martial arts instructor, body guard or constantly dealing with Irritable Bowel Syndrome, your facial expression may want to imply approachability. Otherwise, it may come across as a bit narcissistic or mean.
- Sexy photos? This look might be fine for certain dating sites or if you are a professional model. However, such photos are an almost instant pass-up by business-minded people as they may also be seen as arrogant/non-approachable or “overly-friendly.”
- Was your current photo taken within the last five years? If not, it may be time for an update. Regardless of why people are looking at your photo (dating sites, clients, potential employers, etc.) no one likes being surprised when they meet you in person. Also, no one wants to age, but let’s keep it real, okay?
- Is your photo grainy or out of focus? Does it contain “noise” in the background such as wrappers, water bottles, Cheetos, diaper bags, etc? If any of these apply…it’s time for a new photo.
- Does your photo focus on you and/or what you do? Unless an animal (dog, cat, horse, etc.) is business-related (Veterinarian, pet store, trainer, etc.) keep the photo about YOU. This also relates to family members (kids, grandkids, spouses, etc.) UNLESS they are in the business with you. You want your visual message to be very clear…it’s about YOU.
- Vacation photos? Why? Unless you’re a travel agent.
- Small photos? Why? Appears to be low self-image/self-esteem
- Playing paintball? Unless you own a sporting goods store…grow up!
- Sitting? Seems like you might not like to work or you’re sitting in someone’s waiting room. Not impressive. Just sayin’
- No drinks or food in hand, unless you own a bar or restaurant. This can send mixed signals.
- Tuxedo/Gowns? Only if that’s how you normally go to work or if you run a bridal-groom-wear store. Otherwise gives impression you want to “appear” wealthy or your wedding photo was the last photo you actually paid for.
- Oh and once again…stop with the selfies. It comes across as cheap and lazy!
- Finally…Please, please, PLEASE…NO PHOTOS IN BATHROOM MIRROR! We can almost smell the “studio.”
The DO’s List (much, much shorter)
- Find a professional photographer that specializes in head shots. Rinat Halon (rinathalon.com) is one of Orlando’s finest international photographers, specializing in portraits, head shots and weddings. After a brief interview with Rinat, she’ll give you a variety of ideas to make your photo stand out. Joe Genovesi (photogostudios.com) is an acclaimed product photographer, who has a unique business model…he has a portable studio on wheels he can bring to your office. He also specializes in catalog image photography.
- Dress as your clients would normally see you. In Florida, “business dress” is rarely suit and tie, thanks to the humidity. For guys, check out the tips on styleforum.net and for the ladies, check out pinterest’s tips. Then, consult with your photographer to see what additional ideas they might offer.
- Consistency! Be sure to have a look that’s consistent wherever you post (Facebook, LinkedIn, Meetup, Twitter, etc.) as a way of establishing your own brand/image.
Here’s to a successful you. Now go reel in some business!