'Say Cheese' With Professional Results

Aug. 3, 2017

In business, personalized service builds a better connection. Nothing says personal quite as well as seeing the face of the owner. With smartphones, websites, social media, LinkedIn, etc., pictures are expected. For some people, snapping that photo of themselves is no problem. It is nearly effortless and second nature. And for the most part, those photos are pretty good. If you are like me, however, you think, "Do I really look like that?"  

I believe that some people are more photogenic than others. However, the selfie generation has taught us that there are ways to take digital photos of ourselves that produce better results. Here are a few tips I've found that will ensure you get a better headshot for those times when you are asked to submit one (perhaps to a journalist writing about your company).  


First and foremost choose your lighting. Sunlight works the absolute best, but be careful of strong sunlight as it creates high contrast, bright spots and strong shadows. Also, no one looks good squinting.  

I found a blog that discussed lighting, but more importantly shows a photo of the same person in direct sunlight and then filtered sunlight. They both look good, but one looks like it was taken by an amateur and the other a professional. I found the example very helpful.   

If inside a building, choose a spot with as much natural light as possible. Fluorescent lights often turn everything yellow in digital photographs. And don't stand too close to a wall. The lights will create a hard shadow on the wall next to you that can make you look distorted.   

What's around you? 

Consider your background. This one is big. Trees, plants, walls with artwork are all great backgrounds, but will the object appear to be sticking out of your head in the photo? Are some of the leaves on that bush dying?  

Look critically at the background, and foreground. Is there peeling paint anywhere? Are there wrappers or clutter? Since the photo is representing you, it's important to portray the right image.  

Be ready for the close-up 

Get in close on your face, instead of making sure to get the entire building behind you. People respond to people. Backgrounds such as walls, sky, buildings, vehicles, warehouses, etc., are all easy to recognize even if only a part is shown. Unless the background is a work of art, it's better to focus on you and let the background fad away.  

Another great tip is to make sure you match your brand. If the personality of your company is formal, stick with a suit and tie. However, now days there is a trend to be more down-to-earth and casual. Pair jeans and a dress shirt or choose a more modern cut of pants and a cotton shirt to get the look that represents your brand. Think about colors as well. Designers will often pull colors from a photo to use for captions or wording elsewhere.  

Consider your pose. I am not asking you to "strike a pose" exactly, just consider your best angle. Most people look better at a slight angle than straight on. Tilting your head slightly can be flattering. It sounds silly, but practice in the mirror, look at yourself from different angles and use that to take better photos. And smile. It might be cliché, but people respond to smiles.  

Don't selfie 

While it is very easy to take photos of ourselves with cameras, there is an argument for getting a professional. A photographer had trained their eye to analyze lighting, consider angles, watch out for the odd objects in the background, have dozens of pose ideas, etc. Most can help you achieve the feel you want, whether it's a strong, conservative look or a friendly, casual presence. And those photos can be used in your marketing materials and website in addition to social media and trade publications.   

Your face is your brand 

Think of your headshot as your brand. In fact, much of what makes a good head shot is the same as what makes a good logo. It should be recognizable across platforms, print and online. In other words, people should be able to recognize that you are the same person in each photo and in real life even if the headshot is a slightly better version of yourself. The headshot should be able to be resized, small for thumbnails, and then larger for print media or full screen images. 

Don't underestimate the power of your headshot. A LinkedIn page without a profile picture looks unfinished. On a website, the image connects the customers to you in a more personal way, telling the story of people behind the business. Don't be afraid of the camera, just use some simple tricks and keep retaking until you're satisfied. That's the beauty of digital.