Are Professional Headshots Necessary?

Are Professional Headshots Necessary?

A colleague asked this in our ACA LinkedIn Discussion Group the other day.

I thought it was a great question that would make for a perfect blog post!

So here’s my advice:

IF you have the ability and opportunity to get professional shots, by all means get them. Once you start looking for a good photographer, I think you will be pleasantly surprised at just how affordable this is. It’s a good investment AND a business expense write-off.

BUT if you don’t at the moment have the financial ability, use whatever means you have to take the best photos you can. Have a friend with a good eye take some shots of you. You can even pose yourself with instant feedback using your webcam or cellphone camera.

What’s important is that prospective clients and site visitors have A picture of you.

And that’s because people connect with people. It’s why dating sites always say that profiles with photos outrank those that don’t 10 to 1.

When people consult me for my help with their website, I recommend they provide a mix of photos:

  1. A good, close-up headshot wearing professional attire, smiling into the camera, looking friendly and approachable. Studies show that the bigger the eyes, the better. That is, the closer the shot, the larger and more close-up your eyes will be to theirs; that’s the important thing. By all means, let your personality and style show through. At the same time, simple patterns (or solid colors) and jewelry translate better in this kind of photography.
  2. A business casual/action shot. This one could be slightly more relaxed business attire, perhaps of you at a networking event or talking with a client, something like that.
  3. What I call a “lifestyle” shot where it’s you being a regular person wearing more casual, everyday clothing (i.e., non business/professional clothing, but not sloppy, lounging clothes either; you still want to project the image of professional and sloppy does not convey the idea that you are competent, energetic, professional and that you respect them and take their business seriously). Maybe it’s a shot of you with your family or a pet. Or maybe it’s you engaging in one of your hobbies (it may turn out to be an interest an ideal prospective client shares, who knows). The purpose here is to show yourself as a real person (not a robot).
  4. An intro video. It’s the next best thing to being there because they get even more of a sense of who you are as a person, how you speak, your gestures and mannerisms. Doesn’t have to be fancy; you can even use your webcam. Clean up your background (if you use a laptop cam, you have more ability to move around to find the most pleasant/interesting spot in your house or maybe even go outside as long as there are not any sound distractions). Put some nice clothes on and do your hair and makeup. You don’t have to dress to the hilt; something simple, nice and business casual is just fine. The idea here is to record a video of yourself talking directly to your site visitor/ideal client. Welcome them to your site, give them a quick overview of what they’ll learn there and/or how to navigate the site, thank them for stopping by and give them a call to action (e.g., “If getting support in your business sounds wonderful to you, click on the link to schedule a consultation. I look forward to talking with you!”. This is worth a thousand photos!
  5. A shot of your office. If you have a nicely decorated, professional looking office space set up, that can be a great picture to include as well so people can see where you work and that you have a professional/efficient set-up. Of course, if your “office” right now is more of a corner on the kitchen table, then that’s maybe not what you want to focus/emphasize for the time being. When I first started, we were remodeling our cabin and my computer was moved from corner to nook to cranny constantly, lol. We also had a second home where I had a more official set up, but since our main house was on literally ON the water (we lived in an exclusive waterfront community where all the homes were built on pilings over the saltwater Sound), I had a picture of my view on my website as that’s what my “office” was and it was interesting and unique and a good conversation starter. Once I got a more “official” looking space set up in our other home, I used that photo of what I light-heatedly called my “command center” to illustrate that I had things set up very professionally and competently and that they were dealing with a real business that did real work and was expertly set up and organized to do so.

A couple caveats:

  1. No glamour shots. These are not business appropriate photos.
  2. No old photos. If you’re in your 50s and the photo you’re using is one of you in your 20s, it’s time for a new photo. You want to be current and you want to show people the real you, out loud and proud, girlfriend!

Studies show that people LOVE pictures of other people. When there is a photo of a person, that’s where their eyes go first and they engage for far longer on websites that have one.

When you provide photos of yourself (at least ONE), it makes you infinitely more relatable to your site visitors and prospects.

No one cares whether it’s the most perfect professional shot or that you have the most expensive clothes or if you’re good-looking or not.

They just want to see/know WHO it is they are dealing with. It creates instant rapport and helps bond them to you.

If you want to get more consultations and clients, a photo (if not several) are EXTREMELY helpful (dare I say, a MUST even) to have on your website.

7 Comments Posted in Establishing Rapport, Getting Clients, Marketing. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses

  1. I absolutely agree they are necessary. And it doesn’t have to be expensive. Know someone with a good camera or does photography on the side? Why not offer some sort of trade? Great article!

  2. This was a great post with a lot of information that I had not considered previously. I don’t like taking photos but I had a professional photo done for business. I also used the services of a photo retoucher I found on fiverr to soften tiny imperfections.

  3. Your gravatar is a wonderful headshot, Sabrina! You look beautiful and professional with a great business style and sensibility.

  4. Great tips Danielle … some I hadn’t thought of, so thank you for sharing your insights. It also made me think of how little things can often make a big difference (like a photo of your office).

  5. JJ Hall says:

    This is a great post. I never really thought of some of the points raised in the initial comments and the various responses. Guess it is time for new professional photographs.

  6. Gaynor says:

    Love reading your blog posts, Danielle, and this was one of the most helpful yet. Thanks for everything you share.

  7. Thanks for sharing, guys! So glad it was helpful. 🙂

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