During my career, I have served as a graphic designer for trade shows and conferences in a variety of industries. When you’re promoting a professional event, the suite of graphics will consist of three types of images: branding for the event, location shots and business headshots for the speakers.
Speaker lineups are promoted heavily on all marketing channels. And the face of the speaker – their business headshot – becomes the face and the brand of their session.
And I noticed something interesting. Regardless of the industry or the notoriousness of the speaker, the most common business headshots that would come through my desk to be placed into marketing materials were clearly over 3 years old, terrible quality and most importantly crappy.
You’re probably shaking your head and thinking, “I’m busy being a business owner or an expert at my field, my resume speaks for itself.” Dear friend, your resume speaks for itself, but I cannot copy and paste your resume into a Facebook ad for my next conference.
Who needs a business headshot?
In short, everyone. Since a little service called LinkedIn became the social network of choice for business professionals around the world, and cultivating a personal brand became the best way to stand out from a crowd of potential hires, having a good business headshot became key to unlocking the next level in your career.
A strong headshot can help you establish your point of view, solidify your personal brand and display your personality without saying a word.
What makes a great business headshot?
In general, a great headshot will:
- Look like you. It should represent what you look like today, and help a person recognize you IRL from your picture on the internet.
- Communicate your personal brand. If you’re an attorney, taking a business headshot outside in a field of wildflowers won’t communicate the confidence and trust a lawyer should exude in order to get clients.
- Be sharp, in focus and have high enough resolution to be used in print as well as online.
- Not crop your face.
- Have enough room around your head and body to allow for your image to be cropped out of the background to be used for other promotional purposes.
How frequently should I get my business headshot updated?
You should get new headshots every 24-36 months. Even though you might not actively notice changes to your face in that amount of time, even the best skincare routine and healthy nutrition cannot prevent your features from showing slight differences. Other instances when you should get new pictures done? If you’ve lost or gained weight, lost or gained hair (new hairstyles or facial hair), had any kind of plastic surgery or experienced a big life change (new job, divorce, had children).
Isn’t it egotistical to have my picture taken so frequently?
We live in a society where the way we look plays a role into how successful we are. The closer you can look to the image on the screen, the more trustworthy you will become to your audience. It’s a sign of respect for your business contacts and leads to serve them with an updated image of yourself that matches the person on the other side of the Zoom screen.
How to prepare for your business headshot session?
- Your photographer will be your best friend. Find someone with a varied portfolio featuring business headshots for a variety of different professionals in different settings, ages and professions. You’re looking for a variety of poses, light retouching that still allows the subject to look like themselves, bright lighting and pleasing compositions.
- Use Pinterest to find inspiration. Whether it’s pose ideas, locations, composition, wardrobe, hair or makeup ideas; Pinterest is an endless source of inspiration for your next headshots. Sharing your inspiration pictures can help your photographer select a location and the kind of lighting and composition that you’re expecting and envisioning for your business headshots.
- Express your personality. Your photos shouldn’t look like a party, but if you’re a professional in a creative field you can feel free to be quirky or let your personality show by bringing little details into the picture.
You know who has amazing headshots? Seth Godin
Look his images up and look at the variety, how much his personality comes across in the images. How much white space there is around his body to work in additional graphics or crop him out; and how his attire changes according to the needs.
Hopefully, I have changed your mind about business headshots and encouraged you to go out and get yourself some amazing ones. Good luck!