Gone are the days when the only people who needed to worry about having a first-class headshot were aspiring actors. In these social media-saturated times, everybody’s responsible for their own ‘brand’. If you have any kind of online profile, it’s a good idea to ensure you’re being shown in your best light.
Just the Job?
Job-hunting is an obvious occasion when you might need a quality headshot, and many people will get a photo taken of themselves specifically for their LinkedIn profile. But don’t forget that any potential employer looking you up online is also likely to find you on Facebook (your picture will be visible even if your posts are private), as well as Twitter, Instagram, etc, etc.
Online dating is another clear situation where a high-quality image of yourself is absolutely vital. And if you’re the owner of a small business, then you are literally the face of that business - and your customers are far more likely to connect if the About page on your website features a great photo of you.
So, you need a photo, but why do you need a good one? Everyone likes a good time, but that slightly out-of-focus selfie you took at your mate’s 30th birthday party might not give quite the right impression. Even if you crop it so you can’t see the massive cocktail you were holding at the time. The same applies to that moody black-and-white self-portrait with your unmade bed in the background. In fact, any kind of selfie is probably a bad idea. Mobile phone cameras are pretty excellent these days, but they do tend to have fairly wide-angle lenses, which can distort your face. Also, people taking selfies tend to look at their phone’s screen rather than the lens, which gives the end result a strangely disengaged look.
If somebody else can take your picture, you’ll get a better result, and if you can find someone with an understanding of light and who has the confidence to give you some direction in terms of your pose, expression, and so on, you’re onto a winner. You don’t necessarily need a full studio set-up to get a great headshot, but you do need to be properly lit and positioned.
A Question of Time
The shelf life of a headshot is around two years. Sadly, aging is an unavoidable part of life, as well as weight loss/gain, changes in fashion (headshots don’t feature a lot of your outfit, but key elements like the collar are likely to be visible). No matter how awesome your headshot is, if it’s starting to look like someone else, it’s time for a new one! When someone’s meeting you for the first time - whether that’s for a first date or to discuss a new business deal - if they’ve seen your picture online and it looks nothing like you, that’s going to cloud their first impression. An outdated profile picture brings with it all sorts of negative connotations - suggestions of dishonesty, vanity, or just plain laziness - none of which are likely to do you any favours.
A Head for Figures
If you don’t have a friend with time on her/his hands, a decent camera and a flash gun or two (and the knowledge and skills to put them to good use), the best option is to hire a professional photographer. The good news is that this doesn’t have to break the bank. Some photographers will have particular days where they open their studio or hire a suitable venue and you can book a short slot to go in and have a few shots taken. This is by far the most economical way of doing it, but you can feel a bit like you’re on a conveyor belt and if it takes you a little while to get comfortable in front of a camera you may not be happy with the end result. At the other end of the scale is to book a private session with a studio photographer and reap the benefits of a much longer shoot, with plenty of time to relax, try different looks/outfits/backgrounds. This of course involves a much bigger fee.
Personally, I aim for somewhere in the middle. I have a portable setup that I can bring to your home or workplace, so you’re on familiar territory and you don’t have to traipse into a town-centre studio carrying a bunch of different outfits and worrying about where you’ve parked the car.
The cost of a professional shoot might put some people off, but think of it as an investment. Most people wouldn’t think twice about getting a haircut and buying a new shirt or dress to ensure they look their best for a first date or a job interview, but spending money on “just” a photograph of themselves somehow feels like an extravagance. It shouldn’t - these days that photo could be the first thing about you any future employer, your next customer, or the potential love of you life will ever see, and you owe it to yourself to make that first impression count.
Don’t forget - book an hour’s headshot/portrait session with me before the end of January 2019, and save £35 (was £125 now just £90) - click for details
[Offer available within a 20-mile radius of Leamington Spa. Includes Warwick, Coventry, Redditch, Stratford-upon-Avon, Alcester, Banbury, Southam, Daventry, Bedworth, Nuneaton, Solihull, Kings Heath, Kenilworth, Henley-in-Arden, Rugby, etc. Travel costs apply outside this radius]