4 Crucial Mistakes to Avoid When Choosing a Headshot
Thanks to the internet, headshots are more important now than ever. Way back before the age of the web, you used to get one headshot (usually only if you were somebody) in a blue moon and this picture was then put on your business cards and company pamphlets. Not everyone got headshots taken, and there was simply not the outlet to display them like there is now. Those times are far gone, though! As I type this, I can see my face in three different spots– and that’s just on my internet browser that has one page pulled up!
It’s important to note that I’m not some crazy egotistical person that feels the need to see my face everywhere. Rather, as an Image Consultant and Public Speaker I am (literally) the face of my brand and my headshot serves as a logo. That same headshot is on my website, facebook page, twitter, and business cards because I want my clients to instantly associate me with my brand.
No matter what business you are in, your face (or most commonly, your headshot) serves as a logo for your personal brand. Take a minute and look at your profile picture for LinkedIn, Facebook, and your business/company. What messages are these pictures sending? Is it all the same message, or several different ones? Now, ask yourself the big question- How much more could you benefit by sending the right message?
Creating the perfect headshot is a whole book within itself, but today I’m going to touch on a few of the most common mistakes when it comes to headshots.
- You don’t use a professional photographer. Coca-Cola doesn’t have graphic design interns make all their logos and you shouldn’t settle for your friend’s IPhone picture from three years ago as your personal brand logo. Does your picture have to be in front of a grey marbled background oddly reminiscent of middle school pictures while you are stoically poised in the middle in a suit? No, of course not, but it does need to make sense with your message (see #4) and it needs to look like you put in some effort. A professional picture shows that you take yourself seriously and that others should too. And for the love of all that’s good, please no selfies. I think I die a little every time I see a ‘professional’ use a selfie as a headshot.
- You pick the wrong photographer. Not all photographers are created the same. You wouldn’t go to your veterinarian to get medicine for your sick human child, so why would you have someone who takes baby pictures take your headshot? Do your research. Your brand is on the line here and it pays to find someone who understands the message you want to send and can accurately capture it.
- Your picture isn’t current. I find that this sin is most often committed by middle aged women. It’s like they got a headshot done at work a million years ago and they are still using the same one. Maybe they like that they were ten pounds lighter then or just looked younger. Whatever the case, it’s misleading and creates instant distrust when a customer actually meets them face to face. Believe me, it’s far more attractive and trustworthy when you embrace the you, you are today and are able to deliver that confidence in an (accurate) headshot.
- Your headshot sends the wrong message. This is a big one and goes back to the whole creating distrust thing. The style of your headshot absolutely needs to be consistent with your message. I specialize in teaching my clients about personal branding and how to dress for the person they wish to be perceived as, therefore, I choose a classic black and white picture rather than a colorful, trendy and flamboyant image. You may look beautiful in that picture from your friends wedding, but that bodycon dress and solo cup aren’t doing your banking career any favors. The easy solution? Crop out anything that could be opposed to the look you’re going for. I recently saw a headshot of a public speaker who looked like he was in a death stare with the viewer. Even though his photo was clearly taken by a professional, his offsetting appearance didn’t make any sense next to his bio which claimed he was ‘fun loving, outgoing, and humorous’. Your headshot should display your true, authentic self and be reflective of your strengths and values.
Remember, every profile picture is a chance to show off your personal brand. Different headshots may make sense in different outlets (my Instagram headshot is much more relaxed than my more serious business card headshot) but they all need to convey the same message! So, stop wasting precious advertising space- figure out what you want to tell the world and start using headshots that relay your message loud and clear!
Questions about your headshot and what message it’s sending? Send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org), tweet (@friedmantalks), gram (@leslie_friedman), or message (Leslie Friedman) and I’d be happy to give you my opinion and some free advice.
Looking for more great career advice? You’ll love Chapter 3 of my best-selling ebook: Dressing Your Personal Brand. Go ahead and check out the (totally free!) first chapter below –>