I have avoided getting a business headshot for decades. I feel awkward about having my picture taken and seeing myself in photos. While I’m fine with the way I look in person, having that image captured just feels weird. I can’t explain it any better than that.
But this year, I had to have a headshot for an article submission, and for a conference speaking engagement. There was no way out of this. It was inevitable; I needed a business headshot.
I booked a session with Lynn Cluess Manzione of Click Images Inc, located in Garnerville, NY. Her awesome studio is in the GARNER Arts/Historic District, a stunning example of 19th-century industrial architecture on 14 acres, now a place where artists can hone their craft, the public can enjoy art exhibitions/installations, a space for film screenings and live performances, and on-site craft brewery and more.
Lynn’s studio has great natural lighting, lots of windows, bricks, and ambiance galore. It’s neat, bright and comfortable. Outside, the historic courtyard has more red bricks, staircases, metal trusses, and lots of vegetation. It’s all very edgy and very atmospheric. In addition to these great environs, Lynn has the solid qualifications and the creative twist I needed for my headshot.
Hair & Makeup
I’m almost 60, so I felt that my under-eye shadows, blotchy skin, and unruly hair needed to be addressed by a trained professional. For hair and makeup, I used the services of June Danielson of Cut Unisex Studio of Highland Mills, NY. She specializes in Oway Organic Hair products and subscribes to a less-is-more credo. June spent less than and hour of prep time: she used a light airbrush concealer, mascara, gave me some contours, neatened up my hair, and we were ready to start.
My photoshoot was a fun, relaxed, and enjoyable process, and the results were so much better than I expected.
I need to credit Lynn and June with that!
Here are a few tips to get a great business headshot.
Don’t DIY Your Business Headshot
A professional photographer can help turn your headshot vision into reality. It may be tempting to save a few bucks by having a friend take a photo, but don’t do it. The quality of a professional image shows and will help you make a positive impression.
Bad Business Headshots Can Be REALLY Bad
As a website designer, I can’t tell you how many times people submit bad headshots for their website. I politely reject these images and ask for new ones. For example, some of the most memorable headshots I’ve rejected include an open bottle of bourbon on a desk, clutter in the background, stains on the carpet, dogs, cows and cobwebs in the background. Some images show dandruff, messy hair, red noses, chewed, and bloody fingernails. Nobody wants to see that. My guess is that nobody wants to hire that either!
Just Do It. Hire a Pro
First of all, my advice: Go to a photo professional. They know to look out for these distracting and potentially embarrassing issues. They know all about lighting, posture, poses, and how to help you look your best in a photograph. It’s a very specific skillset. So just do it; hire a pro for your next headshot.
Research Their Style
When you’re looking for a photographer to shoot your headshots, do your homework. Look at their online portfolios to see if you’re compatible. Lynn’s portfolio shows different styles and options. Other photographer’s portfolios looked staged and appeared one-note to me. Email or call the photographer. Do they answer quickly? Do you like their tone? Try to have a short conversation with them, ask questions, and be yourself. Getting comfortable with your photographer helps you relax and look happy in your photos.
Don’t wait till the shoot is on or over to talk about pricing. You need to know what you get for your money. How many photos will be taken? How many images do you get to keep? How much time will be allotted to your shoot? Is retouching included or additional? Lynn’s prices and services are posted online. I always appreciate that! Like cars, homes, or websites, there is a wide range of pricing for a photographer’s services. Talk first, make an agreement, sign a contract, get it in writing.
Say or SHOW what You Want
Lynn showed me some of her business headshot samples, and asked which felt more like “me.” I also sent her some stock images to match the style/ mood/vibe I was looking for. Lastly, I provided some adjectives: “edgy, creative, professional.” This info helped her understand what I wanted in my business headshot. I think she nailed it.
Be Your Brand
As a business owner, you need a good headshot. You need it for collateral material, for your social media, for your websites, to send to press outlets for interviews, and so much more. The goal of your business headshot should be to put a face to your brand. Studies have concluded that when viewers see a human face, your brand becomes humanized, and your credibility increases. Visitors feel more confident that you’re not trying to hide behind your product. There is no right or wrong way to present yourself; it merely depends on your branding. A lawyer might prefer a very professional image with a suit and plain background, while as a creative, I was more casual and relaxed.
Opt for Basic Hair and Makeup
Simple is best. If you layer on a ton of makeup, the caked-on foundation will show up in photos. Make sure to brush and style your hair, but don’t go for fancy up-dos. You need to look like yourself. June did a great job of making me look like myself.. albeit an improved version of myself!
Don’t Get a Haircut Right Before
You should probably get a trim before your photo shoot to neaten things up. If you get a brand new hairstyle, wait two-three weeks so your hair can grow and look natural before your photos are taken.
Dress Like You’re Meeting a Client
Your choice of clothing should match your job. If you always wear a suit at work, take some photos wearing a suit. But you can also have a set with a casual Friday vibe. Read more from Lynn about your choice of clothing, click here.
Good posture is essential since it exudes confidence and professionalism. Sit with your back straight and your shoulders back while remaining relatively relaxed. You should not look stiff or uncomfortable in your headshot. Breathe. Lynn helped by reminding me, “chin up,” “shoulders back” while keeping things comfortable, loose and fun.
Get Shots in Your Store/Shop/Office
Consider having your photographer meet at your office or business. Having images taken in your actual workplace/ with your products is authentic to your brand. Or ask the photographer if small props or products can be brought to the studio.
Get Enough Sleep, Drink Water
Get a good sleep the night before. This helps avoid looking tired and uninspired in your photos. Additionally, make sure you drink plenty of water throughout the day and eat a light meal before your photoshoot. These factors impact your well-being and play a role in how your photos look.
Images for Various Uses
Above all, make sure you have plenty of options to choose from. This includes posture, clothing, expression, attitude. You need some horizontal and some vertical images to fit with different media, social platforms, and publications. When you get your proofs, set aside enough time to look through the images, and select ones for different uses.
Get New Business Headshots Regularly
It’s a good idea to have new business headshots taken every 3-5 years to reflect how you actually look. I had one client who insisted on using a headshot from 20 years ago. It must have been a bit of a shock to meet him in person. Those long, dark flowing curls were gone, replaced decades ago by a smooth, bald scalp.
In conclusion: There is no shame in being who you are. Most of us don’t look like models. That’s fine. So go ahead, get that headshot, put it out there, and proudly show the world who stands behind your brand!