I've had a lot of time thinking about what makes a headshot work and the experience to solidify all the little pieces that go into building what I like to call, a successful headshot. But first, let's talk about what the big deal is about headshots. I mean, do you really need one? Is it really that important that you pay someone to take a picture of you? Let's look there first.
Do me a favour and go grab any magazine that's close by. I'll wait. Got one? Good. First, turn to an ad on a page that has a picture of a person. Got one? OK, great. Look at that picture for a minute or two and think about where that picture came from. Now, let's ask the question. Do you think that someone popped out their iPhone and snapped a pic of that person? Do you think the company that is being advertised just told their marketing department to go grab any old picture of a person and make it a full-page ad in the such and such magazine? I seriously doubt it.
No, here's what most likely went on there:
All these people were involved in making that advertisement. For what? To get you interested in what they have to offer you.
Let's take another look at that magazine. Flip through and find an interview article. Got one? OK, great. Now, that first page of the article, the picture of the person the article is on, let's look at that picture for a minute. Now ask yourself, was it a picture of that person at their cousin's wedding last summer - with their significant others arm draped on their shoulder - but he's not in the shot - because he's been cropped out - because he’s, as it were, “not in the picture anymore”? No, no, no! It's most likely an amazing shot of them in a cool studio somewhere looking fantastic, right? Again, it wasn't just a picture of the person snapped at some random moment. It was a carefully planned photoshoot designed to present that person in a way that makes you want to read the article. It was designed to evoke a certain feeling in the viewer. A feeling that might make you want to get to know that person more or even, silly as it sounds, be that person.
So, now let's chat about your headshot, and if you really need one. Let's see, your current headshot, is it a snapshot taken at a family or friend's wedding? Is it a picture of you when you were on holiday in Greece last year? Ok, I know, it's a picture of you at graduation five years ago. Am I right?
Here's the tie-in. You don't have to be in a magazine in order to be considered marketing yourself. You're marketing yourself all the time. If you're part of the corporate crowd, you most definitely have a profile up on LinkedIn. That profile is going to have a picture of you up there. That job you applied for a week ago, yeah, they looked at your LinkedIn profile, and what popped right up the hiring manager's face? Your profile picture, that's what! Did you know that hiring managers and talent scouts take 20% of the time reviewing a LinkedIn profile looking entirely at the profile picture? Considering it's only seconds that are spent reading a profile, 20% is a lot of time and attention taken away from reading your skillset. It's become more commonplace these days to hire someone based on the personality of a person and how they would work in a team, not necessarily their skill set. You can gather a lot more information on someone's personality from their headshot than you can from a list of skills.
Bottom line, when it comes to your online presence, understand that you are always marketing yourself. You need a headshot that presents you in a positive way. While any headshot photographer can take a picture of you, just any old picture won't do. There needs to be a certain quality to the shot. One that is hard to put into words, but you'll know it when you see it. I've seen a lot of headshots in my time, and many of them are just plain terrible. Yeah, the person may be smiling and their makeup is done. But is there life to the shot? I've seen so many headshots that look like there's nobody home! Maybe an example might help illustrate what I'm talking about.
|Nobody's Home!||Now There's Character!|
It's a subtle difference, but it's a difference that makes a huge impact. Most people discount it because they don't realize it. It's all subconscious. But that's a whole other article that I'm working on. Till then, check your social and professional profiles and look at the headshots you have up there. They could be sabotaging your successes.