Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The Importance of a Professional Headshot and How to Prepare

Headshots are used frequently today on Web sites and in brochures to place a face with a name in business. Public relations practitioners often send them to television media when pitching clients for an appearance and we always include them with news articles about individuals. A great headshot for your business can be very beneficial. It can say; “I ’m approachable, I’m trustworthy and I’m a good person to work with.” A bad headshot can say, “I don’t care what you think of me or I’m too cheap to invest in myself or my firm.” So, the first piece of advice is to put your own digital camera away and invest in yourself. Good up-to-date headshots are important to have and have a shelf-life of four to eight years (depending on how often you change the color of your hair . . . ).

A photo shoot can be a fruitless venture if you’re not properly prepared. Here are some easy steps to follow in order to guarantee your photo shoot runs smoothly and to ensure you receive a desirable result:

• Show expression. Let your eyes do the talking. Smile if appropriate.
• Be versatile. Your headshot needs to appeal to many different audiences.
• The focus is on you, not what you’re wearing. Wear simple, solid-colored clothing. Avoid patterns or wearing all one color. Layering with a collared shirt or jacket allows you to look professional and vary your look easily from shot to shot. Refrain from wearing bulky jewelry or accessories that will take the spotlight off of your face.
• Show your “everyday” self. Wear your hair and make-up as you typically would any day of the week.
• Practice your facial expressions (smile, no smile, teeth showing, serious, etc) in a mirror.
• Have several color shirt and jacket options and bring them all with you on the day of the shoot.
• Get plenty of sleep the night before the photo shoot.
• Expect that the shoot will take one to two hours. Allow plenty of time so that you are not rushed or stressed.
• Remember that the photographer is a professional. He or she will use their skills and experience to best create a photo for you.
• Engage a hair stylist and make up professional so that you can look your best.
• Relax and have fun! Your picture will reflect that.

When it comes time for you to get your headshot taken, remember that it doesn’t have to be a stressful undertaking. All you can do is come prepared and be yourself. If you do your part, the professionals involved can easily create a pleasing visual for you.