Your headshot works for you so it might be time for a check in to ensure that it's opening doors, not closing them.
In a recent article - I've just Googled You - I suggested it was highly probable that someone was about to type your name into the Google search bar and talked about how you show up online having the power to make or break an opportunity, long before you even get the chance to meet in person.
In Being Human Is Good For Business I talked about the importance of first impressions, outlining that when you first meet someone, you have a seven second "first impression window". This minuscule time frame tells us that there is importance in understanding how you might be showing up for others, because that is exactly where your personal brand lives – in the minds of others.
The combination of first impressions, google searches and social media got me thinking about professional headshots. I had mine taken professionally at a fashion shoot a couple of years ago... and hadn't updated them since! I aim to show up as authentically as I can and the old headshots felt out of alignment with my #authenticliving approach to life. They were low resolution, outdated but most importantly, I've gone up two dress sizes since they were taken. I have no issue with my current weight, it is what it is and I am who I am but if you'd googled me beforehand, you may have been surprised when the skinny fashion girl didn't show up for the meeting! They're great photos but I've changed a lot in the past two years and I'm not just talking about physical appearance so it was high time that I replaced the old pictures.
Photography is not about cameras, gadgets and gismos. Photography is about photographers. A camera didn't make a great picture any more than a typewriter wrote a great novel - Peter Adams
I chose to opt for a professional headshot because I see it as an investment in my personal brand and in my future. If I land a new client because I have created a great first impression online and backed it up with an aligned first impression offline then the return on investment will far outweigh what I paid for my headshots. The same professional benefit goes for freelancers, business owners or people who are focused on their career - securing that project, landing that job or being selected for that promotion because you represented yourself well and most important, accurately.
As someone looks at your picture, they decide for themselves whether you look competent, whether you look credible, whether you look like someone they would like to know. Your headshot tells a story so ask yourself, is yours telling a truthful one?
If your headshots could do with a refresh, here are some things to think about.
1. Find a professional photographer
A professional doesn't need to cost a fortune but they are key to capturing a great headshot. My advice is to look for someone who specialises in portrait photography as this is the skillset you'll need for this particular task. Looking through portfolios will also give you a good idea of their style and the work they've captured for other clients. I used Leigh Farmer for mine and I'll be sharing her details at the end of this post so if you're in London and you love her work as much as I do, it'll save you looking for someone!
Chose clothes that reflect your personality and style. Also ones that reflect your brand colours. I opted for professionalism and simplicity because that's how I roll and by choosing a classic colour palette of Navy / White and Camel / Black, I know that they'll compliment my personal and professional brand because those colours are my go-to, they're what I normally wear... it feels authentic to me. I got my husband (poor guy!) to take photos of me in different outfits a few days before the shoot so I could put them in collages and see how the colours looked collectively - here's a few of my wardrobe shots!
Once you know your wardrobe, you can think about your background. Are you going to be in a studio? Outdoors? If you're working with a professional, location will be something you discuss early on and they will be best placed to advise on the background. I chose to go for an outdoor shoot so I sent my wardrobe shots to the photographer in advance so she would know what colours she she was working with and could do a backdrop recce on the day.
4. Hair & Makeup
I chose to have the shoot in Eccleston Yards, where my client SMUK is based. SMUK London is the home of natural beauty and given that hair and makeup usually feature quite low on my priority list, I was going to need their help to get #thesmuklook ;) I am a creator, I love working and putting things out into the world but hair and make-up have always felt so temporary to me. For one it takes time plus anything you do gets undone at the end of a day. Unfortunately, the repetition of it all usually sees me heading out the door with my hair in a messy bun (the bigger the better!) along with some eyeliner, lip balm and huge sunglasses, decorating an otherwise makeup free face!
Seeing as this was a photoshoot, hair and makeup would no longer be temporary... they'd be captured permanently in my images so it was worth investing my time in. I chose SMUK London because I love what they do but also because of their 'natural beauty' ethics... I wanted to look good but I also wanted to look like me! That would be my biggest piece of advice if you're considering professional hair and makeup for your shoot, make sure you look like you - if you don't usually wear much makeup, don't turn up for your shoot heavily made up and vice versa.
A headshot is a close up of your head and upper torso. You could take some different shots, but close ups help others connect and are the ones that most media outlets will request. Think of people who resonate with you and have a look at their headshots for inspiration. Standing at 6'2", I have presence, I am very confident when it comes to knowing who I am and I like to make work fun but I'm also an introvert, a thinker and can be very serious when I'm focused so I opted for poses that reflected these aspects of myself. Think about what you value and which poses would best reflect that: laughter, leaning in to the camera, power poses etc and do your research. If it doubt, take some at home beforehand and test them out!
These are only a few of the shots but I'm really pleased with the results and whether its a request for a headshot on a 3rd party website, profile photos, social media posts, press releases, a blog post or anything else that might require a headshot at a moment's notice... I'm ready for it! The question is... Are you?
With special thanks to:
Photography: Leigh Farmer Photography
Hair, Makeup & Nails: SMUK London
Location: Eccleston Yards, London