Anyone who has an online presence knows that they need a profile picture. Even if you are from a generation that for many years did business face-to-face, the pandemic has forced us all to learn how to build business relationships and connect online. As things open up, that communication is still imperative as people will continue to work and relate remotely. My one piece of advice: stay away from the selfie seduction.
Selfies are not new, nor are they an invention of the cell phone era. In fact, I had a professor in college who took selfie’s on film with a Hasselblad camera. It required a super wide-angle lens and a long stretch, but he honed that look everywhere he went. Selfie’s are a great way of sharing fun moments with friends and family, but when it comes to a headshot for your professional life, they are not the best choice. What lies in that little round circle plays such a huge role as to whether or not someone will take your seriously and will consider working with you.
First, it is important to understand that a professional headshot is unlike any other photo in its purpose. It is an image created of you with the main goal of helping you generate monetary gain. It is your digital calling card; your handshake, an opportunity to convey your personal brand and showcase your self-confidence. Potential clients and hiring managers scroll through hundreds of photos on a weekly basis, leaving you with less than 2 seconds to catch their eye and standout out of the stream. It is often your only chance to make a really strong positive first impression.
Ok, so you know it is important, but you are on a tight budget. Maybe you can make a cell phone image work with a little effort. But before you do, consider the following…
- Although cell phones have increasingly more resolution with each generation, and fancy portrait modes with different lighting settings, the resulting image is still not even in the same ballpark as an image generated with a professional grade camera. Cell phones are set for a wider view, but it is hard to frame yourself in a favorable way up close with this type of format in part because it distorts the image a bit. Additionally, the rear facing cameras often have a lower resolution and produce a mirror image. And while you may be able to soften the background in the portrait mode, a professional portrait lens will have both the correct focal length and ability to create a soft background that looks natural and flattering because it created optically, not digitally.
- Lighting is the key difference between a novice photo and something that truly makes you look stunning! “Lighting” created by the algorithms of your cell phone cannot replicate the sculpting a knowledgeable photographer can do with studio lights. A skilled photographer can even use studio lights outside or in an environmental setting to enhance scene that includes an existing background. The way lighting appears in a photograph can speak words to potential clients; it says that you value quality and invest both time and money into achieving that in every aspect of your professional life.
- A photographer can pose you in a way that helps you look your best. Have you ever seen behind-the-scenes photos of super models? Sure, they have good bone structure, but without the right lighting and make-up they do not look quite as spectacular. In fact, they may even a little tired because those darn overhead lights that are just everywhere making all of us look a little worn out. Why do they look so good in the magazines? Because of a photographer who provided coaching, lighting, and retouching. Maybe you don’t feel like a super model, but a talented photographer can make your beauty shine through. With the correct posing tips, a photographer can help you relax and give you the positive feedback you need to feel amazing in front of the camera. In the end you might even be surprised by how great you can look. This can be such an encouraging experience and confidence builder!
- Want to be on trend, look fresh and not outdated? A professional photographer can help you create a look that is current. Sure, trendy can mean tapping into a retro look, but there is a big difference between an image that is styled to look retro and something that was really taken in the late 80s. And all those fun Instagram filters can appear overdone and tacky. A photographer can apply settings to a final photograph that make it look like it was shot for an advertising campaign, not by a middle schooler–although some of those middle schoolers can be quite savvy!
- Paying for a professional photographer may seeming like a big investment, but it is really is not as costly as it seems when you think of how it can truly pay off over time. Your headshot can typically last 2-3 years. This results in a yearly cost that is less than your streaming subscription. And unlike Netflix or Hulu, a great headshot will help you make connections 24/7, maybe even while you are binge watching your favorite show for the third time.
- When it comes down to it people buy people, not products. Relationships are key! Make a great first impression with a professional headshot and stay away from the selfie-seduction!