NOT a good headshot!! Don’t Do This!!!
I would say more than fifty percent of the business individuals that I photograph say that they HATE how they look in pictures. Well if you’re like anyone in that group, welcome to the club. Don’t abandon ship just yet, there’s still hope for you because just about ANYONE can look impressive in the tiny image frame that is the LinkedIn or Facebook profile image.
Personally speaking, if you don’t have a photo of yourself on any social media page and request to connect with me, I won’t connect to you, even if I know you. One of just several reasons I won’t is, “If I don’t know who you are or what you look like, why would I want to connect to you?” Come on, you know who you are, stop hiding out there! You’re in the business world, people need to see who you are.
With the amount of headshots I create every year, I hear some interesting stories, and get to see to some “excellent failures”, many that I’m asked to fix.
These are just some examples of what I encounter as I check to see what my new client is currently using on their websites and social media pages and asking me to fix before my sessions with them start (and please pardon the sarcasm here, I’m just trying to make a point):
“What do you mean, I LOVE this photo of me.”
You may absolutely love it, even though your head is pushing up into someone else’s, and their ear, left eye and nostril covers about one quarter of the image space of which everyone on the planet can still see because you can’t crop a photo the right way and yet you’re soliciting me to hire you for your marketing or business services. Let me think about that one.”
The “Faceless” was here.
Ahh yes, the Alfred E. Neuman style stencil portrait. (Perfect!)
YES, I just love the way your nose looks 5 times larger than normal with your outstretched arm moving into my visual space. (Please, please don’t do it. Some of the absolute worst headshots are selfies. What does your iPhone or Android know about capturing you at your best? Absolutely nothing! I know they’re smart, but can they tell you turn a little more this way or smile differently?)
The “JC PENNY / SEARS Classic headshot portrait” circa painted background.
(You know, the one from your [plug in your year] yearbook.)
Ridiculous and strange looking background images.
(We’re all familiar with photobombing right? Why didn’t you get rid of that guy giving the photographer the finger, because you thought it looks cool?)
I LOVE black and white too.
However, if your B&W headshot was taken before the invention of color film, let alone a digital camera, well need I say anymore here. B&W needs to POP! if you’re to be taken seriously.
Several Classic Facebook and LinkedIn Popular Headshot Styles:
A.)”I just did two, three, four, who remembers how many beerbongs, who’s next!” (Good morning sunshine, this is LinkedIn! As awesome as it may be that you could chug that much brew, you are definitely succeeding in looking like a cast member of the movie “Jackass” on what we all know is a business networking platform.)
B.) “Isn’t my kitty pretty?” Hang on a second, I thought I was on your page to learn about your business accomplishments not your fur family. (I like cats and dogs too, so don’t think I’m not an animal lover here.)
C.) “No, I really don’t want to see what you had for dinner last night.” (Food and drinks as profile images, are you kidding me?)
D.) “Huggy, kissy face with my honey!” (Really, who really cares? Business people aren’t interested in your first date since your last break-up, or your umpteenth anniversary. They’re looking for a professional to do business with here!)
“I never smile, I’m a Tough Guy.”
If you’re going to promote yourself as a bodyguard or bouncer, go for it. But if you’re in sales, how many people are looking to do business with a TOUGH GUY.
The, I’m really an alcoholic smile.
Very nice first impression of you. Yes, I want to hire you immediately. (Snicker, Snicker)
“And the Oscar goes to.”
Sure you look like Brad Pitt, in your dreams buddy! (Why do people actually do this?)
The Full-bod day-off action shot.
(So that postage stamp size image of you posing on the beach in your favorite 2 piece with the sun rising behind you and waves crashing into your legs while you are in half silhouette mode. Who even knows it’s you?)
(Is that a soft focus filter effect you’re using, dirt on the lens, or is my vision just going bad?) A crisp clean looking image is a must.
Really, really bad lighting.
(Is that you lurking in all those dark shadows, George, George is it you?)
If the glove doesn’t fit.
You’re sitting there in a solid pink faded polo shirt and your gut hanging severely over your too tight pants belt. (Would it maybe be safe to say that you are possibly a “photo copy repair tech, or a plumber”? [No disrespect here]. My point being, next time it’s best to choose a tighter close up of your face, I really don’t need to know your a candidate for a popular TV weight loss program.) Dress for success!
The “Hotshot” look.
“Check me out social media world! I’m important!! I’m centerstage with a microphone and podium in front of all of you peeps out there. Are you impressed yet?” (Are you a tool or what.)
The infamous group shot.
“This is me, you know, the one on the right side, I’m the VP, along with three other people nobody else but their mothers know all scrunched up into this teeny tiny photo. (“Eeny, meeny, miny, moe”.)
“Oh yeah, a working action shot!”
And you’re talking on an antique corded handset no less, with your hundred dollar gold plated pen in hand writing out that next big deal you just got a verbal commitment on. (Talk about canned, how tacky dude or dudette! We’re in a new millennium now, bring it up to date.)
And this one is in my BEST for LAST category.
That photo that says; “Just look at how strikingly beautiful I look in my over-the top-glamour shot!” (Now my finger is inserted in my mouth forcing that gaging sound which results in something that smells really bad coming from the bowles of the gut.) Hello people, that look along with the pancake make-up went out in the 80’s!!
Trust me when I say, I too am critical of how I look in photographs, mostly because of what I do, not vanity (although we all have a little bit of that in us now don’t we). I make sure to keep my profile shot up to date and looking as good as I can (especially after seeing myself in the mirror every morning and saying, ugh).
Like me, most you would rather have a dental root cleaning, or have your fingernails yanked out by someone torturing you sooner than sit or stand for a photo session.
Well I’m here it tell you that it doesn’t have to be that painful. All it takes is a quick Google search; the internet provides ALL the necessary tools to find the right photographer in just a few taps of your mobile devise or clicks of your mouse.
The best results come from localized searches within your marketplace. The search engines are pretty smart these days and know your location, so if you’re in Florida like me, you won’t be seeing results from Seattle, Wa., but it’s always good to add your city in your search terms. If I were looking for a headshot photographer, I would search for: “headshot photographers Jacksonville Fl” as my primary and then maybe variations such as “best headshot photographers Jacksonville Fl” or “great headshots in Jacksonville florida”, even other search terms.
Now keep in mind, you will get sites in your search results such as “Thumbtack” that pop up. A word of caution; sites like these promise to have the best of the best, but not all the best photographers are on these platforms, and Thumbtack will only allow the FIRST FIVE respondents to the party, so if the BEST photographer you’re looking for is a busy one like me, they may not see that request until the end of the day, and most times that’s too late to respond because five others (possibly less qualified and experienced) beat that person to the response button. Ultimately and unfortunately through sites like these, you may never get the right photographer to meet your challenge.
Oh, don’t let me forget to mention that the photographers are paying a fee to respond to you for your attention. Again I say “trust me”, a really good, maybe GREAT headshot photographer that does a lot of work and is always busy is not going to be one of those individuals responding to a persons request they can’t even have the opportunity to speak or other wise communicate with from a website such as this unless they bid for the chance.
SO, what does that mean to you? Well it means that you may be getting contacted ONLY by photographers that are not necessarily busy ones, with less expertise in headshot photography, or for a variety of other reasons. Which takes me to the next important part of the selection process. ASK for referrals, or see if they have a “review page” like the one Google provides. The Google review page is authentic, when a review is left, Google identifies the person leaving the review, so it’s a relatively trusted resource (note: Google does not endorse any of the comments someone might leave on this page).
After reading reviews or talking with referrals from search, if the photographer makes you feel comfortable with the inquiry, chances are, if you hire them, you will come away with a new headshot of yourself that you will not only be pleased with, but one that will last for years to come.
Please keep this very IMPORTANT FACT in mind- Personal branding is no longer just for CEOs and entrepreneurs. Each and every one of you, regardless what your profession is, should look your best online, especially on LinkedIn. Your headshot is a huge part of your personal brand!
So, if your profile headshot needs a refresh (and my guess is at least 9 out of 10 of you reading this need to get that refresh), get to your favorite search engine and find a good quality headshot photographer in your market. If you’re having a problem finding someone in your region, let me know, I could possibly recommend someone I may even know that works where you are.
If you have any questions, or would like a FREE copy of my white paper “Tips To A Great Business Headshot”, just email me with your request here: firstname.lastname@example.org
I would be happy to send you a copy and promise you will not be solicited, it’s totally without strings. Hopefully it will help you prepare for your next GREAT BUSINESS HEADSHOT!
Joe has created thousands of great business headshots, actors headshots, and commercial photographs for his clients for more than 25 years. Learn more and see more of his work here: http://www.josephanzalone.photography