I want to share a story with you that really shocked me. And it all starts with the most common excuse in the book. Read to the end for the test.
Today I heard a story about a high-level business executive who didn’t have a proper business headshot. I immediately thought to myself, how can that be? He was a successful, established leader in his industry. I would have thought someone like him would have had a professional headshot taken at some point in his career. But, I learned the main reason why this impressive businessman was behind the eight ball with his own personal branding was that he said he “didn’t have time to get a picture taken,” and that he “was too busy for that sort of thing.” He went on to say that not having a headshot never mattered before, so why would it ever matter now?
Well, I’m about to tell you. But before I do, let’s fast forward through the story:
As he was walking through the Chicago O’Hare airport getting ready to catch his next flight, he received a call from Forbes Magazine who was featuring an article about him in regard to a significant achievement. The article was a big deal and many of his peers would see it. Low and behold they requested a business photo of him to include in the piece. And working with a tight deadline and his heavy schedule, they needed to get it asap.
The time when it mattered reared its ugly head.
Luckily, his flight was delayed – the one time it would be considered luck – so he found a quiet space along the wall, opened up the camera on his cell, and snapped a selfie. He thought that because he was still wearing his jacket and tie from his meeting earlier that the image was all he needed to appear professional. So, he immediately emailed it off to the publication.
Now, I’m not going to argue that cameras on cell phone nowadays don’t take sharp images. They do. Technology can do amazing things. But what it can’t do is guide your posturing to show your best angles or give you the right style of lighting needed to really bring out how approachable and confident you are. Or even adjust your chin in just the right way to showcase your best features, not accentuate them in a bad way. How many times have you taken a selfie and thought, “why does my nose look so big?”
Your cell phone can’t ensure that your background enhances your image, not flatten it. And it certainly won’t get you to open up to send the right message through your expression. Simply stated, they lack the human factor involved that helps to present the best YOU.
Let’s just agree now that your cell phone camera works great for birthday parties, vacations, and football games, but not for capturing you in your best light professionally.
In his case, there was no human interaction with a professional headshot photographer to help him properly pose, light him well, and get a great executive expression.
He went on to say that the publication had contacted him about the photo he sent, asking if he would be able to quickly book a session with one of their photographers to retake the photo as it was not up to snuff so-to-speak. No surprise, he told them he simply “didn’t have the time” and that the photo he sent would have to suffice. Long story short, they opted to not include his photo and explained that it risked squandering his stature and didn’t line up with the nature of his achievement.
Needless to say, he admitted embarrassment from that feedback. After that experience, he vowed he would never be caught unprepared again.
So when the article came out, it was clear that something was missing. HE was missing. Feeling a little defeated, he wished he would have made the time in his schedule to get the headshot done. Instead, there was an imageless article published about him and nobody would be able to put a face with his name. It was a punch to the gut. A rare opportunity at his fingertips to use that great publicity to step into the spotlight and take his career to another level, only to fall short because he couldn’t sacrifice a quick half-hour or so within his schedule. Talk about bittersweet.
So, why was I so surprised to hear this story?
Because it amazes me to think that there are still business people out there who don’t see the true value of what a well-done headshot can do for their brand. Yes, your business headshot is a major part of your brand, you are your brand. Let’s face it, you wouldn’t do sub-par work (you wouldn’t be where you are today if you did) so why do a great disservice to yourself, your brand, or the brand you represent to deliver a sub-par image of yourself?
As he learned from his experience, what a bad headshot does is weaken the seriousness of the individual and make them less credible. It diminishes position and makes that individual look like an amateur, not a professional. Plus, you don’t want to get caught with your pants down when a request comes in from Forbes or Entrepreneur or a local publication for that matter asking for your professional photo.
Unfortunately, time is a big factor for busy business people. Time is money. Today, a business executive who isn’t serious enough about taking a fraction of their time to have a professional, high-quality headshot created, is potential leaving money on the table.
So, to prove this point let’s do a simple test;
These headshots are of two high-level business executives. Each one has the same exact resume and credentials. Both want to meet with you, but because time is big factor for you, you only have the ability to meet with one of them. Based on their image, which one would you choose to meet with?
I think you get the picture (no pun intended).
Make sure you carve out the necessary time to get a great headshot made. Unless you physically change in a noticeable way, that headshot should last a few years giving you a solid investment of your time and budget. Plus, the ROI happens quickly because you’ll be prepared with this powerful marketing tool. Having it at the ready will definitely keep you from looking like an amateur. Like our little experiment, you don’t want to be the one who gets passed over because your competitor’s photo sends a much stronger message.
Joseph Anzalone is a Professional Headshot Photographer in Jacksonville, FL