Ask your web designer what the most viewed page on your website is after the homepage and they will probably tell you it’s your About Us/Meet The Team page. When potential clients are researching your business they need to be assured that you have the necessary level of skill and experience to help them but at the same time that you’re going to be enjoyable to work with. If you fail to hit the mark with either of these, there’s a strong chance that your prospect will pass you by and move onto one of your competitors. So, what’s the best way to make sure they get this impression? Have amazing headshots.
I know what you’re thinking.
“You’re telling me that a potential client can gauge all of that with a photograph of my head and shoulders?”.
Yes, that’s exactly what I’m telling you. However, it works the other way as well. If your headshots were taken against the office wall by your colleague who has the best smartphone it has a seriously negative impact on how you are perceived.
You can’t underestimate the role that your headshots play in encouraging people to make contact with you. As a full time headshot photographer my job goes way beyond pressing the shutter button. I’ve been called a brand manager more than a photographer. Although my camera and lighting are my tools, my job is to help your business portray itself in the best possible way, which is respectful to modern market conditions such as social media.
I want to give you four key pointers to consider when evaluating whether you need to update your company headshots. I encourage you to cross reference these with your existing presence, that will give you your answer.
Creating A Consistent And Professional Perception.
There’s a direct correlation between the consistency and quality of your branding messages and what the client assumes will be the quality of the work you do for them. If your team headshots have varied lighting, background colour and composition across the staff members, with inappropriate clothing choices it looks sloppy and unprofessional and that potential client is left thinking “well if they are sloppy with that, they will be sloppy with me too”. Check out the image grid below from a recent shoot with one of my clients. These images were shot across different locations on the same day but notice how consistent they look in terms of the background, the framing and the professional perception. They are a great bunch of guys who really know their stuff and now they look it too.
How Camera Height Can Make You Lose Your Authority.
I don’t want this post to become overly technical but due to the amount of CHD’s (Camera Height Discrepancies) that I see, it needs to be mentioned. The angle that the camera is at when the photographs are taken changes the perception that the viewer has of the subject hugely. If the camera angle is very high, looking down, then the subject will lose their authority. In the reverse scenario, where the camera angle is too low, looking up, the subject looks menacing and overpowering. Tying heavily into my point about consistency, the camera needs to be at earlobe or mouth level. The first image below has the camera very high and pointing down at the subject. The expression is kinda blank but she also has no authority. In the second image, one of my clients, Miriam looks confident and approachable. The middle of the lens is pointing more or less at earlobe height. All promotional headshots should be shot at this angle.
Showcasing Confidence And Approachability.
This, right here, is the secret sauce. Businessmen and women usually have very little, if any, experience in front of a camera. Therefore, they don’t know what to do or how to behave. Going back to my very first point about portraying skill and experience as well as being enjoyable to work with, I wrap it up as showing confidence with approachability. If I said to one of my clients “ok I want you to look confident and approachable” they wouldn’t know where to start. Why would they? It’s my job to guide my clients through the process. If I didn’t, I’d end up with big eyed ‘rabbit in headlights’ headshots with cheesy, awkward looking grins and that’s not good for anyone.
Here’s a great example of what I mean. Both of these images below were shot by me. The image on the left is without any expression coaching and what you would expect to see when you’re not getting a headshot photographer to help you out. The image on the right is after being guided by me. Same camera, same lighting setup. The only thing that’s changed (other than the jacket) is coaching. Look at them through the eyes of a prospect. How would you feel about hiring the guy on the left compared to the guy on the right?
Gotta Be Mobile And Social Media Ready.
The amount of viewers who will interact with your brand and your headshots on a mobile device is significant and a lot of those interactions will be on social media profiles. These profiles give you a very small space in which to put your headshot, therefore it’s critical that we maximise this limited space as best that we can. Firstly, it has to be a headshot not a three quarter or full length image. On a small screen nobody can see your face and if they can’t see your face, you can’t gain their trust. Many conversations are had online with people who we don’t (yet) know in real life and we like to see who we are talking to!
Secondly ,we have to eliminate any space that doesn’t contribute anything meaningful to the photograph. If there’s space above the head, it’s gotta go. Anything below the tie knot on a guy and a similar position on a lady is wasted space also. Composing in this way is a more modern approach, which respects how the images will be viewed. It’s unlikely they will be printed on a huge billboard somewhere. They are going to spend a lot of their time being viewed in a small square on a small screen.
The lady below is composed with a lot of space above the top of her head which causes her face and therefore her expression to take up a very small percentage of the image. Albert, on the right is composed with pretty much zero space at the top of the image and occupies a much larger amount of the frame. When viewed in a small square on a small screen he becomes much easier to see. This is the correct approach.
Hopefully these four pointers have been useful. I’m curious what you guys think so drop your thoughts in the comments or hit me up on Twitter @rtorblephoto.