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Brand Photography - How to be head and shoulders above the rest

Consider this question, how quickly do you judge people? Which of these Jack Nicholson characters would you trust if you met them?

OK, so the above example is a bit extreme maybe, and there is no right or wrong answer to this question. In reality though, we judge someone, whether consciously or sub-consciously, within a split second of meeting them. Of course, as you get to know them your opinion may change but as we get older we learn from our experiences of people and we learn to trust our instincts more and more. As a result, the moment we see someone’s face we make a judgement on that person whether intentionally or not.

There’s a saying attributed to Oscar Wilde which says “ You never get a 2nd chance to make a first impression” The most important ingredient in your Brand is you so isn’t it important that your clients get a glimpse into who is the real you? Of course, you could take a selfie but I cannot stress this enough, that may work for social media and for your friends who know you already but a selfie will NEVER ever replace the professional headshot taken by someone who understands light, composition and who has the patience to take an authentic image of you.

Canon did this brilliant experiment in 2015 where they asked 6 different photographers to shoot the same person, Michael. However, what made the experiment so interesting was that Michael’s story was different for each photographer and this resulted in 6 very different images. Each one is authentic even if Michael was acting and each photographer shot a different style depending on what they were led to believe (check out the link to the video below)

I’ve been told many times by clients that they need a ‘LinkedIn’ profile picture and what they expect or believe they should have is that traditional ‘professional headshot, you know the one, sideways on, look at the camera, arms folded type thing. They feel that this type of image is what is expected of them whereas in reality there are many many more options available to you. Whilst there is nothing wrong with that ‘style’, I’ve shot many images like this over the years, you should never feel restricted to headshots like this. The key as I’ve repeated many times is to be authentic. ie be yourself. 

Ok, so if you’re a staff member, the company may decide for the sake of continuity and consistency that all staff pose in the same way but that still doesn’t mean you can’t be yourself. If you smile naturally then why not smile for your headshot, it’s who you are. Don’t feel you have to pull the 'passport pose' just because you’re having a professional shot taken.

So what other types of headshot could you have taken? Well, instead of a white background how about a different colour? How about a natural background or how about outdoors? Think of the headshots an actor or comedian may have maybe. Use your hands, tilt your head, smile, there are no hard and fast rules. A good photographer will help you with the pose but it has to look natural or it just won't work so he/she may try lots of different ways to get you to stand until they hit on the money shot. Whatever they do, don't ever feel pressured in to standing or posing in such a way as makes you feel uncomfortable.

Whatever you decide to do however, you cannot underestimate the importance of having a headshot and a professional one at that. Quite apart from the fact you can use it on all sorts of social media platforms, its the first glimpse that any potential client will have of you so its vital that the shot you use reflects who you are and what you represent, its vital as it will show off your brand.

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