What is your head shot strategy?
Head shots are a vital part of the entrepreneur’s or executive’s tool kit. Think about it. The first thing someone looks at on your LinkedIn profile is your photo. The first thing they see at a meeting is your face. The days of the Sears portrait style are over. And, no, Virginia. A selfie won’t cut it unless you are looking for love in all the wrong places. Some of the worst offenders are realtors and insurance sales people for some reason. These hyper perky, over caffeinated gummy grins and poses don’t add credibility or make a true psychological connection with the viewer.
The lowly head shot is usually considered an afterthought. Instead, it should be thought through strategically to maximize the value of your personal image. In other words, your selfie is leaving value on the table and could be harming your professional reputation unless you are a twenty-something hipster or a teenaged girl.
While I’m not known as a photographer, I’ve been shooting since I was 15 when my father bought me a Pentax K1000. I taught photography at the University of Wisconsin and have traveled around the world doing street photography where I create highly authentic images of people I meet.
However, on the occasion that I have the pleasure to photograph one of my clients or friends, (see images below) I have a more strategic process.
- We work together before the shoot to understand their intended uses of the photo and how they wish to be represented. These attributes might be “serious, intense, friendly, down to earth, experienced, youthful, approachable, Texan,” etc.
- We examine how the photo fits with the subject’s intended career path or corporate brand and how we can maximize the impact of the shot towards these ends.
- Working off the above information, we determine the best background. The background is often ignored and can be a powerful tool to communicate specific ideas. I’ve shot people in their favorite coffee shop, outside in front of the city skyline, from below a glass conference table, on the factor floor and many other non-traditional places. I’ve included some of these shots below.
- Most importantly, I talk to my subjects during the shoot. I have learned over the years to anticipate the exact moment when a subject is totally at ease and and get the shot. These moments of authenticity let the person transcend a posed look and let their true nature shine in a way that forwards their career or company strategies.