What Does Your Head Shot Say About You?

Head Shots. What are they and why do I need them? Why do they cost so much?

These are the typical questions I receive and the commentary in conversations I overhear. Seems everyone either needs, wants (or doesn’t want) a head shot. Perhaps they are being mandated by their company to acquire one. Maybe they are joining an on-line dating service. The thing is, people are asking WHY do they need one.

The answer is clear: Image sells. We are emotionally bound to images. An image can induce feelings deep within us – joy, sadness, confidence, fear, disgust. You get the idea? In the realm of business, it is no different. Marketers have figured this out and are playing on our emotions to promote their products and make their companies successful. If you’re in business, you need to know this!

We have become such an image driven society. We have loads of social media outlets that thrive on images, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram are some of the most popular. The world of technology is overrun with all the latest capabilities of mobile phone cameras, DSLR cameras; even point and shoot cameras have become super smart and capable of producing some amazing IMAGES. Hence, we take a lot of SELFIES.

In today’s business world, it’s no different. Madison Avenue regales us with our favorite brands through their print advertising, catchy graphics and clever one liners. As this on-line article in www.Levo.com states, “First impressions have always mattered, and in the past it was all about the handshake. Now that we’ve entered the era of LinkedIn, virtual business, and online personal branding, a well-done headshot can be equally important as a firm grip” (Murray, “Are Corporate Head Shots the New Handshake?”) People want to look into the eyes of the folks they entrust their lives to. They want to “see” who they are conducting business with, because if they can see a beautiful confident image, they will be more secure about having that business transaction. Of course, we know that while a picture may tell a thousand stories, some of those stories may be nothing more than tall tales!

Understand that not everything you “see” is the truth. Photoshop aside, the art of a good head shot is just that; an art. It is part skill, part therapy. In order to capture someone in a great confident manner, you must make that person believe that they ARE great and confident. That takes a bit of time and a lot of coaching. Great lighting helps, as do good wardrobe choices, good hair and well applied make-up. However, the magic ingredient is the connection that you make with your photographer. That trust must be there in order for you to put that guard down and let us “see” you.

So what is a head shot? It’s a portrait, typically taken from the shoulder line up toward the head. It may sometimes include the torso – depending on what the client needs the shot for. The way the shot is taken is very dependent on what you want the image for. Let’s say you need a head shot to promote your law practice (I do a lot of head shots for Legal Nurse Consultants), you would want your head shot to convey confidence, intelligence and a trust worthiness, right?

It is recommended that you update your head shot every two (2) years. Costs for head shots vary, depending on which part of the country you live in and the experience level of the photographer. They range anywhere from $300-$1500 (depending on how many shots you want and what they are for).

Next time you want to post a profile pic for your business (or even your FB profile), think about the message that image conveys. Having a professional head shot will show that you care enough and take yourself seriously enough to put your best foot forward. While some professions call for serious clothing, make sure your wardrobe is at the least appropriate to the job / look you want to achieve. I always advocate professional hair and make-up personnel prior to professional shots. However, if you are great at styling yourself, have at it. Certainly posting a pic of yourself in your hole ridden pjs will only convey that you are NOT the person that wants to be taken seriously!

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