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September 16, 2021

Why professional headshots are vital to convey professionalism

Nancy Marshall Photo / Ben Williamson Nancy Marshall of Marshall Communications

Many of us have been cloistered in our homes during the pandemic since March of 2020. May of us have missed hair appointments, workouts at the gym, and clothes shopping trips. We have hardly had any public events, and we haven’t had to think about our physical appearance. We may have mastered the art of the Zoom call where we put on a jacket and button-down shirt while wearing sweatpants below camera view. 

That said, as a professional in business, it is vital to have a high-quality head shot that you can use on LinkedIn, or easily provide to the media or to an event organizer upon request. A headshot is a tool in our toolbox that is essential to show up in a professional way. 
Investing in a high-quality, professionally taken and edited headshot is an investment in your personal brand. It shows you at your best, the way you want prospective clients, employers, professional peers and even the public to see you. 

Many of us are not naturally photogenic. As a result, amateur photography can end up making us look nothing like we do in person — and definitely not at our best. A professional photographer who specializes in headshots knows how to position you, how to choose the best backdrop and how to use lighting to get the best shot possible.

A photographer can also advise you on the best type of clothing and colors to wear. I believe you should dress as you would in your work environment. If you are a business executive, wear a suit. If you are a doctor or nurse, wear your lab coat. If you are a fishing guide, dress in what you would wear on the water. If you do work in the business world and have a bit more flexibility with your “work uniform,” choose colors that are flattering to your skin tone and hair color. In general, solid colors are better than patterns. For men, a brightly colored (but not too bold) tie paired with a classic button-down shirt and dark-toned suit is a nice choice. For women, wear something that keeps the emphasis on your face and your smile and stay away from busy prints and bold designs. 

Now that social media has taken on such an important role in promoting our professional abilities, having an impact-making headshot is more important than ever. Since every social media platform requires a profile image, your headshot will have a far-reaching web presence in addition to more traditional uses like the staff page of your organization’s website and publication in conference or speaking engagement–related materials. Every professional should have a LinkedIn profile with a professional head shot. Using a snapshot that your nephew took at the family wedding reception and cropping everyone else out of the shot is just not appropriate. 
So, are you still wondering if you need to invest in a professionally taken headshot?

Here are six reasons why you should:

  • It conveys your professionalism. If you look professional, potential clients, investors, collaborators, etc. that don’t know you personally are going to be more likely to agree to that first meeting.
  • A good headshot gives people an idea of your personality before they meet you. A smile portrays approachability. A serious look portrays determination. Make your expression match your personality. I choose to smile in mine!
  • It reminds business contacts who you are if they met you in passing at a conference or business function. This little cue makes it more likely they will accept your “friend” or “follow” request.
  • A current headshot gives people an idea of what you look like now. I recently went to a CEO breakfast and two of the presenters’ headshots were taken years ago. There was an immediate disconnect. It’s not good to surprise people in this way. It sends a message of inauthenticity. If you had black hair in your professional shot but now your hair is gray, or if you have gained 30 pounds since your last headshot was taken, people are going to be looking at you and wondering why you look so different rather than listening to what you have to say. 
  • It supports and enhances the skills and experience on your LinkedIn profile, making you stand out from the rest. One hint specific to LinkedIn is to look to the left so you are literally looking at your profile.
  • It makes you feel good to look your best. Having a quality image of yourself to share with your professional peers boosts your self-confidence, and it can even inspire you to share more of yourself with others, take a few risks, and overcome work-related challenges.

Professional headshots aren’t just for top executives anymore. Everybody needs one. If you don’t have one already, I encourage you to seek out a skilled headshot photographer and check it off your “to do” list. With a great headshot, your professionalism and unique personality will shine through, opening the doors to new opportunity and new business.



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