There is a very old adage which advertising agencies live by: perception is reality in marketing. What our brain perceives to be reality…becomes reality! This concept is true with headshot photography for authors, actors, and professionals. The right photo can help you connect with your audience by sending the appropriate message as to who you are while the wrong photo can easily hurt you.
A professional headshot is a powerful marketing tool and is used in many different ways, including resumes, business cards, social media, marketing brochures, websites, books, and even billboards on the side of a bus or building. Your photo can create a point of difference and speak to your personality and professionalism. It can tell a story and help create or build branding. Headshot photos present a human connection, and after all, the eyes are the windows to our souls. In essence, it is our digital identity.
(Rene Michele and Vicki Jane Reeve - Dave Fox Photography)
Social media (Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram) are so prominent in today’s digital world, and headshots can help to separate you from the crowd. It’s been said a picture is as powerful as a thousand words, which is why it’s so important to have a high-quality professional headshot that sends the right message. A good photographer will know what style, background, colour, camera angle, and other settings needed to create the look and feel necessary to align with your objectives.
Sometimes companies have a look and feel for employee headshots, and if so, those guidelines need to be recognised and adhered to; however, in many cases, it can be left to the client or the photographer to pick a style. One factor that affects style is the colour of the background. Oftentimes the background needs to be white which aids in extracting the image for placement on other mediums, such as a website. Other times the background is black, grey, or coloured. Cinematic headshots use backgrounds comprised of blurred surrounding, and they are usually much more colourful and interesting than traditional “classic” headshots.
The following is a list of just a few of the factors affecting a viewer’s perception of who you are and the message an image portrays:
leaning your head forward toward the camera, bending at the waist, signals engagement with the viewer,
a head tilt toward the camera for a female can signal being open, friendly, approachable while a head tilt away from the camera for a male can imply being assertive, dominant, possibly aggressive, or interested,
a low camera angle shooting up at the subject can imply superiority, larger-than-life, elevated status, or power while shooting down on a person can make them appear more personal but it can also make them appear diminished,
Rembrandt lighting, beauty lighting, etc.,
what’s in the background,
how loosely or tightly the image is cropped,
depth of field,
makeup, clothing, and hair style,
rather the image is in colour or black & white.
For me, the key to a successful photograph is the expression on the face. While there are many technical skills a photographer must master, the most crucial skill is being able to get a great expression. And the best way to get a great expression is to make sure the person being photographed is comfortable, relaxed, has confidence in the photographer, and has fun during the shoot. The reality is, a lot of people dread having their photo taken, so it’s crucial the photographer has the people skills, not just the technical skills, to put the person at ease in order to capture real emotion with a captivating expression. Get all this right and your clients will love the photo, and that’s where the reward is for a creative photographer!
My advice is to pick your photographer carefully as this is an investment in your future just as a logo is an investment in a company’s future. If you want to check out the amazing work of a few world-class photographers, these are my mentors: Peter Hurley, Lou Freeman, Gary Hughes, and Lindsay Adler.
Dave Fox Photography
Preferred photographer for Ocean Reeve Publishing