Does the thought of having a business head-shot taken at your firm or organization put you into a panic? Do you have a website, blog or social media spot that lacks a fab-ulous, professional photo of you?
Or worse, might the photos of you on work-related sites do you more harm than good?
First impressions don't just happen in person or over the telephone, they happen in cyberspace all the time. Law firms in particular showcase photos of their partners and associates online, complete with biographical information and summaries of accomplishments, in an effort to sell the firm's services. Many times the photos miss the mark by not fully conveying the individual's expertise and talent. Here are the four major mistakes I see in what passes for professional portraits:
Poor Clothing Choices. It's important for both men and women to wear a jacket with lapels if they are in professional services fields such as banking, law or consulting. Polo shirts and cardigan sweaters just doesn't say "trust me."
Men should wear a starched white or blue shirt with a dark suit, paired with a necktie in blue or red. The tie may be solid, striped or have a small pattern, but should by no means stand out. Ladies have much more leeway when it comes to color, but a suit jacket is still a must. Adding a complexion-flattering colored buttoned shirt, silk blouse or knit shell underneath will complete the look.
Too Many Distractions. Accessories are the spice of one's wardrobe, but must be chosen carefully for the camera. Likewise, hairstyle and make-up require special attention for a photo shoot. I remember when I was in the fourth or fifth grade, I borrowed a double strand of pearls from a stylish classmate and wore them for picture day (my love of jewelry goes way back). My mother hit the ceiling when the proofs arrived in the mail six weeks later. She was upset because what we now might call "bling" was a distraction to the overall photo (sorry, Mom). Ladies, in a business shot it's best to go with small to medium sized earrings and a low-key necklace. Scarves are tricky, so rely on your jacket and blouse to enhance your face.
A good business portrait should make you look modern, accomplished, capable and competent. If you haven't had a new hairstyle in a while, visit your salon a few weeks before the photo session and tell your stylist you want a new look. If your hair is difficult to manage, it will pay to visit the salon the day of the shoot, and while you're there, get your make-up professionally done. You won't regret it, I promise.
An Amateur Shot. Some firms encourage the use of personal, casual photos of their principles, in an effort to make them more "real," or more down to earth, I suspect. Not using a professional photographer, however, is a big mistake. It makes the organization look cut-rate as many of the photos are of poor quality. Having a professional and consistent look and feel to all the photos featured on a website lends crediblity to both the firm and its people.
Dated Photos. Ever meet someone who bears little resemblance to his photo? When it happens to me, I can't quite concentrate on what the person is saying when we first meet. Rather, I'm in a quasi-state of shock, as I play the "what-the-heck-is-different" game in my mind.
Clinging to one's younger, thinner self through an old photograph makes no sense. Accept and own those extra 15 pounds, that thinning hairline or perhaps even a double chin, and make the most of it. Expert lighting, professionally done hair and make-up, and an expert photographer can make just about anyone look good.
Please visit my blog and check out Roberta and Lisa and their amazing publicity photos.