What Story Does Your Headshot Tell?

Everybody can agree that a person’s first impression is important.  When you see someone, you will immediately make some assumptions based on how they look.

The headshot is your virtual / online first impression.  From the headshot, people will ask themselves:
– Is this someone I can do business with?
– How much experience does this person have?
– Do I want to hire or work with this person?
– Can I trust this person?
But all these can be summed up into one question:  Is he/she professional?

To tell your story, you must first decide who your audience is.  Are you trying to start a career with a conservative major bank, or secure a meeting with a CEO looking for someone hip and energetic, or auditioning for a speaking role in an action movie? Once you know who you are “speaking to,” you’ll be ready to tell your headshot story.  If you have different audiences, then you should have different headshots for each of them.

How are you dressed?  A suit and tie is usually the go-to look for a corporate headshot as this states you mean business.  Black, blue, and dark-toned colors are more conservative and say you are serious and hard-working versus brighter tones which are more fun and energetic.  Always make sure everything is lint-free and ironed… nobody wants to work with a messy person.  For women, sleeved tops are more conventional versus sleeveless tops which are very casual.

Hair & Makeup
This makes a huge difference in your appearance.  Having your hair pinned-up is more traditional that having it loose around your face.  If you plan on coloring your hair an unconventional color, you should wait until after the headshot to do so unless you’ll be updating your headshot regularly.  “Normal” hair will be much more versatile when it comes to headshots as hair trends go in and out of fashion and what made you stylish can end up looking dated later on.  Keep makeup simple and have a more “natural” look in terms of color and shading.  Both hair & makeup can affect whether you look younger or older; perhaps you want to be seen as somebody more mature and experienced, or perhaps you want to portray somebody progressive.

Head Position
The eyes and the position of your chin can give the impression of somebody with authority or somebody who is more passive or submissive.  The photographer’s lens choice and angle will also make a big impact on this.

Location & Lighting
Studio headshots are fairly standard, and expected, with business headshots, with white, gray, black, and blue being the norm.  Your headshot photographer should be deliberate with the lighting.  The lighting can produce a clean and professional look or a stylized and modern look; it can be something that you’d find on a business card or something you’d find in a magazine… lighting can make all the difference in a headshot.  On-location headshots are usually done with natural light and produce a softer, more casual look.  These are good for actors and for those not in a corporate setting.  Sometimes the location will also tell its own story.  If you’re in a fancy environment or a coffee shop, the surrounding will affect the story of your headshot.  Another consideration with on-location headshots is colors as you do not want the surrounding to be distracting and overpower you.  If what is around you is more interesting or colorful than you, then your headshot is will not stand out.

Hiring a professional photographer who has experience photographing headshots is incredibly important because they will take all of these elements into consideration.  They will not apply the same technique to every client they come across… the photographer will make choices depending on your personal headshot needs.  Headshot prices can range from a few bucks to over a thousand dollars, depending on the experience of the photographer.  Always look at the photographer’s portfolio (examples of their work) before hiring them, and invest in someone who will deliver a headshot that can tell the story you need told.

Brasil+West offers professional corporate and actor headshots.  Our studio is located in Jacksonville, FL but we can travel to your office or to the location of your choice.

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