MT Expert's Top Ten Tips: Make the most of your headshot

Doren Gabriel, founder of image specialists DG-Corporate, explains how to make a lasting impression with your business profile photo.

by Doren Gabriel
Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

As an increasing number of people form business relationships online via sites such as LinkedIn, it's never been more important to stand out from the crowd.

Whilst having an online profile can never recreate meeting someone in person, a good picture enables people to put a face to your name, builds trust and can help form a favourable first impression.

Here are my ten top tips on how to make the most of your business profile picture:

1. Reflect your personality and industry

Think about ways to communicate your strengths through the image. Maybe you’re a great communicator, maybe you understand how to motivate people, whatever your single biggest strength is find a way to express it. It’s also important to choose a style of photo shoot that reflects your market. New media businesses need to avoid looking too corporate, keeping outfits smart but casual, whilst lawyers need to be in more formal attire with fitted shirts, jackets and smart accessories.

Go natural

Lots of people think getting the perfect business shot is a case of sitting down and smiling for a few minutes but if you really want to look your best then try and be as natural as possible, literally.

Even if you’re a slave to the caffeine give it a miss on the morning of the shoot. Hot drinks can make you look sweaty, even flustered, so instead drink plenty of water to keep you hydrated. Keep your food intake light and healthy as if you’re feeling bloated or tired it will come across in the picture.

Practice makes perfect

It might sound counter-intuitive to practice a natural pose but most photographers are working against the clock so you need to be ready for them as soon as you sit down. Look in the mirror and find a pose which looks natural yet professional and if you can’t find one keep trying until you do.

Make the effort

Be sure to remove all oil and grease from your skin and hair before the shoot. Also while you may think it makes you look healthier, avoid spray tans at all costs! Some studios provide hair and make-up stylists and no matter how good you think you are at doing it yourself I’d say go in natural and let the professionals do their work.

Choose colours carefully

When it comes to clothes, simplicity is key. Mid-tone colours (red, orange, yellow, green, blue) work best and try to avoid any busy patterns which will distract people from looking at your face. Lots of people turn up wearing white but the colour tends to wash out against the background so make sure you have some other colours on hand just in case.

Get your head down

Getting a good night’s sleep is easier said than done for many busy business people but try and get as much rest as possible the night before your shoot. Nobody wants to do business with somebody who looks exhausted and turning up feeling refreshed and awake will really come across in the picture.

Go for colour and quality

Black and white headshots can often look dated so make sure your shots are all in colour which will help your personality shine through. Keep your pictures crisp, make sure they’re of a high resolution (typically 300dpi) and where possible get both portrait and landscape shots to suit any page layout.  

Look down the lens

A common mistake people make is to look past the camera which makes them look distant - not great for first impressions. By making direct eye contact with the camera you look engaged, switched on and ready to build business relationships. 

It's important to avoid shots from above as this can make the subject look smaller and less authoritative. You should sit up tall and try and smile without looking overly happy, as this can come across as unprofessional.

Consider the crop

An increasing number of our clients hire us to create images for use on sites such as LinkedIn and Twitter, both of which automatically crop images. You need to plan for this so make sure that your photographer provides a service which ensures the cropped image is still crisp and keeps you looking at your best. 

Keep it in the studio

Always go for studio shoots and avoid outdoor settings. You’re at the mercy of the weather and the background will often be distracting, taking the focus away from you.  Studios are custom designed to create the perfect lighting and background for professional shots, making you the centre of attention. Try and go for grey backgrounds which are soft and versatile, rather than white, which often look clinical and a little cheap.

Doren Gabriel, founder of headshot specialists DG-Corporate, has taken more than 10,000 headshots during his career and has worked with the likes of Gallup and The Cherie Blair Foundation.

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