Some people overlook the importance of clearly establishing a personal brand. Today’s world is indisputably digital—and every bit as visual. Online platforms are increasingly your first opportunity to create a lasting, positive, professional impression on prospective clients. They’ll be looking at all the little details, and that includes examining your headshot for signs of professionalism and trustworthiness.
Yes, it can be a little unnerving to realize how important a good headshot is, especially if you’ve never before considered it. But it’s just logical, really—just like offline, your appearance matters to people. It’s all about building personal brands, starting with you. So one of the best investments you can make in your business is to find a great photographer who specializes in professional headshots in the Chicago area. If you pick the right personal, the photographer will guide you through all the ins and outs of getting an amazing headshot—one that will project exactly what you want people to see when they ‘walk in’ to your virtual business.
To that end, let’s discuss some tips for helping you get that great headshot.
Practice Makes Perfect – And that goes double for practicing your photoshoot pose. Since you may be a little nervous once you get in front of a camera, a great way to prepare is to practice some poses in the mirror at home the day before the shoot. You might feel a little silly, but it’ll be worth it when you feel that much more confident in front of the photographer.
- As you’re practicing your poses, remember that posture counts, so don’t slouch.
- Be aware of your chin—not tilted up or down, but in a neutral position.
- Don’t aggressively face the camera dead-on. A slight angle is more inviting.
- Figure out where you want your hands to go so, the day of the shoot, you’re not awkwardly trying to figure out if they should rest on your lap, get jammed in your pockets, etc.
- By the same token, practice not posing your hands and arms rigidly. Practice relaxing them.
- Practice poses both sitting up and standing. When you’re sitting, remember to keep yourself slightly angled, your head tilted just a bit.
- Watch your eyes in the mirror until they convey the impression you want—warmth, trustworthiness, etc.
- Also practice facial expressions—this is key so you don’t come across as too rigid or even too relaxed.
Pick Your Clothes Ahead of Time – The last thing you want to be doing the day of the shoot is scrambling around, frantically trying to find the right outfit. Give yourself time before the designated day to figure out what you want your clothes to represent to your clientele. If you’re a business professional, that may be a suit. If you’re in a different industry, your clothes might be more relaxed. Whatever your line of work or the people you want to network with, make sure your outward image matches the brand you’re creating. A solid color blouse or shirt is always a good bet, so long as the solid color isn’t distracting. Vertical stripes (not horizontal, as they pack on the camera pounds) are also okay, so long as you know the photoshoot background won’t clash with them. Consider everything from shoes and ties to jewelry and makeup. If you’re not comfortable doing your own makeup, it’s absolutely fine to hire a team to help you out at the shoot. You want to look your very best and stylists and makeup artists are trained to make that happen.
Location, Location, Location! –How you look matters. So does the environment around you. It could be your workplace or a studio or another place that’s appropriate to whatever image you’re trying to convey. Whichever place you pick, remember that the environment will set the mood. So if you’re in business and want to come across as professional, a nice office or a studio with great lighting and a white backdrop may be appropriate. If you’re looking to come across as a little more casual, but still professional, talk to your photographer about softening whatever background you’ll be using. You might also consider an outdoor shoot for your Chicago headshots Session.
Now that you’re prepped for your shoot, let’s discuss your brand.
Build Your Personal Brand
Products on grocery store aisles have specific aspects that customers return to again and again—the so-called ‘preferred brands.’ But when it comes to a personal brand, you’re the product! Branding is about selling yourself. Think about a product you particularly like. Would you be happy if, overnight, the quality changed or it was overhauled completely in a way that contradicted all the things you liked about it? Probably not. Treat your brand the same way. You have to make sure you keep a consistent, trustworthy, reliable image that your customers know they can count on. Your brand should immediately tell people who you and your business are and what you stand for.
Here are some tips to helping you establish that consistent, valuable brand that will clearly convey what services you and your business have to offer:
- What do you have to offer? Think it over. It’s no small thing to figure out where your brand should fall—there are millions of other people branding themselves, after all. Millions of products. Millions of competitors. In order to go head-to-head with them, you have to stand out, and the only way to do that is to figure out some very key details. Sit down and take some time to make detailed notes answering the following questions:
- What are the services you’re selling? This should include products, prices, etc.
- What makes those services unique/different from the competition?
- What makes YOU different? In other words, if your services are similar to others that already exist, how is the way you provide them different and better?
- Why should customers pick you and your business?
- Who is your audience? There’s a specific niche that you want to make sure you reach. What is that niche? This is key because once you’ve identified that audience, you’ll avoid wasting time trying to engage and sell to people who have no interest at all because your product isn’t appropriate to them. Knowing your audience means you learn what they specifically need and want and deliver that directly. It’s all about what they need, which leads you to who they are.
- How do you want to come across? This relates directly back to your headshot. What is the image you want to convey? People want to feel they know the face behind the company they’re trusting with their business. Your job is to consider how you, the literal face of your brand, are going to accomplish that. Once you know that, you can discuss it with the person taking your professional Chicago headshots and the photographer can help make sure the right image is captured.
- Talk it up! You know who you are. You know what you’re selling. You know how you’re selling it and who your audience is. You’ve got a great headshot to convey the exact right image. Now your job is to get all that information out to potential customers. How?
- Instagram and Facebook – These are key when it comes to marketing, especially from the personal end of things. Instagram and Facebook are perfect for conveying the visual aspect of your brand. Make sure you post regularly and that your posts are always in line with the image you want to project. Especially on Instagram, don’t neglect hashtags and captions—make sure those are carefully chosen and directly targeted to your audience. Keep both these accounts regularly updated. Engage with your followers. And always stay on brand!
- Twitter – No, it’s not just for kids. Twitter is great to promote your other social media accounts. It’s also perfect for blasting out a short, important message to all your followers about promotions you’re running, things your customers need to be in the know about, etc.
- LinkedIn – Professionals have made a home on LinkedIn and so should you. It’s a great place to network and further establish your brand. Make sure you have an outstanding résumé posted, reviews from satisfied former clients and/or business partners, a clear description of the services you offer, and of course, a fantastic headshot.
- Your Own Website – Make sure it’s professional, reflects your brand, clearly lists your services and pricing, etc. But don’t make it so businesslike that it’s stuffy—include fun (appropriate) pictures. Maintain a regular blog. The key is always to provide a platform to engage with potential customers. Give them a place to ask questions and dialogue with you.
- Be Trustworthy – We’ve said it repeatedly and it bears repeating once more: your customers need to trust you. Everything you do in terms of personal branding should be geared toward helping them understand why you’re the person they should hand their business to. All of the above steps we’ve outlined will help you do just that.
I’m a professional photographer based in Chicago, IL, with years of experience doing portraits and headshots. Visit Chicago Headshots Photography Section for samples of my professional work and to read testimonials from satisfied customers. Then give me a call and let me help you take a great headshot that will allow you to start building your personal brand!