Written by Mark Mendoza on June 28, 2018
Nothing beats the awkwardness of your first professional headshot: school picture day. It’s like that day was designed to make you as uncomfortable as possible. Your hair is combed differently. You’re in clothes you never wear. And to top it all off, the photographer lines you up in a long row, giving you plenty of time to pray that the one shot you have to smile correctly is not a complete disaster. Finally, when it’s your turn, you sit on a twisty, metal stool and the photographer chirps out “say cheese!” Click. One shot and you’re done. Onto the next kid. It’s a recipe for the most forced smile of your life. But luckily at that point, you’re a kid, so the more awkward the photo, the cuter you look.
Fast-forward a decade or two (okay, maybe three) to your professional life. A forced smile like that could now cost you business. Why? People do business with those they trust. If someone is clicking around online for a service and stumbles on your site, the first impression they have of you is your headshot. If your smile looks phony or the photo looks unprofessional, potential clients will automatically make an association in their heads: unprofessional photo, amateur businessperson. Or even worse: fake smile, untrustworthy person. This is why it is so important not only to hire a professional photographer, but one who is skilled in the art of headshot photography.
I say the “art” of headshot photography because taking a great photo comes from a photographer’s technical skill, but also from his or her ability to put clients at ease. Being able to help clients relax while in your studio is somewhat of an art form. As a professional photographer of 18 years, I have learned how to quickly build a rapport with my clients during their twenty-minute session so they can relax and feel like themselves while getting their picture taken. Think you’re not photogenic? You’re not alone. It’s something I’ve come to realize: almost everyone believes they do not look good on film. This does not need to be the case.
Apart from talking to clients and building a rapport that puts them at ease, pros like me use large, soft light sources that bring out everyone’s best features while softening their least favorite features, such as fine lines or sun-spots. After the shoot, clients receive an on-line image gallery from which they can select their three favorites to send back to me for a final edit. Perhaps predictably, my clients almost never pick the photos towards the beginning of the shoot. Rather,m their favorite photos are almost always towards the end. This is when the real smile comes out, which is a direct result of feeling at ease.
So do yourself, and your bottom line a favor, and forego taking a selfie or choosing an amateur photographer for your professional headshots. It’s worth it, stylistically and financially, to get a photo that makes you look professional, approachable, and hey, photogenic too.
If you’re looking for a qualified pro to shoot your headshot, drop me a line and let’s talk!