The two principal ways of having an online presence are with a website and through various social media platforms Both of these provide an opportunity for us to post a headshot. This photo is important. It’s not just something to include because the site requests it. It’s a real opportunity for us to begin the sales and connection process with those who visit the site where our photo, contact information, and profile story are posted.
The nice thing about both types of postings – our website and social media (Facebook and LinkedIn, for instance) – is that we get to include a headshot. Look at this as an opportunity and not an obligation. This is something we get to do rather than something that is expected.
When it comes to the headshot, we need to overcome the traditional public relations or studio photo and go with a less formal, softer expression. A studio photo, whether black and white (like we would include with a press release) or a color shot (that might be sent to a magazine or online publication that uses color photos), is staged and often retouched to eliminate wrinkles, blemishes, and other slight imperfections in our appearance. We look better on our photo than we do in real life as a result.
When people see us in public – at an event, on the street, or when we meet for coffee – how close is our published photo to what we project in real life? It needs to be real close. We might have a slightly different hairstyle, longer or shorter hair, a different outfit, eyeglasses, jewelry, or something else that is not exactly the same as what the photo captured, but the person seeing us should immediately know that it is us and not have to try to figure out is we are the person they are attempting to meet.
Also, depending on our current age and appearance now (heavier or lighter, thinning hair or facial hair for men, and certainly older), we may look very different from that formal photo that was our high school or college graduation picture. If it’s been a few years since we sat for that picture – and as good as that picture made us look at the time – we need a more current one.
Fortunately, an updated photo is easy to get. We don’t even need to have a an expensive camera to do this. Most of us already have a great camera on our smartphone anyway. We can have someone take a few photos for us, or we can take a selfie. The idea is that having a photo does not need to be a big deal, even though it is quite important that we post one. The great thing about digital photography – with a camera or smartphone – is that we don’t have to wait for a set of proofs to come back from the photographer, and we aren’t limited to just a couple of poses at each sitting. We can update our photos as often as we like, and we can take multiple images each time until we get one that we want to use.
There are many opinions on what we should wear, what constitutes a good background, whether the photo should be taken indoors or outside, if it should look like a candid photo or one more staged, and how close the camera lens should be to us. Much of this is personal preference, but there should not be anyone else in the photo (except maybe a dog or cat that we are holding), and the camera should be close enough to us that our face fills most of the image.
Then, we can honestly say that (after we post such a picture on social media, on our website, or on our business card or flyer) that when someone came up to us or had an appointment with us in public that we would look like the picture we had posted and that they would easily recognize us.