Article by Sue Kennedy,
The Value of a Good Photograph
Do you need a professional business portrait? Your first answer might be “no”, but;
- Do you have a website? Does it include a bit about you (a biography)?
- Do you publish a blog?
- Do you or will you ever issue press releases?
- Does your company have a newsletter?
- Do you ever write articles for your trade magazine?
- Or have them written about you?
If you answered yes to one of more of these questions, a professional portrait may be a good investment, and the good news is it doesn’t have to be a really expensive one.
How many times have you visited a faceless website? It’s still all about people. Who you are, what you do, your story and what makes you different are still incredibily important, but people still like to see what you look like! People still do look for the emotional connection – a person they feel they can get on with and do business with.
We all lead busy lives, and standing out in the crowd is becoming harder and harder. We are literally swamped with information, be that in newspapers, from TV, from the internet, whilst commuting to work, at trade shows, at meetings. In fact sometimes it all feels very anonymous.
A professional portrait is an important tool in your branding toolbox, no matter how small or big your company its an essential part of your business identity. Enabling you to stand out from the mass market.
Having your photograph on your marketing materials gives you the opportunity to sell yourself.
Now your business may depend upon more than selling yourself, but any time you connect your name and business with a pleasing professional image of you, the association will have a positive impact on your customers’ perceptions. As human beings we remember what we see as much as ten times longer than something we hear. There is no substitute for visual presentation for an immediate and lasting impact.
So if you want to change or improve your position in your marketplace an up-to-date portrait is a great place to start.
So ask yourself again: Do you need a professional business portrait? If the answer is now “yes,’ here are some things to avoid:
- Don’t take a photo of yourself in a mirror with a mobile phone.
- Use a passport photo.
- Or opt for a standard mug shot of you stood by a wall with unflattering lighting coming from on camera flash.
- Do not scan a print.
- Don’t cut your face out of a group shot.
- Don’t avoid eye contact with the camera; appear poised, trustworthy and approachable – like someone you’d want to do business with.
All of these send the message that you couldn’t be bothered to invest in a professional looking image, which lessons your credibility. Ideally, the image used in professional representation should at least match the professionalism of the business or industry represented.
And you’ll have much better results if you:
- Select a professional photographer that specialises in portraits & whose style you like.
- Wear clothing that fits well and makes you feel good (avoiding strong patterns).
- Get a good night’s sleep the night before.
- The photographs will need to work as black & white images too.
- Ask for your chosen images on CD split as print ready (high resolution) and web/email ready (lower resolution).
- There is a lot of mileage can be gained with a professional business portrait, so the time and expense to have one expertly done is well worth it.
- Clothing selection – Wear classic clothing that will not date the photograph. Colour coordination lends harmony to the portrait. Avoid large or bold patterns and colours that may draw attention from your face, which should be the focal point. Darker colours tend to minimize body size. Coordinate attire from head to toe even if only headshots are taken as this enhances the senses of being “total” and “complete”. Wear longs sleeves. If your face is full, a scooped or “V” neckline works best. A turtleneck or high-neck garment usually works well for a long neck or slender face. A scarf can often be a nice accent.
- Show personality in your portraits – Have a variety of images that allow you to show personality in your portraits. Have your headshots taken, but also take some with accessories or props that are “you.” For example, if you like wearing hats, have some pictures taken wearing a couple of your favourites.
- Have headshot and interactive portraits taken – The standard business headshot is essential, but also have some interactive images taken, portraits of you doing what you do-consulting with a customer, speaking before a group, in your work environment, etc. Images taken of you in your professional atmosphere add versatility and are very effective.
- Relax! Be yourself – Many people face a portrait session like they do a dentist appointment, and many are convinced that they “don’t take good pictures.” As a result, tense expressions result. Relax! Have a couple of pleasant thoughts ready to use during that time the shutter clicks. You’ll have more natural expressions that will produce photographs you’ll be pleased to use.
About the author:
Sue Kennedy is the founding photographer at Sue Kennedy Photography Ltd , Harlow, Essex. She specialises in professional environmental portraits, and landscape photography. She is a qualified member of the British Institute of Professional Photographers and the Master Photographers Association. Her websites is: www.suekennedy.co.uk
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