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Headshots: why have them, when to update, and what can be done on a budget?

We all know how powerful first impressions are. Research shows we make a decision to trust someone within 100 milliseconds of seeing their face. A headshot is a great way to take control of your image and establish trust with others right away.

Maybe you’re a weirdo like me and actually enjoy taking headshots or maybe you’re more “normal” and look at it as a minor inconvenience. Either way, as a business professional, a good, up-to-date headshot is a necessity.

As a general rule, it’s a good idea to update your headshot every one to two years to make sure it’s recent, fresh, and looks like you. Some other reasons you may need to update your headshot: you changed your look drastically (especially your hair color or style), you’re looking for a new job, or you have a current headshot that’s outdated, unprofessional, or a selfie! Time to take a professional headshot that accurately represents you at your best.

“A smile is a simple way to show you’re friendly and establish an instant connection.”

While it’s important to have a nice, polished website and an updated LinkedIn profile, pictures communicate volumes. Clothing and hairstyles change with time. It’s easy to spot an outdated image. New images show effort, passion, and expertise. They also attract attention on social media, bringing in compliments and boosting your brand. A smile is a simple way to show you’re friendly and establish an instant connection.

You can also tailor your headshots to your specific role. Depending on your line of work, a casual headshot may be the way to go. If you’re in customer relations, for instance, you’ll want to appear warm and familiar. If you’re applying to be a CEO, you’ll want a more professional photograph that maintains an aura of professionalism. A good place to start is to research professionals in similar roles and see what sort of headshots they’re using.

“We’re really selling ourselves to our clients. Put your best self forward with your headshots.”

Some companies do corporate headshots for their employees. If this isn’t available to you, consider having your headshots taken in a business photography studio. If you’re picking a photographer, check out their past business photography work to make sure it’s a style you like and the photos look good. You want your investment to work for you (think business cards, flyers, social network photos, billboards, etc.) so be sure you invest in quality work!

If professional headshots are not in the budget, it’s easy to DIY. If you don’t have a fancy camera, no problem. Most phones have amazing, high-quality cameras. It’s a good idea to find some “inspiration” images to try and replicate. Maybe it’s the location, framing, outfit, pose, or facial expression, finding some inspiration can help streamline the process because you know what you’re aiming for.

Check out this post with examples of DIY headshots I’ve taken for myself and my husband using my iPhone: click here.

Ask a friend to help or grab a tripod, pick a place with good lighting (or set up additional lighting for indoors shots), and get to snapping. Make sure your face is well lit, with no strong shadows on your face. Remember to look directly at the camera. Eye contact is part of what makes headshots so powerful. Pictures should be taken from the chest up. Don’t forget to edit your images afterwards to enhance the colors and give final touches.

Do you want to work with a drunk, disheveled accountant? Or buy a home from a real estate agent who always looks like they just rolled out of bed? It’s easy to think in business we are simply selling a product or a service. We’re really selling ourselves to our clients. Put your best self forward with your headshots.

Best of luck with your new headshots! What are your best tips for taking the best headshot photos?

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