A quality headshot has become an essential component of a business professional’s toolkit. LinkedIn and Facebook profiles are as informative to employers as a resume, and they are often the real first impression that an applicant makes, before the interview itself. And whether employers admit it or not, the profile photo that sits front and center makes a huge impression from which interview decisions are made.
The era of cell phone cameras combined with the emergence of social media sites like Facebook around 2005 created a “snapshot aesthetic”. At that time, my experience was that many people suddenly threw 50 years of headshot wisdom out the window and fixated on the new funky snapshot ideal. Suddenly, few people wanted to invest in a professional headshot. Snapshots were seen as more hip, more personal, and more unique.
More recently, though, many of my clients have come to the realization that a quality headshot is like a fine tailored suit–it isn’t the most trendy or hip attire, but it projects quality and professionalism. And ultimately, that is usually what gets the job.
By last year, most people seemed to have picked up on the fact that the basic ingredients if a good impression remain unchanged in the social media era–a well-written resume, showing up on time, a sharp suit…and if you are going to have a headshot, make it a quality headshot.
I have found that the first people to emerge from the snapshot fixation and realize the value of a quality profile photo are the ones who had first embraced snapshots: early-career professionals, 5-10 years into their career. They are young and social media savvy, but have been in the workplace long enough to see what best impresses and emulates those that the top of the corporate food chain. They are individuals who have established their career in the first few years, but now want to elevate their personal brand to get the kind of job that will pay a Bay Area mortgage in the coming years.
A recent MBA graduate, seeking a mid-level management position:
A young professional looking to change industries:
Young professionals are not the only ones who are realizing the value of a professional headshot for the web. Many of my clients are senior executives who have had a professional headshot for years, but want to update their image to stay current and avoid looking dated.
The president of a medium-sized consulting company in San Francisco. He came in for a more formal portrait for his company, but asked me to also shoot a more informal portrait for social media:
An independent personal and career development consultant. She wanted to project earnest professionalism, but with candid posing and environment:
I still get conservative traditional headshot requests for certain industries, but both that style and the do-it-yourself-snapshot-with-a-cell-phone approach seem to be less and less popular as social media comes of age.
The shift in aesthetic was strong enough over the past two years that it prompted me to revamp my corporate headshot portfolio and my whole website earlier this Summer. To my surprise and pleasure, my business has picked up considerably as I have focused in on the new contemporary headshot.
I love helping professionals focus and elevate their personal brand through a headshot. It is a more powerful tool than ever…and it costs a lot less than a nice suit.