Headshots and Personal Brand: A Few Tips for the Young Professional

Bowties, dad jokes, and talk about the marvels of science. For many American kids that grew up watching him, these few words conjure up the image of the affable, Bill Nye – The Science Guy.

A passion for science and how the world works is encompassed in the uber-nerd, and goofy personal Bill Nye represents in his brand. If you visit his website and scroll through the first few pictures of his welcoming face, you would get a glimpse of his personal brand.

But it’s not just Bill Nye and other renowned names such as Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Oprah, or Ellen DeGeneres that have well-established personal brands. In reality, anyone who has an online presence has a personal brand.

Anyone who puts your name in Google’s search bar will meet results that give off either a positive or negative first impression. One of the first things people will see is your picture.

Whether you’re an entrepreneur cruising a competitive market or a young professional just stepping into the realm of the corporate world, your professional headshots will impart an image of your personality that plays in your favor.

Headshots for your Unique Personal Brand

To under the impact and importance of headshots for your personal brand, let’s imagine two different types of headshots. The first is of a person in a very avant-garde outfit and makeup on a backdrop of a city like New York. The second headshot is of a woman dressed in a suit with neutral makeup, against a solid color backdrop or standing in front of an office building.

What brand image are both portraying? Which line of business would you think they are involved in?

The first image represents the personal brand of an edgy, young professional probably involved in the art or creative industry. On the other hand, the latter will represent a more proper and textbook professional.

With so much represented in just one picture shared on social media or the company’s website, it is crucial that one puts thought into getting professional headshots taken in a way that complements their brand.

Hiring a professional headshot photographer with expertise in a range of headshot photography will give you high-quality results and the perfect shot for your website or social media platforms. The photographer will guide you, correct your posture, and deliver professionally formatted images.

They also provide multiple sizes of the headshots so you can use them for profiles, websites, bios, book covers, speaking events, social media accounts, etc.

The Elements of a Professional Headshot

Ask any photographer and they will tell you that every headshot has three main elements to focus on. What the person wears, the way they pose, and background captured harmoniously in one image all represent who they are as a brand.

The Background

Often left to be considered at the end, it’s a good idea to consider where you will be taking the headshots. It is just as important as what you will wear on the day. The background will also lend to your brand image.

For example, for an ultra-professional shot, you can simply do it in-house in a studio with a solid background. Or you can choose to do it in your office, sitting at the desk, standing in front of it or other places around the office.

Some professionals, especially public speakers and life coaches, take professional portraits on the stage or while they sit in on a conference or summit, etc.

For more creative individuals who want more unique and artistic headshots for their social media accounts, etc. backdrops of city streets, scenic locations, etc. will be more… energetic and youthful.

You can also mix it up by taking a professional headshot in a three-piece suit in a non-office setting. This will make you seem more approachable. But then again, it depends on what you want to portray.

What to Wear

When someone says headshots, two images ring true – one of a very professional person in a suit smiling at the camera on a white background or a very clichéd version of an actor’s headshot in a trendy outfit (the typical jacket-over-the-shoulder comes to mind).

What you wear depends entirely on the goal of the headshot photography session. If you want a very poised and professional photo for the website of your law firm, a simple tailored suit, understated accessories, and natural makeup will do just fine.

To make it a little more spontaneous, try to mix it up. Try different textures and finishes, bright colors, statement jewelry to add a little pizzazz, a fun tie, a bold lip, etc. There are many ways you can play with the wardrobe.

For the more laidback kind of headshots, anything goes as long as it is relevant to your business and represents your brand image. For example, if you are a fashion designer who sells a line of modern apparel, your wardrobe can be high-fashion or feature your pieces.

The Pose

Amy Cuddy, a social psychologist, author, and speaker, delivered a very popular TedTalk on the importance of body language. With more than 56 million views, her video delves into how our posture can reflect our confidence.

In your headshot, you want to come across as confident. There is no rocket science to how you can do that. The most basic tip is to sit or stand tall and smile. Your headshot should represent you in your element.

Besides a few posed shots of you standing, leaning against a wall or sitting, you can go the candid route. A mid-laughter shot is great for social media accounts where you may want to appear less professional and more approachable.

Professional Headshot Photography

All of these tips can work wonders for you during your headshot photography session. However, it is of crucial importance that you work with a professional headshot photographer. Much like film directors, they will guide you on how to pose, how to position your head, where to look, etc. They will make sure that the headshots capture who you are and your brand image.

With that, give your headshots a glimpse. If they are not doing you justice anymore, it’s time to have some new ones taken by a professional headshot photographer.

If you have any questions, please ask below!