The 26 Character Blog

The 26 Character Blog

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Helping you train and run your content marathon.

Putting Your Best Foot Forward: Professional Head Shots.

It’s the new year, and most of us have set our goals for growing our businesses in 2018. Maybe you’ve outlined fresh strategies for marketing, sales, social media, and email campaigns. You’ve tightened your systems, created a new budget, and made your production more efficient. Perhaps you’ve set new revenue goals and renewed your commitments to your clients.

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One of the best ways to attract your ideal customers is through strategic and visually-compelling communications. Does your messaging convey the tone and personality of your brand? Does your photography reflect the highest standards of your service or product? Is your website intuitive and does it portray the experience your clients would receive from your product/business? Strong design and compelling imagery on your website, your LinkedIn profile, and other social media outlets that authentically represent your brand can set you apart from your competitors and elevate how you are perceived. Our clients are interested in knowing more than just the services we offer, but who we are and what kind of experience we are promising.

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Ben Bajarin, a principal strategist at Creative Strategies, Inc, says, “Communication is, at our core, an essential human behavior. Technology continues to evolve and give us more ways to communicate and invoke emotion with words, text, audio, images, digital touch, real-time drawings and whatever comes next.”

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As a photographer, I rely heavily on the type of imagery I use on my site to communicate my core values and create trust before my clients even meet me. As a creative entrepreneur who understands how important it is to build genuine relationships, I love the opportunity to help other business owners do the same by including imagery on their websites.

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Whether you are a large firm or a small business, the simplest way to incorporate this concept is by including professional head shots of you and your team on your site. Prospective clients often look beyond your credentials for more intangible reasons to work with you. It's been said that people will do business with, and refer business to, those people they know, like and trust. Your professional head shot should communicate that you're experienced, qualified, and approachable. A good photographer will be able to capture your personality in an image by making you feel comfortable in front of the camera and helping you choose the appropriate attire.

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While the focus is on professionalism, wardrobe speaks a lot to personality and individual taste. And in a world where personal connection matters, this can really have an impact. I’ve created some simple guidelines for head shot attire in professional settings. This can, of course, be adjusted according to your brand aesthetic.

  1. I recommend something professional and sharp that you also feel comfortable in. Tailored blouses, blazers, and dressy sweaters are great options for women. Suits are best for men.
  2. Solid colors photograph the best. Stay away from bold or busy patterns as that can be distracting in a photo (although a printed blouse mostly concealed under a blazer would be subtle enough). Try to stay away from stark white unless it is layered under a sweater or blazer and we want you to stand out against lighter backdrops.
  3. Choose well tailored, fitted attire. Avoid clothes that fit too loosely or that are boxy as it will make a figure look larger. While we certainly want to convey a professional image, clothing that fits closely to the body in a modest manner is the most flattering.
  4. Women: V-necks and scoop necks tend to look best on women. Be mindful that the neckline is tasteful and modest. Wear something that covers your arms, which is most flattering and professional.
  5. Women: Feel free to have your makeup done, but don't go overboard. Avoid bold eye colors. You should look the the same you that shows up at work every day.
  6. Men: Choose a well fitting classic suit in a dark color: navy, charcoal, black. Make sure it doesn't wrinkle too much if you button it, cross your arms or put your hand in your pocket. If you wear a tie, you may choose a pop of color, but make sure the pattern isn't too bold as it will distract from your face. Typically a tone that is in between your shirt and suit coat looks best. Men should not choose a white shirt unless paired with a tie.
  7. Make sure clothes are clean, pressed, and lint free. This is very important as minor imperfections will show up in images.
  8. Make sure any hair cuts and coloring or eyebrow waxes are done 5-7 days before the shoot. Your hands may show up in some poses, so pay attention to them. You don't need to get a manicure (although it never hurts!), but make sure your nails are clean and trimmed.
  9. Have a blemish or razor burn? No problem! Most of these things can be retouched in the final image.
  10. For bolder brands (designers, artists, journalists, or others in creative fields): We still want you to keep it professional, but this is your opportunity to really represent your unique aesthetic. While it should make sense in the workplace, it doesn't have to be what you'd wear on a typical day. Feel free to shine in your non-corporate role with bolder, trendy styles and bright hues. Also consider doing a lifestyle head shot session that features you doing what you love, exploring the city, or interacting in your workplace.

Whether you are aiming for a more traditional head shot with a solid backdrop or an environmental lifestyle look, your photographer should consult with you to help determine which style will best complement your company’s aesthetics.

We hope you’ll put your best foot forward in 2018 with updated imagery and a glowing new head shot!

Jenn

Jenn is a Chicago based lifestyle and brand photographer. She specializes in environmental portraiture that reflects your personality and elevates your brand authentically. She also provides custom style stock photography that can be used on your website and in social media to communicate your service offerings and some of the intangible aspects of your business.

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