You’re a professional, right? You want to show people who you are, what you’re capable of, what you look like and, maybe, reveal a little bit of your personality. You can obviously do this through an elevator pitch or in your LinkedIn profile, but you have to ask; unless someone is really interested, are they going to read that profile unless there’s a hook?
That initial hook, that visual clue that might just provide that flicker of interest, is your profile picture. So why do people post fuzzy selfies, distant silhouettes on mountain tops, blurred party shots showing the dreaded red-eye or, dare I ask, apparently random avatars (I’ve been guilty of that one myself)? Actually, this is partly a rhetorical question as I’ve heard many of the answers before; “it doesn’t matter”, “a pro-photograph is expensive”, “I don’t photograph well”, “this one will do”, “I don’t know what I want” or “I don’t have the time”. Well, I’m here to put the lie to all of those answers.
Firstly, as I mentioned at the start, the profile photograph does matter; it is the first impression of you that a new contact gets if that contact comes via social media, and we all know how important social media is for marketing and developing networks these days. The photograph, at a basic level, makes it easy for people to recognise you, either at that first coffee-shop meeting or at a conference or workshop. It can also provide very distinct clues to your demeanour and personality and you want to make sure that that message is accurate and positive.
As an aside, if you want to see the damage that a “bad” image can do, check out the story of the iconic photograph of Alfred Krupp, by Arnold Newman, although this one was made deliberately bad by the photographer. I promise I wouldn’t do that to you!
Sure, pro-photography is more expensive than the holiday picture or selfie, but it is probably much less expensive than you think and you are guaranteed of getting good results from a good pro-photographer. Also, the benefits of “bulk-buying” are enormous; the more staff to be photographed the less time the photographer will have to spend on taking the photographs compared to setting up the ‘shoot. Ask for a quote – I’m sure you’ll be surprised at the cost, considering what you pay for other marketing activities, of obtaining a high quality digital image that can be used on all forms of digital or printed media.
If I had a penny for everyone that has said to me that they don’t photograph well…………………………… ! This seems to be less prevalent with the selfie generation but still happens from time to time. However, a good photographer should be able to put you at your ease and know how to get that image that you would be happy with and that conveys the message you want to put across. They should also be able to guide you, with examples, towards the sort of photograph you want; formal, semi-formal, environmental, journalistic, situational etc. It is your choice at the end of the day but the photographer should help you develop the ideas and make sure that they are made into a fully rounded portrait that meets your expectations. This is the added benefit that a good photographer brings to project – it is their creative talent as well as the technical skill and goes far beyond the push of a shutter button.
Given all the above I often wonder why people can afford not to have the time to have a decent photograph taken! Taking a good portrait doesn’t take long and can be organised at a time to suit you at your place of work, at another location of your choosing or in a studio. Also, as said above, it is surprising how quickly members of staff can be photographed; either in a group or as individuals. These benefits of digital photography are in the interest of both the client and photographer – time is precious to both and both have a living to make.
Now, having got to the end of this blog, can I ask you a favour?
Have a look at your profile image and ask yourself; does it fulfil the requirements set out at the top of the blog and are you entirely happy with it?
If the answer is yes then please accept my thanks for taking the time to read my blog and I wish you every success for the future.
The same sentiment goes to those who have honestly answered no to the question. However, please think further about what I have said and, if it makes sense, feel free to contact me and I will be happy to discuss the option of a professional shoot and to see if it might suit your requirements.
All the best