How Old Is Your Profile Photo & Why Should You Care?

This is a guest post by Sue Bruce, a self-taught photographer specializing in photography for businesses large and small.  When she’s not staging and photographing products in her home studio, Sue writes photo journalism articles for her local newspaper, photographs clients’ corporate events and even manages to fit in a few family portrait sittings. Sue also makes Wine Gift Bags for stores and individuals and resides in historic Lexington, MA with her husband John and their two children. Learn more about Sue and view her work at www.suebrucephotography.com.

I’m a commercial photographer. I photograph products for companies large and small, and I photograph executives for use on corporate websites.

I recently met a prospective client at a local coffee shop.  A few days prior, we had a pleasant telephone conversation to arrange our meeting – which ended in the inevitable question “How will I recognize you?”.

My client immediately directed me to a website, where she had a professional photo of herself that I could familiarize myself with.

Oh great, I thought, knowing that most business photos fall into one of two categories:

  • Plastic poses against a neutral backdrop, probably at least 5 years old.
  • Personal photos doing double duty as business photos (often taken with a smart phone!)

That’s not to say that some of these images aren’t good, but would someone recognize you if they saw your present photo?

Just wander through your ‘friends’ on Twitter or Facebook.  Overlooking the ‘no photo’ friends, the ‘photo of the dog’ friends and the ‘my kids are my photo’ friends, what percentage would you recognize from the remainder?

Business owners spend hours, weeks, sometimes years poring over a business plan, perfecting a product or service, building a reputation and achieving a level of trust from clients.  Trust that your product works, trust that you’ll work hard to exceed their expectations, trust that if something isn’t right, you’ll fix it in an ethical and professional manner.

“Yes, yes,” I hear you say.  “What’s this got to do with my photo?”

The Real You

The trust I just mentioned? It begins with your profile photo.

When you’re meeting a client, presenting at a conference, attending a trade show or being interviewed on TV, the first impression of your business is YOU.  When people visit your website, they’ll click on your “About” page to learn more about YOU.  Make sure you leave them with a fabulous impression of the real YOU, not shaking their heads about how you don’t really look like that in person.

For example, in the past two years, my hair has grown about 4 inches, I no longer wear it straight and it’s lighter than before.  I’ve lost a considerable amount of weight and I wear my make-up differently.  People who haven’t seen me in awhile don’t always recognize me.

So, this Friday, I’m doing something that I recommend my clients do every two years: I’m having a new professional profile photo taken by a fellow photographer.

Sue’s Tips & Tricks for getting a great profile photo:

  1. Look at other companies’ staff photos and get some ideas on style and coloring.
  2. Tell the photographer in advance what size or ratio you need for your head shots, portrait or landscape style; or request an uncropped file with enough room to resize later.
  3. Double check that you will have the right to reproduce the image indefinitely in all media forms (newspaper, advertising, in-print, on-line, etc) and that you can recolor (change to black & white, etc) or crop if needed.

The Mogul Mom’s Tips & Tricks for profile photos:

  1. Though your business profile photo (the one used on your website) should be professional, don’t be afraid to make it fun – if your business is making dog biscuits, include your dog in the photo. If your business is teaching salsa dancing, have your photo taken in your dance studio. And if your business is coaching people on how to earn money from their blogs, think about including a laptop and a bag of cash in your photo.
  2. Use Picnik.com to make simple edits to your photo, like cropping, resizing and my favorite, touch ups like tooth whitening, eye brightening and insta-thin. 😀 Best of all, Picnik.com is free.
  3. Consider using the same profile photo across the board – on your website, your social media profiles, your media kit and your Gravatar – to establish a strong, consistent professional identity.

Business photography is not like a family photo sitting.  Many photographers will come out to your office, which will save you time.  It should be quick, relatively inexpensive, and you should expect to choose between 1 and 3 images.  These days, the photographer will probably give you a JPEG file and not a printed copy.

Most photographers do not require a ‘photo credit’ for headshots, although this is certainly a negotiating point.  A link on your website is a valuable resource for a photographer.  If you have this ability, use it as a deal sweetener or as a part-barter.

Wander over to your website and take a look.  If the suits have epaulets and shoulder pads, if anyone is sporting a perm or if your age in the photo is half of your present age, it might be time for an update!

Use these tips to get a great updated profile photo and show your clients who YOU are with confidence.

(Oh, and by the way, my new client did look like her photo!)

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Heather Allard

Heather Allard is a mom of three kids + one big rescue dog. She's a wellness buff, an essential oil educator with dōTERRA, and a self-professed “entrepreneur to the core”.
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7 Comments

  1. FreelanceMom

    I just changed my headshot on twitter today too… LOL. Funny to come across this article now. Sadly, there are very few decent photos of me. I’m simply not photogenic, really. The one I chose is also not exactly professional and I have a rather daunting and pivotal client interview coming up soon. You gave me something to think about!

    Reply
    • Heather Allard

      Hi Lori!
      Good luck on your interview! And just so you know, you ARE photogenic. You have a beautiful smile! 😀

      Heather

      Reply
  2. Traci Bisson

    I love Sue Bruce and highly recommend her services. I have hired her for events at Fenway in Boston and we are flying to OH together for a client shoot.

    Reply
  3. Cindy C.

    How funny you should post this today. Just this am, I looked at my pic and thought, I really need a new profile photo. This is reminder #2. Guess I’d better get on that. lol

    Reply
  4. Jameela Picas

    Great article!

    Reply
  5. Eva Wilson

    Heather:

    Great article. I just had my pictures professionally done. My goal was to have professional but still fun photos for my online presence: Biznik, QuickBooks ProAdvisor, Facebook, and eventually my website (in the works). My question to myself though, was how often and this article you published answered that. Thank you for the post. It was useful information to me.

    Reply

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