You may think your job does not require a professional portrait. Here are 5 reasons you’re wrong.
1. The Internet
More and more jobs are found online. Employers are finding employees and employees are finding employers. It doesn’t matter which position you currently hold, both of you should have professional portraits. As the employer, don’t you want to attract the best employees? As the employee, don’t you want your employer to see a professional portrait to go along with the well-tailored LinkedIn profile you painstakingly slaved over for days?
Having a professional portrait plays a part in all of these scenarios. One single photo can say friendly, professional, strong, smart, confident, fun or kind. Whatever you want to say, your photo can say it. If they’re meeting you online first, tell them who you are through your photo. No matter what, the picture makes the first impression, the words come second. Think of it the same way you would online dating. Really. First impressions are everything, right?
2. Professional Portrait says “Professional”
This rings true with ALL photos. Professional photos tell the viewer you’re a professional. Believe me, people can tell the difference between professional, amateur and “I took this with my cell phone.” If you don’t care about the photos you show the world, it can be assumed you don’t care about your brand, your job performance, your customers…. It’s not always a conscious thought, but most “buying” decisions are made with a feeling, a gut instinct. A professional portrait might tip the scales just enough to your side without the other person even knowing why they made the decision to choose you.
Look at this set of portraits pulled from a LinkedIn email. Twelve of them were taken by professional photographers who were hired to take a professional portrait. The rest of them are snapshots. Can you pick out the professionals vs. the snapshots? Which one draws your eye first, and why?
3. The Person Behind the Profile
You’re meeting a potential employer or client at a coffee shop for the first time. They’d like to have some idea of what you look like before walking in the door, so they look you up on LinkedIn before leaving the office.
Sure, they can get an idea of what you look like through a snapshot, but it won’t be the best representation of you. What will they notice first? Is it the boyfriend you cut out of the frame whose arm still remains in the photo? Will they be wondering how recently you went to the beach, and how much vacation time you may be looking to take? Or more likely, they’ll simply see an underexposed, on-camera flash photo of you that tells them nothing about how dedicated and hard-working you are at your job. (By the way, if you think a professional portrait won’t be able to say this either, you haven’t found the right photographer.)
4. An Edge
Whether you’re a self-employed baker, the CEO of Bob Evans, or a barista at Starbucks, you need an edge over the competition.
If you’re a business owner, making yourself a visible part of your business can set you apart from the rest. Think about how farmer’s markets have grown in popularity over the last few years. Customers like to know who they’re buying from. Giving them a view into who you are as a business owner is part of what they’re looking for in the experience of shopping with a small business. Being transparent is good karma.
If you’re part of a big company that doesn’t provide head shots as a perk, you may want to have one taken on your own dime. What happens if you get laid off tomorrow? It might be nice to have a portrait ready to introduce you to your new job market. Maybe you work at Wasserstrom Restaurant Supply as a salesman. It’s always nice to put a face to the name with personalized business cards that help your clients remember you.
If you’re in food service, maybe you’d like to be considered for the manager position at another restaurant. Show them that your aspirations are serious and share your contagious smile with them before you even walk in the door. If you’re a chef at a restaurant, making yourself known as the man behind the curtain will give customers more to talk about and make your name (and face) known throughout the community. If customers know who you are, they’re more likely to follow you to your next venture.
5. Your Brand
Anymore, everyone is creating a brand for themselves. Few people have just one job and one title. These extra identities require a home base that brings them altogether. This home base could be your professional portrait. Keep your brand in good standing by putting your best face forward. Tell people who you are with one glance.