By Betsy Natter
For the business owner, having a competitive edge is key. One way to gain a leg up is putting your best face forward – literally. Whether the owner, manager or department head of a business, primary leaders reflect the brand of a company. Do the headshots on your social media pages and/or website reflect your personal brand and put you in a positive light toward potential customers? Do you appear professional or does your photo communicate a sloppy image?
Prospective clients and customers want to feel comfortable with the people they hire and a head shot that communicates confidence and professionalism can help. A fuzzy photo that has been cropped to include not only you but also someone’s arm around your shoulder while at your cousin’s wedding may communicate a lack of attention to details. On the other hand, a clear photograph that is appropriately cropped and well-lighted indicates a sense of professionalism.
What should you consider when updating your images for business use? According to Kate Harrison’s article in Forbes there are a few important considerations. First, keep your images current. Don’t be tempted to use a photo from when you not only looked ten years younger, but actually where younger. Project your true self and customers won’t be surprised or feel duped when and if they meet you in person.
Second, use proper body language to help communicate the feeling you want to elicit. Decide on the branding message you want to communicate and use that to establish your photo image goals.
For instance, a formal shot against a plain backdrop is typically used in a more formal corporate environment. A local example of this style is the executive officers’ page for Penn Community Bank where each person portrays a professional yet friendly demeanor. There is also a unity to the images; everyone is set against the same solid grey background and each person is dressed in formal business attire.
Perhaps you would prefer a casual image outdoors or in your business establishment that lends itself to a greater warmth and sense of connection. A great example of a Bucks county small business owner who connects directly with her audience is Mary Jane Tecker of Any Body Can, a weight loss consulting business that helps people to get healthy and lose weight holistically. Mary Jane utilizes a head shot that is set outdoors, but the focus is on her; she is not only smiling but emanates a warmth that is inviting. She also includes photographs of herself in her “before” period that illustrate that the principles she teaches truly work. Visitors to her site get the sense that “this can work” and as her branding communicates, “anybody can” lose weight.
Above all, most experts agree that you should never use a photo that you or a friend have taken on a phone. Instead, invest in getting quality images from a professional photographer. Great images are their business and they can advise you in several areas. For example, selecting a background or setting for your image, clothing choices that reflect your branding and lighting that is well balanced. Many photographers also work with stylists and makeup personnel who can highlight your best features.
Small business expert Melinda F. Emerson suggests taking shots in at least two different styles or outfits. Perhaps one that is more “corporate” such as a suit or dress and another that reflects a more casual attitude. Then you can choose which images to apply to a variety of uses across your social media and marketing materials. She also advises acquiring .jpeg and high resolution .tiff files for use both online and in print media.
If you need to update your website or social media images, perhaps it’s time to visit an area photographer. For a listing of professional photographers located throughout Bucks County check with your area Chamber of Commerce in their members directories.