Thanks to Chris Durban for suggesting this post topic!
Let’s say that you want to hire a professional services provider: maybe a business accountant, a copyright attorney, a web designer or a marketing consultant. You’re clicking through that person’s website, and on their About page, you see a photograph. Great! It’s always helpful to get a visual image of the person you’re thinking of working with. But then you notice that the person’s photograph is clearly from 20+ years ago, or was obviously taken in a drugstore photo booth, or features them and their pet ferret, or you can’t really tell what the person looks like because they’re facing away from the camera and their hair is in their eyes. Problem? Maybe! Let’s ponder the issue of professional photographs for a second.
I had never used a professional photograph until about a year ago. My previous head shot photos were decent (hair brushed, facing the camera, no ferrets) but clearly not taken by a professional. I told myself that a) it doesn’t really matter, I’m just a freelancer; b) a professional photo session is outside my budget and c) how different will the photo look anyway? Then, Judy Jenner gave our local translators’ association the idea of hiring a professional photographer to do head shots of a bunch of our members during one session. Eve Bodeux organized this and it was a huge success. Our photographer did head shots of 12 people in two hours at a cost of $40 per person, and we were really pleased with the results. Since then I’ve been using the picture I had taken during that session, and I do think that it’s an asset to my marketing materials. So, why should you consider a professional photograph?
- It shows that you’re willing to invest in your business. I am very frugal. I don’t own a clothes dryer and I wash Ziploc bags. But when someone hands me a business card with “Get your free business cards at…” printed on the back, my immediate reaction is that this person is not even willing to invest $25 in their business in order to get real cards. Ditto with the professional photograph: it shows that you care.
- It conveys an impression of you as a person. Let’s face it: working with a freelancer is a very personal relationship. And if people don’t have a positive impression of you, they are less likely to work with you. A professional photograph can help establish you as approachable, personable, likable and other qualities that are desirable in a business associate.
- It’s what other people do. I hate to play the “everyone else is doing it” card, but there’s some truth to this. If you consider yourself on par with other consultant-type service providers, your marketing materials need to be at that level.
When you’re having your photo taken, it’s also worth thinking about the image that you want to convey to your potential clients. For example at our local photo session, at least one member was concerned that she looks too young (clients think she is inexperienced/don’t take her seriously) and at least one was concerned that she looks too old (clients think she is outdated). Our photographer had some good suggestions on how to stage and pose the photograph in order to counter those impressions. In addition, I think that professional photographers really are better at putting you at ease during the photo session. I dislike having my picture taken and I don’t think I’ve very photogenic, but I was very happy with the photos that I got from this session.
Any other thoughts on professional photos?