What’s your business image? Do your photos online and on your website tell the story of your business and help you connect with your customers? Do your customers recognize you when they meet you in person? Professional business portraits can be a big boost for your business image.
With the internet, business is more personal than ever. We want to see and know who we’re doing business with. All the buzz these days is about networking and relationship building, both with customers and with colleagues. We don’t build relationships with faceless names, websites and blogs. We build them with people—and people have faces.
Being able to put a face with a name can enhance the relationship-building process. We tend to trust people we know and recognize, whether we’ve met them before or not. Marketing research shows that we’re far more likely to choose to do business with someone who is familiar to us, whether we have met them before or whether we simply recognize them.
When we read a business article, we want to know who wrote it. Studies show we’re more likely to accept as authoritative an article accompanied by a portrait of the author, especially if the author looks like the person his article purports him to be.
If I met you today, would I recognize you from your online profile or your business card? How old is that photo—5, 10, even 15 years old? Is there even one there? Your online business profiles should be photos of you, not your dog, your cat or your logo. Every business person needs a good, professional business portrait. It doesn’t matter what line of work you’re in. Whether you sell insurance, style hair, teach fitness or build apps, you have an image and you need to communicate that image to the people you want to do business with, whether they are potential or existing customers.
First impressions count. What do you want their first impression of you to be? Remember, that first impression will likely be made before you meet in person. They may find you on the internet, see an ad for your company, get your business card or read an article you’ve written. If nothing else, your website’s about page needs to include a current portrait. Bonus points if it’s a professional business portrait that helps convey the image of your company you want.
Your professional business portraits should fit the image you want to project. Most executives in traditional industries (insurance, banking, manufacturing, etc.) do best with a more formal portrait in traditional business attire, meaning a suit or jacket and tie for men and a suit or dressy blouse or sweater and jacket for women. If you’re in a more creative profession, or an industry more known for its casual environment, you can wear something more relaxed or less “mainstream,” but you still need to project a professional image. Some industries are traditionally associated with particular clothing; for example, a doctor may opt to be photographed in a lab coat or scrubs, depending on the purpose of the photograph. In the personal-care field, such as hairstylists, massage therapists, fitness consultants, etc., you may opt to wear clothing that is more reflective of the nature of your business, such as wearing exercise gear.
A head-and-shoulders portrait is the standard, and really is a necessity for just about everyone, especially for your social media profiles. You can also opt for the increasingly popular branding session. These sessions are usually on location, whether it’s your workplace or in another setting. They offer a variety of images you can use on your website and in promotional materials. They are usually more relaxed, but still professional.
For example, A stylist or esthetician could be photographed at the salon, or a personal trainer in the gym, using exercise equipment. If you have willing clients, you might also consider some “action” shots, showing what you actually do.
To prepare for your branding session or headshot appointment, consult with your photographer ahead of time. They can help advise on you on what clothing and make-up will help you look the best. If possible, visit your desired location with them so you can take best advantage of the site. Share your ideas for the session and your thoughts about the image you want your portraits to project.
Most of all, enjoy your session. Your comfort or discomfort in front of the camera will show in the finished product. Find a photographer who you are comfortable with, who can see your vision and who you will enjoy working with. Following these steps, you’ll have professional business portraits that you’ll be proud of and that will help you build your business image.