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Why You Need a Corporate Portrait, Not a Headshot

Credit: Mo Phung

At the base level, your “headshot” is a simple photo taken by your go-to photographer against a white backdrop. You are lint free and smiling. Standard on various corporate websites, including our own. For now.

As we embark on this fresh New Year, it is a great time to step out of our comfort zones and challenge ourselves creatively. Are you in? In 2018, you should expand your options and encourage your organization to do the same. To remain relevant and convey personality, you need a portrait where you can express yourself beyond the confines of folded hands, a stool and white flash. Confident. Engaging. Natural. Current. Personal. We are living in a visual society.

So, I offer five things to consider when refreshing your Kodak/Canon/Nikon moment.

The pose. Forget any advice you got on grad picture day. You should have several options for a headshot: one that includes a head to toe pic of you sitting or standing in a setting that speaks to your brand; a waist up version; and a head and shoulders option. You will find use for all of these.

A strong message is elicited by a pose – and very often a successful photo is one with the magical combination of stance and an expression to offset it. Watch this:

Cross your arms confidently (serious) with a warm smile (not serious).

Put your hands in your pocket nonchalantly (not serious) with a piercing neutral gaze (serious).

Lean on your hand (serious) with a confident half smile (not serious).

Don’t overthink it.

The angle. Hey, everyone except Obama has a bad one. Be aware of your better angle. Little details determine your better side – i.e. hair part, profile, etc. Why not use your best one? In many cases photos are best taken at a slight angle rather than straight on. I’m also intrigued by the use of headshots where people are not looking at the camera at all.

The setting. Hugely important. Yes, the white backdrop is a usual option but in your portrait portfolio you should have a version taken in an alternative setting. This can be outside (overcast days offer the best lighting option), in a boardroom near a window with a view, in a lobby or anywhere that offers a contemporary, clean backdrop representative of your own personal brand. This photo is not going to solely live on your company’s website. You can use it for your social media channels, published articles, RFPs, speaking engagements, volunteer positions, the list goes on.

Your look. What you wear is very individual but I would say in cases of corporate photos you will want to have a bit of structure. Often more flattering. This means wearing a jacket, blazer or a layering piece like a sweater over a shirt. Avoid prints and too much jewellery. Pick one statement piece. Be aware of colours and necklines that flatter you most. Dress shirts should not have any signs of wear. We’re living in a high def world.

The edit. Your photographer will help you do this but you should have a nice range of options to choose from. Take the time to compare and contrast and obviously get another opinion. Slight re-touching is great but don’t overdo it. We’re not walking around with the Nashville filter.

Have fun and don’t get caught with a grad pic.