head shots

The photo that introduces you to the potential clients –– on everything from your website to signs –– is obviously something you don’t want to mess up. You shouldn’t stress about your photo, but you shouldn’t slack on it either. Here are a few common-sense rules to guide you.

Do: Hire a professional photographer
Don’t grab your most “professional-looking” photo from Facebook. And standing in front of a white wall while your buddy snaps a photo isn’t good enough either. Drop the money necessary to hire a professional for an hour. Their entire career is based on making their clients look good. But more important than you looking good is the fact that the photo will clearly be professional. An agent without a professional photo is not going to be taken seriously.

Don’t: Confuse professional for glamour
Attracting clients is not the same as attracting a date. Your goal here is not to look sexy. Dress the same way you would in a typical professional setting. Cool colors, rather than warm colors, tend to come off looking more professional. When in doubt, it’s better to go with solids than very “busy” patterns.

Don’t: Hesitate to get professional makeup
This goes for men and women, regardless of whether you wear makeup on a daily basis. Get in touch with a makeup artist in your area and tell them what you need done. You might be able to get somebody to make an on-site visit, or you might have to stop by the salon.

Do: Be friendly
People want you to be knowledgeable, competent and hardworking, but it’s hard to convey that with a facial expression. But what you can show is your friendliness. A warm smile that suggests you will be a pleasant person to work with is key. Plus, research has shown that those who smile in photos are viewed as more trustworthy.

Do: Pick a simple background
There are a number of acceptable options. There’s nothing wrong with going with a classic white background. If you want to get a little creative, try to go with something that reflects your connection to the community. Perhaps you in front of a house? But don’t get complicated or include anything that will distract from the main product: You!

Do: Choose a pose that feels natural
Your photographer will likely make you try out a number of poses and some of them will feel silly to you. Don’t waste time on poses that aren’t your style. Just politely tell your photographer that that’s not “you.”

Don’t: Use props
Anybody can and does hold a phone from time to time. Why would doing so in your headshot impress anybody?

Don’t: Bring others into the photo
You are enough. This is a professional photo. No need to include family, friends or pets.

Do: Update your photo every few years
Yeah, it hurts, but it’s kind of tacky to use a photo from 15 years ago. Clients shouldn’t be confused by meeting somebody who looks very different from the photo they saw. Even if looks shouldn’t matter, it can come off as misleading or vain if you are using a photo from way back when.

Do: Ask friends and coworkers for advice
Once you’ve narrowed down your headshot options, it might be a good idea to ask some trusty peers for their thoughts. You might be surprised by the perspective they bring.

What are your rules of thumb for headshots? Share any tips in a comment below or let us know on Facebook or Twitter!

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