You only have a split second to impress. In an instant, you are assessed for your professional competence, integrity and personality. Your profile picture on any social media platform whether it be Linkedin, Facebook, your website, newspaper, newsletter or business card is critical to attracting new clients, business leads or opportunity.
Getting a professional headshot has been on my ‘to do’ list for a very long time… but for whatever reason, it’s something that I’ve been putting off doing. When I saw that Jennifer Taylor from vividity had a last minute opening for a corporate photo shoot, I decided to jump at the opportunity to finally get some decent head shots taken.
Preparing for the shoot
After confirming that the shoot with Jen, she phoned to give me a run down about what I’d need to do before the shoot. She said it’s useful to have a few different looks, so to come with about three (or more) outfits to choose from. Given that buying new clothes for myself comes secondary to, well, pretty much every other expense, it had been a while since I’d treated myself to any new clothes. The week before the shoot, I headed to Westfield Hornsby to get a couple of new outfits. Jen advised that bold colours worked best, as did neutrals like black or white. She said to avoid anything patterned – anything with spots, stripes or any print. Her clear guidelines helped me to focus on the right kind of clothes and even led me into some fashion retailers that I had never set foot in before.
Jen also pointed out the importance of good jewellery to give that extra element of ‘wow’ to the images – so rather than little diamond studs, she told me to bring big, dangly, drop ear rings that really stand out.
She also emphasised that I should be up-to-date with any personal ‘grooming’ – to make sure my hair had been recently cut and coloured (no stray greys!), nails manicured, legs shaved, tanned, etc. The preparation for the shoot reminded me of getting ready for my wedding day.
Although it took a bit of time to organise these things, it really was this level of attention to detail in the preparation that made the difference in the photos.
The day of the shoot
Having laid out my outfits and packed my bag the night before, I just needed to wash my hair in the morning. I let my hair dry naturally (which is not ideal, as it tends to go ‘boof chucka’) and left my face make-up free.
After dropping my girls at pre-school, I arrived at Jen’s Pymble studio (which is located within her home) and was warmly welcomed by a smiling, effervescent Jen. She is such a warm, natural woman, who instantly puts you at ease with her casual chatter. Elle, the friendly and professional Hair & Make-Up Artist was ready and waiting.
Jen ushered me into a guest room, where I laid out the outfits I’d brought, and Jen advised what she thought would be best for the shoot.
Next, it was time for my ‘before’ photo taken. Not something I was looking forward to, given my lack of make-up and boot-chucka hair! Ah well, at least the ‘transformation’ would be more apparent after Elle had worked her magic on me!
As Elle got to work on styling my hair, the three of us chatted over fruit, pastries and cups of tea.
I’m the type of person who is happy to take advice from the professionals, without any preconceptions about how things should or shouldn’t go. Jen gave a me a few options about things like backgrounds, make-up intensity, but I said I’d just go with their recommendations given she is the expert in the area. The make-up was heavier than what I’d wear in everyday life, but I was assured it wouldn’t come across this way in the photos.
After an hour or so of Hair & Makeup, I changed into my first outfit, and was finally ready for the big shoot!
Jen instantly put me at ease. She gave me lots of pointers about how to behave in front of the camera. The most helpful tip was that I should look down the lens of the camera like I am looking into the eyes of someone I know, to really ‘connect’ with the viewer.
A few other tips included:
- Look straight to the camera. Do not angle head
- Chin forward and down
- Make sure you ‘smise’ (smile with your eyes!)
- For me, apparently my face was better either with a full on happy smile or a more serious professional look. The ‘half smile’ did not work for my face, apparently. You learn something new every day!
The attention to detail was something that really impressed me about the whole experience. Jen and Elle were meticulous in their styling of me to ensure that there were no stray bits of hair sticking up, that lip gloss was applied (I have a habit of licking gloss straight off my lips!) and that my clothes and accessories were in the correct position!
The shoot took about an hour, and during that time we used four different outfits.
I was relieved at how relaxed Jen made me feel in front of the camera, which I think really comes across in the photos.
After the shoot, Jen sat me down for 10 minutes with some sandwiches while she did a quick edit of the photos. She whittled about 200 photos down to 50 in record time. When she was ready, she called me in to help shortlist it down even further.
Choosing my favourite photos was the most difficult part of the whole shoot! I was so happy with the vast selection of images to choose from, and knew I probably couldn’t make a wrong choice.
Most people find that they need at least three decent headshot images for use across different areas of business promotion. They might need a quite formal one for LinkedIn, for example, but one that’s a little more relaxed for Facebook and blog profile pictures, and perhaps one last one that works in well with the look and feel of their website.
I now have a fabulous selection of quality head shots that I can use in a variety of different contexts over the next few years. I’m delighted!
At vividity, Jen specialises in helping women look and feel great in front of the camera. All corporate photo sessions include full hair and makeup services as well as styling advice, and at least two wardrobe changes. Standard packages include three images. Click here for more information about vividity.