Why Professional Portraits Are so Important

When we get our pictures taken, a lot of us get self-conscious. When our friend, or our least-favorite aunt, pulls out a camera, we tend to hide, put on a self-effacing “goofy” look, or try to get out of it altogether. But when it comes to professional portraits, this isn’t going to work. Your professional headshots are there to say something about you. They convey professionalism, competency, and approachability. Here’s why your professional photos are so important, and tips for getting them just right. with LinkedIn headshots are going to get viewed more than ten times as often as those without. Not only that, but they’ll also get 40% more responses to inMail. We’ve long known that it only takes a split second– one-tenth of a second, if you want to get specific–to make a first impression of a new person based on their face. That first impression will inform all our later interactions, and it’s absolutely crucial. Professional portraits are the best way to make sure the look you’re projecting forward into your career path is a good one.

What Makes a Picture Pleasant?

How does a picture help to convey a good impression? There are two qualities that people are looking for when they make that all-important first impression. Between 80% and 90% of their decision about a person’s photo will be based on those two qualities: trustworthiness and competence.

A more in-depth study of LinkedIn profile pictures found that there were several things about professional portraits that left viewers with a positive impression. They were:

  • Smiles that showed teeth
  • Accentuated jawlines
  • Formal dress
  • Eye contact with the camera
  • Slight squints to the eye

You can’t control your jawline, but you can control all the other factors that leave a positive impression.

How to Get the Right Look

So how can you make a good first impression? Here are five tips to help you get it right.

  1. Think about your wardrobe. Even if you’re going to just get a headshot, some of your clothes are doing to be in the picture. You don’t want a silly t-shirt where half the slogan gets cut off. Ever seen a picture where you did a double take because you thought the person was naked? The wrong top can make it look like you’ve got nothing on below that headshot. If your clothes are wildly trendy, you’ll have other problems. You don’t want to have to get new headshots every year, but if your clothes date you too badly, you might have trouble.

    Another issue is how your clothes are going to look on a screen. Computer screens aren’t able to work well with certain patterns, especially ones with narrow stripes that are all close together. This creates a “ripple effect” to your look that you definitely don’t want.

  2. Get your hair right. If you have short hair you’ll probably be fine. But those of you with long hair need to make sure you always bring a hairbrush when you get professional portraits done. Hair should look neat and full with no straggling strands and no big gaps in the fringe. And yes, a good photoshop artist can “fix” hair issues, but it’s time-consuming and difficult because hair moves in so many different directions at once.
  3. Makeup should be natural.In other words, the last thing you want is to look like a clown. Go for a natural, but neat, look. Think about how you’d meet someone for a business meeting. Is it the same look you’d put on for a special date or evening out with a spouse? Probably not, so keep it simple.
  4. You’ve got to smile.Some people are under the mistaken impression that they look more professional if they don’t smile. That’s just not true. People look for smiles as they decide whether to trust a professional. Smiling is very professional, and most of the time not smiling just come out creepy.
  5. Get a professional. No, you should not have your professional portraits done by your niece in the living room. Someone with experience doing professional headshots for work will be able to help you get it right.

Your photo says a lot about you. Make sure your work headshots are saying what you want.