I see a lot of really bad headshots used in corporate presentations, awards ceremonies and on team pages on websites. They are bad in different ways, and range from embarrassing to unintentionally humourous. Some of them are just clearly cropped from a photo the subject submitted themselves, probably in a mad rush to get something in place for an impending deadline.Some are selfies, some are vacation photos (you may look great in a bathing suit but that may not be your best office look) and some just an obviously out of date image.
Here’s a fact that surprises people all the time when I tell it to them: more the 50% of the corporate headshots I take are last-minute rush jobs.
How is it possible, they ask, that someone could ever urgently need a photograph, let alone a headshot? Believe me, I used to wonder the same thing, until I started paying attention to the triggers. People use the same professional headshot for several years. Just do a quick scan through your contacts on LinkedIn and see how many have updated their photos in the past year. People kind of forget about their profile pics after a while, until a need arises for a new one.
Here are some of the reasons why all of a sudden, a headshot is needed, like NOW! All of the examples below are taken from real contracts I’ve had.
“Looking for new challenges”: People don’t change their headshots unless there is a change in their employment status. When that happens, there may be a lead up to the decision if the change is self-driven, but there are many reasons why a person’s employment status can change beyond their control. This unexpected change often triggers a need for a new look.
“You’re published!”: People get articles published on schedules they don’t control, and get asked to submit a bio picture along with their submission.
“You won!” : People win industry awards and accolades, or are selected for internal company awards they weren’t expecting and they need a picture to accompany the announcement.
“You’re being promoted!”: Good things happen to hard working people. They get promotions and despite company’s best efforts, HR doesn’t always keep internal comms informed of the latest personnel changes, nor provide a lot lead time before the announcement has to go out, particularly in public companies where the change in senior level appointments is material information that must be made public.
“You’re invited to speak at our upcoming…”: People get asked at the last minute to speak at an event, a gala dinner, or a conference they hadn’t planned on going to. Suddenly they are facing a roomful of their peers and colleagues with a 10-year old bio picture that looks like it was cut out of their high school year book. Awkward.
As with all rush-jobs, there are usually fees associated that raise the price of the product or service being purchased. As well, the last-minute pressure also usually indicates a lack of preparation and limits the number of other people in the office or on site who may also be in need of a new headshot but just aren’t given enough notice to get there for the appointed day because they are out of the office, in a client meeting or just having a bad hair day. All of these factors increase the cost to the buyer.
A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down…
Forward-thinking planners, event and conference organizers can score big savings by taking advantage of organizing an onsite headshot session when they are assembling people who may only get together once or twice a year. Annual meetings, board meetings, seminars, training sessions, workshops and conferences are just a few places where people are brought together. This allows the organizer to save on per/head costs as the set up fee for an onsite portrait session can be spread out over a number of individuals rather than just the one.
To those paying for the service, there may be the perception that bringing in a photographer to conduct a portrait session is just an unnecessary extra expense tacked on the event, but if viewed from a slightly longer-term perspective, the savings can be significant to the organization.
Per head costs / portraits can be reduced by 50% or more
Leverage the investment already made in bringing important people together (food, hotel, travel)
Raise staff morale – everyone loves having a little extra attention paid to them, and a professional headshot is a nice perk that saves your staff money. Happy workers are more productive ones.
Leaving anything to the last-minute creates more stress, cost and hassle. It’s great for my business, but do yours a favour and plan ahead. You will need a new headshot someday. Don’t wait till that day happens to be tomorrow.
We no longer live in a purely physical world. While everything we need to sustain ourselves (food, water, shelter, love) comes from the world of things (and people) for better or for worse many of us live as much online as we do offline. For anyone born after 1980 the wall between the “real world” and the “digital world” is thin, and getting thinner. Eventually, in a rapidly accelerating future, as wi–fi becomes ubiquitous and free, our refrigerators order beers for us when their shelves are bare and our cars drive themselves for us, I believe we will cease to recognize the distinction between online and offline. Such terms will become quaint artefacts of a time when living memories remembered things like rotary phones, or even no phones at all. Which is my roundabout way of getting to the point that how we present ourselves online matters. It is, in effect, another aspect of ourselves and just like the avatars in video games (or movies), these avatars represent our idealized selves.
We want to look young, smart, healthy, interesting, perhaps a bit mysterious, alluring, attractive and like someone you would want to know. We want to look like our best selves, (or in my case, like someone seriously into tribal head dresses – yes, it’s real). There are a few simple things you can do before uploading your next profile pic, to ensure that your headshot/avatar represents you as you wish to be seen and in your best light.
Here are a few tips to help you choose the best online profile picture to represent you in that brave new online world, that’s not so new anymore:
Show some teeth! By that I mean use a photo in which you are smiling. No matter how awkward you feel smiling (and sadly, many grown ups do) humans respond to smiling faces way better than they do to non-smiling faces. If you are bothering to show yourself online at all, then presumably you want someone to see you and like you. Smiling helps. (If you need some help with smiling, read my post on the subject here).
Use a photo taken on one of your good days: we all have good days and bad days. Don’t use a photo taken on a bad day. Simple as that. If you were having a bad hair/skin/attitude/breath day and your photos didn’t come out the way you wanted them to, do them again. The short-term inconvenience of taking another photo pales in comparison to the amount of time your photo will linger online. (You can read about preparing for a photoshoot here and here if you need a few tips before any shoots you have upcoming).
Make the effort: when you are posing for your professional headshot, on this one day, no matter how else you choose to dress and live, make the effort to look your best. Get a good night’s rest, shave, do your hair, and wear nice, ironed clothes – preferably with collars. Better to be over dressed than under-dressed and in photos, a simple, classic, elegant look will never get stale and can serve you well across multiple online platforms.
There are countless other ways to make sure your headshot/avatar does what it is supposed to do for you online. Backing it up with some investment in the content you share is also important, but almost all relationships in business, or personal life, these days begin with someone you don’t know looking at your photo online. Make it a good one.
Here’s a quick 5 Minutes Of What The Media Actually Does To Women video, I discovered on Upworthy, a great site I’ve recently stumbled upon that shares news worth sharing. As a photographer I often spend more time than I want to toiling away in Photoshop making people look like the enhanced versions of themselves. I’m usually working on images of regular working people for their corporate portraits, family portraits or LinkedIn headshots. These are not models with body images but even still, there is the latent desire to see oneself perfected, to have a few lines removed here, a slight restructuring of the jaw there. I admit my guilt in doing these digital cosmetic surgeries, but share the opinion voiced in this video that unrealistic images, particularly of women, are damaging to women themselves, promote self-loathing and create a space where violence against women can happen by dehumanizing and objectifying women. I’m a father of a young girl and I feel a personal responsibility in making sure she grows up with a healthy self-image. She sometimes sits with me as I work in Photoshop where I show her how images are created and hopefully she learns a little bit about the difference between images and reality. She may still love Princesses and Hello Kitty, but when it comes time to eat, she’s fed a good wholesome meal which she devours with pleasure. So this holiday season my wish is that the women of the world reject the notion of false beauty projected through dehumanized, over-Photoshopped images of women, and dig in to their holiday meals with gusto!
Fall is one my busiest times of the year as a corporate portrait and event photographer in Montreal. It’s a little bit funny to me, as it’s not like my corporate clients are all heading back to school, but there is something about this turn of the seasons that drives event planning. I’ve noticed the pattern over a number of years and each year it holds true.
With the summer holidays out of the way (a pleasant glowing memory I hope), it’s time to get back to work. Projects are started, recruitment campaigns hit their full stride, new hires are taken on and everyone it seems has a sense of busyness, as if psychologically we are preparing for the coming winter months and need to hurry to get the harvest in before the first frost.
2013 is no different and as the wedding season winds down, the corporate event season is just gearing up. Even corporate portraits pick up around this time as people on the job hunt decide to invest in an updated Linkedin profile picture, or corporate communications teams start updating their websites and profile pages for their staff, agents, etc.
And if you are a student heading back to school this fall, I’m glad to offer you a super sized student discount on your profile picture should you be thinking that this time next year you might be looking for a job and maybe it’s time for a professional headshot. (Mention this blog post for 50% off your headshot with proof of enrollment in college or university).
Every job seeker needs a good professionally taken portrait to help them achieve their professional goals. In a competitive market, any extra advantage is valuable and a good, well done portrait is just such an advantage.
In business it often seems unfair that the employed have so many advantages over the unemployed and those temporarily out of the workforce for myriad reasons (career changers, corporate restructurings, leap of faith searching for dream job). Not only do the employed benefit from the corporate rates and buying power of their employers, they also get regularly updated professional photos of themselves that they can use across their increasingly networked online accounts. Working as an independent professional photographer in Montreal, I empathize with hard-working people who are looking to make a change in their life but who may be feeling a little overwhelmed by all the added costs of being outside of the security of a full-time job. Cell phones, internet access, computers, even new clothes all cost money that someone operating on a reduced income or tighter budget may not always have available. Usually the added cost of having a professionally done headshot is one of the items that people know they need to do, but have a hard time justifying when they are not working. This is both unfair and sadly, counterproductive as it is precisely during this period that projecting an image of confidence and optimism is most needed — and something a well lit and professionally taken photograph will do.
Whether it is for a new Linkedin profile, or to personalize an avatar when joining one of the thousands of online conversations taking place daily, a good photo helps communicate professionalism. As a headhunter, career counsellor or career placement service, helping your clients put their best foot forward is part of your job. Working throughout Montreal, I regularly visit corporate offices and set up small, onsite studios for taking corporate portraits, and this service is available to all clients of head hunters, career counsellors or career placement services as well. Making a career change takes time and effort and the process usually involves at least one if not a series of meetings with a professional recruiter who can offer guidance and tips. At your next client meeting, schedule a bit of extra time ahead of the meeting and bring in a professional photographer to help give your clients an edge. If booking for more than one client, take advantage of group rates and bulk discounts that are routinely provided to corporations bringing in a professional corporate photographer for their key executives and public facing agents.
Take a look at a few recent examples here of corporate portraits taken throughout Montreal head and satellite offices in 2012 and give your clients some real added value by helping them get an updated profile picture. Not only will it help them get the new job of their dreams, they will remember the extra attention you gave them as their head hunter, recruiter or career counsellor when they are ready to upgrade to their next, even better job.
One of the pleasures of being a freelance portrait photographer in Montreal is the chance to meet a broad range of really interesting people, doing interesting things with their lives. Last week I received a last minute phone call from a friend urgently in need of a professional portrait. As luck would have it, having just finished a real estate shoot in Westmount that morning, I still had all my gear packed and so, within 40 minutes, I was on site at my client’s home setting up for his portrait. My client, Robert Thomson, was in urgent need of an updated headshot because he’d just learned that he was the proud winner of the 2012 Elinore & Lou Siminovitch Prize in Theatre, the largest theatre award in Canada worth $100k. That is no small feat considering how competitive and tough it can be to make it as a lighting designer in a world lit only by freelance contracts. I was happy and proud to be chosen as his portraitist and we a did a quick session in his beautifully appointed, high-ceilinged home in the Plateau. It’s always great to work with winners, whatever your field is, and I am lucky to often be working with professionals who are going places, or like Robert Thomson, people who’ve long since arrived and are getting the recognition they are due. Congratulations Robert!
Are you looking for a job? Updating your profile on LinkeIn? Thinking of changing careers? Dating online? Whatever your motivation, having a good professionally taken headshot these days is a requirement for any serious professional. Having recently spent several days on location shooting profile pictures of executives and staff throughout Montreal, I would like to offer the same high quality service to a wider audience as I know that not everyone works for a large corporation and there are many people who would like a new set of headshots but haven’t felt it was affordable or easy to do. I’d like to change the perception and make sure that anyone in Montreal (or who can get to Montreal from surrounding regions) that is interested in having a professional headshot taken can do so. So here’s my offer:
The $125 headshot + makeup deal – what you get
1 portrait session take (15 minutes) with as many poses as you can fit in.
3 final images selected by you for final editing and digital delivery
All RAW file image proofs included with online delivery
Onsite makeup artists to prepare you for your portrait session in advance
Complementary glass of wine, beer or beverage of your choice (to help with any “I hate having my photo taken” jitters)
Incredibly positive, supportive and enthusiastic conversation with your professional photographer to make the session thoroughly enjoyable
All for an incredible value of $125!
But wait, it gets better! Sign up three of your friends and your session is free!
Photographing a group of mad clowns for an upcoming theatrical presentation was truly one of the more inspiring studio portrait sessions I’ve worked on. With a little make-up , a simple lighting set up, and a whole lot of talent, we created some beautiful images that will be used for marketing and promoting the show through both print and online campaigns.
My brother, Daniel Francis Haber, and I recently shot the seven-hour portrait photo session for the upcoming Clowns Gone Bad production MöcShplat, directed by local Montreal actor/director (and current star of 18 to Life), Alain Goulem and to be presented by Geordie Productions in February 2011. (MöcShplat is a version of Shakespeare’s Macbeth unlike any you’ve ever seen before: all the actors are clowns and the language they speak is gibberish. I’ll add the link to their blog soon once it is complete).
We used a great new rental studio in town and loved it. We took group shots, headshots, posed and candid portraits and special poses for a top-secret marketing piece involving a really cool band from the eighties with big hair and lots of makeup. We had so much fun and are so proud of the photos, we want to share a few of them here and are calling out to all local actors, musicians, artists, real estate agents or anyone else wanting to book a studio session for headshots. Now booking for September offering great fall rates. Contact me by phone (514.757.7657) or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
*Please note: all images shown in this post are copyright protected and cannot be copied or used for any purpose without explicit permission from www.julianhaber.com and the actors featured in the images.