Has it been over 2 years since you’ve updated your headshot? Perhaps you’re working on your new website, lost a lot of weight, changed your hair color or you’re rocking a new hair style? Whatever the reason, one fact about professional headshots is that they need to be updated every few years. Your life and your brand evolve – and so should the image you put out in front of your future clients. But how do you get a professional headshot that truly reflects your current brand and style?

One of the first questions I ask when consulting with a new client is “Tell me about your brand and describe to me your ideal client.” Having clarity around your brand, the message you’re trying to convey and the clients you’re helping are essential when discussing the three core decisions that need to be made before any headshot session. 

  1. Which headshot location serves my personal brand the best?

Selecting the right location for your branding session is super important.

The 3 most common options are:

  • the photographer’s studio,
  • outdoors
  • your place of business.

All three options are good choices but the right choice depends on the story you want your brand to tell.

Taking personal branding headshots in a studio:

A studio location is a popular choice for individual office professionals such as executives, lawyers, and financial advisors. However, with the increasing importance of having a professional online presence, studio headshots have become more common with realtors, small business owners, and creatives.

Pros: In a typical studio, you’ll be provided with the option of several solid color backgrounds ranging from white to gray to black with all the shades in between. These color options allow you to easily coordinate your new headshot with the existing website and marketing color schemes.

 In addition, with studios, you don’t have to worry about the weather. It doesn’t matter if it’s cold, rainy, or windy outside, with a studio session you and your photographer are in control.

Cons: Not all photographers have a studio so please be sure to ask before booking.

Summary: The photographer’s studio is the perfect choice for a simple, individual headshot or personal branding image that will be used as a profile image on social media, your website or in your marketing materials. Using a studio is versatile and works well for most people & professions.

Taking personal branding headshots outside:

The options with an outdoor setting are endless. This could be your backyard, a local park, an urban setting, or downtown. Seriously, your imagination is the limit.

Pros: An outdoor location works well for everyone! The key is picking the right outdoor location. I’ve seen headshots for landscapers, hairdressers, and financial wizards photographed outside. They all look professional and fantastic.

Cons: The biggest obstacle is the weather. When you book an outdoor headshot session, you’re at the mercy of the cold, heat, wind, and humidity.

Summary: Getting your headshot taken outdoors provides you with many different background options within a short walking distance. If you’re a professional looking for a variety of images to use on social media, your website, and various marketing materials, this is an excellent choice.

Taking personal branding headshots in your workspace:

Let’s say you’re in charge of hiring a photographer to photograph your entire legal team. You want individual headshots as well as a team portrait. The images will be used on your website so style consistency is top on your list. If you have space, there’s no better place than your office.

Pros: Your office is where everyone is located! You can coordinate with your photographer to schedule both the individual headshots and the team picture on the same day as a quarterly board meeting.

Cons: Honestly, I can’t think of any. Just be sure your photographer has mobile backgrounds and lighting equipment. For the team photo, you’ll need to discuss ahead of time whether you have a large enough area inside your building or if you’ll need to take it outside.

Summary: If you have a team of individuals that need headshots, this is the most efficient use of their time as well as the most cost-effective.

What should I wear for my personal branding headshots?

Now that you’ve determined the perfect location for your professional photos, let’s move onto picking out clothes.

Going back to your brand, let’s talk about your personal style. Does being a lawyer mean you have to wear a tailored suit? Heck no!

One of the easiest ways to answer this question would be to consider what you typically wear when consulting with your clients. Some lawyers do wear suits, while others are more casual and wear slacks & a collared shirt. Neither is right or wrong.   The important thing to keep in mind is that you want to look the same in your photos as you do when meeting with your clients. Surprises are not typically a good idea when meeting with prospective clients.

For the majority of headshot sessions, I recommend keeping clothing & accessories clean & simple. Less is more.

For headshots, you want the focus on your eyes, your expression. Not the wildly patterned blouse or the big & bold tie.

However, like most things, rules are meant to be broken. What if bright, bold & colorful clothes ARE your style & brand? Then, by all means, bring it on!

As a rule of thumb, for clothing, hair & makeup, you want to ensure that a stranger can pick you out in a crowded coffee shop based only on your headshot image.

  1. Do I have to smile in my personal branding headshot?      

Before taking any pictures, I always talk to my client about the feeling they want their headshot and/or personal branding pictures to convey. A lawyer may want to appear confident & knowledgeable. Someone in sales may want to look approachable & easy to talk to. Friendly.

Don’t be someone you’re not. If you don’t smile with all your teeth showing when you visit with clients, this will not be the expression you want to choose for your headshot. Again, think about your brand, your profession & your personality. Talk to your photographer about the feeling you want to convey in your pictures.

There you go. In just a few minutes, you’ve learned 3 important factors to consider when creating an original and successful personal branding headshot. You now know what to consider when selecting the best location, clothing & expression/body language for your brand. Are you ready to take action & update that headshot?

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