And what would you think of someone else who joined a meeting in their pyjamas?
Well this was exactly the question I raised in my networking group chat this week. There we all were on Zoom, introducing our businesses to colleagues and potential customers. When I first logged on wearing my dressing gown, I noticed a few raised eyebrows. Fortunately there was method to my madness and my brief introduction to headshots this week was "What image have you created for yourself on Social Media?"
What is your profile photo really saying about you?
I made the comparison between myself (in my gown, hair unbrushed) and our chapter president, dressed in a smart shirt and jacket. As a newcomer scanning the group online, who would YOU instinctively do business with? I'm guessing you'd pick the guy in the jacket, or the lady who's taken the time to do her makeup for the meeting. You wouldn't pick the girl who looks like she just crawled out of bed.
Thing is, appearances do matter. And in a world of social media where imagery is king, having a professional profile helps you stand out in a sea of selfies. Investing in your own professional image suggests to your potential customers that you take yourself and your business seriously.
You could also be missing a trick to connect with your ideal clients if your personal Facebook and Instagram profile photos aren't optimised for your business.
If you are a small business owner or a solopreneur, leveraging this social media 'real estate' is important, and not just for your business pages. You can use a more traditional headshot on LinkedIn, with a plain white or coloured backdrop. For Facebook, there's a chance to be a bit more creative, while still professional. Consider an on-location shoot, so that your background is your office space, or has something in it that reflects your line of work or industry. My profile image, with camera in hand, reflects what I do, and the style in which I do it in.
If you sell a product or service, you can also use your cover image to resonate with your ideal client. I chose this particular image of my husband and I to appeal to my wedding clients, who are family-oriented, adventurous, and love an emotive and documentary approach to wedding photography. It's the style I shoot weddings in, and it's the style we chose for our own wedding.
You could also promote a product you sell with a beautiful flat-lay image. Wear your clothing brands, eat the cakes you bake, use the soaps you make - and make sure you are posting that content regularly to your personal page and stories. Don't be "salesy", just share organically. When people land on your profile, they have a clear picture of what it is you do. Plus, the organically posted images and stories can start a conversation with those already on your friends list.
People do business with people, and more especially with people they know, like and trust. You can up that trust factor with a profile image of you that shows you smiling and confident. For a more "serious" profession (think lawyer or doctor) you might feel more comfortable with a neutral expression rather than a broad smile. That's totally OK - the idea is that you are approachable to your potential customers.
So let's tackle another question: "what do I wear for headshots"?
Start with asking yourself:
If I had a meeting with a client tomorrow, what would I be wearing?
If you typically meet clients in a suit and tie, then that's what you should wear for your shoot. That way, the image and impression your clients have of you from your social media, is the same as they are greeted with when you work together in person (remember the trust factor).
Add a second, slightly more relaxed look e.g. just a shirt and blazer with chinos instead of full suit. Ladies have a few more options when it comes to dressing up or down, but here are my top tips for nailing your shoot day wardrobe:
The shorter the dress, the more casual the look.
Jeans are considered casual, but can easily be dressed up with a shirt/blazer. The darker the denim, the smarter the look.
Guys: long sleeves are best. Keep them buttoned at the wrists for a formal look, unbutton and roll up the sleeves for casual.
Ladies: if you usually wear heels, wear heels for the shoot. Even if your shoes aren't going to be seen in the photographs, you will feel more "complete" in your outfit - and more confident.
Try on your potential outfits before the shoot to make sure everything fits well.
Iron out any creases in your clothing.
Don't feel like you have to stick to black and navy and white - if you regularly wear patterns and bright colours then by all means bring those options along.
Rather bring too many options, than too few. Some outfits photograph better than others.
Bring along an item of clothing in your brand colour/s, if you have one.
Don't forget accessories likes belts and the necessary undergarments, e.g. ladies remember a nude bra for under a white shirt.
Having your portraits taken doesn't have to be overwhelming or a grudge purchase (p.s. did you know you can claim your photoshoot as a business expense?).
I've spent years photographing men and women from all professions and industries and will guide you through the whole way through the shoot. You don't have to know the first thing about posing.
I'm also available on Whatsapp / email for you to send me your outfit options and ideas. As with many things preparation is the key to success, and I want to create the most successful shoot for you.
And I promise I won't be there in my pjs!
If you're ready to put your best face forward you can drop me a mail at email@example.com or Whatsapp me on +27 83 296 8466.
Headshot sessions start at R1 500, T&C's apply.
See more of my work on Instagram
Hey! I'm Leigh.
I'm a wedding and portrait photographer in Johannesburg, with over 10 years of industry experience in family
portraits, headshots, personal branding and weddings.
Say hi: firstname.lastname@example.org