Any business that wants to appear professional and personable today must realise how professional and well-planned portrait photography is a must-have. Whether you’re a sole trader, business owner, managing director or a more junior team member, you need a clear and well-shot image for your social media profiles, company website, and printed marketing materials.
It’s almost 9 months since I commissioned Kent-based Richard Torble to take my ‘banana-phone’ picture, and the impact it has had in helping to build my brand has been significant. As a frequent networker at business events across the county, I am often recognised by people who have seen me online, and the image regularly serves as a conversation-starter. It helps me to build relationships online and be remembered even before I meet people face-to-face in the real world. This means I am often greeted with: ‘Oh yes – so YOU’RE Anwen Cooper from Get Fruitful Marketing – I’ve seen you before haven’t I?’ – or ‘I love your photo on Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn’.
If you’ve been thinking that you should invest in some new portrait photography for yourself or your team, then here are some pointers from Richard to help you get a good result.
Over to Richard:
I often get asked whether I can photograph someone’s shopfront/wedding/baby/dog/event, to which I politely reply that I shoot business headshots but that I’m happy to pass on their details to someone I think can help. Each genre of photography is a specific skill set. Yes, it still uses a camera (and associated equipment) but that’s where the similarities end. Sure, you can get the boyfriend of the receptionist to wave their (nice) camera in your general direction and press the button but that’s not a headshot, it’s a snapshot and in modern day business it is not acceptable anymore.
My mentor, Peter Hurley, calls himself 10% photographer and 90% therapist because photographing people goes way beyond knowing how to use a camera or set up some lighting. As a photographer of people, my main role is to give my clients ‘lookability’, that being something that makes other people stop and pay attention to their photograph. Once you have people’s attention they are more inclined to want to find out more about you. Giving people lookability has nothing at all to do with the equipment I use.
I photograph business men and women mainly, therefore the images are created to be promotional. They are designed to make the viewer have a specific perception of you. Obviously, you want that perception to be positive. For me, it comes down to two things, confidence and approachability or C&A for short. Yes, I say it so often, I actually have to abbreviate it. When an existing or potential client looks at that photograph they need to recognise that you know your stuff but at the same time that you are going to be nothing less than a pleasure to work with. You can do all that with a photograph that is just your head and shoulders. Crazy, huh?
It’s down to expression. Expression is how humans communicate with each other. Even if someone is speaking to you, if they don’t look like they mean it, you don’t believe them. Expression trumps everything. During your normal day to day life your subconscious has your expression under control. You don’t need to think about it. The millisecond that someone aims a camera at you, that changes. In that millisecond, all of your uncertainty and concerns about how you look come racing to the front of your mind. Problem is, that shows in your expression, which affects how you are perceived. Often people will overcompensate, which is how you end up with those huge cheesy grins but they don’t do you any favours at all. You end up looking eager and uncomfortable instead of confident and approachable.
The business men and women that I photograph more often than not have little to no experience in front of a camera. They need guidance, they need coaching and that’s where the 90% therapist stuff comes in. A magician never gives away his tricks of course, but this coaching is a process. It takes a bit of time which is why the difference in expression, and therefore perception, between the beginning of a session with me and the end is so striking. Over the years, I’ve shortened the amount of time I need to get to this point as I constantly tweak my directors toolbox. The two examples below took approximately 20 mins between before and after.
Your clients are consumers and consumers now have more choice than ever, they are far more picky and they won’t accept mediocrity. A quick snapshot in the corner of a breakfast meeting simply does not cut the mustard anymore. In true M&S fashion your headshot is not just a photograph, it is the most personal element of your branding that you have.
If you’d like to get in touch with Richard to find out more about how he can help your business check out his website at www.richardtorblephotography.com.