How to Take a Better Headshot & Why It Matters

Why do I need a headshot?

I often get asked this question by peers and clients when the prospect of taking a new photo arises. The answer is simple - Your headshot is a key component of your brand; one that can draw clients to you or drive them away. From infancy on, we are drawn to faces. On websites, one of the first things most viewers look at are any pictures of people. Chemistry is an important part of why a client decides to work with a financial advisor (or many other professionals) and photographs are an important part of that process.

If that sounds hyperbolic then consider this - statistics from LinkedIn show that members who include a professional photo receive 21x more profile views and up to 36x more messages. 

Your photo should be up-to-date and convey the right image for your brand. And it should be on the home page of your website—and be sure to use the same photo across social media to be consistent.

 

LinkedIn profile exampleWhile I’m sure your cousin’s wedding was wonderful; the photos have no place in your professional persona.

 

 

Fine, I need a headshot. How do I get one?

Now that you understand why a headshot is important, let's explore how you go about getting one.

While you can contract the services of a professional photographer, depending on their experience level and demand, it can be costly. On average, session costs range from between $200 and $500 and take 1-2 hours. Additionally, expect additional fees based on the number of photos you choose to purchase. If you go this route, be sure to get photos in different outfits and in different settings—inside and out of the office.

However, if you don't have the time or budget for a professional, the camera on your smartphone can do the trick.

 

Headshot implementation example

This advisor has made headshots an integral part of her website: https://www.sloanadvisorygroup.com/

 

Animated Team Photos ExampleYou can even have a little fun with it. Check out what this team did (be sure to mouse over the photos): https://dfgadvisors.com/team/

 

Wait, I’m not a photographer.

No, you’re not and, more importantly, you don’t need to be. Apple and Samsung (along with myriad other Android manufacturers) have developed AI assisted software that has lowered the skill barrier needed to take a good photo. Following these tips will help you elevate that good photo to a strong one and make a great impression with clients.

  1. Ask a friend or family member to help. 
    If no one's free to snap photos, you can also set up a tripod or makeshift tripod (think: book stacks) and use your phone on self-timer. Alternatively, the camera app on an Apple Watch can be used as a remote viewfinder for framing your shots.


  2. Pick a neutral background.   

    A solid-colored wall or other simple setting (such as a bookcase) makes for the best photo backdrops. Make sure the background is free of clutter (other photos, wires, your thermostat) to ensure your face is the focus. Be sure to stand at least 3-4 feet from the background to reduce hard shadows and introduce a soft bokeh, or out-of-focus effect.


  3. Use Natural Lighting
    
Find a spot in or around your home or office that offers ample natural lighting. A well-lit area will ensure your photo has clean lines and a flattering amount of brightness. Additionally, when choosing to light you want soft diffuse lighting (such as indirect sunlight) rather than harsh direct lighting (direct sunlight or fluorescents) which can create unflattering shadows.


    Unedited portrait photoIn this example, I positioned my model a few feet from an open window at mid-morning. Note the general positioning and framing – the body is tilted slightly away from the camera with the head turned toward the lens.

  4. Dress for success
    Choose outfits and jewelry that you would wear in your professional setting. Stick with solid colors and generally steer clear of busy patterns which can photograph poorly. You may want to try several different outfits and a few different backgrounds.

  5. Skip the filters (for now)
    This isn’t Instagram. You want clear and natural light so avoid using any heavy filtering.

  6. Take Lots of Photos
    Most people don’t love having their photo taken so give yourself some time to warm-up. Try some different poses, switch outfits if necessary, repeat. This will give you options when choosing your final photo.

  7. Face slightly to the left
    There is a lot of neuroscience here, but it boils down to this. Because, in English, we read left to right, studies of the brain have found that cognitively people prefer an image, then text. This means your photo should generally be to the left of any copy. If you are looking left, in the photo, you will be looking right at the text (as opposed to looking off the page/screen, which is distracting)

  8. Edit your photo
    After you’ve selected your photo, edit it using the tools on your phone. Taking the time to make even basic tweaks - like straighten, crop, and brighten – can elevate a good photo to a great photo. If you’re feeling adventurous, there are some great apps that go beyond the suite of tools natively on your phone. I recommend VSCO or Afterlight if you’re interested in exploring an expanded toolset.

Unedited portrait photoEdited portrait photo

Simple editing can be make a big difference. My original photo was a little off center so I used the crop tool to center my subject. I then further refined the photo by making small adjustments to the brightness and saturation. You can see the difference between the original on the left and the edited version on the right.

Congratulations! You now should have a pretty good headshot. Time to update your website and social media.

 

Did you find this article helpful?

If so, be amongst the first 5 advisors to share your new photo to be selected for a complementary headshot touch-up. To be eligible, simply email your photo to marketing@symmetrypartners.com using the subject line “Headshot.”

 

Symmetry Partners, LLC, provides this communication on this site as a matter of general information. Information contained herein, including data or statistics quoted, are from sources believed to be reliable but cannot be guaranteed or warranted. Nothing on this site represents a recommendation of any particular security, strategy, or investment product. The opinions of the author are subject to change without notice. Due to various factors, including changing market conditions and/or applicable laws, the content may not be reflective of current opinions or positions. All content on this site is for educational purposes and should not be considered investment advice or an offer of any security for sale. Please be advised that Symmetry Partners does not provide tax or legal advice and nothing either stated or implied here on this site should be inferred as providing such advice. Symmetry Partners does not approve or endorse any third party communications on this site and will not be liable for any such posts.

Diversification seeks to reduce volatility by spreading your investment dollars into various asset classes to add balance to your portfolio. Using this methodology, however, does not guarantee a profit or protection from loss in a declining market.

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