Accountants and other financial professionals typically utilize professional headshots in their email and social media marketing campaigns. Headshots are great and they certainly have a place in your marketing plan (for example, submit a headshot with your submission for a prestigious award). But a very strong case could be made for replacing professional headshots with a variety of candid photos in your email newsletters, digital marketing campaigns and on your firm’s Facebook page.
How so, you ask? Candid photos tend to be significantly more engaging and immeasurably more relatable than that 12-year-old headshot with the blurry blue background that you’ve used every time a photograph was required since the day it was taken. Candid photographs typically portray you in the best light, at least from a perception perspective: they appear to capture and anthropomorphize honesty, approachability, affability, trustworthiness, reliability, character, personal connectivity, strength, wisdom, personality, and most importantly, your “humanness”.
As many of us abhor having our picture taken, it is natural if you outwardly groan and squirm at the idea of taking not just one headshot every decade, but multiple candid photos on a regular, consistent basis for use in your marketing materials. Don’t despair. The candid photo process can be a very painless, and often pleasurable, experience. Not to mention that it can be done by anyone, regardless of budget or photographic experience. Candid photos are essentially free, minus the 20 to 30 minutes it takes you and your designated photographer to set up and take the photos. Smart phones take great pictures these days, so an investment in an expensive SLR digital camera and tripod is not typically necessary to snap a great shot.
Here are six tips to help you take some highly engaging, quality, and pain-free candid (if slightly posed) photos:
Elevate The Angle
Ask the photographer to take the photograph from a higher elevation than your head – always have him or her stand on a chair before taking the shot if you are standing, or hold the camera higher than his or her own head-level if you are sitting and he or she is standing. This will eliminate any double-chin issues that even the sveltest of us experience in eye-level photos and will make you look as fabulous as possible. Absolutely avoid taking photos from below eye-level.
Dress For Photographic Success
Digital photography tends to make fabric patterns swirl and twirl and become slightly psychedelic. Avoid wearing jackets, shirts or blouses that have broad or dark stripes, flowers, dots, blots or circles, paisleys, geometrics, and especially plaid. Make sure that whatever you wear will look appropriate if cropped at shoulder or waist height (an off-the-shoulder blouse or sweater will make you look naked if cropped at the collar bone, so leave those types of clothes for the social scene). Bright colors (blue, purple, pink, red, green) work exceptional well for all skin types and also help to showcase a bit of personality; if you don’t want to wear a bright color, go for a dark neutral color (gray, black, brown, navy) rather than a white or pastel color. It doesn’t matter if you’re wearing the same clothes or not, but feel free to do a wardrobe change in the middle of your photo shoot if you wish.
Light It Up
If you need to bring in an extra floor lamp, desk light or other light to make the room brighter, don’t hesitate to do so. Try to avoid using the flash on your phone or camera if possible by adding ambient light to your photo shoot location. The most attractive lighting will subtly shine on your face from the above in the general direction your photographer faces you from. If your face is washed out in light, turn a light off. Try to have as much light from as many different sources around you as possible – this will make you look light and bright without washing you out, and will reduce unattractive shadowing on your face.
Shoot It Multiple Times
Take a dozen photos of the same or similar pose from multiple angles – have the photographer move the chair he or she is standing on a foot to the right and then a foot to the left. Turn your head without moving your body to look up to the photographer from each angle. If you are standing in your photo, try a few different poses each time the photographer moves to a new location: with your body straight on with arms by your sides in one photo, with your body slightly turned in another, turn your body the other way in another; cross your arms in one shot, place your hands on your hips in another, hold a briefcase or tablet in another, and adjust how you hold your head for each pose. You will likely be surprised at how a tiny change in your posture, combined with where the photographer is standing, may make on the lighting effects as well as the personality captured on “film”.
Keep It Clean
De-clutter your surroundings before staging your photo shoot. If you sit at your desk, tidy it up and put paperwork, pens, and other distracting items away prior to shooting. If you are standing, be sure you stand in an area that has very few visual distractions in the background, or, if there is a lot of “stuff” behind you (such as a bookcase or reception area), ask the photographer to use the “portrait” feature on the camera to have the background blurred while keeping your face in focus. Avoid standing directly in front of a wall (particularly if using a flash) or risk having a dark shadow directly behind you that makes your head look particularly large as wall shadows often appear like an extension of hair and are difficult to “edit” out.
Take It Outside
Consider taking one or two photos outdoors – your photographer can stand on a bench, on a staircase above where you are standing, or on a chair that you’ve taken with you for the photo shoot. Outdoor photos in front of your office building, in the nearby park, by your firm’s office sign and other locations out in nature are highly engaging (we tend to gravitate toward images that include plants, trees, flowers and other natural elements). Natural lighting is also frequently the most attractive for photographs, particularly on sunny days.
By following the above tips, your candid shots may turn out even better than professional headshots and will certainly have more applicability in your marketing efforts. Rather than having one photo that you use over and over again, develop a series of candid photos that you can manipulate and utilize in multiple ways – on your website, in banner ads for your newsletter, as profile pictures on articles you pen, as a personalized greeting in email messages, in your print marketing collateral, and on your firm’s Facebook page.