Choose Wisely and Smile; The Importance of a Great Head Shot!

Monday, February 26, 2018
I'm absolutely not a photographer and I'm not trying to drum up business for professional photographers, although I do think they're absolutely fabulous! What I do know, is in today's virtual world, our head shot is going to make us or break us as professionals, bloggers, and authors. We've all seen the old time photographs where no one smiles, right? I remember seeing those as a child and thinking "they look very unhappy" and that wasn't at all the case. I had never met those people, so I was essentially judging their entire lives based on those non-smiling photographs. Like it or not, people are judging us in the virtual world - they are reading our posts/articles/books just because we look like someone they want to know. Or....they are NOT reading our posts/articles/books just because we look like someone they do NOT want to know.

Here are a few key points to remember when choosing the picture we will be using for our work:

1) Be Real - when I started my own business, I had a head shot that quite frankly made me look like a professional golfer with a blue box around my face. I looked very serious. This look wouldn't have been so bad, but I'm never serious and I much prefer mini golf over the real deal. I met with a career counselor who advised me to remove the box since a square is not an accurate representation of who I am. He also told me to wear something more natural and to smile. I finally chose a head shot (see above left pic) that looked like me - quirky, funny, happy, and someone who thinks outside of the box! So, my advice is to chose your outfit, hairstyle, and facial expression based on who you really are and don't worry for a single moment about how other professionals in your field are doing things. Just be YOU!

2) Ask for Help - ask a professional to take your photograph or at least ask a colleague or friend to

help you choose the head shot they feel is best for you. In either case, the better the person knows you, the better photograph you'll end up with. I always look awkward when I'm being photographed by someone I don't know. For example, the photograph you see on the right is one of my favorites - it was taken by a friend who captured everything about my relationship with my then fiance (now husband). A stranger can't get you feeling that comfortable. (Photo Credit to Olivia with Oh! Photography)

3) Try Try Try Again - just because you've been using a particular picture for a certain length of time doesn't mean you can't mix it up. A serious article or book may need a different photo than something more whimsical and fun. When I'm writing about farming, I have no problem using a head shot with some cow rears in the background, but that wouldn't be appropriate when writing about leadership in a call center. You get the drift!

4) Let Go - now don't get your undies in a bundle about this one...we all age. Yes mother, even you! As much as you love the head shot you had taken when you were 28 (for the first time) and wrinkle free, it's time to update that photograph. Especially if you are now a grandmother of six with a 40 year old daughter. I was recently reading a great book by someone I thought was my age. Based on her author photograph, she didn't look a day over 38 and yet she was making references about graduating from highschool the year I was born. Turns out she's old enough to be my mother and she has been using the same head shot for several decades. Embrace those laugh lines and love who you are TODAY - there's no shame in aging.

5) Smile - this one might have been better at the top of the list. I swear Eskimos would buy ice cubes from someone smiling. We all like nice people and there are plenty of people who are nice AND smart - so even if you are writing about a difficult topic, it never hurts to put on a smile!

What has been your experience with head shots? Do you have any advice? A funny story to share? We would love to hear from YOU!


Crystal is a council secretary and musician at her church, birth mother, babywearing cloth diapering mama (aka crunchy mama), business owner, active journaler, writer and blogger, Blog Tour Manager with WOW! Women on Writing, Publicist with Dream of Things Publishing, Press Corp teammate for the DairyGirl Network, Unicorn Mom Ambassador, as well as a dairy farmer. She lives in Wisconsin with her husband, five young children (Carmen 10, Andre 9, Breccan 4, Delphine 2, and baby Eudora, two dogs, four little piggies, a handful of cats and kittens, and over 230 Holsteins.

You can find Crystal riding unicorns, taking the ordinary and giving it a little extra (making it extraordinary), blogging and reviewing books, baby carriers, cloth diapers, and all sorts of other stuff here, as well as sharing her recipes and tips! Find her here and at her personal blog - Crystal is dedicated to turning life's lemons into lemonade!


Angela Mackintosh said...

Thanks for the reminder, Crystal! I've been using the same headshot for years because I'm lazy and hate posing. I post new photos when I write a blog post and I imagine people thinking, Who is that? LOL. I look pretty much the same but my standard headshot is ten years old! I really need to get some professional portraits taken. I like your Oh! Photography photos. Olivia does a great job at capturing your family in a fun, beautiful way. :)

Margo Dill said...

I like the different poses you have and I have seen some great author photos over the year. My current one is from a couple years ago when I went to a conference and they were offering a head shot at a cheaper rate at the conference. I've noticed this a lot lately at conferences, too. Great post!

KAlan said...

Well, that's a problem: I haven't taken a decent photo in twenty years.

Crystal Otto said...

We are so hard on ourselves - I’m sure you look fabulous in photos!!!

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