Nancy Marshall, CEO of Marshall Communications and The PR Maven®Investing in a high-quality, professionally taken headshot is an investment in your personal brand. It shows you at your best, the way you want prospective clients to see you. Many of us are not naturally photogenic. As a result, amateur photography can actually end up making you look nothing like you do in person…and definitely not your best. A professional photographer that specializes in headshots knows how to position you, how to choose the best backdrop and how to use lighting to get the best shot possible.

They can also advise you on the best type of clothing and colors to wear. I believe you should dress as you would in your work environment. If you are a business executive, wear a suit. If you are a doctor or nurse, wear your lab coat. If you are a fishing guide, wear what you would wear if you were on the water. If you do work in the business world and have a bit more flexibility with your “work uniform,” choose colors that are flattering to your skin tone and hair color. In general, solid colors are better than patterns. For men, a brightly colored (but not too bold) tie paired with a classic white shirt and dark-toned suit is a nice choice.

Now that social media has taken on such an important role in promoting our professional abilities, having an impact-making headshot is more important than ever. Since every social media platform requires a profile image, your headshot will have a far-reaching web presence in addition to more traditional uses like the staff page of your organization’s website and publication in conference or speaking engagement–related materials.

So, are you still wondering if you need to invest in a professionally taken headshot? Here are six reasons why you should:

  1. It conveys your professionalism. If you look professional, potential clients, investors, collaborators, etc. that don’t know you personally are going to be more likely to agree to that first meeting.
  2. A good headshot gives people an idea of your personality before they meet you. A smile portrays approachability. A serious look portrays determination. Make your expression match your personality. I choose to smile in mine!
  3. It reminds business contacts who you are if they met you in passing at a conference or business function. This little cue makes it more likely they will accept your “friend” or “follow” request.
  4. A current headshot gives people an idea of what you look like now. I recently went to a CEO breakfast and two of the presenters’ headshots were taken years ago. There was an immediate disconnect. It’s not good to surprise people in this way. It sends a message of inauthenticity.
  5. It supports and enhances the skills and experience on your LinkedIn profile, making you stand out from the rest. One hint specific to LinkedIn is to look to the left so you are literally looking at your profile.
  6. It makes you feel good to look your best. Having a quality image of yourself to share with your professional peers boosts your self confidence, and it can even inspire you to share more of yourself with others, take a few risks, and overcome work-related challenges.

Professional headshots aren’t just for top executives anymore. Everybody needs one. If you don’t have one already, I encourage you to seek out a skilled headshot photographer and check it off your “to do” list. With a great headshot, your professionalism and unique personality will shine through, opening the doors to new opportunity and new business.

  • Hi Nancy, I’m a professional headshot photographer in new Jersey. I love what I read here and how you raise the importance of having a great headshot and what it means in today’s online world. do you accept guest bloggers? i have a few things that I could share which expands on and supports what you’ve written above.
    please let me know what you think.

  • Hi Nancy,
    Great article that still holds true. I would love to share it on linked in.
    Thank you

  • Mara says:

    Hi Nancy, I would love to share your article on my website. Would this be ok?
    Thank you,

    • MARA:

  • nancy – so well layed out. I wish others realized how important headshots are to their business, especially when selling services. trust trust trust! thanks so much for your insight.

  • Thanks for pointing out how a professional headshot makes you come off as a true-blooded professional to your potential clients, investors, and collaborators. My son is looking to make the jump into freelance writing. I think he is looking to get his own website to start showcasing his portfolio. I will be sure to advise him to get a professional headshot that could send the right message to the right people to ensure that his business will be up and running in no time.

  • Joy Butler says:

    My friend has a great passion for photography. And all friends are supporting her all the way in her dream of becoming a photographer. I am forwarding her this article because I believe this information will be useful for her endeavor.

  • kevin says:

    Hi Nancy,
    would love to share this article in my blog. I would be happy to link it to your site and give you credit. would this be ok?
    Thanks much,

  • Great article on why every professional needs a professional headshot. as a headshot photographer myself, you have no idea how many of our clients have come back and said what a difference their headshot made to their business!