By Thomas Murrell, MBA, CSP, International Business Speaker
Having a high quality professional photograph is essential to building a powerful personal brand.
Having worked in the media for more than 20 years, I've seen people with photographs of appendages coming out of the tops of their heads, with dark shadows over their heads giving them an alien look and shots looking as though they were taken at a nightclub.
Shots with family members, babies and a really poor choice of backdrop are also no-nos that I've frequently seen.
While it may be good for YOUR ego to show off your latest passion (Such as scuba diving) in a photograph, if its not appropriate to your personal brand and who you are and what you do, don't use it.
Here are tips Joan Stewart, known in the US as the Publicity Hound suggests if you're having your portrait taken:
"--Wear your usual hairstyle. Don't try anything new.
--Make sure your hair is styled the way you want it before you arrive at the studio.
--If you need a haircut, have it done one or two weeks before your photo session.
--Wear clothing appropriate to your profession. If you're a gardener, don't have your photo taken in a suit and tie.
--Avoid high-neck clothing that obscures your neck.
--Avoid sleeveless clothing.
--It's risky to wear prints that draw attention away from your face. When in doubt, be safe with solids (but not black or white).
--When applying make-up, pay special attention to your eyes. That's what people see first.
--Eye shadow adds depth. Avoid iridescent colors. Stick to neutral.
--If you wear glasses, ask your optometrist if you can borrow a pair without lenses. That way there won't be any glare.
--Powder reduces shine and helps eliminate shiny foreheads and noses.
--Be sure to tell your photographer the photos are for publicity so he knows what kind of backdrop to use. And tell him not to use a "soft focus" lense. Your photo should have sharp tones with good contrast.
--Don't have your photo taken when you have a dark suntan or it will look like your face is oily.
--Don't forget to smile! If you don't, you might come off looking bored or sad.
When I have my photo taken every two or three years, I splurge for a hair and make-up artist who primps me until I look my best, then stays with me during the entire photo shoot. Her fee is about $150, and the results are worth every penny. But you don't need to spend that kind of money if you don't have it. Just follow the tips above and you'll be fine.
Pay for as many shots as you can afford so you have a good selection of images from which to choose. Also, ask the photographer if the photo shoot can include one or two wardrobe changes.
In addition to the head shot, you might also consider a storytelling photo that shows you with "props" related to your event. A toy train collector who will be featured at a train show, for example, might be photographed behind his model train display. Weekly newspapers that don't have photo staffs would welcome these types of photos.
Ordering your photos
Most print and online publications use electronic photos, but some don't. So you should have several wallet-size photos and at least one 4-by-5 print on hand just in case someone asks for it. If you're mailing prints, attach a label to the back of the photo. It should include your name, address, phone number, email address and the year the photo was taken.
Never write on the backs of photos with a pen or felt-tip marker. If you are mailing more than one photo, slip a blank piece of paper between them. Sometimes the pressure of the post office's mailing equipment can cause the back of one picture to rub off onto the front of another.
I advise Publicity Hounds that when sending prints to publications, don't ask editors to return them. It makes you look cheap. Besides, you want to encourage them to keep the photos in their files for use months or even years later.
Make electronic versions available
If you're posting your photo to your website, you can scan it at 72 dots per inch and it will look fine.
But editors who want to use the photos in print publications will need the photo scanned at 300 dots per inch, at the size they want to use the photo or larger. That means you can't take a thumbnail-size headshot, scan it at 300 dots per inch and offer it to an editor who wants to use it at 2-by-3 inches. That editor needs at least a 2-by-3 photo scanned at 300 dpi. So make several sizes available. I make four sizes available scanned at 300 dots per inch.
For most flexibility, offer a 4-by-5, color jpg scanned at 300 dpi. Any professional editor or publisher will be able to work with that. Some may use it in black and white, some may make it smaller, and some may lower the resolution."
Source: Why a Good-Quality Photo Should Accompany Your Articles by Joan Stewart, http://ezinearticles.com/?Why-a-Good-Quality-Photo-Should-Accompany-Your-Articles&id=42025, accessed 9/6/05.
So, spend the money and you will be rewarded many times over by your investment.
For more ideas on building a powerful personal brand, visit our website.