Surviving your corporate headshot

Surviving article

The corporate headshot causes self-awareness and anxiety in even the most camera-confident. However, it can be a useful marketing tool and getting it right is important.

An effective headshot gives you confidence which is then passed on to potential clients. In a split-second glance it sends out a message about who you are as a professional.

So when you next receive an email from HR informing you that the photographer is coming in, what can you do to help get a great result? Here is a survival guide based on my time shooting some pretty demanding professionals.

1. Be punctual – it helps everyone

Corporate photographers, just like you, are typically working to very tight schedules. Dashing over at the last minute is only going to leave you flustered and the photographer hurried – not a good combination for the session. Give yourself time to arrive a few minutes before your shoot.

2. Dress to impress a client

Your firm might outline a particular dress code ahead of time. If not, my rule is to dress as you would if meeting a client for the first time. Following this advice means you’re adhering to the firm’s image but not being stripped of your personality.

3. Wear glasses if your client would expect them

People can be very indecisive about whether to wear their glasses or not. Remember that your corporate headshot is primarily for external, not internal use. If you wear them when facing clients my advice would be to keep them on. If not, leave them on your desk.

4. The great smiling debate

Unless you have been instructed by your employer one way or the other then, at the risk of landing a cliché, be yourself. The photographer should never put pressure on their subject as the end result will nearly always look forced. That said, be mindful that this is an image for professional use. Smiling is fine but looking as if you’re on the verge of breaking into hysterics might not go down so well. Similarly, being too stern might come across negatively. Think of your audience and who you are communicating to.

5. Work with the photographer

Ask questions. Tell the photographer what shots you prefer. Invite their opinions on poses. And relax! Remind yourself that your job interview was almost certainly more stressful! You might have to step out of your comfort zone slightly but it’s better to work with the photographer than it is to admit defeat and accept that you’re going to have an awful photo before you’ve even stepped into the room.

Stephen Wallace is a freelance photographer specialising in corporate and portrait work.

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