What do you look like?
Perhaps not a question we get asked every day, but often a journalist will ask for a ‘headshot’ – a portrait photo of your head and shoulders – to accompany an article you feature in.
Because we like to see what someone looks like.
Have you ever listened to someone speak on the radio and wondered what they look like? I find that I create a mental picture of announcers I hear year after year. Often when I do see a photo of them, they look nothing like how I imagined them.
Anyway, it’s always good to have a recent headshot ready to email with your press release.
A professional image
It’s best to get some professional portraits done, but now digital cameras can produce high quality results if you know someone good at taking photos.
To smile or not to smile?
Take a variety of shots and poses: some formal in a suit, if appropriate, and some more casual. Smile in some and look more serious in others. I know, smiling to order is so difficult and I end up grinning inanely at the camera. An experienced photographer will put you at your ease to produce a photo that will look good in a high quality magazine.
Why a variety of photos?
To suit the tone of each publication and article. If you’re writing about budget cuts, you probably won’t want a happy, smiling photo, whereas if you’ve just won an award you’ll want to look happy.
Select a clean background
If your office or workplace is a mess, make sure you prepare a uncluttered background. I find messy backgrounds very interesting and tend to examine them while ignoring the subject of the photo. If you have a pop-up banner or display board, pose in front of that.
Make sure that whatever is in the background does not detract from the image you want to project. It doesn’t take much to manage.
Keep your photos current
Yes, I’ve reached that time of life where I value each hair more every day: a receding hairline and a change to grey. I have a favourite photo taken about seven years ago, but I don’t use it any more because people would notice the fine head of hair now missing. Be realistic.
If you’re working to establish yourself as an expert in your field, a photo will help achieve this. People will spot you at events and come up and talk to you. Isn’t that great instead of having to work yourself up to introducing yourself?
Headshots are really useful in your PR.