The term “professional business photo” includes all the imagery that you need to project your identity within your industry. Whether you’re a first-jobber, an executive, a director, a consultant or an actor, your headshots and professional business photos are essentially marketing documents, engaging your target audience and communicating your unique strengths.
Each image needs to be right for the platform it will appear on, and the people you’re trying to reach there. For instance, your LinkedIn headshot has a different job, so needs to convey a different message, from an environmental workplace shot for your website. PR portraits for a magazine communicate a different narrative from an actor’s portfolio going to casting directors.
If you’re looking for a new headshot or portrait, start by thinking about why your professional image matters and what narrative you want it to communicate. That will help you decide what kind of photos you need, and finally how to get the most out of your photoshoot.
Why your professional image matters
Your portrait or headshot is the first message about you that employers, clients, employees and others in your industry will receive. Research shows that they will decide what sort of person you are, and whether they want to work with you, in a split second.
So your headshot or business portrait should speak of your personality and capabilities: your experience, skills, and core values. Specialist business photographers know how to create these images, and understand the opportunities and challenges of each platform and each audience – and the best will have past clients who report that they got that new job partly thanks to their new headshot.
When do you need a new professional photo or headshot?
The obvious time to have a new professional photo or headshot taken is when your appearance has changed, such as a new hairstyle or perhaps you’ve grown a beard.
Having a fresh, well-judged image out there boosts your professional confidence, and ensures that people you meet in real life perceive your image and in-person self as consistent and authentic.
Your place in your industry changes too, though, and so do your ambitions.
Maybe you’ve started a new role or a new job, so your LinkedIn profile needs a refresh. Is your business expanding, or developing a new client base? You need website and portrait imagery which projects the right message. Are you ambitious for a big step up in seniority, or are you stuck in a career rut and want to change industry completely?
New headshots will communicate the right narrative and support your ambitions.
What different kinds of business photos are there?
The format and style of your professional photos depends on the platform and the audience, and a good business photographer will understand this and make images that work for you in every case.
The main platforms and formats of business photos are Linked In headshot, Instagram portrait, website headshot, CV headshot, environmental portraits, workplace images, and PR photos and portraits.
Focus on your marketing objective: who you’re trying to engage, and why. Do you want to influence recruiters, employers, current or future clients, investors, the public, or the media?
Whatever your goal, your business photo should be communicating with your target market, and if it’s not, we’re here to help!
Classic LinkedIn Headshot
A classic LinkedIn headshot is all about goal-oriented business communication, but it needs a different feel, depending on whether you’re applying for jobs, looking for clients, aiming for non-executive directorships, or networking within your industry.
It’s worth having a few suitable images in reserve, so you can refresh and fine-tune your profile frequently, which also helps to get you ahead in the LinkedIn algorithms.
Your portrait image on Instagram will be more informal than standard business photos.
The image contains a narrative about your personality, which should reflect your personality, lifestyle and culture within your industry.
You may wish to choose a headshot taken in your working environment, or it could be aspirational: have a shot taken next to your Ferrari!
A corporate social responsibility manager may wish to have an image taken within a eco environment, while a financial professional may go for something cool and urban.
Instagram gives you the opportunity to express yourself whilst remaining professional.
Website headshots help clients and customers put faces to names, but even more importantly they project your company’s culture and values.
Whilst a company’s cultures and values remain the same, roles within a business are not. So headshots need to retain the company’s overall ethos but present everyone appropriately according to their department, role and personality.
We do this by, shooting with consistent branding while coaching individuals during the shoot. Ultimately this allows to create an our people page that reflects a multi-disciplined team rather than a bunch of corporate clones.
Your CV Headshot is a professional business photo that markets you explicitly to potential employers, making your personality, experience and energy look right for the role you hope to take on.
As you may be applying to more than one employer, you may wish to consider having a number of images, so that you can send a professional headshot that matches the target company’s culture and brand: do you need a formal image or are they a more relaxed organisation?
Whatever the company you aspire to join, you will want to project that you’re capable, competent and good to work with, but also that you have focus and ambition for the future.
Environmental portraits are professional business photos that show who you are by setting you in your natural working context and culture, whether that’s a City law firm, the quirky workroom of an innovative startup, or the Houses of Parliament.
A good photographer will create images which strongly convey what makes you and your business stand out in the field.
If finding suitable environments is tricky, consider using a studio photographer who can put you in the right environment. It is possible to use green screen techniques to create a context and message specifically for the local culture of the audience you want to reach, wherever in the world you are actually based.
Workplace imagery also projects the narrative of you and your company, usually for a company website or promotional materials, capturing the corporate culture and atmosphere you want others to see.
Authentic workplace images build trust by conveying your company’s individuality and personality. These bespoke business photos will always work better and harder for you than bland, all-purpose pictures downloaded from a stock library.
PR Photos and Portraits
PR Photos and Portraits communicate individual messages of you and your work, but directed at a particular marketing objective.
The CEO’s portrait alongside an article in an investment magazine about your company’s stock market launch should be very different from news-style pictures of a local councillor in action.
Many leaders create a small library of PR photographs, which their Executive Assistants then have ready to hand when editors request images for articles.
How can you get the best professional headshots and business photos?
The best business photos and headshots happen when you and an experienced, professional business photographer collaborate.
Look at their gallery, and ask if they work with both studio and natural light, and whether they have makeup artists and stylists available. Before the shoot, think about your narrative, and the platforms your image will be seen on.
On the day, don’t be afraid to ask questions – and don’t worry if you’re nervous, or convinced you’re not photogenic. A good photographer will listen well and put you at ease as together you explore the possibilities of expression, body-language and pose, clothing, makeup and styling.
Getting to grips with what you need your professional image to say, and making sure there’s great imagery of you in all the right places, can make all the difference to your career.