There comes a time, in most of our small to medium-sized website projects, when we let our clients know that they’ll need to have a photograph of themselves on their website. Usually, most of the responses to this request fall into one of the first three categories below.
- Tries to get away using an old favorite photo, which works against them since it looks like they don’t care.
- Hates to have pictures of themselves taken and refuses to have one on their website thus shooting themselves in the foot.
- Wants to have pictures of themselves all over their website which shows that they don’t have their attention on what their clients want to see.
- Realizes that a great photo or two will reinforce their brand and is the first step in making a personal connection with their clients.
In fact, for most solopreneurs or small business owners, a nicely done, approachable photo of themselves on their websites helps visitors to form a positive connection with their company, a necessary step to having the website work to bring in business. On the other hand, too many photos of the website owner on their site can be off-putting.
These photos can’t look second-rate. I tell my clients that they won’t get the results they are looking for by rummaging through their old photos to find one that is passable. And, those photos from 15 years ago are not as cute as they think they are. When you are spending the money on a website, go full in and pay a little extra on a professional photo shoot that will provide quality images to use their website and on social media sites.
Time for an Exercise.
Take a few minutes and go to your website. Imagine you are a person who got a referral for the kind of work you do and goes looking up your website Realize that this person received several names and will be checking them all out.
What do you think? What kind of impression does it make? Would you have enough information from visiting this site to say “Hell yes, I want to work with this company!”? I wonder.
Designing a “Hell Yes!” Website
What it takes to get a “Hell yes” is to have clear, well-branded homepage with content, text, and images, crafted to show that your company understands what your ideal client is dealing with and offers a solution to their problem. Next, you have to inspire trust in your ability to do what you say you can do.
One secret to creating websites that bring in clients is that I believe, “If you can sell your services or products in person, you can sell them online.” My job as a web design professional then is to understand how someone sells in person and completely recreate that experience online. Their visitors should have just enough information and get the same experience on the website as they’d have from meeting in person. If it is a fit, they’ll get a “Hell, yes!”
One of the best ways to create a sense of connection from an online platform is having a photograph of the business person on the site that shows them to be approachable and trustworthy.
I do my best to share this point of view with my clients and suggest a professional photo shoot. Getting them to agree is the first step. Then there is more work to be done.
I’ve have learned the hard way that if I want a particular look and feel that supports the client’s brand, I have to share my expectations with my client and their photographer.
I recommend waiting to get the photos done until the site branding and design are mapped out. Then it will become clear about the type of images that are needed.
Preparing the Photographer
Once I have a staging site started with the logo and branding, I often add placeholder images on the test site. I share the website with the photographer, allowing them to see the size and orientation of the shots we need and whether they should take the photographs indoors, outdoors or in an office setting.
It’s especially important to discuss wide-format hero images to go across the top of a website. It’s best that the photographer frame these shots with the client to one side of the picture or the other, allowing space for messaging and a call to action. If you share this information, most photographers will take the photographs centering on their client.
Preparing the Client
You can’t assume that the client will go to the photoshoot looking their best. Go ahead and let them know about the type of clothing they should wear for the photo shoot, what colors to wear and what colors to avoid. Generally, black, white, and bold and busy prints are a no-no. For women, suggest solid colors with simple styling and understated jewelry. They should stay away from fads that will date the images in 6-months, or from wearing clothes that are too seasonal.
Don’t hesitate to your client to have their hair shaped and styled or if a man, they need to shave well or have their beards trimmed up before the shoot.
This attention to detail will produce photographs that create the best possible first impression on their websites. The expense of a photo shoot like this provides future dividends.
Seven Tips for a Successful Headshot Session
- Mentally prepare. Be yourself and show your natural confidence in what you do. Smile and come across as accessible. Be sure that your photographer has seen your website and the type of images you’ll need to tell your brand story and meet your objectives.
- Create a relaxed environment. Put on some of your favorite music, or selections that will bring out the feeling of your brand. Try to forget about the camera
- Rest the night before. When you’re tired, it’s harder to focus, and you could look tired. You need all of your energy and personality to provide an accurate depiction of you at your best.
- Be 15 minutes early to your session. Even if you have to wait, you’ll be happy that you’re already at your destination and can use that extra time to settle in, relax, and get ready for your shoot. The last thing you want to do is show up late, stressed, and waste money on late charges.
- Ease into the session. You might be stiff and uncomfortable in the beginning, but a good photographer will help you through this phase. If you feel nervous admitting it will dissipate some of the pressure.
- A trick for getting the best pics is to think of someone you love or something that makes you very happy. Your eyes will light up, and you’ll get show your great natural smile.
- Give yourself a break. Most people are uncomfortable in photoshoots. Know that will be the case so you can take a little time to relax and put your trust in your photographer.
- Surrender to the experience and have fun. When you’re having a good time, your website visitors will find your photos compelling.