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Thinking Beyond Headshots

By Steve Ridzon
November 17, 2015
Thinking Beyond Headshots

We’ve all seen them before: Poorly lit, sterile blue background, noticeably uncomfortable black suit, awkward expression. What I’m referring to here is the dreaded FAILED CORPORATE HEADSHOT.

These nasty little buggers have been haunting the marketing materials of some of the smartest companies in the world for nearly a century now. More recently, they’ve managed to find their way onto some of the leading websites around the world, readily accessible to anyone with an Internet connection and, hopefully, a good sense of humor.

So what do we do about this irksome pandemic? Here are few suggestions to get you started:

Whenever possible, think beyond headshots
Company-wide portrait sessions shouldn’t be afterthoughts. Just like the design of a website, they should be considered part of the overall branding strategy of a company. And while the actual headshots may be here to stay, a lot of companies are now adding a second employee portrait to their marketing mix. Environmental portraits (i.e. those shot in an actual environment, as seen above, rather than in front of a background) are a great way to add personality to the subject and a sense of space around your employees. If you have nice offices, this is a great way to show them off. Even if you don’t, a good photographer can make it seem like you do. For a unique take on attorney portraits, check out Archer Norris’ recently launched website:archernorris.com/attorneys.

Don’t hire the same guy that did your high school portrait
Go ahead, dust off that old yearbook and take a look. This guy has about a 1 in 10 success rate, mainly because he never took the time to develop a rapport with the subject. It was one and done: Same lighting, same pose. Don’t let that guy anywhere near your employees.

Consider wardrobe direction and make-up
It may sound like overkill, but you’d be amazed how much these two add-ons can make or break a photo shoot. Don’t want everyone wearing a black suit and a red power tie? Now’s your chance to make sure that doesn’t happen. Don’t want Sue to wear that aggressively patterned floral dress? Put it in the memo.

Last but not least, try to get employees to buy into the idea beforehand
Whether you like it or not, your employees have witnessed these failed headshots before. And I can guarantee you they are scared. Unless primed to think otherwise, your employees will begrudgingly arrive on photo day with the preconception that they, too, will fall victim to this corporate headshot curse. So, what’s a marketing team to do? Well, the main thing to do is get rid of that high-school-portrait mentality. Go ahead, show off the website of that great photographer you just hired; give a little sneak-peek into your amazing new website design; tell everyone that there will be a stylist on-site. Anything to make the whole experience seem less mundane. If you add a little excitement to the mix, I guarantee it will pay off.