Photoshoots 101 - 4 Ridiculously Simple Steps To Look Like Yourself & Gain The Trust of Your Clients Using Photos
Having a great set of professional images for your growing business is so important. They're essential for so many parts of your business like your sales pages, promotions, media opportunities and social media. It’s also something that people frequently get really wrong – including me – which is why I want to share some of the things I have learnt along the way to finally nail getting great, professional, yet approachable photographs.
Experience has taught me that photos say much more than you think, so doing them right is absolutely essential to get people to know, like and trust you, which in turn leads to them investing in your product or service.
I’ll start by going back to my late teens when I had a 'blink and you would miss it' career as a model (it became clear early on that I was terrible at being told what to do and looked too "commercial" to ever make it big in the industry). At the time, it was kind of disappointing to find out the glamorous modelling industry wasn't what it was made out to be.
Fast-forward a decade or so, I had a reason to have my photo taken (and to direct the process!), which seemed even better than before. But I got too caught up pretending I was on the catwalk and wasn't conveying the right image, which can be easy to do when you haven't grasped what you're really selling.
So what are you really selling?
If you are selling a product or service, you should be selling the fact that you can help the client achieve a specific result and a specific type of experience by working with you.
I want my photos to convey the fact that I'm likeable, trustworthy, warm, relatable, approachable and caring, and that I will be able to help the viewer achieve the results they want. It isn't about me, it's about the client.
Although, in the past, this hasn't always come across in my photos – as you’ll see below...
This image has a gorgeous view of Vancouver in the background and, while I do look presentable, I don’t come across as very warm.
In fact, I actually think I come across as a little standoff-ish (so feel free to go ahead and judge away).
Most people might look at the image and think to themselves, "oh, that's a nice photo," but subconsciously they may start to form an opinion about me that isn't true.
It's important to remember that you aren't a model (unless you are). You also aren't a fashion blogger (again, unless you are). And you definitely don’t want to come across as being too cool for school and not approachable.
On Instagram and blogs, many photographers blowout their photos so they have a cool tone. This is the opposite of what we want. While it might look sleek on your Instagram account, it won't show your warmth nor will it attract your ideal clients and customers to you.
The Buffer blog considered the Science and Psychology of Perfect Profile Pictures and came up with the following elements included in the best images:
Smile with teeth
Dark-coloured suits, light coloured button-downs
Jawline with a shadow
Head-and-shoulders, or head-to-waist photos
Squinch (a slight squint of the eyes)
It may seem like a lot of boxes to tick, but they’re all totally worth it!
Another example of what not to do...
This is a cute photo and works as a great image to share across my social media platforms (where I did share it), however, I see a lot of new business owners use a photo like this on their home page or on the banner of a page where it doesn't really make sense.
It comes across a little like, ‘I'm so glamorous, I travel to Paris all the time.’ So, unless you’re selling trips to Paris or you're a travel blogger, it doesn't make sense. Remember: You are selling the fact that you can help the reader and your potential clients and customers reach their goals. So, unless going to Paris is their goal, make it less about Paris and more about them.
You can always include a montage of photos on your sales or about pages of different places you have traveled to so your clients and customers get to know you better. This way, you're still making it about the client while letting them into your world.
Now that you have seen what NOT to do, let's look at some examples of what you should do. This is a new image as part of my business rebranding. Notice how the colors are warm, with a friendly and inviting energy, as opposed to the standoff-ish images in the past examples.
There is a computer near me which shows that I actually work (not just stand around on balconies or travel the world) and, despite having my hair and makeup done, I don't come across as ‘too glamorous’ like I did before.
In an article for Entrepreneur, Harrison Monarth states that “according to research, happy faces come off as more trustworthy – political candidates with competent-looking faces are more likely to win and people are more likely to convict defendants who 'look guilty'.”
That’s certainly something to consider – so remember to smile big and bright!
Nothing says ‘I care’ more than actually showing you interacting with your customers and clients (and enjoying it).
The focus isn't on you, it's on the relationship between you and the client. Notice how the warm and friendly tone to the image makes it easy to picture yourself sitting on the couch.
The Buffer blog article backed this up, stating “we follow the eyes of the people we see on screen. Looking directly into the camera can help make a direct connection with someone. Looking to the left or right will help guide the reader’s eyes in that direction.”
In that case, it’s a good idea to also consider what else is on that page and where are you leading people – to connect with you on social media, to purchase your product or service, or to get in touch directly. Remember, you can draw them to do so with the positioning of your images.
Keep the tone of your images warm
Consider using an open-mouth smile and making sure your eyes are unobstructed
Try not to alienate your audience by being too aspirational. Approachable and relatable always works best
Look happy. People are more likely to trust you if you’re happy
Use interaction with others in some of your imagery to better show what you do. Remember, it’s not about you, it’s about your potential client.