Selfies and unprofessional headshots:
A headshot is a valuable thing. They can be used everywhere: from your website, to Linkedin and other social media, they are the tool that puts a face to your name. They also start communicating who you are and what you are like. It is a way for potential clients to make a quick judgement of you. So your headshot creates a first impression.
I see so many selfies and unprofessional photos on Linkedin, social media, and website about/team pages. Photos taken in bad lighting, badly cropped images, images cropped from group shots, and even photos that are group shots. Professionals and business owners tend to take their careers very seriously. So it is surprising when I see poor images reflecting on professional brands.
The fact is: If you use a bad headshot, you are making your first impression suffer.
You only get one chance at that. Think about who you hire? The professional Lawyer who has a professional headshot, or the lawyer who has a cropped headshot from an outdated family photo?
– Help make the first impressions you want to make.
– Contribute to your personal brand.
– Generate trust within your potential clients.
– Show you are dedicated and serious about your career and profession
Comparing Selfies to Professional Headshots:
Have you heard of Photo Feeler? It is a website that allows you to upload images, and have others rate them. They use three categories: Social, Dating, and Business. Each category has three judging criteria, and an option for comments.
I used the Business option to evaluate headshots that were selfies, and headshots that were professionally taken. I used an example of myself, and an example of Louise, who had previously been using a selfie (the same one I uploaded) on Linkedin.
The way the website works is to get users to vote on other people’s images to earn ‘karma’. The more Karma you have, the more votes you will get. You can also pay for votes if you choose. It detects bogus votes, and bans users who start voting with no meaning.
For Business Headshots, users score ‘Competence’, ‘Likeability’, and ‘Influence’. The program evaluates the votes and gives percentages. It also takes into account users who tend to rate overly high, and overly low, and it accounts for this too. There are full breakdowns, and you can read comments people leave too.
Comparison 1 Results:
Let’s have a look at the example of myself first.
I used a selfie that had even lighting, a nice background (thanks to Monet’s Waterlilies in Paris!), and it shows me from head and shoulders up. It’s not a particularly bad photo, but it doesn’t have a professional quality either. Knowing I am a portrait photographer, how would you judge me if this was on my website About page?
This is my professional headshot. I’m not a loud and boisterous person – I am quite calm and reserved, patient and caring. I believe my headshot reflects this, and it is shot in my studio environment too: clean, professional and open. I’m using an image that is authentically me – it’s not fake, and it won’t mislead people when they meet me:
So how did they weigh up?
I had over 50 votes on each image, and the results spoke for themselves. While both image used the same person, same smile, similar crop lengths, the professional image was voted as more competent, more likeable, and more influential. The result shows people perceiving my professional image as 50% more competent as a photographer than the image which was a selfie. You can also see a 13% increase in the Likeable criteria, and a 32% increase in the influential criteria.
Comparison 2: Louise
Louise is an engineer. I updated her headshots in March, as she had been using a selfie on Linkedin and for work-related things. Her selfie is nice. It shows her beautiful smile, has a clean white background (mostly), even lighting, and no major distractions:
The professional headshot I took of Louise was taken in the studio. It is of high quality, has flattering and professional lighting – with beautiful catchlights in the eyes, and it shows the beautiful and outgoing personality that Louise has.
So how did they weigh up?
Again, I had nearly 50 votes on each image to get a more accurate measure on how people interpreted these two images. While she scored a high Likeable score in each image, her professional headshot came out on top: with a 99% likability score. She also had a huge increase in competence and influential, with an increase of 28% and 19% respectively.
People make judgements no matter what. It’s a natural thing to form a first impression, and they are formed incredibly quickly. So it is important to consider what your headshot or portrait is communicating about you. Consider what you want to say to your clients about your personality, and think about how your headshot portrays the dedication to your career.
If you want to see how your image weighs up yourself, check out photofeeler.com and start uploading and voting – it is free! How did you score? Are you happy with the result? Leave a comment below!