Put a Professional Face on Your Business with Polished Headshots

Small Business Branding Tip #3

Grid of headshot examples

Hi, we’re back with our third tip in this series on brand tweaks you can take care of yourself. We hope the first two have gotten you inspired to make your brand even stronger!

We’re going to continue talking about imagery, since that’s such a powerful part of marketing. This time, we’re taking it personal, talking about something that may have been on your to-do list for months, if not years…

Let’s take a look at your headshot.

Our last two tips, Make the Most of Your Social Media Cover Images and Boost Your Brand with Strong Image Selection examined ways to use images to strengthen your brand. We talked about an image’s power to make you hungry or make you want to buy something. We have instant reactions when we see a photo of a person as well. A recent study showed that we make character judgments in less than one second upon seeing a photo of someone.

The way things work now, it’s so easy to do business virtually. You may already have clients that live in different states or even different countries, who you may never meet. You are probably doing most of your communication digitally even with clients who are down the street. But that doesn’t mean they don’t have a picture of you in their head, and it’s probably based on your profile photo in one or more online locations.

Why you should care

If you were going to meet with a prospect to hopefully sell them your product or get them to sign a contract with you, would you go with your friend’s hand on your shoulder or sunglasses on your head? Would you go in a tuxedo or formal dress? You probably wouldn’t, yet that’s how you might be “showing up” in your prospect’s office or phone in your headshot.

Let’s look at the examples above to see what we mean. (Don’t worry, these aren’t real headshots!) Which of these people inspire confidence in you and make you want to work with them?

You are a part of your brand

Like it or not, people will look at you, the owner, as a reflection of your company. There are those of us that are more or less comfortable in front of a camera. You may not feel like you have any good pictures of yourself or you have a photo you love but you just have to cut your friend out of it. It might be painful (or not) to go through this process of getting a polished-looking headshot, but it will be worth it for the positive face it puts on your company.

On that note, you should also take a few minutes to Google yourself. You might be surprised what pops up. Remember what we said in our last post about saying “no” to images that don’t support your brand? This could also apply to pictures of you as a business owner. Consider changing your privacy settings or deleting some images if they don’t shed a good light on your brand.

Prepare for growth

Another benefit of having a headshot you feel good about is that it gives you confidence. What happens if someone asks you to come speak at their conference? Or do a guest blog post? They will probably want your headshot to include in the program or on the post. Do you have a photo ready that is then going to help lead to more business for you? Would you possibly miss or mess up an opportunity if you don’t?

How to get a good photo

We won’t go through all the details of taking a photo on your own. However, here are some things to think about:

  • Consider the mood you’re trying to set. This will all depend on your business. If you teach piano lessons, you may want to have a piano in the background. If your business is child-oriented, you may want to have a more “fun” feel to your photo. If your target clients are financial firms, you are probably going to want to be more conservative.
  • Go for natural light. Natural light on a cloudy day—whether you’re outdoors or the light is coming through a window—is amazing if you can get it. Bright sunshine can cast harsh shadows or make you squint. Make sure the light is shining evenly on your face and not coming from behind you and turning you into a silhouette. And choose a background that’s not too distracting.
  • Work the hair. Do you want to look like you just had your hair professionally done? Why not do your headshot directly after your next haircut?
  • Be consistent with colors. Remember the colors you selected by following the instructions in our last blog post about strong image selection? Consider wearing a shirt or accessories or using a background of that/those colors. If you don’t want to do that, make sure to go with something neutral and timeless. Maybe change your shirt or your setting halfway through to give you more options to select from.
  • Laugh to loosen up. You don’t want to look like a robot or like you have a fake smile. Force yourself to crack up first or several times (cat videos?) to loosen yourself up and achieve a friendly, natural look.
  • Enlist a friend. If you have a friend that typically takes good pictures, see if they’ll be willing to help take your photos. A mobile phone should be fine to get a good-quality shot. They may also be able to help make you laugh!
  • Enlist an app. If a friend is unavailable, get a timer app and set your phone up on a solid surface not too far away.
  • Take a ton. It’s probably going to take a lot of bad shots to get a good shot. Try different poses and different sides of your face. If you wear glasses, pay attention to how the light is reflecting off your glasses. It’s important for people to see your eyes.
  • Get feedback. Who is someone you trust to tell you the truth, even when it hurts? This is the person you want to get to help you pick out a photo to use. Or let strangers give you feedback—submit your photo to Photofeeler for a mix of machine learning and actual people’s opinions.
  • Fix any flaws. Use your image editing tools to the max to make your selected photo look the very best.

If you have a team

If you have a team, consider setting up a “headshot day” and getting everyone’s photos at once. If you’re a virtual team, ask everyone to do something that will make the shots look cohesive. This could be wearing the same colors or having a similar background or having your logo somewhere visible in their photos. Imagine looking at all the photos side-by-side and think about how they’ll look together.

What to do with your headshot

Once you have your headshot selected and edited, use it everywhere! Consistency is key in branding. And plus, you worked so hard to get that photo, now make it work for you! Here are some places to start:

  • Gravatar—Uploading your image here will associate your headshot with the e-mail address you specify (so make sure to use your professional e-mail address) and will automatically pull it in to sites that use Gravatar, such as WordPress
  • Your own website, of course
  • Professional networks, especially LinkedIn
  • Collaboration apps, like Trello, Slack, and Asana
  • Conferencing apps, like Skype and Zoom

Happy headshot-ing!

(After reading this post, you may be wondering if we can just take your headshot for you! Get in touch and we’ll be happy to refer you to awesome photographers if you live in certain areas!)


This is the third of a series of pro design tips for strengthening your small business branding using small, inexpensive steps you can implement yourself. If you missed the first two, Making the Most of Your Social Media Cover Images and Boost Your Brand with Strong Image Selection, check those out next. Stay tuned for more tips in the coming weeks. And of course, get in touch with us at Guglik Design for help with all your small business branding needs!

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