We live in a digital world. An image of yourself is now what most people see long before they actually meet you face to face. From Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to EHarmony, Pinterest and Monster.com, future employers, future customers and even future spouses are looking at a picture of you. Based on your photo, they begin forming opinions on whether or not to hire you, buy from you, or ask you out on a date. Using an unprofessional, outdated photo of yourself can hurt you tremendously. That's why it's incredibly important to always appear professional, both in-person and online. Most people understand the importance of presenting themselves accordingly in-person but fail to exude the same attitude online - often the first place people "meet" you.
Why You Need A Professional Headshot
GET THE JOB
Job recruiters spend 20% of their time looking at your profile picture. This is huge. Take a look at your profile picture. What does it say about you? That party picture can cost you money. Wait, which one is you...there are four people in this photo.
TO KEEP OR NOT TO KEEP
Many people are far too busy to read every resume and may only look at your headshot photo. Casting directors have "keep" piles and "toss" piles. They look at your headshot first and decide whether or not to keep you or toss you. Then they peruse the resumes of those in the keep file. It doesn't matter if you're a seasoned performer, if your headshot doesn't get their attention, your role as Hamlet is moot.
BEST FRIENDS FOREVER
Your pal took English literature their sophomore year but would you ask them to edit your novel? They've seen every episode of Law & Order but would you seek legal council from your BFF? For your upcoming Hedda Gabler audition, would you ask character development advice from the co-worker that loves to tell you, "I was in a play once."? The answer is no because they're not the most qualified. So why would you ask them to take a professional photo of you just because they own a camera? The reason why you make this mistake is often to cut corners. Sure you can save a few bucks but it will definitely cost potential earnings. Do you want to be perceived as a corner cutter?
DON'T HIT A BRICK WALL
There are some wonderful photographers out there that take really great photos. Unfortunately, a great photo isn't enough. Your photographer has to know the industry that will be viewing the photo and what that industry likes or doesn't like. I'm asked to look at actor's headshots all the time. A lot of the time I can honestly tell the individual their picture is a nice one. The lighting is good, the picture is sharp, their hair is in place, and their slight lean against that brick wall conveys a feeling of comfort and ease. A perfect picture to put in a frame and give to their mom but not to be used to represent themselves as an actor that wants to be taken seriously. This is a perfect example of a good photographer that didn't know the industry. I once spent an afternoon with one of Hollywood's top casting directors. This individual has cast some of the biggests hits and most awarded films in the business. When the topic of headshots came up they said this, "Everytime I see a headshot of an actor leaning against a wall, I feel bad for them. They will never get in my door with a headshot like that." Unfortunately, this happens a lot. It's not only the photographer's fault but also the actor's. If you aren't quite sure what you need, go to a photographer that does.
A professional photograph will work for you 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It will power on through holidays and sick days and will never ask for a raise. A small one time investment into your career and it will work for you for potentially years. While you sleep, it will meet with important people that can change your life. It can speak your praises or divulge your faults. Can you rest your head knowing your current photo is speakinging eloquently on your behalf?
INCREASE YOUR EARNINGS
If you do business of any kind you need a professional photograph of yourself. Chances are the business you work for has a website and social media pages. When they post a picture of you, you want it to look professional. Customers will be more likely to ask for you specifically. This will increase your standing with whomever you work for and potentially make you more money. Do you have a business card? Business cards with a photograph are more likely to be kept than those without one. Attach your photo to your email signature. When you receive an email that has a thumbnail sized professional photo of the sender, you think of them as being more professional. Plus, you never know when someone is going to ask for a picture of you to put in a program, bulletin, or online.
YOU DESERVE IT
You deserve to be represented with the distinction you've earned.You've worked hard on your education, training and research. You've honed your talents and skills through countless hours of sweat and tears. You know you're good at what you do. Don't wrap that up in a package that suggests otherwise. Even if you're just starting out and you don't have a lot of credits or columns on your resume, sometimes a great picture is all you need to get your foot in the door.