The importance of a great professional headshot

Hands up who loves looking at photos of themselves! No? Didn't think so. Unfortunately, for us camera-phobes, we can scarcely get through a day in business without someone clicking on our photo at least a handful of times. LinkedIn profiles, twitter profiles, the 'meet the team' page of your website, your blog... we live in digital times, and our faces are everywhere on the internet. While the temptation to use your company logo, or photo of your cat, as your profile photo definitely exists, I wouldn't recommend it. As a prospective client looking on your professional pages, what are they going to think if you don't show your face? What are you hiding? People love to know who they're talking to, and putting a (professional) face to a name is so important. So, let's take a look at a terrible photo and compare it with a much, much better one.

Here goes: image one (I hope you lot appreciate this)

Hannah Griffin, DittoThis was taken in a real rush, as a column I was writing for in the press had asked for a photo and I didn't have one. Aside from the fact that I look distinctly uncomfortable, the angle is unflattering, the lighting is pretty bad and the whole thing reeks of awkward. I'm definitely not proud of it, and when I saw it printed alongside my article in the paper, I cringed. It has 'amateur' splashed all over it - hardly appealing.

And now for image two

Ditto Agency 23.3.12

This was taken by a professional photographer, and the difference is huge. She somehow made me relaxed enough to get a natural smile out of me, and spent ages shuffling me around the studio to find a spot with the perfect amount of natural light to give my porcelain skin a healthy glow. The photo massages my ego just a little bit, and makes me feel so much more confident. I think I look a whole heap more professional in this photo - I hope you agree?

To me, there are 5 key points to getting a great corporate headshot:

1. Wear something you feel confident and sufficiently business-y in

2. Convey some personality! Don't be afraid to smile

3. Natural light is your friend - nobody looks great in harsh office lighting, so get yourself near a window

4. Pay attention to detail - make sure your hair is behaving and there are no wardrobe mishaps

5. If budget allows, get a professional to do it. They know the tips and tricks to make you look fab.

PS - while I was waiting for the images to upload for this post, I indulged in a quick scoot through twitter, where I spotted a post from LinkedIn entitled 'a good selfie is good for your profile'. It absolutely, categorically isn't! So, for good measure and for the avoidance of doubt...

5a. ABSOLUTELY NO SELFIES. You are not a teenager or a celebrity (although we still love you). Do NOT use a selfie for your professional profile. Crikey.