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Too often, I’ve asked clients for a photo of the staff to use on a company web site or in a publication, and what I get looks like a security camera picture. If you’re serious about being in business, you need to have a professional head shot (a photo of you that focuses on your face) that you can send to publications, new agencies, or ad book printers at a moment’s notice. If you’re a business owner, and you want to be respected and credible before anyone ever meets you, take the time to get a professional photo taken of yourself.

Here are 5 tips on do’s and don’ts of head shots:

  1. It’s a Head Shot, not a Mug Shot – don’t stand against a wall and have someone in the office snap a photo so it looks like you’re being booked.
  2. Put Your Best Foot Forward – make sure your appearance is neat. Wear a nice suit, a polo shirt with the company logo, an open-collar button-down, whatever is appropriate for your industry and the image you’re trying to project.
  3. Look Confident – hold your head up. Smile if you like.
  4. Keep the Background Neutral – there may be times when a designer needs to cut you out of the background. Don’t shoot in an environment that’s so busy it’s impossible to distinguish you. Remember, the focus should be on your face, not where you are or what you’re wearing.
  5. Shoot Everybody at Once – scheduling a photo shoot so that everyone on staff is shot in the same place, at the same time will ensure that the pictures are uniform in terms of lighting and background. You may think customers won’t notice, but they do. Also, professional photographers usually charge by the half-day. It’s cheaper to scheduling everyone during the same 4-hour period than to try to shoot them a few at a time on different days.

You don’t have to break the bank to get pictures taken. If you can’t afford a professional photographer, there are many department stores or small photo studios that have reasonable rates.

Electronic File Sizes – remember to keep several difference sizes handy for electronic use: a high-resolution version for printed publication, and a series of smaller versions to use for web sites or other low-resolution applications.