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In Part One of “Snap a Winning Headshot,” we talked about planning for your photo session — choosing what to wear, and how to look your best for the camera. But a great shot requires a bit more than just standing in front of the lens while the photographer clicks away. Portraying confidence is both a physical and mental game.
Think of your photographer as your coach, and trust the person to direct you throughout the process to find the best angles and lighting for your face and body. Confiding in a photographer is tough for many lawyers — but what’s said in the headshot room stays in the headshot room. It’s worth sharing your physical insecurities and letting your photographer know what makes you self-conscious or what you want to hide. “I have a lazy eye, I hate my double chin, I don’t like my teeth, my nose always looks crooked in photos, I used to be 30, my eyes get scrunchy when I smile …”
Whatever it is, tell your photographer.
Remember, your photographer wants your shot to look just as amazing as you do. I appreciate it when my clients can be candid with me so I can tweak the lighting and work with them on body positioning and head angles to bring their best features forward. Let me worry about the stuff that makes you anxious so you don’t have to. Plus, it will save time!
Your goal is to have an authentic connection with the camera, and it all starts with your eyes.
You can (and should) practice this stuff in a mirror.
Forgive me if I start to sound a bit like a self-help book here, but this stuff really helps.
That said, I’ve seen how stressed and busy a lawyer can get. Most photographers are really accommodating. If you’re truly having a crappy day (and it isn’t “headshot anxiety” related), and honestly feel like you won’t be able to put your best self out there, see if you can adjust your time slot or trade with someone. It won’t get you out of it, but there’s no sense in wasting time if you’re not ready to go.
A great headshot tells a story. Tell your photographer about your practice and how you want to be perceived. Think about breaking the lawyer stereotypes — or play to them. A family lawyer probably doesn’t want the look and intensity of a pit bull litigator … or maybe she does.
Unless your firm has strict requirements for how you dress for headshots, bring a bit of your own personality and style to the shoot. Some of my clients like to wear ties from their alma mater whenever they update their photos, and others are always in a bow tie, or no tie, or a unique pair of glasses. I love that.
Using your own space is another way to show your personality. Work with your photographer to find cool places or backgrounds around your office — but please, no more bookcases in the background!
I always ask for at least 15 minutes with each of a firm’s attorneys. Plan to use the entire time you have allotted. Try to get as many looks and shots as you can muster. The photographer will likely ask you to vary your expressions and positioning. But why not squeeze in a quick costume change, too? Take some with and without your glasses. With and without your tie. With and without your jacket. Whatever. Options are awesome. You only need one or two great shots in the end, but you might feel like a change down the road. Or maybe you want to use one expression on your firm’s site and something different on LinkedIn or AVVO.
Most photographers are trained to crop as they shoot. I certainly was. Without stepping on your photographer’s toes — let them do their thing — ask that they do several shots in landscape orientation and leave you a bit of headroom. Why? Websites are responsive and the crops of photos will adjust according to various screen sizes. It’ll also give your marketing team more to work with for various mediums. Plus, with a landscape photo, you can always crop it vertically later. It doesn’t work the other way around, I’m sad to say.
With your headshot, you’ve got a split-second chance to show the world how polished, skilled and approachable you are. It’s worth your attention. Do your homework. Take a deep breath. Arrive with a sense of play and collaboration.
Illustration ©iStockPhoto.com; headshot examples, ClintonBPhotography
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