March is ‘Getting Down to Business’ month at my studio. When you schedule an appointment for a business portrait for yourself and/or your staff, you’ll receive a second image, in addition to the one included in your professional session for no extra charge.
Every six months, I go to the dentist to have my teeth checked and cleaned. It’s part of my regular health maintenance program. I’ll bet many of you do the same. And yet, when it comes to ‘maintenance’ of your business image, some people think once every five or even ten years is good enough. It’s not. Like your teeth, your business portrait needs to be ‘cleaned up’ on a regular basis. It’s often the first thing visitors see on your website or advertisements. The impression your portrait creates could make a difference as to whether that individual decides to choose to do business with you instead of someone else.
A little pre-planning before you arrive for your business portrait appointment will help both you and the photographer more successfully achieve your portrait goals. I ask my clients when scheduling their appointment to think about how they plan to use this image. Will it be for the website? For a print ads? For editorial use? For the business card? Or all of these things.
Think about the image you wish to convey. Trendy photos are fine for personal images but for the professional, consider what the portrait will say about your business, your personality, your credibility. Will potential customers be put off if you present yourself seated atop your favorite motorcycle, for instance, unless you operate a business that sells or caters to that vehicle? Likewise, wearing a stern, harsh look on your face instead of smile might say that you are ‘unapproachable.’ Not the image you want to project unless, perhaps, you’re a judge. Even then you’d probably want to appear ‘knowledgeable and just, rather than grim and foreboding.
Set Your Stage
If the image is primarily for a website, think about where your business portrait will appear and how it relates to that page. If it’s for your bio page, your photo needs to complement that information. That may mean staging your portrait in your business environment instead of in the studio.
Generally, I advise clients to have one of both if possible because the two different settings have different applications. Clients ask for an outdoor setting because they want to create a ‘more relaxed’ impression on their customers. That is often combined with a studio session because sometimes a more formal, more ‘business-like’ image is necessary.
An ‘on-site’ session requires you to ‘dress the set’ just as in the movies. And just as in the movies, the background, the items on the desk and bookshelf all become elements in ‘your story.’ Clean off the clutter and keep personal items to a minimum unless they are key to your business image.
Studio vs On Location
There are times when convenience requires the photographer come to you, instead of the other way around. The advantage is generally one of time for the client, not the photographer. However, for the formal business portrait, the studio is better. Not only does the photographer have a greater command of tools in the studio–lighting, backgrounds, seating– but the studio is free of outside distractions. In the studio, there are no telephone interruptions, no clients dropping in, no meetings disrupted. That means that you will be focused on the task at hand and the results will be noticeable.
Remember, your annual business portrait update is an investment of both time and money well worth making.