So you’ve been asked to submit the dreaded photograph of yourself to a publication. Just as you’ve taken the time to name your business and create its identity, it’s worth taking the time to ensure the image of yourself you send out is as professional as the one you present to clients face to face.
What will work?
Firstly, have a look at how you usually present yourself to clients and colleagues. What type of business are you in? In an image of yourself in your professional capacity your presentation should be consistent with the way you present yourself for your professional role.
While you may have a favourite photograph of yourself, perhaps taken at a social gathering, you may be doing yourself a disservice by putting that image to professional use.
If you are seeking to promote your busi-ness through the press, then you need to make your press release or article and image easy and attractive to use. This is one reason why you shouldn’t submit an unsuitable photograph or one in an incorrect format.
Having your portrait taken
If you decide to have your portrait taken professionally, you need to do some preparation beforehand to ensure you end up with a result you are happy with. Even if you elect to use the services of a friend who knows something about photography, you still need to prepare. This is your chance to impress!
Discuss with the photographer before the shoot what you’re after. Either look at samples of their work, or bring along some references of your own. The most suitable references are other professional portraits from publications similar to the one you are submitting to. Explain your role and the kind of feel you’re after. Request a neutral background you should be the focus of the photograph.
You may choose to have your hair and make-up done professionally before the shoot. In any case, take spare face powder, lipstick and hair styling products and devices to the shoot for last-minute touch-ups. Remember to keep the lines of your clothing smooth and simple. This is especially important for head and shoulder shots. Keep the neckline ”clean” and free of fussy details.
A professional photographer should know how to light you, but if you have enlisted the help of a friend make sure they light your face clearly. You need your eyes and expression to be clear they communicate the most about you in the photograph.
Relax and be open to suggestions from your photographer in regard to your expression. Some people have a ”camera face” they put on whenever they are in front of the camera. Relax, and if the photographer suggests you try different things, go with the flow! Often this is simply a device to distract you and get you relaxed.
Submitting the photograph
Check with the publication regarding their particular submission requirements. Most will want 10 x 15cm glossy prints (the standard mini-lab print size). Colour is usually acceptable as they can convert it to black and white if necessary.
Make sure the final image is a tight head and shoulders shot. You should be the feature of the photograph, not anything in the background. Have a look at how this publication crops its portraits and you’ll get the idea.
Quite often you can also submit your portrait electronically, on CD, floppy or e-mail. Check with the publication. As a standard rule, have the portrait scanned to at least 300dpi, with an image size of at about 10 x 15cm. This will be a pretty big file, but the publication can always make the file smaller without destroying the resolution, whereas if you supply a too small file your image will suffer as a consequence.
It’s just a photograph, not who you are! Treat it as another tool in your professional armoury and use it to your advantage. However, when you feel that it is stale, have it retaken.
Remember that present and potential clients may see this image and quite often use it to identify you when they meet with you. If they can’t match you with your portrait anymore, it may be time to update! Most of all, ask for what you want and have fun with the medium!