In the age of the “selfie,” posing for professional headshots can seem outdated and expensive. Almost everyone has a phone or other mobile device with an amazing camera, so why spend the money to have photos taken? The answer is easy: projecting an image of success and professionalism bolsters your law firm’s legitimacy. It communicates the firm takes its image seriously.
Below are my top five recommendations for photo shoots.
WHAT TO WEAR
Wear solid, muted tones, including white, black, grey, tan, or navy suits or dresses. Pinstripes and patterns on suits and dresses are hard to Photoshop and often appear blurred. The same is true for ties: a bold pattern will photograph better than a smaller pinpoint.
Try on your suit, shirt, and/or dress at least one week prior to the shoot date. Make sure everything fits correctly and does not appear worn, frayed, or faded. Bring at least two shirts in different colors and two to three ties for men. Women should bring multiple jackets, a variety of accessory options, and/or several dresses. Avoid anything too low cut or too bulky. Having several options allows the photographer or stylist to select the best combination, and provides you with multiple looks, making it seem like the photos weren’t all taken on the same day.
HIRE A MAKEUP ARTIST
Having a professional hair and makeup artist on location is one of the most important – and most often dismissed – suggestions I make to law firms, even if the only subjects are men. A makeup artist ensures everyone looks their absolute best by smoothing out skin tone, reducing shine, and taming out of place hair. Sometimes they will even suggest and perform a trim for facial hair for men or bangs for women, if needed. Build time into your shoot schedule to accommodate the artist, blocking off about 15 minutes per male lawyer and 45 minutes per female lawyer. You may need more than one artist depending on the number of subjects, as well.
If your firm plans on taking a group shot with all of the lawyers, keep in mind everyone needs to have hair and makeup done first. Make sure every lawyers is available and present for the group shot, as well.
FIND AN INTERESTING LOCATION
Gone are the days of the Sears seamless backdrops and law library backgrounds. Nothing is more boring than someone standing in front of a bookcase – especially since the world has gone digital anyway. Just look to Instagram for the rise of the visual: importance is now placed on how interesting your photo looks and if it was able to capture a moment.
If your office space or even the lobby of your firm’s building is nice, you can consider shooting there. Or speak to your photographer about different location ideas to make your firm stand out. There are a thousand venues in a larger city, and many will accommodate photo shoots for a nominal fee. Look at trendy hotels, museums, historically relevant sites, outdoor spaces, rooftops with a view of a skyline, industrial warehouses, or someplace else that will add texture to the photographs.
DON’T DEPEND ON PHOTOSHOP TO FIX EVERYTHING
Photoshop is a great tool, but it’s not a magic wand. There are still limits to what can be retouched, and by how much. Overdoing it can, at best, make you look unlike yourself and, at worst, make you unrecognizable. Communicate any concerns with your photographer and makeup artist before the photos are snapped so they can capture the best version upfront. Then it’s much easier to make small enhancements in post-production.
Also remember that it’s not always easy to Photoshop one person out of a large group photograph if they leave the law firm. Depending on the lighting and the person’s placement in the lineup, it may be impossible to remove someone without it looking completely unnatural. Consider bringing in a photographer to reshoot the new group instead.
UPDATE, UPDATE, UPDATE
Once you have your new headshots, make sure to update all of your professional digital assets to reflect the new image. This ensures consistency for potential new clients, professional contacts, or referral attorneys researching you or your firm. Seeing the same photo on your AVVO profile, LinkedIn profile, and website is a great verification point for anyone searching for you.
Also consider updating your headshot at least every five to seven years. If your digital image projects a young 30-something lawyer and potential clients are introduced to an attorney in his mid-50s, the trust you are attempting to build with the client could be undermined.