After building over 300 websites, I have been asked a wide array of questions by clients. However, I can pinpoint a handful of questions that I regularly receive from my clients. One of those common questions is, “Should I include a personal picture on my website?”
From my perspective the advantages definitely outweigh the disadvantages. Before I share the “why” and “how” of including a personal photo on your website, I do want to address some valid concerns.
Why Some People DON’T Want Personal Photos on Their Website
- One of the most prevalent reasons clients do not want to include a photo is they do not have a professional headshot or photo. I recognize that small start-up businesses debate the value of hiring of a professional photographer to get a headshot taken. I will address this roadblock later.
- Another growing concerns of the invasion of personal privacy. Many business professionals want to draw a clear line between their work and their personal life.
- Some people simply believe they aren’t photogenic and just don’t like how they look in pictures.
- Others are concerned that revealing their age through the picture may deter clients/business. (Looking too young to be taken seriously or appearing too old to be in touch with current trends)
The Advantages of Including a Personal Photo
Authenticity is critical in marketing. People want transparency and a personal photo opens the door. A personal photo creates trust in you and your business. Just last week, two people in the span of 4 hours told me the #1 reason they picked up the phone and called me was the family photo I have on my website. For my purposes, the family photo communicates family, trustworthy, and personal service more efficiently than I can explain in a paragraph.
A personal photo also increases your ability to connect with your client or prospective customers AND be remembered. Technology has accelerated the speed of business for our generation. Unfortunately, with the ability to make appointments online and request a service via email, many businesses have lost that personal connection. People don’t connect with a name on a website; they connect with a face. And connection is key for establishing a relationship.
How To Capture and Prepare Photos
If you’re investing every dollar you have into your business and need to wait to hire a professional photographer, that’s okay. You don’t need to delay adding a personal picture on your website. Ask a friend or trusted colleague (preferably one who takes decent pictures!) to take some pictures on your phone. Even if you’ve never even used the camera on your smart phone, you can follow the quick and easy DIY tips below to boost the quality of your photos dramatically.
- Make sure the pictures you take are well-lit. Generally, avoid the use of flash. Also, remember, the main source of lighting should not be behind you (e.g. a bright window behind the subject). You do not want dark pictures with low contrast or shadows.
- If you choose to take an action shot, be sure that you are still the focus of the picture. If you are hiding in the background, that does not breed trust.
- Tidy up your work space or backdrop. We all have days (or seasons) when life is a bit more chaotic. You should be putting your best foot forward in these photos, so take some time to make the backdrop look professional.
- If you want to up your game taking photos on your smart phone, check out this pretty entertaining video from YouTuber Peter McKinnon on how to take better shots with your iPhone.
- Double check that your photos are the right resolution for your website. If you’re not sure what this means, my video tutorial can give you some tips for preparing your photos prior to using them on your website:
Tips For Hiring A Professional Photographer
First impressions are huge so if your budget allows, my recommendation would be to hire a professional. There is so much more to a head shot than just taking a good picture. A quality photographer will know how to pose you to be more engaging and will also know the art of editing. An experienced photographer will be able to make you look your best, but not apply so much editing that you look plastic or fake.
Jennifer Hyde, an experienced Chicago head shot photographer, would recommend asking the following questions when selecting your photographer:
- Does the photographer utilize studio space and studio lighting?
- Can they provide you with their portfolio or website with examples? (Do you like their style?)
- Are they able to create at least two “looks” for you?
Typically, Jennifer suggests a white background for one picture so your photographer can easily create a transparent PNG file. This will allow you to put your head shot on any background. Also, if you are in the corporate arena or offering professional services, you may want to include an Old Masters background. This background is the typical CEO head shot background. It represents experience. The last background you may want to consider that is popular with small business owners is a more casual picture in your own workspace.
It’s smart to ask about the photographer’s package options and prices in advance. For a 30 to 45 minutes session with 2 looks and 2 backgrounds, you are likely going to spend anywhere from $75 to $175. It will be more if there is travel required for the photographer. It’s imperative that you are upfront with your expectations. Do you want all rights to the digital edited photos? How many total poses and backgrounds do you need? By communicating with your photographer on the front end, you will be more likely to have the headshots you need for your website.
After gaining more perspective on the value and simplicity of including your personal photo on your website, I am guessing you are ready to take the plunge. When you go to add your personal photo, you’ll want to make sure it is optimized for your website. If you’d like to learn more as to how to do this, check out this video where I share how you can optimize your images for the web with some free tools.
The Great Debate: Will You Include Personal Photos on Your Site?
Comment below and let me know what you decide or what nagging questions are still making it a tough decision for you…