When we see a couple dressed in their wedding attire with the bride carrying a bouquet, we understand that it is their wedding day. When we see someone blowing candles on a cake, we understand that it is that person's birthday. If you guys are Game of Thrones fans like us, the outfits of the characters determine the family or place from which they came from. But when there is no other element in the photo except a person's face, what do we really make out of one's headshot?
Spent my 50th at Winterfell. Photo by Allan Gojar.
I write this because I was inspired by a client's comment about the way we conducted our shoot. She said we created a context for her during the shoot so that she understood what she should be after when it comes to her photo. The insight created an impact on both Allan and myself that it provided a comparison to our company's early days as wedding photographers. There are no flowers, cakes, props to create context in a headshot session. Context then is created through a series of questions we ask our clients to understand their potential customers. Our conversation not only informs us of facts but more importantly, reveals the goal of our clients and their unique personality. After all, it is this natural self that their customers will interact with.
From the point of view of their customers, context is created through the text that accompanies their headshot photo. Does the photo complement the words on their bio and vice versa? I remember a manager pulling out a LinkedIn profile of a candidate and commenting to Allan, "Do you believe this guy has 10 years experience when his photo looks like he just graduated?" Well, it was probably a photo that happened right after graduation. If one is blessed with youthful looks, one cannot do anything about it. Is it about being young in this situation? Perhaps it is is about showing experience and credibility in the photo. That is the job of the headshot photographer to find that out.
Headshot photography is unforgiving as there is nowhere to hide and the resulting photo can be quite confronting. However, if the proper context is presented and processed with the client during the shoot, an engaged person is shown leading to a connection to their customers.