Have you ever noticed how really successful people have stunning headshots?
I have but I’m supposed to notice these things. Successful people invest time and money in projecting their success, their credibility and marketing their marketability if you like. Actors do it, business people do it, politicians do it, sports people do it. Hell, if we’re in business and trying to push forward, we all do it to a degree.
As a portrait photographer, I look at every portrait photo and study it. The first thing I notice is how it portrays the person. What does the photo say? What messages does it transmit? Can I see their eyes properly? Seeing those eyes properly is crucial. Your eyes are the windows on your soul.
One of my favourite headshots of modern times is Albert Watson’s portrait of Steve Jobs. Steve Jobs is famous for how he founded Apple Computer, then left the business and joined Pixar. When he came back to Apple his view on how to market a computer company had changed radically. When Jobs launched the Lisa in 1983 he took out a nine-page advert in the New York Times. After his time at Pixar he returned with a very different view of marketing computers. Apple’s next campaign featured the headline ‘Think Different’. Jobs turned Apple from a failing PC manufacturer to one of the most valuable companies on the planet.
Anyway, back to Albert Watson and that photograph. In 2006 Albert Watson, an Edinburgh born, New York based photographer, was commissioned to take Steve Jobs’ portrait. The only thing was that Steve famously hated being photographed and didn’t have time to waste being photographed. You can imagine the scene can’t you; the photographer nervously fiddling about with lighting and camera settings. Meanwhile the client is sat there drumming their fingers and waiting for it all to be over.
But it wasn’t like that at all. Watson is a master of his craft. He was all set up and ready to go and turned the session around in twenty minutes. The time thing is only part of it. What makes this a great story is that Albert knew immediately how this portrait should work and what the message had to be. Albert Watson had a passport photo in his mind’s eye. He chose a white background and asked Steve Jobs to lean slightly forward and said to him, “Imagine you are across the table from four or five people who don’t agree with you, but you know you are right”.
Watson captured the genius of Steve Jobs to a tee; his intensity, his intelligence and conviction all radiate from that image. You can see the portrait and hear the story behind it on the Profoto website.
So, what’s the point of all this? The point is this. If you want to be successful in business, your clients, employees, associates and shareholders have to trust you or you are dead in the water. People you are yet to meet will make decisions about you because of what they see and read. One thing they’ll see are your headshots, maybe in the press, possibly on a TV report but certainly on social media, LinkedIn, your website, online business journals and so on. All those people need to know one thing; can they trust you?
And that is the one message your headshot must transmit!
It’s no wonder that successful people think headshots are worth investing in.