The subtle selling point of good portraits is that they engender an aura of trust. Bad pictures send the message that if the business is careless with the images of what they do and who they are – well, they’re going to be slipshod in working with you and your job too.
Just a quick note about product pictures. Readability should be a no-brainer, but I’m often unpleasantly surprised with really tiny images or dark and out of focus ones. I though eBay taught long ago that quality pix were paramount to selling. ‘Nuf said; our main topic here is faces.
The key web presence differentiating factor should obviously be excellent portrait photos. On the web your face is your image. Potential clients want to know who they’re dealing with, but a bad head shot can easily quash their interest. Possibly that’s worse than having no head shot at all. I know that when I’m searching for a new service or product line on the web, it’s the portraits that sell me right away.
Two factors influence the type and style of head shots.
Everybody wants to look their best in photos. But that’s just the first part. The second part involves analysis from two points of view. What is the type of business and who is the typical client – or perhaps the typical desired client? Only by answering both sides can you, the portrait pro, craft portraits where the style, formality and clothing will resonate on the web.
My examples are real, right off the web, and are in fact people I know – though heavily redacted to preserve privacy.
Here’s an introductory and promotional print flyer (and typically ubiquitous) example of what not to do. Probably a rush job, and the discontinuity probably did not really become obvious until published in two dimensions, side by side.
Right off, the portrait styles don’t match, and seem to lower the status of the three women in the firm. Six different lighting and background styles in only nine portraits. The look is disjointed, haphazard. Think deeper still. An audiologist firm makes hearing aids, therefore dealing primarily with older clients. Traditional dress and styling may be a first thought, but these are doctors, and the firm obviously thinks this is a selling point because they list each person’s medical credentials. Most people want to think of doctors as compassionate clinicians, not stock brokers. Was business suit attire the way to go? Non-dynamic posing? I don’t think so. And certainly never allow the firm’s women to look lightweight, like second class citizens.
None of us like lawyers, right? But this example of portraiture for a personal injury partnership is, I think, engaging and influences me to have confidence in the firm.
Yes, these guys are suits, but they look like they have genuine, human connection to each other and by implication, sensitive interest in my “case”. The background has much to do with the feelings the pictures convey. Modern, important, open, moving, vital. Check out also the small portrait. Love the background: bright, colorful, open and the choice of a tan suit works very well for this younger partner.
Individuals who make fine art or any kind of custom product need lots of clear, meaningful pictures rather than words to demonstrate what they do.
The objective is mouthwatering, gorgeous images that literally involve the visitor in the production process or art form. Telling a story with progressive pictures is great. Both these websites chronicle famous living artists; The dark one is much more effective due to size and quality of the images. The light grey one has much more content in depth, but the images are small, less clear, more snapshots and they do not enlarge very much. Good, big pictures are definitely better that more of less quality.
One of the best ways – maybe the best way – for a business owner or professional to tell about herself and what she does is a video, not just a single picture.
This artist friend of mine has an eye-catching video interview on her front page, as well as a significant gallery section showing available work. Video pr, however, takes a much higher level of subject preparation as cost of a professionally done piece. We’ve seen so many flipcamera web videos that are truly awful, both in content and quality. Nothing turns a potential client off like bad sound and shaky, ill exposed video.
When the service or product involves fixing or improving something as series of before-after images will obviously tell the story.
This plastic surgeon is a bit of a local legend for his really natural facial remakes. His website has both video and stills showing him in interview situation plus that big kicker: portraits before and after of real clients. Not really portraits, but more angled mug shots, unretouched and lit strictly to show detail rather than pleasing contours. The dream we all wanted to have of ourselves is laid out clear and precise. All you do is add money.
Realtors live and work by relationships, and many still make the mistake of having cookie-cutter, unprofessional portraits on their websites and signs. But not this one.
The good realtors know the value of a significant portrait sitting that will net them a series of images that they can interchange and also use on yard signs. Yes, in the Rocky Mountains a scenic banner is typical, but this example of very dark portrait with no differentiation between hair and background is not. Usually this is not something we’d call professional, but I found myself admiring this local lady friend’s picture simply because only her face jumps out, nothing else. And she is just like this; her direct manner and mobile face tell you in person that she is working only for you.
We all know that market share for professional child and family portraiture has dwindled with “good enough” home made snaps. But not head shots for business; they’re still strongly needed. Take advantage of this ready and still in demand market.