How Much is a Good First Impression Worth?


Ron Goyette Photography - Professional Business Headshot - Maui Hawaii

How Much is a Good First Impression Worth? While it is hard to place an actual monetary value and calculate the ROI a good headshot, it is easy to quantify a good first impression. Good first impressions turn leads in to clients and clients drive your business. Believe it or not a good headshot can increase your conversion rate and do it before you have ever even meet your potential client.

A selfie just won't do... "But I just got this great new cell phone that has a portrait selfie mode, can't I just use one of those pictures?" The simple answer to that question is "yes." I have another question for you though: Are you willing to trust the first impression that a potential client is likely to have of you, and the business that you work so hard on to a cell phone snapshot? The answer should be a swift and easy "no." If that is not the answer that you came to, consider the following.

Today your image appears everywhere: your social media pages, your professional website, your LinkedIn profile, your business cards, and your email signature, and it sets the tone of what message you are trying to convey professionally about yourself and your business. Like it or not people are making decisions about your business based on their perceptions. You already know this though. You spend a considerable amount of time and money polishing your professional image for those who meet you in person. You have heard that it only takes 7 seconds to make a first impression. You may even be studied in how to spend those precious seconds in order to make the most of them. That is time and money well spent without a doubt. Unfortunately, it does very little for you when it comes to impressions that are being made without your knowledge or presence.

It is more and more common that our initial impressions are delivered via the media outlets described above and your headshot image is a foundational element in those cases. The question then becomes, "What am I trying to impress upon my potential clients, and does my headshot image achieve that?" Suddenly, it would seem that your headshot matters a tremendous amount.

Ask yourself these questions about your current headshot:

1. Do I look relaxed, friendly, confident, professional and approachable? If the answer is no, you need a new headshot.

Relaxed, friendly, confident, professional and approachable might not be the look you are hoping to convey if you are an MMA fighter, but for most of us, an intimidating, unfriendly, unapproachable or disinterested expression is going to be detracting to potential clients. Remember this is the first or the most often seen representation of you and your business.

A professional headshot photographer will have the ability to help you relax in front of the camera and draw out that inviting expression.

A side note on looking professional. You are a professional that specializes in a particular field. You are offering your potential clients a professional service. Your potential client should get the sense from you that you also know when to hire a professional for the job as well. This is a subliminal subject in the mind of buyer but it will speak to them in ways they can't put words to and leads to mistrust. This concept applies to more than your headshot and is something you as a business professional should be paying attention to.

2. Are there elements in my headshot that distract from who I am as a professional? If the answer is yes, You need a new headshot.

Cat ears and face paint is fine if your profession involves cats but you will want to refrain from these sort of distractions otherwise. Also, while environmental and outdoor headshots are just fine, remember that we are telling your story not the landscapes story. Environmental and outdoor backgrounds should melt into a blur. If you are interested in showing yourself in your work environment as a part of your image it should still be a lesser part of your image than you are.

A professional headshot photographer will have the equipment and experience to archive that result.

3. Is my wardrobe or make-up competing for attention? If the answer is yes, you need a new headshot.

Again, simple is best here. You should dress in attire that is appropriate to your profession. You should avoid bright unnatural colors or loud patterns. Make up is a hard one. If you normally wear make up you will likely want to be wearing it in your photo. It becomes tricky depending on the skill set of your photographer when it comes to retouching. Most good headshot photographers will also be skilled in post processing techniques that allow for enhancement to your natural features with minimal make up.

A professional headshot photographer will assist you by giving you suggestions on what not to wear and address make-up based on their retouching abilities. A good headshot photographer that has weak skills with retouching will point you in the right direction to find a skilled retoucher.

4. Does my headshot look like it has been cranked through a photo processing application? ie Does it scream, "I"VE BEEN PHOTOSHOPPED." If the answer is yes, you need a new headshot.

If the first thing that you or anyone else thinks about your headshot is the photoshop, the mark has been missed. It doesn't matter if the thought is, "Wow, that is a great photoshop job", or "OMG! That is horrible photoshop". The goal is to have the reaction to the photograph be about the person represented in the photograph.

Good headshot photographers tend to be excellent photoshop mechanics as well and can remove blemishes and tone the image without a heavy handed, obvious effect. Again, if the retouching skills are lacking they will point you in the direction of a professional retoucher.

5. Does my headshot represent what a person meeting me should expect to see?

Similar to not having your image look like it has been cranked through photoshop, you don't want your image to make people think that your plastic surgeon only does temporary work. If you are 20, your image should be representative of a 20 year old person. If you are 50 your image should be representative of a 50 year old person. OK ok you can go down to 48 1/2 but don't use old photos of yourself, even professional ones, and don't have to many wrinkles removed.

A good headshot photographer will help you represent you at your best just as you are. This also falls in line with the idea promoted earlier about looking professional and maintaining trust. My personal belief here is that, when it comes to removing or reducing aspects from a photograph, I draw the line at what can be reasonably accomplished with make-up by the average person. If my clients ask for more than that I simply turn them down.

In conclusion. If you think you need a new headshot you probably do. If you do, you should find a good headshot photographer in your area without delay and schedule a shoot. If you live on the island of Maui, I would love to help you out, so give me a call!