Why Aren't You Using Professional Headshots (Photos)?

38 replies
I see a lot of guru's using some very basic photos of themselves in their copy. Some of them are asking $397-$997 for their products yet it's obvious their photos were taken with cell phone cameras, at home in front of a wall or during a family vacation.

I can understand the value of using vacation pics to sell the lifestyle. But don't you need something more than snapshots, cool cell phone pics and 'hold your own camera' portraits?

My question:

Why don't you invest $30-$200 of those profits on some high-quality, professional studio headshots?

I learned a long time ago that first impressions are lasting impressions. Whenever I go in for a client consultation, I'm dressed to kill. So why aren't you doing the same for your sales? Good headshots build immediate trust and say "I'm taking this seriously...so should you".

Why am I bringing this up? Lately I've been building some sites for Brian McElroy and Brad Semp and I've noticed they took that extra step. And it definitely conveys professionalism in their websites.

And don't tell me you're ugly. Professional photographers are trained to handle the very worst mugs and make them look like rockstars.

And don't tell me Photoshop will fix it. Photoshop can do a lot, but it's all about your foundation.

If you still can't invest in a decent studio set, here are some tips to get a decent photo of yourself at home...

  1. Wait for a really, really sunny day.
  2. When that sunny day comes, around noon or so, find a nice bright window. The brighter, the better. Indirect light is best. You should not be able to 'feel' the sun while sitting.
  3. Place a chair to sit on by the window.
  4. Setup the camera at the same level as your head using a tripod a good 5-10 feet away from you. Zoom in on your upper (elbows up) torso. Zooming in will reduce barrel distortion in the lens. You want a mid-way zoom.
  5. Turn off the flash.
  6. Place a light on the opposite side of the window near the floor to give a highlight to the darkened side of the photo. You can experiment with it's placement. Some photogs place it behind on the floor, others place it above in front. Have someone hold it and move it around to achieve the best balance. By the way, the lightbulb will need to be a Reveal or similar "daylight" bulb.
  7. Turn your body 45 degrees away from the camera and point your face in the direction of the camera. Almost like you're slightly looking over your shoulder. Women, tilt your head towards the shoulder closest to the camera. Men, tilt your head towards the shoulder furthest from the camera.
  8. Clean out the background. The less that's behind you, the better.
  9. Clean up. If you shave, do it 3 hours before or the redness will show. Iron the clothes, look good.
  10. Start taking pics with the self-timer. Having someone press the shutter button will present slight shaking. Experiment raising and lowering your chin. Smiles are always best. Teeth are optional.
  11. If you find too many "hot spots" in the pic (strong white spots), try throwing a sheer, white cloth over the window (bedsheets). This will soften the light and give a great effect.
#headshots #photos #professional
  • Profile picture of the author dbarnum
    I don't want people to faint when they see my beauty

    Then there would also be the endless phone calls with heavy breathing, the countless offers of dates, gifts of jewels, etc. I would need a personal assistant just to handle the extra load on my life. ...

    ...ah, to have the life of Kevin Riley instead....
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    • Profile picture of the author Kevin Riley
      You mean I should have combed my hair for the picture I use on sales pages (attached).
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      • Profile picture of the author TheRichJerksNet
        Originally Posted by Kevin Riley View Post

        You mean I should have combed my hair for the picture I use on sales pages (attached).
        Kevin It looks so much like you ...

        To answer the OP -- Why try to show off something that your not ? I mean are you all decked out everyday of the week even in the comfort of your own home ?

        Fact is trying to use professional photos would make alot of consumers wonder moreabout dealing with you.. They see some decked out person and they know its fake, they know it is not how they really look 24/7 ...

        By using a normal photo then the consumer can relate even more with that person doing the selling. They feel more comfortable with someone that looks like Kevin (layed back, not a worry in the word, enjoying his day at the park) vs someone like Donald Trump..

        Have you not noticed the Mac commercials by now.. The Mac dude is not decked out and trying to look like a salesman, he looks more like Kevin.. Where as the PC dude looks more like Donald Trump with his 3pc expensive suit... Do these commercials work ? Hell Yeah !!! and the reason why is consumers feel more confortable with those that look like Kevin Riley..

        It's really that simple .. People dont want to be sold to by a salesman they want to be sold to by a normal everyday person.

        James

        P.S. I hope Kevin dont mind me using him as an example but I am sure I am not the first one to use his likeness in an example ...:p
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        • Profile picture of the author Kevin Riley
          Originally Posted by TheRichJerksNet View Post

          consumers feel more confortable with those that look like Kevin Riley..

          Really? So why do mothers shield their children and others run away screaming?
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          • Profile picture of the author TheRichJerksNet
            Originally Posted by Kevin Riley View Post

            Really? So why do mothers shield their children and others run away screaming?
            Let's see would you rather have Kevin Riley hold and kiss your baby or Donald Trump .. ?

            Case Closed there ....

            James
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  • Profile picture of the author X
    Because they're cheesy.

    I especially love the ones where the
    "guru" is pointing at the camera.

    Slick.
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    • Profile picture of the author Alice Seba
      Originally Posted by X View Post

      Because they're cheesy.

      I especially love the ones where the
      "guru" is pointing at the camera.

      Slick.
      My favorite is when they hold up a blank sign for adding text to. Or where they point to the side as if they're pointing to the copy or product on the page.

      My vote, in many cases, is cheese also.

      Alice
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      • Profile picture of the author Amy Bass
        Originally Posted by Alice Seba View Post

        My favorite is when they hold up a blank sign for adding text to. Or where they point to the side as if they're pointing to the copy or product on the page.

        My vote, in many cases, is cheese also.

        Alice
        That's BRILLIANT!
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  • Profile picture of the author Chris Lockwood
    Should we use "professional studio headshots" such as the one on your posts?
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    • Profile picture of the author Money on the Side
      Originally Posted by Chris Lockwood View Post

      Should we use "professional studio headshots" such as the one on your posts?
      hahahahahaha.....
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      • Profile picture of the author ic7
        Some good points from the OP. I definitely want to invest in a pro photographer. A photographer's job is 'selling' your image. Making you look more approachable, friendly, believable, etc.
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  • Profile picture of the author Gary Huynh
    I know some people put up not so fabulous photos so the website visitors can relate to an average Joe, not some slicked up salesman.

    Every niche is different.

    The only conclusive way to determine which type of photo to put up is to test and track.
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  • Profile picture of the author Roxanna555
    BlueSquares,

    You bring up a good point. lol

    I have a pic that I use for my article marketing avatar, etc., that I hate. I thought it was just the "ugly" factor. But maybe I will go to a pro. At the very least, it will give some more pics to choose from.

    Thanks.
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  • Profile picture of the author Tenzo
    There are some good points on both sides. I guess, like everything, it's really market dependent. If I was promoting a product or service business to business, I would probably go for a more polished media presence.

    Regards,
    Kevin
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  • Profile picture of the author Bob Monie
    I always wonder if the photo is really of the person selling the product when they look all professional. Could have been a simple cut and paste from google images.

    I think people denifitely relate to happy snap photos of the average person, even better if his family are in the photo also.

    But i think the photos would have minimal effect on conversion but i could be wrong. Test and track it and find out.
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    • Profile picture of the author Alice Seba
      Originally Posted by Bob Monie View Post

      But i think the photos would have minimal effect on conversion but i could be wrong.
      LOL...your photo has a huge effect on me. Having trouble looking away. Horror! :-)

      Alice
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      • Profile picture of the author Bob Monie
        Originally Posted by Alice Seba View Post

        LOL...your photo has a huge effect on me. Having trouble looking away. Horror! :-)

        Alice
        Hehe, Thanx Alice. Yeah im the first to admit that i need to see a dentist and a hairdresser.
        Spose it doesnt really help when my mouth and eyes are from an Orangutan, :-)

        Kyle, I am very surprised to hear you increased conversion by 20% by adding a simple photo. That is a HUGE difference. Depends what niche your in aswell i presume.

        Definitely not surprised about the professional photos losing in a test.
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    • Profile picture of the author Kyle Tully
      Originally Posted by Bob Monie View Post

      But i think the photos would have minimal effect on conversion but i could be wrong. Test and track it and find out.
      20% or more increase depending on the photo.

      "Professional" photos have rarely won in the tests I've seen.
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  • Profile picture of the author AlexKaplo
    I have to be brutally honest with you ... I personally completely disagree. The reason I disagree with you is simply because I have always taken pictures of myself using any kind of digital camera I can get my hands on. (Look at my avatar it took me 2 seconds to take that picture using some cheap camera). Yet I have used that very same picture on many squeeze pages and have collected over 500+ emails.

    I sincerely believe the fact that you take a picture of yourself or a picture not using the cutting edge technology relates to the person viewing the picture. (It's almost like if the person looking at the picture said "Hey I can do that too" or "I can be that guy too", "He took a picture of himself using that cheap camera, I have one too") I don't know if you completely understand what I am talking about but it has worked for me.

    Regards,

    -Alex Kaplo
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  • Profile picture of the author crumblepie
    Some people don't put up photos for the sake of privacy. But for everyone else, put it up if you're good looking, if not forget it
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  • Profile picture of the author Jesus Perez
    Very interesting comments. I can see where more "real" pictures can validate a person's identity. But I also wonder if there's a dollar amount where these 'real' pictures simply won't validate anymore. For example, will a snapshot suffice alongside a $497 product?

    And I agree, I can't stop looking at Bob Monie either.
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    • Profile picture of the author Bob Monie
      Originally Posted by BlueSquares View Post

      Very interesting comments. I can see where more "real" pictures can validate a person's identity. But I also wonder if there's a dollar amount where these 'real' pictures simply won't validate anymore. For example, will a snapshot suffice alongside a $497 product?

      And I agree, I can't stop looking at Bob Monie either.
      Branding myself as the extremely ugly dude in warrior forum.
      Branding is important in business as much as it is in life, being an individual, standing out from the pack.

      Be hard to forget this face, probably because it will be in your nightmares, hehe...

      You do have a very good point there BlueSquares. I do agree, there would be a point where professionalism would rule.

      The every day happy snap photo would work well with the $30 ebook about how to make money at home, but the happy snap photo wouldnt work well with a $10,000 trading course, which professional photos would.

      Depends on the niche and what type of person your targeting.

      Bob
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  • Profile picture of the author Dave Everett
    I think the main idea is for your visitors to be able to actually see you so that you are not just a 'voice in the dark'. This supposedly leads to them gaining confidence in you.

    Whilst I would agree that not just any old mugshot will do, I don't consider it necessary to use a 'professional' photograph. I suppose it all depends on the image of yourself that you want to create.

    Dave Everett
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  • Profile picture of the author joblythe
    Well, I'm not sure . .

    I have only ever had one professional photograph taken and that now has pride of place on my mantlepiece at home.

    It keeps the grandkids away from the fire!!

    Love
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    • Profile picture of the author JohnMcCabe
      I'm thinking that the impression has more to do with the market and your desired position within it than it does with the price point.

      If you are a lawyer, accountant, etc., you want to look like an extremely successful lawyer or accountant. Enter the professional head shot with the Brooks Brothers suit, white shirt, red power tie.

      If you are a doctor, dentist, etc., you want to look like what you are. So you go with the head shot wearing a clean, pressed white lab coat or immaculate scrubs.

      If you are someone promoting the 'Internet lifestyle', you want to look the part. Take your photo with your web cam, or sitting in your home office. Clean clothes, comfortable, no raggedy tee shirts.

      In a nutshell, look like your market expects someone successful in that market to look.
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  • Profile picture of the author Dana_W
    Very good post. Everything that you do online is part of your brand. I agree that people should put some thought into their photo and consider the message that it sends.

    BlueSquares, I have to ask - where's your photo???
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  • Profile picture of the author sdillon
    I would be interested in hearing more on this topic from people who have actually tested it out. I only found one statistic in this thread. Anyone tested this out?
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  • Profile picture of the author Lee McIntyre
    Terry Dean has mentioned many times that a photo of him relaxing with his dog lead to higher conversions than a professional picture in his suit.

    On his blog he mentioned that the dog picture was recently beaten by a picture of him relaxing at the Grand Canyon.

    More expensive, or more professional, doesn't always equal 'better'.

    As always testing is the key. The good news is it's very easy to test different pictures using Google Analytics to see which one leads to the highest conversions.

    Thanks

    Lee McIntyre
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  • Profile picture of the author Rob Toth
    Depends on the niche though.

    That's not to say you should use a hazzy, out of focus, outdated photo of yourself... but if you're positioning your copy as "the average _____" who just so happened to learn the a few great tricks of how to ________ ... then you don't want to come across too polished.

    And since sales is about relationship, it's a heck of a balancing act to come across professional enough to be taken seriously but not cross into the realm of "analy corporate".

    At a local business expo just 3 weeks ago, I met one of the speakers prior. He's a business coach. I wouldn't hire him to help me put together a grocery list. Not because he's not qualified... but his overly friendly, clean cut, super-happy to see you attitude just rubbed me the wrong way.

    That being said, there are plenty of businesses that use fake photos in the first place because their own image (whether polished or not) might not fit with the target audience.
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  • Profile picture of the author Rob Toth
    >> I guess who ever is worried about that should SPLIT TEST

    There's always 2 answers to a marketing question:

    - split test

    and

    - your best guess (which should still lead to split testing)
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  • Profile picture of the author colmodwyer
    I reckon...

    1. Dressing up as a Fortune 500 CEO for your photo will give you less of an "empathic connect' with your customer, than say a more personal photo of you hanging with the family or whatever... Something "relate-able."

    2. A photo of the "result" (you with your new car, big house, gill augmentation so you breathe underwater etc) should aid selling the benefits - You can be like this too - better than a pro head shot ever will.

    3. A head shot "just like everyone else's" most certainly does not cut through the clutter; and therefore may reduce readability of your marketing materials.

    That said it really depends on... Stuff.

    Colm
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    • Profile picture of the author AndrewCavanagh
      Great advice.

      One thing I'd also point out.

      In our split testing we found an "action photo"...a photo that demonstrates you or a client enjoying the benefits of your product tends to get you a much higher response than a head shot.

      Also a caption with a call to action under that action photo can dramatically increase your response again on a sales letter.

      Images and captions on sales letters and opt in pages are a HUGE key to getting a high sales response because your eye is drawn straight to those images and right after looking at an image most people will scan down and read the caption right under it.

      Kindest regards,
      Andrew Cavanagh
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  • Profile picture of the author Gary Huynh
    I don't think I've ever seen Frank Kern in a suit and he sells out $2,000 products like it's cold water in the desert.
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  • Profile picture of the author Ben Clemons
    I prefer to have people see me as I am. Yes, I do wear suits SOMETIMES, but it's not the best representation
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  • Profile picture of the author Teenage Genius
    I am not using Professional Headshots for a vast quantity of reasons:

    1. I do not have a website and i am not selling a product.
    2. I can't afford the cable to connect my phone to the computer right now, let alone a professional studio pitcure.
    3. Im a don on photoshop - i am sure i make myself look as good as a studio can when it comes to it. Mums 10 mega pixel camera and my photoshop skills should work perfectly.
    4. Professional Headshots usually kill people, one bullet, one kill. LOL
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  • Profile picture of the author Mike McBride
    I don't think you need a "professional" headshot per se, but a decent photo - or a logo for branding purposes - is fine. But some photos - just check this thread - are so foolish, ridiculous, childish, etc., that, in my opinion, whatever credibility you may have had (slight though that may be) is utterly gone.

    Hey, if you want to look like a fool, fine, it's your business - or lack thereof.
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  • Profile picture of the author Asher
    I agree that non-professional headshots seem to work better because
    it has more believability in it due to the fact that it's giving the visitor
    the impression that you don't have to be a professional to make money
    with it.

    On the other hand, I think professional headshots are recommended for
    sites that deal with professional service rendered.

    Cliche: "Pictures speak a thousand words"

    Asher
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