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Secrets For the Perfect Business Portrait You’re a confident, professional businessperson. Then why are you featuring a grainy, five-year-old picture of yourself on your Web site? If you’re serious about connecting with clients and want to show the world you mean business, you need to invest in a professional photo of yourself.

What is a business portrait and why should I get one? A business portrait (also called an executive portrait or professional portrait) is generally a headshot (head and shoulders portrait). It’s similar to a typical portrait except you are buying the image to use for your business rather than buying a print to sit on your mantel. You can put your portrait on your Website or blog, business cards, and even advertising to give a face to your name/business. You can also put your business portrait on your resume when applying for jobs and for college/grad school. These portraits are also perfect for social networking sites, press releases and company brochures.

Can any photographer take my business portrait, or do I need to find someone who specializes in business portraits? Photographers specialize in different areas, so do a little research. If you want your portrait in a park setting, make sure your photographer has experience doing onlocation lighting outside.

A picture is worth a thousand words. How do I choose the best “look” and setting for my portrait? It all depends on what you want your image to say about you. Ask yourself what you want the tone of your portrait to be: • Serious or smiling? • Powerful or approachable? • Moody lighting or soft, bright beauty lighting? Your personality and business might call for your portrait to be taken on location rather than the studio. • If you are an executive, you might want your portrait taken in your corner office overlooking the city. • If you want an image that is more natural, opt for a park setting. • If you want more traditional lighting and backgrounds, you’ll probably want your pictures done in-studio.

What type of clothes should I wear? This image will be used to represent you and/or your company so you need to dress accordingly. You’ll want to wear professional business attire that is classic and timeless so you can use your photos for years to come. • Men should wear a suit jacket, sweater, or a nice dress shirt. • Women should wear a blouse or a tailored jacket. • It is best to wear long sleeve shirts for your portrait. Long sleeves are much more flattering on arms than short. You also want to be somewhat comfortable in what you’re wearing or your picture will look stiff and unnatural. But be aware of clothing that wrinkles easily as that will look sloppy and unprofessional.


What colors photograph best/worst? • • •

Solid colors photograph best, and most people look good in midtones (green, blue, brown, etc.). Avoid white and colors that approximate your flesh tones (this might be beige, tan, or very pale peach, pink, and gray). Avoid wearing clothing with patterns or accessories that distract from your face. Very bright reds, yellows and oranges can also be distracting.

Should I wear jewelry? Jewelry can be a great accessory to your outfit, but should not distract from your face. Less is usually more. Necklaces look best when they are shorter and mimic the neckline of your shirt.

How much makeup should I apply? • • • •

Wear what you would for a nice evening out. Well done, but not overdone. Avoid overly glossy or shimmery makeup as it will catch the light and be distracting. If you normally don’t wear makeup, your pictures will look better if you at least wear foundation. This will help even out your skin tone. Bring extra powder as you’ll want to reapply during the shoot to avoid shine.

What are the best backgrounds for a business portrait? The most important thing to consider in a background is that it doesn’t distract from your portrait. It should complement your clothing and colors. • Solid colors or a neutral colored textured background are always classic. • Bright colors can work for a younger, more vibrant portrait, but I’d recommend doing another neutral background as well just in case. If you are having your portraits outside your photographer should be able to suggest appropriate backgrounds away from objects that would distract the eye from your face.

What kind of a picture will I receive from the photographer? You’ll receive a high resolution digital copy from the photographer to use for your business.

Will I own the rights to my image? The photographer retains the image copyright but grants you permission to use your image for business purposes. Sometimes these rights cost extra, but sometimes the rights will be given to the client as a part of the portrait session fee. Be sure to ask about this before you book your sitting.

Are there any restrictions on how I can use my business portrait? Some photographers restrict Web use vs. printed use and have separate fees for each. Some have a one-time use fee while others have a fee that gives you unlimited use of the image. This all depends on the photographer. – I highly recommend arranging for unlimited use of your image. You’ll want to plaster your image everywhere, and it’s a major hassle to contact the photographer every time you want to re-use your business portrait. Just suck it up, pay the fee, and be done with it. You’ll be glad you did.

How many different poses should I purchase? I recommend purchasing 2-3 poses. Having options is always a good thing. Photo sessions are expensive and take time, so if you can get a few different portraits that you can use, it could save you time and money in the future.


So, if I change outfits or backgrounds during my photo shoot, I should buy multiple images, right? Right. Even if you don’t change outfits, a change in the lighting or in your expression can make a photo completely different. It is helpful to have a range of photos to use for your business. Perhaps vary the use of each photo, using one for your Website and another on your social networking pages.

How much do business portraits typically cost? It depends on what you are looking for… On the low end, for a short in-studio session, expect to spend $50-$100 just for the session fee. That would not include any of the images, digital prints, or the rights to use them. Shop around until you find a photographer whose prices fit your budget.

I’m not photogenic. Do you retouch business portraits so I can look my best? Most photographers do basic retouching on your business portrait without an additional fee. This can be anything from removing blemishes, reducing under-eye circles, brightening eyes, whitening teeth, reducing wrinkles, etc. If your photographer doesn’t retouch and it is important to you, you could get permission from the photographer to send it to a professional retoucher. Retouching fees range from $10-$25 for basic retouching.

Secrets for the perfect business portrait  
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