Head Shots That Shine

Part One of Two

A lot of time, money and talent goes into your organization’s communications. News releases must be well written, clear and accurate. Talking points must be tack sharp. And nearly everything must also be tailored for social media.

It’s a lot to juggle. So, the website head shots of your staff may not be at the top of your priority list. And that’s a mistake.

Gnarus Advisors needed head shots that conveyed a professional but approachable look.

Those headshots are often the first time key constituencies – including congressional staff, news media and key opinion makers – experience a face-to-face introduction with you and your colleagues.

Do you have an ad hoc collection of photos taken at different places with different backgrounds? Do the photos look like they were taken with a point-and-shoot digital camera in a nearby hallway? Are the photos so old they look like everyone is wearing fashions for That ‘70s Show?

Taken together, an out-of-date or amateur presentation conveys all the wrong messages about your organization. But a carefully planned executed shooting plan will portray the professional culture and expertise that you want to project.

Case Study One

Gnarus Advisors LLC is a young and fast-growing consulting firm based in the Washington DC area. Its primary business is providing analysis and expert testimony in large liability cases. As an example, some members of the Gnarus team advised stakeholders when lawmakers drafted the 2006 asbestos legislation.

Let’s just say the Gnarus team is a brainy bunch. They’ve got decades of experience in these cases and most hold advanced degrees in economics, engineering and law. They’ve also got a very sophisticated client base: High-powered attorneys in the nation’s biggest and most prestigious law firms. And those clients call on Gnarus to produce bullet-proof economic analysis and flawless testimony in high-stakes cases.

Gnarus is designing new websites, both for external and internal use. They needed headshots of their team for both sites, as well as for distribution to the news media when they are expert sources.

Creating the headshots required a plan that would be comfortable for those operating in the business casual culture of the firm but also sufficiently professional to impress members of Congress or the partners of the most starched-white law office. When choosing attire, I always advise clients to step up to your highest constituency, which in this case, called for business shirt and tie for most subjects.

The backdrop for the photos was a slightly bigger challenge. Gnarus’s leadership is scattered from Los Angeles to Boston to Washington to Florida. The firm was planning its first-ever leadership meeting in Naples, Fla., and that would be the best, if not the only time, to get everyone together for a photo shoot.

Needed were images that would convey the professionalism and competence of the firm’s leaders, yet also portray them as friendly and approachable. As consultants it was important for them to look like somebody with whom you would want to work. The challenge was creating a background that would help convey all of that.

The meetings were to take place at a Hyatt Regency resort in Naples, Fla. I reasoned that the hotel would be sufficiently well appointed that it would have a backdrop suitable for the head shots. And indeed, I found several areas with wood paneled book cases that created a law-library look. Additionally, there were medium-back chairs with a contemporary but still distinguished red-and-yellow pinstriped fabric. With the help of a remarkably helpful hotel staff, we brought the setting together, creating the look of a law firm library and without the stuffy formality of a studio background.

The Gnarus folks were smart, too, in recognizing that this first leadership meeting was an historic time for their firm. So, they took advantage of their photographer’s time and asked for some candid shots to be taken during their first meeting. Now, they have a nice portfolio taken during a series of lively discussions that truly paint a picture of an engaged and thoughtful group of professionals.

Taken together, the head shots and meeting photos give Gnarus the visual tools the firm needs to deliver a strong message in online and print communications to its current and prospective clients.

(See more of Robert’s head shots and portraits at www.RobertDodge.com)

Gnarus Advisors created a strong photography library by having images made of its first leadership meeting.

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