Thursday, June 15, 2017

"How Old Is Your Profile Picture?"

For anyone wanting to take advantage of social media as a way of marketing their business, having a good headshot (a head and shoulders photo that captures the essence of who we are without being too formal or business inappropriate) is a must.

There was a time, not long ago (in fact some people still choose to do this even today) when a sitting in a photographer's studio was required to get an acceptable publicity photo - one suitable for publication in flyers, news releases, and other forms of marketing. These were not inexpensive and required advanced planning. There was the wardrobe (what outfit to wear - often a couple of changes of clothes were taken to the studio to change from one to another to see which one came our better), the hairstyle (and how recently it had been trimmed - not too fresh and not just before it looked like it needed trimmed again), and the general appearance (although small blemishes could be air brushed out or covered with makeup, for men or women). There also was the time of day - not too early so we still looked sleepy and not too late in the day when we were worn down a little.

Needless to say, one studio session generally lasted a couple of years or more. Some people have been known to continue using the high school or college senior pictures for years.

Today, we have a much better and less expensive option that we can use - the digital camera, and for most people the smartphone. This has revolutionized our ability to capture frequent headshots and change them as often as we like. We can update what we are publishing quite frequently to reflect a new hairstyle we are wearing, a seasonal emphasis, a background we want to be photographed in front of, or a special event or commemoration. We can have someone take our picture or we can use a selfie.

The main thing to remember about the headshot is that it needs to reflect who we are and our personality. We should not have anyone else in the shot with us - no friends, colleagues, spouses, or others. We should not have our dog, cat, horse, or other pet in the photo with us. We shouldn't be on our motorcycle, hiking in the mountains, standing in the surf, or anything that shows a whole-body or mostly full length view. We want a much closer image - just the head and shoulders. We can be holding something (a mug, trophy, ball, pen, or phone, for instance) as long as it is at should level and not too large to compete with our face for attention. 

Rather than leave the witness protection photo posted on social media sites as the placeholder, default photo, just take a picture (a selfie) and post something. It can be changed in a day or two, and then as often as you like, but post something. Again, this is the beauty of the smartphone. We can take an post a photo in seconds. No more taking time to find the camera, making sure it has film, waiting for a sunny day, taking the picture, getting the film developed, and then going from there to get it posted. With digital, the weather doesn't have to be perfect. The camera does great in low lighting. 

If we don't recognize ourselves from our published photo - because our weight or hair style has changed, our hair color or amount of hair has changed, we are wearing glasses (or not wearing them any longer), or something else significant about our appearance is different - we need a new photo. No waiting until we can schedule it with the photographer. We can just take one ourselves in the next few hours or ask someone else to take it for us. If it turns out we don't like it that well, we can take another one tomorrow or the next day.

When we think about how old our profile or publicity photo is, and we really can't remember, it's time for a new one. Then we can make sure that we don't go that long with updating it because it's easy to do.


____________


Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist-Master Instructor and best-selling author of universal design books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555. Also check out the "Aging & Accessibility" groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.