Professional headshot tips: avoid making these common mistakes when capturing your next professional portrait, and make sure that your current professional headshot does not have any of these issues.

Your Portrait = Your Brand

Your portrait is an essential piece of your toolkit to build and grow your online brand and build a business you love. Clients are drawn to people that look professional and approachable in their profiles — a blurry professional portrait or a cluttered background could lose your practice a potential client.

We’ve written previously on what makes a great professional headshot, including tips on what to wear, how to pose and stay relaxed during your the photo shoot. This is a compilation of common mistakes we’ve seen in online profiles on RingMD (our comprehensive and global directory of medical and wellness experts spanning over 100 specialisms).

Here are the mistakes to avoid during your next photo shoot.

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Headshot Mistake #1: Blurred Photos

Your portrait should be crisp and your face should be in focus. Choosing the right equipment with a camera that can capture high-resolution photos can help you avoid this issue from the start. Note that while your photo may look good on a digital platform, such as LinkedIn or on RingMD, higher resolution photos are required (often higher than 2MB) for printed materials.

Headshot Mistake #2: The Wrong Setting

This photograph will be seen by colleagues and clients, so don’t just dig out a photograph from your personal collection, or crop in on your face from a photo of you at a concert, on a beach vacation or with a group of friends. Photos with cluttered and busy backgrounds, such as an office with an unorganized desk, may be distracting and off-putting for potential clients.

To take your headshot, set yourself up in front of a simple background, such as a white wall, or in a professional setting, such as at your desk, at your clinic or in front of an organized bookshelf.

Headshot Mistake #3: The Outfit

Use this rule of thumb: if you wouldn’t wear the outfit to a job interview or with a client, don’t wear it in your photo.

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Wrinkly shirts can appear sloppy. Bold and bright colored shirts, as well as tight patterns such as plaid, often come out distorted in photos and take attention away from your face. Shiny materials and jewelry, such as silk, can reflect the camera’s flash and bring attention to your shirt instead of your face. Tips on what to wear and how make a good impression in your professional portrait are described in more detail here.

Headshot Mistake #4: Selfies

Your professional photo should never look like you are holding a camera with a stretched out hand. This is simply not professional and will be seen by most potential clients as questionable.

Headshot Mistake #5: Lighting

A bright flash, taking photos late in the day, and/or at night can cast harsh shadows on your face or leave you white washed. Sitting next to a lamp can leave a side of your face in the shadows, and sitting directly under a bright light will leave you looking tired.

Take photos early morning or in the late afternoon in natural sunlight or near a window for a natural glow. If you need to add additional lighting to your photo setting, test setting up lamps at various angles, until your full face is warmly illuminated.

Headshot Mistake #6: Eye Contact & Facial Expression

"Making eye contact…inspires powerful feelings of connection.” - Brian Wansink, a professor at Cornell's Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management.

In the health and wellness field, your goal is to make your patients and clients feel better. Making eye contact with the camera for your professional headshot is important to convey trust for your potential client. 

Have you made any of the above mistakes in the professional portrait you’re using? Perhaps it’s time to update your photo.

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