Behavioral Science

Taking it at Face Value – Why Photo Headshots Matter For Entrepreneurs

by . August 23rd, 2012

We don’t know if your business will ever need your face connected to it – but we’ve all seen it often enough. People post inappropriate pictures and headshots of themselves on Facebook and even LinkedIn all the time.

What’s amusing is when some entrepreneurs or managers who are otherwise concerned with their branding and marketing choose to put really bad or otherwise inappropriate shots of themselves in situations that don’t even call for it.

Before you distribute or put up a picture of yourself for your business, show it to someone who doesn’t care about your feelings and have them answer these questions:

What does it say about me? Does it make me look friendly? Authoritative? Mean? Funny? Boring? Cold?

This would actually make me feel better about taking a cab.

Do I look the least bit sleazy here?

I don't know if this is what we've come to expect of realtors and used car salesmen.

Does it make me stand out? In a good way? Does standing out even matter in this context?

I'd hire this guy on the spot, to be honest.

Does it look unprofessional? If yes, is it amateurish in a positive or a negative way?

He should have used some sunblock. To protect him from deadly rays. Heyoooo!...ok... Bad taste? Too Soon?

Does it look like I have no jaw in this picture?

(This one’s somewhat serious – a defined jaw communicates confidence and just plain looks better -these tend to get washed out or undefined in photos. Any good photographer can fix this)

Do the shadows in the picture give me a sinister look?

He's still looking for the REAL killers

Is the sheen on my forehead/baldspot reflecting a focused beam of burning, amplified light into your retinas?

I've actually seen worse on LinkedIn

Am I doing/using anything in the pic that might turn off people I want to reach?


Does it look like it was shot in the 80s?

Neverending stooooorrrrryyyyyyyyyyy-ee-ee-e--eeeee

Does the resolution make you want to claw your eyes out with a staple remover?

Ron Jeremy sent in the worst... uh...headshot the other day.


If the answers to any of these (or dozens of other questions we might have missed) matter for your business, see if it makes sense to change your picture. The solution might involve something as simple as getting a haircut or getting someone who can actually do a decent photo to take a picture.

Sometimes though, the best solution might be to not have a picture at all.

Why Have Headshots?

Most small businesses are strongly identified with their owners, and the reverse perhaps holds a lot truer.  Entrepreneurs and their employees represent a huge part of their brand- if not all of it. Their faces may even be associated with the brand well after they’ve passed on.

Some much more than others.

Which brings us to headshots. We always ask for guest contributors to send us suitable headshots, and incidentally, we don’t really care for the most part what they send in because it’s really up to them to choose how they want to present themselves.

Different situations call for different pictures. We want to show our readers, all five of them, that actual human beings are behind these blog posts, not just automated SEO scripting programs or soulless drones. What should a headshot for an entrepreneur or a small business owner look like, then?

Think about this for minute – why do we characterize some faces as friendly or mean? Why do we sometimes like or dislike people we hardly know?

If you say you never judge people based on how they look, then either you’re lying, or you’ve pretty much deluded yourself. In any case, that’s totally missing the point here, which is people judge each other based on appearance all the time.

It’s true connecting our faces to our brands can be a quick way for smaller businesses to appear more human and more accessible, but they can also communicate so many other unintended things. And they’re not the only way to appear more human either!

Like this POST. GET IT?!! <em>*Starts shaking you violently*</em>

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Arthur Piccio manages YouTheEntrepreneur and has managed content for major players in the online printing industry. He was previously BizSugar's contributor of the week. His work has appeared multiple times on The New York Times' You're the Boss Small Business Blog. He enjoys guitar maintenance and reading up on history and psychology in his spare time.