If you are an entrepreneur, a creative professional, or are in any field where your personality is as important as your skill set, you may not have considered the importance of putting your best foot forward photographically. In our web-based culture, potential clients, customers, employers, and associates may see on-line images of you before they ever meet you in person.

Instead of an amateur snapshot or a run-of-the-mill executive headshot, enhance your website, your marketing materials, and your social media presence with beautiful, modern, professional portraits that showcase the best version of you.

But how does one go about finding the right photographer for the job? Below are 3 things to consider:

1) Technical Expertise
Without this, nothing else matters. Your photographer needs to be an expert in manipulating light, in posing bodies of every age and shape (more about that below), and in retouching with a light and natural hand.

2) Business Acumen
Your photographer should know that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to headshots, and should take the time to understand your particular business as well as the potential audience(s) for your headshots. Investing a little time before the session to ask the right questions, and to listen closely to the answers, will allow your photographer to create images that are closely aligned with your unique goals and your professional or personal branding.

3) “Bedside Manner”
Let’s face it: most people lack confidence in front of the camera, think the camera hates them and/or simply regard the experience of being photographed only slightly more palatable than a root canal (said with due apologies to my clients in the dental profession…). As a result, having a headshot on the to-do list can lead to dread and avoidance. How to ensure a more enjoyable experience and more positive results? Select a photographer with whom you feel comfortable, with whom you are encouraged to share any concerns you have about being photographed, and who will provide you with personalized coaching and service every step of the way.

Before your session, your photographer should help guide you to make the most appropriate choices in wardrobe, hair and make-up, and be available to answer any questions or address any concerns. During your session, your photographer should gently direct you into figure flattering, professionally appropriate poses, and help you find (and feel) the authentic facial expressions that express your personality and your message. After your session, your photographer should present you only the best images captured, help you make your final selections, and then deliver the images in both printable and web-optimized versions.

How to find this person? Whether you ask for recommendations from friends or colleagues, or do an online search, make sure you first review the photographer’s body of work and that you like what you see. For starters, are the images clear, properly exposed (neither too light or too dark), and pleasing to your eye? Do subjects look at ease? Can you get at least a glimmer of the personality behind the pose? Assuming the answer is yes, then call or email and have a conversation. Does he or she show interest in your business? Appear enthusiastic and confident? Seem like someone you won’t mind spending an hour or so with in close quarters? If there’s a fit, you will know it…

At the end of the day, a well-crafted, on-point headshot is just one tool in your arsenal to help you rise above your competition. But with a little legwork to find the right photographic partner, it should be one of the easiest tools to acquire.

Content provided by Women Belong member Martha Abelson