The make or break power of imagery in marketing really can’t be overstated. It takes less than 0.2 of a second for a visitor to make an opinion about a brand based on their website or landing page. And since it’s estimated that images are processed 60,000 times faster than text in the brain, pictures seem to have the most skin in the marketing game. 

According to a 2012 study on facial features, we make a decision to trust someone within 100 milliseconds of seeing their face. Having high-resolution images of yourself, your team and your product on display is key to attracting clients and partnerships. 

For many SMEs and freelancers, however, professional images often take a back seat – especially when they’re still getting things off the ground. After all, isn’t a decent i-Phone selfie, or a cropped shot from a corporate event enough to do the trick?

Well, no – it isn’t. 

Nicole Englemann is a brands, events and headshots specialist photographer. We’re big fans of her work at Addition, which is why we’ve asked her and some other SMEs to explain why high-quality imagery can make or break a business.

1. Professionalism 

“If you have a good quality photo of yourself and your products, it conveys professionalism and fosters trust.” Nicole states, “When we see grainy, low-resolution imagery, it’s much easier to think ‘Oh, that’s a bit dodgy’ – whereas high resolution professional photos give an impression of quality.”

Estelle Keeber, Founder, Immortal Monkey

When I am thinking about working with a new business or company, their imagery is incredibly important – whether this is via their social media or via their website. It is the first impression you get prior to in person or online contact. If the images are of poor quality, I would be put off immediately.

I’m not suggesting that every single image you share should be professional. Seeing your personality is important too and snapshots have their place, however a clear bright and high quality headshot will pay dividends!

Joyce Connor, Professional Make Up Artist

Professional headshots are so important. Have you ever scheduled a face to face meeting, and the person looks nothing like their headshot?

I think that a quality headshot makes you more respectable and professional in business. I’ve just updated mine to my current look!

Carmen Gray, Heath Marketing Limited

I constantly have to remind clients of the importance of good imagery.

Too many LinkedIn profile images are of someone at a wedding, or with a glass of wine in their hand or on a night out. 

It’s not a good look for those who want to brand themselves as a quality and professional service.

Ravi Davda, CEO, Rockstar Marketing

As a business owner, I have been put off before when people don’t have professional headshots. It’s not always the case, because sometimes knowledge and experience is more important.

Especially in the digital world, I think it’s important to see a professional headshot. It shows me that this person is serious about their business. I feel the same about a website and also, an email address with their website name at the end.

2. Personality 

“Many markets are quite saturated these days.” Nicole points out, “This is especially true if you’re a small company or a one-man band, and there are a lot of people with similar qualifications competing. In this instance, a photo can help you stand out.

If you’re smiling and relaxed, the photo is giving the impression that you’re open and approachable. People are more likely to buy from you or hire your services if they see that they can trust you.” 

Mark Smith, Social Media Strategist and Content Producer, Double Up Social

People like to buy from people, not brands. Having professional headshots allows people to get a better understanding of the face behind the business, feel more comfortable making a purchase and to overall increase purchase intent.

Additionally, as a consumer, if I was to see headshots of the team on a ‘Meet the team’ page, I would instantly feel more connected to the brand, as you can see the real faces and real-life people who make the brand happen.

Alan Harder, Independent Mortgage Broker

I’ve had some great feedback from my customers about my headshot.

In fact, many people cite this as one of the main things that enabled my company to stand out from that of other, larger brands and more corporate-looking mortgage brokers in the area.

Dawn Coker, CEO, Access2Funding

Our team and business has grown exponentially over the last year, so having new corporate headshots was a decision that came naturally to us – particularly for myself who previously had the same headshot for four years!

As our marketing team establishes, we are gaining more PR coverage and our new senior leadership team headshots help capture and portray the essence of our brand and our tone of voice.

Tammy Whalen Blake, Personal Development Coach, Go To Yellow

I am an image/perception led person. When I have been on a website to learn about a company, I am less inclined to buy from someone who doesn’t have an image.

Being a visual person, I learn through pictures more than words. I also seek relationships, which means images allow me to evaluate if this person would be of interest.

3. Presence 

“Social media is one of the best ways to build your online presence and get people invested in you and your business.” Explains Nicole, “You can talk more about yourself or your experiences and business struggles – then use a photo of you to go along with that.

When others are emotionally invested and feel like they’re part of the story, they’re then more likely to hire you or buy your products.”

Juanita Rosenior, Managing Director, TGRG

Great headshots are not just for celebs and influencers. More people need to get switched on to personal branding and how important it is whether you’re self employed or employed by a business.

If you’re someone who is serious about progressing, photos – alongside assets like biographies and case studies – are an investment you can’t afford to scrimp on.

Jo Threlfall, Head of PR, Embryo

Each of our team at Embryo has had a new headshot and we have a well detailed bio about each department.

We’ve also used these images internally for our coms on Slack and Notion, and also on Linkedin profiles so people are able to recognise who we are in the business.

Sophie Trotman, Nutritional Therapist

I invested in high-quality photography before I was financially ready.  I didn’t even have a paying client.  In my opinion, in the world we’re in, you can’t afford to not have brilliant photography.

So far, my photography has won me press opportunities, added credibility to my name and served as a useful bank of social media content. I’ve already planned another shoot in October to get some autumnal content!

Nicole’s 6 Tips For Nailing The Perfect Professional Headshot

Pictured: Nicole Englemann

We’ve now established that high quality headshots and imagery are essential to your professional growth. However, for many people, the perceived expense in terms of money and time are a major barrier. This is especially true if you are self-employed or just starting out on your business journey. Every second – and every penny – is precious. 

It’s not just about the money, either. The idea of posing awkwardly for a photo session strikes genuine fear into some of our hearts. We might hate the way we look in photos, have body image issues, or even just have ‘nothing to wear’. 

Here are Nicole’s top 6 tips for professional imagery on a budget.

1. Keep it short and sweet

If you’re just starting out and you haven’t got any funding, a photoshoot seems like a luxury. You might just think, ‘Oh I know someone with a good camera’, or ‘I’ll just use my phone’.

But if you plan it right, you don’t have to spend a huge amount of time and money. You can invest, say, £150 for a half-hour shoot. 30 minutes with the right photographer is enough to get some great pictures you can use for a long time.

Also, you can often purchase one or two images from the session and come back to buy more from the gallery later on down the road.

2. Get comfortable 

Sometimes it’s self-consciousness. Lots of people just don’t really like having their pictures taken. I’m the same – I don’t really enjoy being in front of the camera. But if you close yourself off, then you’re not getting good pictures. If, from the beginning, you think ‘This is going to be horrible. I’m going to hate this’ it will take a lot longer for your photographer to get that winning shot.

One way to solve this is to choose a photographer who puts you at ease. Arrange to meet before committing to the session, or have a chat over the phone, and decide on someone who makes you feel comfortable.

3. Try a new perspective

If you can, get at least two or three pictures of you (as well as your team, if you have one) from different angles. Never get one from straight on – that’s quite boring and unflattering. Try to capture yourself looking relaxed and smiling. Showing some teeth is always good as well!

4. Tell a story with your photos

I did a shoot for someone who is a sleeping coach for babies. She had a photo taken of her with an actual baby, which was very cute and helped clients to visualise her in action.

The picture could be of you cutting fabric, packing orders, writing into a calendar or journal – even just you with your laptop and a coffee. It doesn’t always have to show your face, but you should be present in the photo – even if it’s just your hands.

5. Don’t just squeeze it in

Photoshoots don’t have to take all day, but the last thing you want is to feel rushed. If you try to fit it in between work on a busy day, you won’t be in the right mindset. I always tell my clients to take their time.

Choose several outfit options the night before. Consider scheduling a hair and makeup appointment an hour or so before the shoot, so you’re feeling at your best. Arrive early – this will help you feel more comfortable and relaxed about the experience. 

6. Have a laugh

If you find the right photographer – someone you can click with – a photoshoot can be a really fun experience. I’ve had shoots where I’m laughing my head off with the person, because we’re on the same kind of wave length.

These shots are often some of my best, as humour helps people to relax and open up. Their smiles are more genuine, their eyes are sparkling, and the results are always amazing!