The problem is that poorly taken photos disconnect you with clients.
At the core of coaching is the ability to listen, high degree of trust, openness, exploration and care for your client – care that they get help. Your photo should give off that feeling.
Ever look at a photo and instantly get drawn to that person? That’s a photo that connects.
Ideally, a good photo says, “Hey! I’m a good listener. You can trust me with anything. I’m easy and fun to work with. I’m committed to helping you.”
That’s a photo that connects. It connects them with you. It goes deep.
- Laughing is good, but nothing like laughing at someone or looking too silly. A heartfelt laugh can work well.
- Nothing distracting in the background to distract from your face. Some photos have blurred nature backgrounds, which add life to the picture without taking away focus from your face – very nice!
- Consider your audience. If it’s stern busy executives, a clean suit might be in order. If it’s women exercising, a healthy outdoors photo would do well.
- Look into the camera and at your client. Make eye contact, it connects, it makes you look confident, and it builds trust.
- Do you know certain types of colors that don’t look good with your complexion? For example, many fair skinned people don’t look good in green because it makes them look sick. Also, very dark skinned people don’t look good in bright neon-like colors too much contrast.
- Professional photographers are a good idea even though they will cost (even if they are a good friend, you should pay them). They can create a good composition, ensure proper focus, get good resolution and position you well.
- Outdoor light is good – a room with a lot of outdoor light, or taking your photo outdoors is a great idea. Not in direct sunlight however, it often casts harsh shadows and makes you squint. Natural light works great. Try under trees or on the side of a building.
- Indoor lights and flashes tend to create shadows. These shadows are often distractingly ugly and can make someone with black hair look like they have a blurry wig on!
- Avoid folding your arms (associated with mistrust) and avoid touching your face (poor body language).
- Stand upright. Standing commands more attention than sitting. To get upright, put your back to a wall, make sure both the back of your head and your butt are against the wall. No too much space between your lower back and the wall. Then relax a little and throw in a slight head tilt and a happy-to-help-you-succeed smile.
- Focus on a bright face with a confident, caring, trusting, smile is worth a million bucks.
Here are some considerations for the choice of clothes:
- Nothing that distracts the picture – like overly bright colors
- Something that your audience would like. Are they high school teens needing help with parenting issues? They might want a casually dressed friendly figure. Are they Senior citizens dealing with the financial challenges of retirement – they might want a suited professional.
- If your clients are big golfers, you in a golf shirt at an outing might do well.
If you are unsure, then run your ideas by your clients for true feedback. Bear in mind, the most important thing is to connect with your client and that is mostly in your mind (which comes out in your face.)
Do-it-myself or hire a pro?
I’ve seen super duper photos taken by digital camera, and for your website, any digital camera will have a resolution (pixels) that more than satisfies.
A good photographer can be great if you have the funds to spend and you want the best chances for a high quality photo. It’s a big bonus if they can get you into a good mood and sport a warm smile.
Tips if you do it yourself
- Biggest tip: Take lots of photos. I often shoot 50-100 when helping a friend. And in that, I often find a few real gems. You can easily delete the junk ones. Plus it may take a few minutes to get warmed up.
- Photos taken outdoors are excellent for healthy vibrant photos. When shooting outside, don’t use flash, and stay out of direct sunlight as it causes squinty eyes and odd shadows. Shaded places are better and cloudy days work well.
- Use a tripod to still the camera and use the timer (so you aren’t holding it when the camera shoots) to eliminate the unsteadiness of the hand.
- If using a photo editor like Photoshop, you can sharpen an image to give it a sharp look (g00d). Look for the “sharpen image” feature.
- If you have an image editing filter, common on camera phones, try enriching the colors – it adds life.
- Use a photo editor to crop and resize it to fit your site nicely.
Your photo will be used in many places – it’s very important!
When you start your business, your photo many only be on your website. But as you grow, it will start to be used elsewhere, such as:
- on social networking sites
- in your bio on your school’s website
- in your profile if you submit articles
- if you register with any find a coach services
- in your materials for your group coaching program or seminar
- on your Skype profile
- in your listing at your target audience’s associations,
- on materials for any speaking engagement or press packages
Do it right the first time. Your physical appearance highly reflects who you are on the inside. And you’re a coach and that’s just awesome!
To get in the mindset
- If you do any meditative, relaxation or focusing techniques to balance your energies, like perhaps the Sedona Method, it can help you release and open up.
- It might help to even imagine one of your clients that you feel you coach well, and who gives you that sensation of really helping.
- I suggest an upright posture and/or leaning in as in listening. Not slouching, hunched or super relaxed or having fun in the sun.
Also take a lot of pictures. I’ve taken as many as 50 to find 3 good ones. With digital technology taking more pictures is a snap.
If your photo will be used in a way that the designer wants to remove the background, then make sure when you shoot it, the background is a solid color, like a wood fence, clear blue sky background, so it’s easy to parse out the background.
An editor can blur the background further emphasizing you.
Oh, and I just noticed. It seems a slight head tilt goes a long way.