Say cheese! 📷📷📷

If a photo can say a thousand words, what are your photos saying about you? Utilizing photos throughout your brand can be a powerful tool by creating an opportunity for connection, showcasing who you are, and even showing off some of your work. But using the wrong photo can also hurt you. It can create concerns about your professionalism and your hire-ability.

To help, here are a few do’s and don’ts of using photos in your professional brand:

Do: Have a headshot that has you looking professional but not stuffy. Which means you don’t need a formal “corporate headshot”. Just get dressed as you would for an interview, grab a friend or a family member and your phone/camera, and go out and find an interesting background. I love to use a brick or colored wall, or even a nice (but not too busy) outdoor scene. Have fun with it and try several different poses, but just be sure that you are looking at the camera and smiling!  

Don’t: Use the photo from a social outing or the family photo. This is too casual. Having a photo snapped in a bar or with half of your uncle’s arm around you just looks unprofessional. Make sure you are alone in the picture and are in a neutral location.

Do: use a background image that you connect with that represents who you are or what you are passionate about. I always recommend using a photo that represents one of three things: what you do (say you are a yoga instructor – use a great photo of someone doing a yoga pose), what you are passionate about (maybe you are a nut for travel – use a photo of your favorite travel spot), or who you are (maybe you are a graphic designer – use an image that you created). In the end, this picture is meant to create conversation and connection so just be sure that you can talk about your photo.

Don’t: Put your photo on your resume (unless you are an actor or model). I know this is a controversial opinion. Some say who cares, people can google you anyway. Others say it's an opportunity for discrimination. I agree with both points, but for me, your appearance is irrelevant and can distract your audience from paying attention to the important things. You are only getting 5-8 seconds in front of that person, would you rather them be looking at your photo or reading about your awesome skills?

Do: Consider other social media, even if they are only for personal use. Even if you don’t think it is relevant, what a company sees on those platforms can impact their perception and ultimately their decision about you. Even if it is just during the job search time frame, make sure all of your social media accounts are consistent with your professional brand.

In the end, be strategic with your photos. You can’t control every photo out there of you, but the ones that you can control, be sure they are telling the story that you want them to tell!