Why Lawyers Need a Professional Headshot

Headshot
Lawyer/Getty Images

In today’s online world, not having a professional headshot photograph is not optional; it’s a requirement. Before the days of social media and LinkedIn, an attorney could get away with having their bio on the law firm website sans photograph. But today, a headshot lends to your credibility. Let’s look at why headshots are important and how you can assure you have the best possible photo.

Headshots Establish Credibility and Are More Appealing

Think about how you look at social media profiles.

Do you find yourself skipping over those that don’t have a photo? Hiring managers are the same mindset. Profiles are more appealing when you can actually see who you may be hiring. In addition to the appeal factor, most professional jobs require at least some knowledge of social media. Profiles without photos are usually either not very active or out of date. Research shows that if you don’t have a professional headshot that accompanies your bio and LinkedIn profile, you may actually be passed over for business in lieu of someone that does have one.

Make Sure Your Photograph Stays Consistent

Your headshot is part of your personal brand. Therefore, it’s important to keep it consistent throughout your social media profiles and websites. This helps people be sure they’ve found the correct Jane Smith. Think about how many times people search you when you apply for a job or are considering you as a business referral.

And before long, this photo will start appearing in image search results for your name, so make sure you like it.

Tips for Putting Your Best Face Forward

Here are some tips for getting the best possible photo. Of course, be sure to read LinkedIn's Profile Photo Guidelines and Conditions before you get started.

  • Keep it professional. You don’t have to pay a professional to take your photo, but it needs to look professional. You should basically look like you’re walking into a job interview. Boring? Maybe. But you’re applying for law jobs. It won’t kill you to put on a suit and a bit of makeup for the occasion (even guys can use some translucent powder for shine — ask your female friends if you have no idea what this is).
  • Focus on you. A professional headshot needs to focus on you only. You may have the cutest dog or kid in the world, but they should not be included in a photo on your firm’s website or LinkedIn profile. Save that for Facebook if you must.
  • Pay attention to the lighting. Why do artist studios face north? Because that’s where the most consistent light is. For your headshot, you want soft, natural light if at all possible. Artificial lights can look harsh and cast weird shadows unless you’re careful. If you don’t have high-quality lighting equipment to work with, find a north-facing window and take your headshot there. Do not stand in front of the window, since this creates too much contrast. Stand so the light falls on your face, through the window.
  • Avoid busy backgrounds. This is a headshot. The point is to focus on you! That means you want to position yourself in front of a solid background (light or dark), not in front of a stack of books in your office, a bunch of sailboats, or some other busy and distracting setting. Keep it simple.
  • Try to relax. Having your photo taken repeatedly is weird for most people. But you’re more likely to get a good shot if you can relax your face and suffer through a bunch of attempts. Take a deep breath, notice if you’re holding tension in your eyes or your jaw, and just let it go. Have your friend start shooting as you break into a smile. Repeat 10 or 20 times, and you’ll end up with a lot of shots to choose from!