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Jim reveals several reasons why you should invest in professional headshot photos

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Photos are everywhere on the web.

And that’s the problem. For example, on average more than 300 million photos were uploaded to Facebook per day in the three months ended March 31, 2012. Today we’ll learn how to distinguish yourself from the pack.

When’s the last time you uploaded a photo of yourself to a website? Last month? Last week? Today?

As the social web has exploded, the number of places that ask for a profile picture where you show your true self has increased as well.

Does it really matter what your photo looks like?

For many people, the answer is not really. If you’re happy with your job and don’t participate much in social media, the photo someone snapped of you 8 years earlier (and 8 lbs lighter) is probably fine for occasional Facebook use.

But if you’re all over new media, run your own business, or are looking for a job, I think the reasons to have a great photo – even multiple photos – is now compelling enough that it’s become mandatory. So here are…

41 reasons to have get a pro photo done.

I’ll break it down into three major categories, then give you my tips on what to do.

Category 1: Job Search

If you’re actively looking for work, everything in your life needs to move into job-search mode. That includes the way you dress, the voicemail message on your phone, your business cards, how you act in public, and yes, your photo.

This is especially true for recent grads, who should give their social media sites a full makeover. This includes locking down privacy settings and removing any undesirable photos. That hilarious spring break shot of you doing tequila in Cabo taken with a camera phone might be epic, but until you have a job son, you better look presentable.

First and foremost is your LinkedIn profile. This may be the first impression of you that a company sees, so make sure that you have a photo and that it looks presentable.

Including a photo on your resume or business cards is not a common practice, but with people trying to stand out with more creative resumes, or those trying to associate a name with a face, it works for some.

So the first 6 reasons are:

1. LinkedIn
2. Your resume
3. Business cards
4. Online job sites
5. Professional associations
6. Personal website

Category 2: Business

OK, even after you land your dream job, you’re going to want to keep up a professional appearance. There are many situations at your job where you might need a professional photo:

7. Staff photo on your company’s website
8. Company ID photo
9. A conference badge or ID
10. Your college alumni newsletter wants to do a profile on you
11. You’re speaking on a panel and they want your bio

This becomes even more important if you’re an entrepreneur or have your own brand or side project.

Let’s look at all the places where I’ve been asked to have a photo. The advantage of this is when you have a really strong brand and photo associated with it, and then can carry that across all of your social media channels… Facebook brand page, Twitter, Youtube, etc.

12. Facebook brand page
13. Twitter account for your business
14. Your Youtube channel for your company
15. Author photo for my book
16. About me photo for 3 different websites
17. Speaking engagements
18. Teaching classes at NYU, Mediabistro, or Skillshare
19. Bio photos for articles I write for multiple websites
20. Podcast icons for iTunes
21. Photos for guest blogging or when featured on other sites

Category 3: Social

Even if you have a great job and don’t have a business, you still might want some great photos. When we talk social, the obvious place to start here is dating sites, which is a $1b business. According to a 2011 Match.com study, 17% of couples marrying in the last three years met on an Internet dating site and more than twice as many than those who met in bars, clubs or other social events. Long gone is the stigma of online dating profiles.

Kostas Martakis

But should you use a professionally shot photo in your quest for love? I’ve seen discussions on this topic before, and definitely see both sides. Some will say yes, why wouldn’t you want to look your best and put your best look out there. Especially with visually-oriented men, who might scan dozens of profiles and instantly make a snap decision based on the quality of a photo. A great smile and your best outfit? In. That vacation photo with bad lighting where you cropped out your ex-boyfriend but can still see his arm? Out.

But others will argue that natural is better and that an obviously staged photo is trying too hard. What happens when you meet in person when the makeup, lighting, and Photoshop can’t help you. That’s up to you to decide.

Either way, whether you like it or not, a simple Google search will probably bring up a photo of you anyway, so you better control your message as best you can.

But even outside of the dating world, your photo can be used to create an impression of you in an instant.

• In the Facebook group for your book club or your Quora profile, you might want to look smart
• On your Foursquare or Tripadvisor profile, you might want to look adventurous
• For your Airbnb apartment rental page or Real Estate group on Meetup, you’ll want to look trustworthy

A photo can portray this in an instant.

22. Facebook
23. Twitter
24. YouTube and Vimeo
25. Foursquare
26. Trip Advisor
27. Meetup groups
28. Email (such as Gmail profile)
29. Online dating sites
30. Commenting systems
31. Message boards
32. Instant messaging
33. Skype
34. Chat
35. The ‘About Me’ section of your blog
36. Airbnb, Roomorama, Homeaway

Tips and advice

37. If you’re low on cash and just can’t afford it, at least find a friend that is into photography, has a DSLR camera and knows a little bit about lighting and Photoshop

Bonus Tip You might want to leave the dog out for business headshots [Photo via Herr Hand Gruber on Flickr]

38. Ideally, go to a pro. I had the amazing fortune of having celebrity to the stars Diana Levine (dianalevine.com) take my photos after befriending her at a party and having her on my show. You don’t understand… that’s like having Jay Z produce your first album, Michael Phelps give you swimming lessons, or Martha Stewart agree to swing by and help you decorate your first apartment.

39. Go for multiple looks. You’ll want at least one close-up and head-and-shoulders shot while wearing a business-appropriate suit or jacket.

To be clear, that doesn’t mean that the photos of you have to be boring. In fact…

Providing a shot that emphasizes your area of expertise and brand can make an impression as well.

• Are you a chef? Get a great photo creating your signature dish in a busy kitchen.
• Non-profit fundraising manager? Get some shots with those that you love helping.
• Yoga instructor? I’m sure you can figure out the best “pose.”

I took a ton of photos with Diana…
• I have what I call my “author photo” which was a black and white shot used in my book and is great for scholarly looking purposes
• I have multiple business-looking poses, which I can match up with who else I am paired with (black and white or color, closeup or profile, serious or casual)
• And I have several looking casual or in a sweater, which is great for Facebook and other places

Below: Jim lookalike example from Flickr of multiple scenes

40. Go hi res. One advantage of a pro is that they are going to give you your images in high resolution. This might not seem relevant when you’re creating a tiny icon for Twitter, but it’s incredibly important if your photo is going to be used in print. Nothing is worse than a pixelated image that has been stretched past its resolution.

41. When a photo is not a photo. Finally, as you probably know, I also have a cartoon illustration, which I use on my podcast icon and blog. This was done by someone who goes by the name Nitrozac and you can find him at Geekculture.com. However, it’s important to note that the reason why they could get such a great representation is because they started with a high quality, professional picture and went from there.

Some people I’ve met that do headshots:
Diana Levine – dianalevine.com
Jason Gardner – jasongardner.net
Mark Bennington – benningtonheadshots.com
Katarina Price – katarinaprice.com

[Note… I have no knowledge of rates or availability with any of the photographers. The only person I have worked with directly is Diana.]

So there you have it. Don’t wait another moment. Say cheese and get a nice photo taken.

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