Headshots are an important part of a law firm’s branding efforts, and may be used beyond the firm’s website. Lawyers may opt to use their official company photo for sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc., making it even more important to capture an image that not only represents each individual, but the firm as well. Because headshots tend to be the first image a prospect associates with you and your lawyers, there should be a degree of strategy and planning that goes into them.
Your headshot can signal a variety of things about you – that you are tough, nice, too serious, a pushover, irritable, etc. It can also make the firm seem traditional or innovative, willing to test new strategies or used to doing things a certain way, and so on. The key to headshots is making sure they align with your firm’s brand.
Some questions to consider include – What do you stand for? What is your firm’s ultimate mission? Who do you serve? What practice methods are you comfortable with? Do you have a team of aggressive associates or are there a variety of personalities?
In addition to these considerations, each attorney will likely have a preference on how they want to be portrayed. Some individuals may appear serious in nature, when in fact they are the friendliest at the firm. With so many factors to take into account, the challenge may be finding a true balance in representing the firm and the individual in a manner that is appealing to the majority of your target clients.
Investing in a professional photographer is usually the best option and will likely lead to a better return on your investment compared to hiring an amateur or posting images from your smartphone. Photographers can work with you to create the most compelling “story” about your firm, while keeping individual attorneys happy with how they are portrayed.
Do’s and Don’ts For Attorney Headshots
Conveying trust, competence, and approachability is a winning strategy. Unfortunately, some firms have to learn the hard way before figuring out the best way to get these traits across.
Here are some Don’ts when it comes to law firm headshots:
- Don’t omit headshots from attorney bio pages. People want to see the real you and leaving one off the page signals a lack of concern about your image. Given the choice between an “okay” image and no image at all, post the image until you can schedule a professional to come in and update headshots for everyone.
- Don’t use random images. It is never okay to use a flower, baseball, or caricature in place of a professional headshot. If you think it showcases your personality in a positive way, think again. Potential clients will have a hard time taking your firm seriously, and this could drive them away and into the office of your competitor.
- Don’t post images that include other people. It is best if your headshot is just that – a shot of your head. Including your family, pets, or other coworkers will add clutter to your page.
- Don’t use images where you are dressed in weekend or post-work attire. Your clothing should reflect the norms of your profession.
- Don’t give off an annoyed demeanor. Appearing tough and having a no-nonsense attitude is very different than coming off as cranky.
- Don’t slouch or appear tired. Clients will question how much energy you have to handle their case.
The whole process to taking a professional headshot can be stressful. A seasoned photographer will have the experience required to coach you through the process successfully. Here are some Do’s when it comes to your headshot:
- Relax. Maybe it’s easier said than done, but you can instantly improve your image by taking some deep breaths, relaxing your shoulders, and relaxing your face. Sit or stand up straight and exhale just before the photo is taken.
- Be yourself. If smiling does not come naturally for you, work with the photographer to figure out how to use your natural body language and demeanor in a positive way.
- Do wear professional attire. Clients want to feel like they are investing in the most qualified person for the job, and clothes play a big part of providing the image they expect. Opt for simplicity over flair. For example, avoid busy patterns or a mix of too many colors. Make sure the collar of your shirt is crisp.
- Do test out a few different locations. The photographer may bring his or her own backdrop, but ask to sit in the conference room, or stand in your office if that will make you feel more at ease.
- Do provide a sense of consistency for all attorney headshots. Having a webpage full of drastically different environments, styles, and qualities will make your firm seem unorganized.
- Do wear makeup. This applies to both men and women because a few minutes under photography lights can make foreheads and noses appear shiny.
Before you schedule a photography shoot for the attorneys in your firm, you should discuss the following topics with your photographer to ensure everyone is on the same page:
What angle will be best for attorney headshots so that they sync with the overall brand story? Can your staff expect to look straight ahead or slightly upward? Will their body be positioned with shoulders squared, at an angle, or will it be determined on a case-by-case basis?
Ask your photographer to document some guidelines for attire, and share it with your staff.
What kind of lighting will be used and how should attorneys prepare? Will they need basic makeup or will the photographer’s team provide touch-ups on each individual?
Is it best to do the headshots in front of a generic background, in each attorney’s office, or outside? The more details you give your staff, the more prepared and comfortable they will be.