Houston Photographer Business Networking: The most important tool, next to your business cards

By Sylvester Garza

If you’re in business you’ve got to have business cards, right? Well the next thing you should explore is investing in a high-quality portrait or business headshot. Used judiciously, it can provide a professional yet personal feel to most any marketing material.

These days the Internet and social networking allow incredible access to potentially millions of people. Whether it’s Facebook, Linked in or Plaxo, you owe it yourself to use professionally done portraits or business headshots.

The phrase, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression” is so true, don’t sell yourself short by having a friend take a snapshot. That might work for myspace, but not for mainstream business networking and other professional uses.

The difference between having a friend versus a high end professional photographer take your picture, is just that, it’s just a snapshot, while a professionally done executive or business portrait is the embodiment of who you are professionally.

A good professional Photographer will examine every detail of your photo session:. for men from the way the collar lies to way the tie is knotted and for women; should the hair be in back or in front, is the necklace hanging properly on the subject, are the colors working with background?

Then after a few test shots to evaluate the lighting the photographer will work with the subject regarding body language and expression as well support for overcoming any concerns about crooked smiles or other neurosis(LOL)

Once everyone is comfortable, the photographer will capture many, many images of both the right side and left . . . maybe 40 or 50 shots, or it could be eighty!
Then you will be asked to review the digital proofs. Once you’ve made your selections, you go off on your merry way.

The image will be cropped in portrait style and delivered to you electronically or on CD. But wait. . . there’s more. Before the photos are delivered, the photographer will re-touch the images; brightening the eyes, whitening teeth and removing fly away hairs and minimizing any blemishes or dark circles.

I call it the “Hollywood” look!

Comparing a professionally done business portrait or headshot to a friend taking a snapshot, is like comparing a Bentley to a Moped . . . there is no comparison!

In addition to social networking, these images can be used for:
– Advertising and Press Releases – using a portrait adds a personal touch and builds trust in you and your message.

– Business cards – Your business cards identify you and will help build a relationship between you and a prospective business partner.

– email signatures -, including a professional portrait in your email signature will build trust and confidence by letting your customers know exactly who is on the other end.

– newsletters – Create more of a conversational feel to your key messages and let the readers know who is writing the valuable information they are receiving.

– Websites and intranets – your website visitors have numerous options to find the service that they need. A friendly, professional portrait can separate you from the competition

– Brochures – Liven up your brochure with full body or 3/4 body shots to attract attention to your message.

– letterhead- Bring the individualized touch back to the workplace and convey a sense of personal contact with customized letterhead.

One last application for a business portrait is employee recognition to acknowledge an:
• Anniversary
• exemplary Performance
• Promotion
• Retirement

Regarding usage, check with the photographer regarding getting a copyright release so that you have the right to use your image whenever and wherever you want. Typically display print rights will be reserved by the photographer, which means if you want a print for your office, you must purchase it through the photographer. It may cost a bit more but the photographer is used to working with photo labs to deliver consistently fabulous color and contrast in a continuous tone photographic print!

Also ask your photographer about two looks: formal and casual so you’ve got one for Facebook and one for Plaxo and other professional applications as listed above.

Finding a photographer who is sensitive to your concerns and is willing to take the time to work with you on getting a fabulous headshot will require a little research, however the results will be well worth it!

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Houston Photographer Sylvester Garza provides images for annual report, corporate, and editorial use. He can be reached at sg@sylvestergarza.com. For examples of his work, visit www.sylvestergarza.com.