Photography has always been important in marketing, but since the lockdown, and with all the mess that came after that, small and medium businesses have found renewed interest in having great images to reach their audiences. Claudia Hoag, from Hoag Studio in Los Angeles, has witnessed this rush to business headshots, increasing as the lockdown continues to enforce online interactions. “The value of professional headshots has always been there,” says Hoag, “but suddenly the small biz entrepreneurs have realized the advantage they get from this instant connection.” Working with tighter budgets and with greater flexibility and speed of changes, these businesses are quick to realize where their best bets are, and the personal connection brought by a human face is very clear by now. The marketing guru Seth Godin has warned us that “people don’t buy goods and services; they buy relationships, stories, and magic.” By offering a person’s face as an introduction, a business is much closer to a personal relationship with the viewer. There is a lot that is communicated through displaying the actual face of the person providing the products and services.
That is not to say that most business owners are eager to step in front of a camera. “Being photographed, especially in these conditions – by a professional headshot photographer, to represent your products or services – can be very uncomfortable,” says Hoag, who has a headshot photography studio in Los Angeles, California. “It’s my belief that the photographer needs to interact with that person in front of the camera, and if needed actually coach them into delivering a relaxed, authentic expression of themselves, if that makes sense,” she explains. Acacia Reed, Chief Operating Officer at L.A. Care Health Plan, was particularly hesitant about having pictures taken, before her headshot session with Hoag. “I had an amazing time, Claudia was so patient with me – I was marble stiff,” says Reed, “and she really helped me to actually smile!”
It is also good to keep in mind the goals established for those portraits, and see the image creation as a team work. Each business has their specific characteristics and ideas that they need to come across in their photos, and each person brings something that is their own, their personality and their vision. And added to it, there’s the photographer’s style and interpretation, so both work together. Jonathan Pedrick from Pacific Palisades points that out, when he mentions how he went from being tentative to actually getting engaged in the headshot session. “I was nervous but that all went away as we started working,” Pedrick describes, adding that “pretty soon it felt like a mutual collaboration and it was a really fun time in the process.”
Another point that Hoag emphasizes is the necessary health safety precautions. Currently, photoshoots are done without extended team members such as hair and makeup personal, but with distancing, proper disinfection, and having the photographer wearing a mask at all times, it is still possible to obtain those great pictures that help business owners network and connect with their potential clients and investors.