There is an old adage that says there is only one chance to make a first impression. To support that saying, there is science that proves that first impressions are the fundamental drivers of relationships and an important factor in how other people make an initial assessment of someone.
Research shows that a first impression is formed in one-tenth of a second. According to a study by psychologist Tricia Prickett, a third-party observer can predict whether an interviewee will be offered the job just from watching the 15-second introduction -- the handshake, the "hello" and very little else. It’s important to note that legal service providers might not always meet a client in person first – more and more, prospective clients vet lawyers online before they contact them. So it’s important to consider online portraits from that perspective: they may be that all-important first impression. Once legal professionals make it past the credentials test and onto the short list, clients ultimately hire someone they like and trust, and their headshot might be the first step in gaining that vital trust.
Dress to Impress
It’s easy for those who wear the same style of clothing every day to dismiss the importance of an “outfit.” However, what lawyers wear in their headshots reflect the firm’s brand. As a good rule of thumb, portrait ensembles should be appropriate for a first meeting with a client or prospective client.
Firms might let their staff pick the color of their tie, shirt, or blouse upon their consideration of the subconscious messages the color of choice sends. For example, navy projects an image of professionalism, a strong work ethic, and can help establish credibility. Red creates a memorable impression and can convey aggression and dominance – which might be just what a litigator wants to communicate to prospective clients.
Put Your Best Skin Forward
Hydration is one of the biggest keys to youthful-looking skin and drinking more than the recommended 64 ounces of water every day the week of the scheduled photoshoot will result in a healthy glow, while excessive amounts of caffeine and alcohol will dehydrate skin. However, if unavoidable, these anti-hydration agents can be balanced out with extra water.
For those who want to take hydration to the next level, a face mask the night before costs $2-5 and 20 minutes of time, and the reward is refreshed and glowing skin. It’s a good idea for hands and arms to be moisturized too.
The good news about minor blemishes or a sudden flare-up is that good photography agencies can edit them out in post-production.
Hair is also an important part of a photo. For those with long hair, a fresh trim can liven-up the hair and knock off fried ends. For those with short hair, a fresh cut can sharpen the look. It’s a good idea to get a haircut a few days or a week in advance so it has some time to settle and it is important to note that a shorter haircut can reveal newly exposed skin next to a tan line like a golfer’s tan. Additionally, hair color can be hard to maintain, and roots should look the way the subject wants them to.
It’s also important that nails are well-groomed or freshly manicured because hands might appear in the photo. It’s up to marketing teams to set guidelines for jewelry, nail color, and accessories that support the firm’s image.
A smile is one of the first things people notice, and a whitening boost has been noted to add some self-confidence. Like blemishes, teeth are something that can also be fixed in post-processing.
Confidence is The Best Accessory
With all these tips and insights, at the end of the day, what matters more than legal service providers looking picture-perfect is their confidence in what they have to offer clients and colleagues. This self-confidence will be visible through the camera lens.
For those who hate getting their photo taken, practicing smiles in the mirror and saying a quick pep talk can go a long way. For some, deep breathing exercises like the 4-7-8 method help.
Lights, Camera, Capture!
Ultimately, it’s best to trust in the photographer to know how to position subjects in a natural pose, put them at ease, adjust lighting, and fix any issues in post-production. All that’s left for the firm to do is show up and get ready for their close-ups.