5 tips for an outstanding professional picture

Now more than ever, your pictures act as marketing tools. They are the first impression you make to your future clients or business partners. Being comfortable in front of a camera is not a given. Not all of us are born models (unfortunately), but from our LinkedIn profile to our company’s website, we still need pictures that show us at our best.

I discussed with Tora Chirila, professional photographer, to get her advice on how to take an outstanding portrait picture. Freelance photographer and makeup artist, Tora always had an artistic vocation. From a young age, she found a variety of ways  to express her creativity.

At the beginning of her career, she explored the business  field, even though she flirted with the idea of an artistic path. She graduated from university with an accounting degree, then went on to work at a corporate job. After a while, she decided to follow her heart and went back to school to study photography. Describing her style as « joyfully spirited », photography is a way for her to showcase good things in life.

Today, she takes portraits for her clients, but also captures moments at events such as Creative Mornings, C2 Montreal and TedEx.

When I work at these types of events, I go in and I somehow come out even more enriched : I learned something. I got inspired by something. I met people. I saw things. All of this while doing what I love and trying to tell the story of what’s happening there.

It goes without saying that pictures are closely related to personal branding.

Photos communicate the image you want to put out there. Having professional photos is crucial for your professional image, because you only have a few seconds to make a good impression. When people go on your website or social media profile, they’ll look at your pictures and everything they see needs to be professional and communicate the right message.

With her colorful lense, Tora helps our clients at Éminence showcase their authentic self and appear at their best in her photos. Committed to finding the story behind every picture, she gives herself the mission to capture a spark of joy in her subject’s eyes.

Tora gave us these 5 tips for better professional portraits :

  • Learn how to use lighting: Lighting is crucial to a good picture. A reliable and easy way to get flattering light for portraits is to use a diffused source of ambient light, such as a window. Take the picture facing the window and avoid harsh light on your face, such as strong, direct sunlight.
  • Use the background as a storytelling element : Your picture’s background communicates a story and a message. If you want to put emphasis on the face, you can use something as simple as a wall. But the background doesn’t need to be plain! It can be a location you like, your office, etc. Choose something that represents you and that can help tell your story.
Each background tells a different story. On the left, Éminence’s client Nancy Rossi appears as General Director of SMV Canada; on the right, as founder of MonOlivier.
  • Show confidence : Don’t forget that your body language is a communication tool. For example, as human beings, we have the instinct to cross our arms to protect ourselves when we don’t feel comfortable in a situation. On pictures, crossed arms can appear as a lack of confidence. Poses where the chest is opened and shoulders are straight back show more self-confidence. If you’re taking a close-up portrait (for your LinkedIn profile for instance), put your hands in your pockets. As simple as it sounds, it will help you relax in front of the lens and make your posture straighter.
  • Choose your clothes wisely : When you choose what you will wear for a photoshoot, think about something that contrasts with your skin tone, as it will make your face stand out. The background is also important : if you’re taking a picture on a blue background, don’t wear blue on top of it. Contrast is key. Last but not least, avoid small prints : they don’t come out well in pictures, especially when the photo is shrunk down.
  • Don’t overthink it : People are often uncomfortable in photoshoots because they over-analyze every move they make. Try not to take it too seriously. Have fun ! Fake smiles can be noticed from miles away. Also keep in mind that genuine smiles don’t necessarily start with your mouth, but with your eyes. Think happy thoughts, put on some music and relax ! It doesn’t matter if there are 50 bad pictures – you only need a few good ones. Too much control in these situations is never a good thing.

Quick « angle » tip : When you get your photo taken, always lower your chin a little bit. This way, you make sure there is a shadow under your chin to sculpt your jawline. It’s always flattering.

Overall, be confident and remember that your portrait needs to tell your story and show who you are.

The best picture you can take is the one that communicates the right message.

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