If your main work is the intangible art of consulting, you need to make it tangible with the photos on your website and marketing. Strong photographs that show your professionalism, confidence, capability and ability to connect and engage with people will ensure your audience ‘gets’ what you do and what’s so great about working with you.
Ideally, you would throw all your happy snaps taken with someone’s phone and your boring stock photos out the window, and invest in some decent photography with specific set up shots to portray a clear message.
While you’re thinking about that, here are some important points to remember to ensure you get great consulting shots.
- Your clothing choices, and those of the people posing as your clients, are very important. Where is the focus? It should be on you. Wear good-quality, structured clothing in strong block colours, preferably with something bright or light up top. This will ensure you look professional and fresh. Then have your ‘clients’ wear muted block colours, again in keeping with their image – if they are professionals too, they should look the part. The brighter or stronger colour that you are wearing (as well as some strategic positioning) will ensure YOU are the focus of the picture.
- Occasionally you’ll actually want the client to be the focus of the picture – to demonstrate their engagement or excitement in listening or conversing with you, or to show what they are working on. Again, playing around with positioning of subjects will achieve this.
- Be aware of varying heights of people. Generally, the taller will look like they are in a position of authority in a photograph – so you don’t want that to be your client. You either need to choose people shorter than you to pose as clients, or play with the positioning of people and camera angle so that even if you are not tallest, you are the one who looks like they’re running the show.
- On the subject of camera angle, variations in this can affect meaning. For example, a shot taken from below looking up at the person can make them seem all-powerful! Look at your photographs carefully and ask yourself what is the instinctive feeling about the subject. Slight changes in angle could mean big changes in how you are perceived.
- Though the focus of the image may be your face, pay attention to the other person’s expression. If they look bored, amused or stiff, they’ll ruin the photograph. Work on everyone’s expression portraying the right message.
- The best consulting and meeting shots are when people are really talking, not frozen in a pose – but you need to take a lot of shots to get the right point where everyone is interacting and looking natural. I encourage people to move their bodies and hands as is natural when they speak, and I often give them a topic to talk about that may have nothing to do with a meeting but will make them look engaged (nothing too serious or too funny though, or you’ll get the wrong expressions!).
- Despite aiming for natural, you will still need to manipulate the scene. Where someone places their hands and the position of their body at a table or standing can send different messages. For example, hands in lap at the table or crossing the body when standing can look defensive and disconnected. And you still need to smile more than normal as you’re talking, or it will look too serious. (Of course, it depends on the subject matter you are pretending to talk about – lawyers may want a mixture of very serious shots and warm, ‘feeling relieved and looked after’ type shots!)
- Be aware that a normal distance between two people talking in real life can look a mile apart in a photograph. Get in close and grin and bear it for the sake of the photo!
- Check the details of the photo are not distracting from the subject and are in keeping with the image you want to project. What’s on the table? What’s in the background? Make sure surfaces are clean and clutter-free, and go easy on the props – not all five people at the meeting need a notepad and pen.
- Likewise, the tiny details of personal grooming send a very big message – so check your clothes, hair, hands and nails.
- Sound overwhelming? An experienced photographer sees every detail and can ensure you’ve got it covered.