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Many successful businesses begin with friendships and blossom in wildly popular and profitable ventures. Bill Gates and Paul Allen were childhood friends from school and started Microsoft; Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield met in seventh grade and make beautiful ice cream together and William Harley and Arthur Davidson worked with one another and other family members to create the most iconic American brand on two wheels. But not everything you do in your business revolves around who you know and how to do nice things for them.

Maybe you’re looking to save money, or you’re indebted to a fellow entrepreneur who did you a favor, and they need this one little favor in return. Either way, the opportunity to “use this guy/gal I know to take some nice headshots for you” presents itself.

Here are four reasons to say no to the idea of the amateur auteur:

The sister/uncle/cousin/in-law/ex-whatever is probably not using professional equipment: They may still own a PHD (Push Here Dummy) camera, one of the early-generation digital cameras, which take very nice shots of sunrises, happy hour nibbles at the bar and all the look-at-us-we-are-so-smashed selfies you want. But digital technology has come a long and very expensive way. And more than likely they will show up with their smartphones, and tell you, “Hey, why not? I can get some quick shots, and send them right to you, no problem!” Again, smartphones are fine for communication, but not that smart for professional headshots. Like the first generation digital cameras, the technology for capturing fine detail is not in the picture.

And they probably know nothing about lighting, camera angles, shading, aperture, exposure compensation and all the other five-dollar photographer’s terminology that sounds so cool and actually makes the difference between looking like you own a real business and looking like a real rodeo clown in the final results.

Do you really want these unprofessional folks on your premises? A professional photographer is licensed, background-checked and their identity easily verified. The friend of a friend of a friend’s ex-mother-in-law’s second husband? You have no idea who they are, and what else — or where else — they might be taking photos in your office. 

The off-the-street snapshot seeker won’t tell you the truth: Unlike the professional photographer, who provides proper backdrop, lighting, makeup and hairstyling help, the friend is going to tell you what they think you want to hear. They will look you in the eye and lie to your face about how well that burnt orange blouse suits you when matched with that flaming red lipstick and every gold chain and medallion your grandma ever gave you, because they love you. The professional photographer’s headshot tones down the noise and puts you front and center to shine. The pretender’s picture is a caricature suitable for the Sunday funnies.

If you’re asked by a friend to use a friend: how to extricate yourself:

Tell them you’ve booked someone: You don’t have to say, “I found a real professional for the job,” which is true, but it’s also a good way to slice a friendship to tiny pieces. Just tell them you’ve made arrangements, thank them and quickly change the subject.

Compromise with a different shoot: Agree to have Shutterbug Sally come in and take photos of something neutral, like the outside of your building, your truck or car fleet, or your staff working at a charity event. It keeps this unknown and unverified person out of your inner sanctum, gives her some work and eases your conscience.

Korey Howell Photography Group has a new name and expanded services; professional hair styling, makeup and precise digital retouching for the headshot that will get you and your business noticed, whether you work around Austin or beyond. Our creative and talented staff combines both technology and artistic design to create your best vision of yourself, whether the session is at your place or ours. Contact us for more information and to schedule an appointment.