January 10, 2018

Cheap Shots: When Good Employee Makes You Look Bad

As a small business owner, you know the expenditures never stop, even when your income gets tight. You try to spend carefully, save where you can, cut corners where you think it won’t be noticed much and hope it doesn’t cost you in terms of service or clients. But some savings tactics backfire in multiple ways, such as reducing the price of your professional headshots by handing one of your employees a camera and asking them to take your picture, then deciding, “Hey, that was so easy. Let’s get everyone’s photos and use them for the website and promotional materials!”

In the era of easy-to-use P.H.D. (photo-slang for ‘Push Here Dummy’) cameras and smartphones, there is considerable temptation to forego the pro and stand by your staffer’s amateur but earnest efforts. It’s a nice thing to do, but in business, it’s not the right thing to do. Here’s why:

You put your employee on the spot

It’s hard for someone whose salary you’re paying to tell you no. So they take your photo even though they know it’s a bad idea because there’s no way to get out of the situation. It’s a damned-if-they-do-damned-if-they-don’t conundrum.

The employee as cinematographer

Because the camera is in their hands, the staffer feels powerful and creative. They’ve seen classic movies and film noir. And wouldn’t it be great to recreate a famous film scene around your headshot? Something black and white and moody all over, maybe in the rain, with you wearing a black turtleneck and leaning against a graffiti-covered wall, and…just stop this right here. This is a business, not Documentary Filmmaking 101. Keep the headshot conservative and leave creativity in the office and for the clients.

Your employee probably isn’t an experienced photographer

The staffer has some decent experience with family and vacation photos, but a professional headshot requires proper lighting, angling, background color, hair and makeup styling and facial expression. And office protocol requires good manners; the staffer won’t be honest enough to tell you, “Look, your current carrot-red hair color is hideously wrong for this, and there’s not enough photo-shopping on earth for me to fix it.”

Your employee will go along with your picture selection

If you like the picture, they’ll tell you it’s great, even if the reality is closer to FBI Most Wanted List quality. They won’t argue with the person signing their paycheck, and it’s just not a lengthy discussion anyone wants to have when their desk is piled with work, they have 30 emails waiting and a dozen phone calls to return.

It’s likely a spur-of-the-moment decision

You won’t be dressed, made-up or coiffed properly for the professional headshot if you do this in your office. That’s not to say you come to work looking like something out of an all-night, alcohol-fueled “What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas” commercial. But a great business look and a great headshot look are two different things; the latter needs the assistance of a photography professional.

The results cost you

While the employee’s time is free (aside from their salary) and downloading the photo onto your website and promotional materials takes only a short time, the poor quality result reflects on you. The photo looks cheap because it is cheap. It looks like you didn’t care enough to present yourself as a professional. It doesn’t say, “I want you as a client and I can be trusted.”

So after knowing this, forgo the decision to save expenses by getting cheap headshots and opt for polished headshots taken by a photography professional. Take the pressure off your staff and contact Korey Howell Photography for the best in professional headshots for you and your staff. No matter where and how your picture is viewed, you confidently present your best look to the business world.

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