You’ve probably heard of the saying it’s best to “put your best face forward”, especially during the beginning of your career. Regardless of the job that you’re in or want to attain, people judge you on your appearance in what psychologists call “think slicing.” Simply put, people decide all kinds of things about you within the first few seconds of seeing your picture and / or meeting you – from your level of intelligence to your socio-economic status and even sexual preferences. You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression, so make sure your one-shot counts.

“A series of experiments by Princeton psychologists Janine Willis and Alexander Todorov reveal that all it takes is a tenth of a second to form an impression of a stranger from their face, and that longer exposures don’t significantly alter those impressions (although they might boost your confidence in your judgments). Their research is presented in their article “First Impressions,” in the July issue of Psychological Science.” – Association for Psychological Science.


You’re probably asking yourself, so what? Well it all comes down to how the viewer slices the information gathered by your not-so-awesome picture or worse, your selfie. The truth is, a professional photographer (like myself) can change the message you want to convey with your headshots – be it one of a jovial and approachable person or that of a serious and dedicated tone, among many others. Case in point is the video below, albeit it’s regarding a portrait session.

Back in November 2015, Canon Australia released a wonderful 3-minute video titled “The Lab: Decoy – A portrait session with a twist”. In it, they gathered 6 photographers to shoot a single portrait of the same person. The kicker is that each photographer was given a different story on the subject’s background ranging from a self-made millionaire to a fisherman. The results were astonishing as the varying final images were unveiled to the group, showcasing the creative interpretation of the subject.

As Canon put it best,

“A photographed is shaped more by the person behind the camera than by what is in front of it.”

So Why Are Professional Headshots So Important?

Your headshot is like the logo of your personal brand. If you’ve always wanted that dream job or are currently in business, you’ve probably heard and read about the pride that top executives (in any industry) have of their image. From their point of view, everything they do (especially in the public eye) has to be calculated and in tune with their brand message – including their picture. On the other hand, if you’re stuck in a rut and want a change – a professional headshot is your key to opening that door. A headshot is the simplest way to not only be noticed by those around you, but also to a wide spectrum of viewers from prospective recruiters, clients, and even those seeking a relationship.

At this point you might be asking, “ya I get it… but how will a pro photographer make that happen, when I can just get a friend who has a digital camera to do the same thing for free?” The truth is, a pro photographer knows his / her craft (composition, lighting, how to pose a subject, post-production editing, etc) and it is our daily job to make things look great, be it people, products, or whatever the mind can conceive. Would you (honestly) trust your friend who is a mechanic and owns two properties help you buy your first home? No, you’d hire a professional in the field aka a real estate agent! There’s a reason professionals seek other professionals – because they know the ins and outs of the job and are good at it – so don’t cut yourself short.


A Professional Business Requires Professional Representation by You

Being a professional isn’t entirely about one’s educational background or the amount of money you make, but rather a lifestyle and mindset that differs from the ordinary crowd. The business that you’re in (be it acting, real estate, financial services, entrepreneurial, or trades) requires a professional representation by you. You are the face of your business and people want to engage with those that take it seriously. Regardless of whether you use your headshot on your company website, social media, or even on your business card, you are always representing your business. Consider this, if you entered a restaurant and noticed that the cook didn’t have a hair net, has poor hygiene habits, and is dressed like a bum, would you eat there?

First impressions are everything…

“We judge books by their covers, and we can’t help but do it,” researcher Nicholas Rule of the University of Toronto said in a statement. “With effort, we can overcome this to some extent, but we are continually tasked with needing to correct ourselves.” – Huffington Post


It’s the Age of Social Media and Networking

It’s no surprise that in today’s world social media is the go-to source for connecting with others, for personal and business. Facebook alone boasts over 1.591-billion monthly active users and the business resource of LinkedIn has 414-million users as of Feb 2016. It is a great platform for networking and recruiting, so why not take it seriously? The simple addition of a professional photo to your profile makes you 14-times more likely to be found on LinkedIn (via @craigpsmith).



See the profile screenshot above? Observing his pic, this Creative Strategist seems to be more concerned by his text messaging than elevating his own professional brand in the Marketing and Advertising field – would you hire him? A professional headshot would portray someone that is serious about success and far more personable than the guy in the profile pic above.

The power of social media is more relevant than ever before…

“Of the 7.2 billion people on earth, 3 billion have Internet access; 2.1 billion are active on social media; and 1.7 billion use social networks from a mobile device.” – Link Humans


Types of Headshots and What’s Right For You

  • Acting Headshots – Suited to actors / actresses and are more stylized, to show personality and character range.
  • Corporate Headshots – For the usual business professional and ranges from the typical mugshot to the crossed-arms and 1/4-turned body look.
  • Artistic-Beauty Headshots – Geared towards showcasing unique physical features for models and the fitness type.


Getting the Most from Your Headshot

There are many tips that as a professional photographer I can give for your headshot session, but the most important one is to let your personality shine! The other tips are common such as get a good night’s sleep the day before, get your hair cut, and wear flattering clothes suited to your industry. Regardless if you’re a male or female, I always recommend booking a make-up artist (I work with an excellent one) as their talent for accentuating features and making skin look great is worth the effort. Furthermore, it is always best to have a sense of who your viewership and tailor the headshot session to it. I always have a brief consultation with all clients to go over the details prior to the headshot photoshoot.


Make your first impression count and showcase your face in the best light possible with a professional headshot. Polishing your professional image in business is not only rewarding, but also a sure path to attaining your goals.

“Desire is the key to motivation, but it’s determination and commitment to an unrelenting pursuit of your goal – a commitment to excellence – that will enable you to attain the success you seek.” – Mario Andretti

Throughout my career, I’ve had the privilege to have many awesome people trust me with delivering their brand image through their professional headshot. From corporate clients like Marc Anthony Cosmetics Inc., The Newton GroupElementary Teachers of Toronto, and Keller Williams Realty, to the assortment of actors / actresses and fitness coach Chris Brown of CGB Fitness. Each headshot session is a unique experience whereby I’m able to meet new people and be the catalyst for many client’s success.

Photo Credits / Specs:

© 2016 Giancarlo Pawelec | PAWELECphoto
Talents Featured (Top to Bottom): Chris Brown (CGB Fitness), Curtis Yee (TD Canada Trust), Marc Anthony (Marc Anthony Cosmetics Inc.), Chris Brown (CGB Fitness), Mike Newton (The Newton Group – Scota Wealth Management), and Penelope Diamantopoulos (Dancer). 
Locations: Studio 311 and Scotia Plaza.

Camera: Canon 1Dx