Nashville Headshots & Personal Branding | Karen L Richard Photography
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Did you know that LinkedIn profiles with photos get 21 times more views and 36 times more messages? 

A picture speaks a thousand words, and your LinkedIn profile picture can determine whether a potential prospect will continue to scroll on your page or move on to the next person. 

If you are looking for a new job or career move, having an attention grabbing headshot is a must! Not having one is going to drastically reduce your opportunities because most recruiters now use LinkedIn to find new talent. If they don't find you, they will find your competition.

And if you are in any way involved in sales or business generation (and who today isn't!),  just think what that could mean in terms of lost opportunities?

For example, if you were looking for Insurance, which of these local agents are you most likely to contact - the person who looks professional, confident and approachable, or the completely anonymous agent? 

The fact is people buy from people, and your headshot is probably the first impression and the first interaction that potential customer or employer will have with your personal brand. A picture speaks a thousand words, and your LinkedIn profile picture can determine whether a potential prospect will continue to scroll on your page or move on to the next person. If you don't have a photo or your current one is a snapshot or selfie, you aren't sending out the right message about your personal brand and you could be missing out even though you have all the right skills, experience and credentials. 

A professional headshot really is an investment! And if you aren't comfortable in front of a camera, a specialist headshot photographer can coach and direct you so that you get that all important scroll stopping headshot like Melissa! 

Call me if you are in the Nashville area and need to up your headshot game!

It seems like ages since we were all able to get together with family, eat out with friends, go to the office to meet with customers and coworkers, or experience any of the other real social interactions we usually take for granted - It's hard to believe it's only been a matter of weeks!

Thank goodness for modern technology otherwise we would all be starved of human contact!  Skype, FaceTime and Zoom allow us to work from home without becoming totally isolated from the rest of our work teams, as well as keep in contact with friends and family and check on the well being of those we love. My 88-year-old mother in law has been able to see us (much to her amusement!) and chat from her nursing home in Canada - which has been lovely my husband Luc and especially for her as her facility is under lock down and not allowing residents any visitors for the foreseeable future.

I've been able to stay in touch with other photographers and continue my own personal and professional development through the photography communities I belong to. I've also met all kinds of interesting new people through Connect Nashville Business Networking and other local networking groups that are now using Zoom to connect instead of meeting in person. The new connections I've made from these virtual meetings are helping me to grow my network and are already proving beneficial for my business as well as providing some much needed human contact!

These online meetings have been invaluable, but I have to say I was initially less than enthusiastic about how I looked onscreen. I started out using the internal camera on my MacBook which was definitely not flattering, so I got around to installing the webcam I bought 3 years ago and invested in an inexpensive ring light from Amazon that features a webcam mount on a flexible arm. The combination of a decent quality cam that I can position at a more flattering height, and good even lighting has made a real difference. My Mac's internal mic has done a reasonable job so far but I have an inexpensive desk mic on order so I can improve my audio too.

Just as your headshot on LinkedIn and your website provides the first impression of you online, other people will form an impression of you based on your appearance at virtual meetings. Working from home can of course bring other challenges, especially for those with young families and it's almost impossible to control everything, but there are a few things you can easily do that will ensure you at look professional and engaged.

Here are a few tips to improve your visual presence at online meetings:


  • For most people the most flattering webcam position is straight on around chin level. 
  • If you are using the built-in camera on your laptop, experiment with the angle of the screen; Raising the laptop an inch or two and keeping the screen vertical usually gives a good result. If your laptop is too low and you need tilt your screen back to see yourself, you are shooting up your nose and that is never a great angle!
  • Position yourself close enough for people to see your face but not so close that you become a floating head!
  • This is the camera I use. 


  • Make sure your face is well lit - people want to be able to see you.
  • Ideally the light should be in front of you and slightly above eye level so that you are evenly lit. 
  • With natural light you will get the best results facing a window with indirect light. You can diffuse harsh direct light by partially closing blinds or using opaque white fabric. 
  • If you are using a desk lamp be aware that the color temperature of the lamp will affect the color of your skin, and a warm white bulb could make you appear yellow whereas a daylight balanced lamp with provide more natural tones. 
  • This is the light I use.

Other things to think about

  • What you wear - working from home doesn't necessarily require business attire, but if that is what you usually wear to work or meet clients, then dressing as you would for face to face meetings (from the waist up at least!) could be a good plan. Be aware how your chosen outfit looks online - In the screenshot above I am actually wearing a vest but it's hidden by my hair so I look naked - wardrobe fail!
  • Your environment - not everyone has the luxury of a dedicated office space at home, but do remember your space is on show during virtual meetings and aim to keep the area on show tidy. Some apps allow you to blur or even replace the background which may be a good option if you have unwanted features, or clutter that can't easily hidden or tidied away.

Hopefully we will all be back to normal soon (whatever the new normal will be!), but in the meantime stay safe and use all of the wonderful (and free!) technology to stay in touch and make new connections!

Who could have predicted the huge changes most of us are experiencing at the moment? Working from home has become the norm for most of us and sadly many peoples' jobs have disappeared altogether as companies struggle to survive in this uncertain economy.

If now find yourself unexpectedly back in the job market or you are reflecting on what you really want from your career, it is a perfect time to revamp your profile on LinkedIn to make sure it is up to date, eye-catching and results focused.

Of course, having amazing skills and knowledge is not enough if potential hirers dont actually read your profile!

There are two things you can do that will definitely improve your ability to get noticed - they are to ensure you have great and appropriate photo and an attention grabbing headline.

Whenever anyone searches on LinkedIn they are going to see 10 people per page in the results. Your image and your headline are all they will initially get to see and their first (and maybe only) impression of you is formed from just these two pieces of information. If your image and your headline arent arresting enough the chances are they probably wont take the time to click on your profile to learn more about you.

A good profile photo is a must! It doesn't have to be a professional portrait but it does need to look professional; LinkedIn is definitely not the place for a selfie, for a photo taken on on the beach on vacation, or in a bar with a bottle of beer in your hand - trust me, I seen all of these and worse on LinkedIn!  Think of the impression you want to give to a potential employer and remember, we all have a reaction when we see a photo of somebody, even if its subconsciously.

Here's a few tips:

  1. Dress to impress - ideally the way you would for an interview or business meeting.
  2. Look smart and well groomed. Ladies, its best to keep makeup light and natural (no facial contouring, heavy eyeliner, or false eye-lashes) and guys make sure that facial hair is trimmed!
  3. Make sure your face is well lit - indirect window light works well. If your photographer is using on-camera flash, angling the flash head towards the ceiling and bouncing the light back is much more flattering that pointing it directly towards you, and it prevents "red eye".
  4. Avoid distracting backgrounds. We want the attention to be on you.
  5. Get in close. People want to see your face.
  6. Look at the camera. Raising the muscles of the cheeks to slightly narrow the eyes from below (as you do when you smile) makes you look confident and engaged. 
  7. Smile - you want to look friendly and approachable! 
  8. Take a few shots from different angles - straight on, and facing slightly to each side (but keep your eyes directly on the camera) and then check out the images to select your favorite.
  9. Crop the image square so that your face fills 60-70% of the space with just a tiny space above your head.

If you can afford it, do consider using a professional headshot photographer. They will have the equipment and expertise to ensure you rock your headshot  - think of it as an investment in your future career.

Once you have that killer headshot, make sure you have an attention grabbing headline!

Recruiters rarely look far beyond the first sentence so make sure it grabs their attention. You have just 120 characters to say something that makes you stand out and get potential employers curious to learn more about you. Your headline also appears under your name whenever you comment on a LinkedIn post, increasing the chance of a 2nd or 3rd degree contact clicking on your profile to learn more about you. 

Use strong adjectives to describe yourself rather than just stating your role or experience - think Passionate, Outstanding, Inspirational, Ambitious, Talented and so on. Potential employers are looking for the best so your headline should be punchy. This is not the time to be modest! Dont be embarrassed about singing your own praises - if youre a rockstar in your field, or you have a really successful track record be sure to let everyone know! And be sure to incorporate relevant keywords that someone looking for a you on LinkedIn might search for into your headline.

Don't be boring - being creative can pique more interest than more traditional headlines so dont be afraid to think outside of the box and even use a little humor to get noticed.

Remember, you only get one chance to make a first impression, so make sure your profile is giving the right one!

Its a fact that we are drawn more to people who seem happy, and smiling is inextricably linked with positive emotion. We are born with an innate ability to recognize a smile as a non threatening gesture and even very young infants will usually respond in kind to a smile from a stranger. Smiling signals friendliness and encourages positive interactions, but not all smiles are created equal! 

There is a big difference between a genuine smile - the kind that psychologists describe as a Duchenne smile, and the forced smiles we so often see in photographs where the mouth and eyes are sending out conflicting messages.  Duchenne smiles engage the muscle around your eyes and raise the cheeks high, whereas fake smiles involve only the muscles that raise the corners of the mouth and don't have the same impact.

So why is a smile usually important in a professional headshot? Studies have shown it takes as little as 13 milliseconds to form an impression of someone, and in today's fast-paced digital world that all important first impression of you will probably be based upon your visual presence online. There is no guarantee your audience will take the time to read through your LinkedIn profile or the  about me page of your website so the image you choose to represent yourself on your social media and business networking sites needs to stop the scroll.  The fact is we are more likely to pause over the headshot of someone that looks friendly and approachable, especially if we could be potentially spending a lot of time in the persons company, for instance a realtor or a coach.

Of course smiling to order is not that simple, especially if you are uncomfortable in front of the camera. A forced smile or one that has been held for too long simply does not look authentic. An experienced headshot photographer should have the ability to make you feel relaxed and elicit that all important natural expression.  

Although few people will pick out an image of themselves having a real belly laugh like the ones above as their professional headshot, laughter relaxes the facial muscles and leads to genuine smiles that involve the eyes. I usually spend around an hour with clients that come to my studio for headshots which gives me plenty of time to help them feel relaxed, and to inject a little fun into the session. It also makes the whole experience more enjoyable for everyone involved!

When Im shooting group headshots on location I have much less time -  typically 5 to 10 minutes and sometimes even less to get the all-important shot, so quickly establishing rapport becomes even more crucial. Humor definitely helps the process! These images were all taken as part of a company-wide headshot day on a recent corporate shoot on location for Tech startup ProdPerfect.

It's been my great pleasure to work with beautiful and very talented emerging country music artist Jillian Cardarelli shooting cover art and publicity material; cover art for her latest single "Rerun", her CMA Fest "meet and greet" banner and fan photos, and press images. 

I'm super-excited to see my images featured in Rolling Stone - The cover art below was created in my studio and the main image was shot right outside, and the flare effect was created by shooting through a crystal. Three images from my most recent shoot with Jillian were also used in a feature about her in the Eagle Tribune

By sure to check out Rerun, and stay tuned for more exciting collaborations soon!

Photo credit - Karen L Richard Photography

2629 Goose Creek Bypass
Franklin TN 37064
All images © Karen L Richard Photography