I’ve seen some photos and thought- ‘ugh they should have just stayed physically anonymous’. This is the last thing I’d want someone to think when they viewed my website, but this was an actual response to a survey posted by Excess Voice about key credibility factors when viewing websites.

A sure-fire way to avoid this kind of response to your photo is to book a session with a professional portrait photographer. Find out who your friends, family, and colleagues have enjoyed working with. Or search your local listings for a few choices and get references from their previous clients.

I recently had my own portrait taken, so this topic is fresh in my mind. I was excited, but dreading it at the same time. Those who know me know that I absolutely hate (with a capital “H”) having my picture taken. It ranks right up there with eating peas. As you might have guessed, I hate them too.

When I needed motivation to go through with it, I remembered why I called the photographer in the first place – because it was important for my business. So I pulled up my bootstraps, chanted my “Just do it” mantra, and forged ahead.

We spent the first couple of hours inside at the studio. I changed into several different outfits so that I would have lots of options to choose from.

Then we finished up the session by going around the neighborhood for outdoor shots. This is where we took one of my favorite pictures, standing in front of a beautiful Japanese maple. Because it was almost December in North Carolina, there was not a lot of autumn scenery left, so this was a lucky find.

A couple of more trips to the studio to pick out photos and pick up the CD, and I was done. Hallelujah.

To get the most out of my new photos, I plastered my favorites all over my website, eNewsletter, business cards, brochures, flyers, article bank profiles, promotional materials, and I am now planning on getting a large magnet done for my car.

Just think of all your current marketing materials that could benefit from having a fresh new picture of you!

Besides refreshing your marketing materials, there are a number of other benefits to adding a professional photo:

1) Credibility. Displaying a photo creates a sense of legitimacy and transparency, particularly in conjunction with a phone number and street address. These will all lend credibility to your website and other materials, by the simple fact that you’re not trying to hide.

2) Connection. People will relate and connect to you more easily if they know what you look like. For those of us who work purely in a virtual world, putting a name to a face really makes a difference.

You may think that displaying your picture on your website or blog is enough. In reality, your photo should be on all of your marketing materials. The brain remembers images more easily than names.

If you’re already following my advice about marketing to your clientele regularly, now you’ll have your face in front of them as well as your name.

3) Great PR. Having professional photos in downloadable format (at least 300dpi) is a must if you want people to hire you, quote you in the press, or promote you as a speaker.

Trying to do-it-yourself is just not going to cut it. Your current web photo is most likely at 72 dpi for fast viewing. If you try to stretch or reconfigure that photo for print purposes or even for a larger version on another web page, you could end up with is a fuzzy distorted caricature. Definitely not the impression you want to make!

Another great option is to add a “Press” or “Media” section on your website that includes a selection of high-resolution photos, as well as your biography. And don’t forget to highlight your expertise by posting your articles in PDF format for easy printing.

So hire the best photographer you can afford and put in the time and effort needed for this essential marketing tool. You will increase your credibility, create a better impression, and provide that personal connection with your audience. What’s more, you will be far ahead of the game when the media comes knocking at your door.

You will be rewarded many times over, I promise.

To make the most of those new photos, make sure you have them published in the most appropriate format for viewing, downloading or printing.