Understanding the potential usage of your images is important
Read a magazine or look at a well-constructed website, and you find that images are used to convey and reinforce messaging, grab and retain your attention, educate, inspire, make you laugh, cry, etc.. Yes, some imagery is purely either accidental, lucky (although that luck often occurs by planning to be at the right place at the right time, looking out for spontaneous moments to capture). For the most part though, photographers have ideas or concepts in mind when they approach a shoot.
Those concepts usually occur in collaboration with a client – higher end assignments have art directors or editors who have specific concepts in mind. They often work with a team of people, from designers to hair/makeup artists, agents, and so on to work with the photographer to create the images for those concepts.
Of course, not every need requires an extensive production, but utilizing a similar approach can lead to better results. I recently created images for a Boston-area client who has a medical practice. We discussed the types of clients he’s targeting, and the message/branding he was going for. That impacted the overall lighting, look, and clothing he wore (shirt/tie/doctors coat). The images were going to be used for his website as well as for printed marketing materials. The graphics designer was planning to have large text, like a quote from a patient, overlaid on the image on one side of the page. During the shoot, I positioned him to one side of the frame and had him face the open side (aka, negative space), leaving room for the text as well as having him facing the text in the image.
Another client needed their headshot for use on a corporate website – all their current executives were shot on a white background and wore business casual clothing. In reviewing the lighting for their execs, it was very evenly lit with few shadows. The lighting setup I used created the same look so the resulting image was consistent with their existing shots.
If you’re looking for a new LinkedIn Profile headshot, it’s still important to think about your audience, what is the brand/message you want to convey. Many people look to their photographer to assist them with these decisions, and a professional should be discussing many of these things prior to the session. But you can also do some homework by looking at people’s profile images on LinkedIn (or corporate websites) to see what you like and don’t like, and why; then, discuss your findings with your photographer prior to the session. You’ll likely be more satisfied with the results.