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Under Pressure: Successful Attorney Photo Shoots that will Turn Heads

Updated: Jan 8, 2021

We have all been there before. You have had back-to-back meetings all morning long, a difficult client interruption that has left you frustrated, and then you realize that today is picture day. Not only do your headshots end up looking frazzled, but the thought of rescheduling to try again seems like a sisyphean task. Instead, you do what most of us have done at least once or twice: you put the picture on your website and hope that it is not as bad as you think it is.

But, sometimes, it really is bad.

Although there are more important things to manage in your busy life than photos, it is true that your attorney headshot carries a lot of weight. It is a photo that serves three important tasks: serving as the first impression for your potential clients, conveying your personality or approach to legal practice, and portraying you as a trustworthy professional.

If you agree that these three tasks matter to your bottomline, these are not photoshoots to throw together at the last minute. Here are some crucial tips to make sure that your next headshot session goes off without a hitch.

Set Aside Some Time

The first step to making this experience as painless as possible is to consider it as valuable as a new client consultation. Remember, this is the only reference many people will have with how you look, as it will be connected to your online media, publications, and presentations for at least six months. Plan on spending at least an hour preparing for your photo shoot and another hour actually getting the photos taken. Even if it does not take that long, you will be glad that you gave yourself a buffer of time in the event that something goes wrong or needs to be changed.

Decide the Tone You Want to Set

Think about the tone you want to convey with your photos, then practice poses and facial expressions that create that effect. Regardless of which area of law you are in, aim for both a serious headshot and a more casual headshot. This gives you options for different settings. The headshot that works for your attorney website may not be the one you want to use for your byline in a legal journal.

Choose Clothing Wisely

Different locations and moods call for different outfits and looks. Consider doing a little color research on what looks best on your skin tone as well as the kinds of colors that resonate psychologically with the work you do and the clients you are trying to connect with. Then, bring at least one change of clothes to the shoot, as well as any accessories you might need to adjust your hair and makeup.

Research Multiple Locations

Discuss possible shoot locations with your photographer. They know which backgrounds and features make a headshot stand out. On the flip side, they can also provide insight as to which settings are too distracting or unprofessional for a headshot. If you plan on taking advantage of the natural lighting at outdoor locations, keep an eye on the weather forecast in the days leading up to your shoot. Choosing your locations well in advance also makes it easier to select appropriate outfits and accessories for both the weather and the background.

Use Makeup That Works Well On Camera

The makeup that makes you look smooth-skinned, approachable, and collected in daily life does not stand up to the camera lens. Camera-friendly makeup falls somewhere between daily makeup and stage makeup, usually a full coverage concealer that is slightly lighter than your skin tone. Avoid extremes, especially ones that are considered “fad” makeup styles. Even if they look subtle to you, not every potential client will agree and it may turn off the type of clients you are trying to attract.

Consider Professional Hair and Makeup

One of my biggest suggestions is to simply have your hair and makeup professionally done as a part of your photo shoot preparation process. Remember to protect your clothing from any product that might be applied and be very careful about changing outfits so as not to damage the effect. Select hairstylists and makeup artists with specialized experience in preparing clients for photoshoots.

Bring Comfortable Shoes

Even if your photoshoot does result in some full-body shots, you will likely spend most of your time posing for headshots. You can save yourself a lot of discomfort by bringing comfortable shoes to wear when your feet are not being photographed. Being comfortable leads to a more natural and appealing photo.

Highlight the Work You Do

Posed headshots and full-body shots are an important part of your marketing materials, but you should also get photos of you in action. A photo of you concentrating intensely on research for a current case conveys diligence and commitment, and a shot of you in court shows the natural confidence you portray in front of a judge and jury. Also, consider pictures of your law firm or working with clients, but be sure to get appropriate permissions for any of the latter. These photos are excellent for attorney profiles and in-depth marketing materials, and they help portray you in every aspect of your career.

Schedule Your Next Photoshoot

Getting a good headshot is not a one-time occurrence. Trends change on a near-daily basis, and the headshots that look approachable and modern today could look dated and stale a year from now. Updating your headshots at least once per year is a simple way to keep your marketing materials current and appealing to potential clients.

Preparing for a photoshoot is a lot of work, but it pays off. Creating business cards, updating your website, and exploring new marketing opportunities is easier with photos you are proud to show off.

To learn more about having professional photos taken by a legal-specific photographer, connect with me online at


Meranda M. Vieyra is the owner of Denver Legal Marketing LLC. She is one of the most visible legal professionals in Colorado law with over 20 years of service in the Denver legal community. Her award-winning marketing firm has earned a strong reputation as the go-to for impactful, cost-effective legal marketing strategies. She has helped her clients secure coverage by well-known publications and has obtained local, national, and international awards on their behalf. Meranda enjoys working with solo practitioners and small law firms helping them attract recognition, promotion, and visibility to their practices. She also advises medium-sized and national law firms on business development and marketing strategy. Meranda is a lecturer and author on issues related to marketing including how lawyers can use LinkedIn effectively, how to develop a personal brand, and the promotion of legal services through community service. In 2018, she was honored to be named to the 40 Under 40 list by the Denver Business Journal and to be given the 10 Under 10 Award by the Metropolitan State University of Denver Alumni Association (top 10 alum of the decade). In 2019, Meranda was named in the Top 25 Most Powerful Women in Business by the Colorado Women's Chamber of Commerce and in the Top 100 young professionals in Colorado through the Gen XYZ Awards published by ColoradoBiz Magazine.

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