In countries like the U.S. and U.K., the need for a CV photograph is less common than in places like Germany or the Middle East. But according to David Kitzinger of Badenoch & Clark in Luxembourg, the importance of having a good professional portrait is growing globally. “Nowadays, headhunters regularly look at a candidate’s profile on social media,” he said. Photographer Thomas W. Klein runs a studio in Frankfurt’s financial district and regularly gets bankers who want an attractive CV photograph in front of his camera. Klein explains how bankers can achieve that perfect portrait.
1. Expression is key
For Klein, the key thing in a profile photograph is the expression. The people should look friendly and open – ideally they should be “beaming”. “Nobody wants to see a picture of somebody who looks introverted and grumpy,” explains Klein. But it’s not always easy to persuade bankers to release their inhibitions. “Lots come to me and say ‘sorry, I’m a banker’, although there’s nothing to apologise for,” says Klein. Financial professionals are often reluctant to go to see a photographer. Bankers have told Klein that “photographers are almost as bad as dentists” for them.
“As a photographer, you sometimes have to make yourself into a clown in order to get a good photo.” Modern digital photography is helpful for this, because in the end you can delete everything – an argument that persuades bankers to let go.
2. Daylight is on trend
“When you look at business photos that picture agencies in the media sell, they are always flooded with daylight, have a glass façade as a background and a dominant blue tone,” says Klein. “Sooner or later these trends also arrive in CV photography.” Klein prefers to use daylight instead of artificial light and colour instead of black and white photography in his Frankfurt studio. “When the background, light and colour are striking, you don’t need black and white.” Some bankers ask for a brown sepia tone: “I always advise that this is a bit old fashioned and artistically lacking,” he said.
3. Keep clothing traditional
There’s very little room for manoeuvre with clothing. “Muted colours dominate: dark blue, grey or black. Light-coloured suits aren’t common with bankers,” says Klein. “The suit and the shirt should be a good fit, which isn’t always the case,” advises the photographer. A tie is mandatory, even if the banker works in the back office and rarely wears one in their day-to-day work life. Klein also advises that women wear muted colours. “I always tell women that the photo still has to work at other times of year, when bright colours aren’t in fashion.” The overall impression should be just right.
4. Don’t crop too much
For the past decade, it’s been fashionable for profile pictures in the media to be heavily cropped, with the head isn’t completely shown. “I’ll cut a photograph when it suits the hairstyle and face,” says Klein. “However, I’m not a fan of too much cropping. There should always be a bit of hair on show. The heavy cropping of portraits that you frequently see in the media, where the cut is just above the eyes, is a bit too much for more conservative bankers.”
5. Be bold with the format
According Klein bankers still prefer the classic portrait photo. “About two-thirds opt for a picture in portrait and a third for landscape,” observes the photographer. Only occasionally does Klein manage to persuade bankers to opt for a square format. “I advise clients to go for a landscape or square format. It’s just more interesting and exclusive,” says Klein. In the end, the aim is to stand out from the crowd.
6. The glasses problem
Klein advises spectacles-sporters to opt for anti-glare lenses, so reflections are avoided. Unfortunately, anti-glare glasses don’t always work with all colours of light. “I recently photographed somebody with glasses in my daylight studio and, despite his anti-glare glasses, there was a greenish reflection,” says Klein, “but fortunately we have the option to digitally alter the image.”
7. Be brave with the imagery
Although the banking sector is traditionally conservative, Klein encourages financial professionals to opt for photographs with more modern imagery. “If the banks come to me and want to have photos of their team, then the bankers are often braver than when they come to me individually,” says Klein. He takes the opportunity to convinced people to be more adventurous. “At the end of the shoot, customers are always enthusiastic and happier to try something out of the ordinary.”