As long as there have been cameras there have been self portraits (as we used to call them before the term 'selfie' was coined). In the 'old days' you had no idea how these images would turn out until you got the prints back from the lab. If you were lucky you actually looked pretty good in at least one of them...it took about 20+ shots and much wasted film to get that one, though. Enter the new tech age of smartphones and reverse cameras that enable you to compose your shot while watching yourself pose, and then instantly see the end result seconds later. This has given all of us a much easier way to get a decent picture of ourselves - but there's some pretty big disadvantages to capturing your 'best self' even with the most cutting edge selfie techniques.
Similar to small point and shoot cameras, your phone's camera has its own limitations. It may take decent sized file, but it comes equipped with a more wide-angle type lens that is great for landscapes and group shots, but has a tendency to distort features at close range (arm length).
Even with a good selfie, at best you'll have a fun picture that's great for sharing with friends and family but not really appropriate in a professional environment.
In this day and age your photo will likely appear in a dozen different places related to your business. Places like social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Foursquare, etc), your company's website, your own business cards, and perhaps other printed materials that are widely distributed such as marketing/advertising, or networking pieces.
Your image will often make a first impression on potential employers or colleagues before they ever meet you in person. If you're not already doing so, adding a nice headshot or portrait to your resume is an absolute must these days. With less jobs available, that means there will be many more applications for companies to sort through for each job they offer. One of the best ways to make you stand out from the crowd is by including a great photo of yourself.
But it can't be any old image of yourself. Putting a grainy, badly lit, not-so-flattering selfie on your application and resume will not allow potential employers to see you at your best. They need to be able to envision you as the loyal, responsible, and hardworking (yet friendly and approachable) employee you would be. The image you present to them will send a clear message about who you are, what you think of yourself, and who they can expect you to be. All before you even get a chance to shake their hand in person!
A professional headshot or portrait shows people you take your reputation seriously, you care about and have an eye for attention to detail, you are committed to being that professional they are looking for.
Aside from wanting a great headshot or portrait for professional reasons, what about wanting to simply look your absolute best online for other reasons?
Are you on dating websites like match.com, eharmony.com, Tinder, etc.? While you don't want to look too 'corporate' in a more social setting - you still want your headshot to look amazing and catch someone's' eye. You want to be seen in complimentary light, a flattering pose, with an approachable expression. That can all be conveyed in a simple headshot when taken by a pro.
Are you an actor or employed in other arts-focused industries? Then you're well aware of how important your image is in a photo. It's your bread and butter for the most part, right? Communicating the right emotion and personality in an image becomes all important when it comes to booking that next job in the entertainment industry. It's hard to coach all that feeling and expression out of yourself when taking a selfie! You want to show people that extra something that will make your photo stand out from all the others on a casting director's desk. How do you do that effectively on your own with your camera phone?
The answer is you don't, you hire a pro who's job it is to make you not only look your best, but to bring out your genuine self, an honest portrayal of emotions, your unique and individual personality, and capture all that in a photo so that your image lets people get to know you at a glance.
While it's possible to get nice images of yourself with a selfie when it comes to presenting yourself as a professional, no matter which industry you work in, hiring a photographer will make such a big difference in the final result.