I have been doing a lot of headshots these days. New jobs, starting companies and social media seem to be fueling the need to update photos. Your professional headshot photograph has to convey a lot about you: approachability, confidence, professionalism and personality.
Before you book your photo session for new headshots, here are some pointers to keep in mind:
Clear your mind of any and all negative thoughts about your appearance.
It never ceases to amaze me how many seemingly successful people have so many insecurities about their looks. Men and women alike say they don't like their smile, their nose, their teeth, smile lines, their weight ... you name it! Kids do not do this. Period. So, just when does that little voice begin for most of us? Somewhere between birth and adulthood which leads me back to headshots. Best you can, slay that dragon (or at least muffle it) before your photo shoot!
Collect headshot photos you like.
Just like you'd show your hair stylist photos of what you like, do the same for your photographer. Show what you like, don't like and also share ideas that you have. It's also helpful to describe what you'll need the photos for (social media versus the corporate annual report) and the format needed like horizontal of vertical, electronic use or print use, for example. Each type of use may require a different "vibe" and you'll want to make your photographer aware of that and the feeling you're after. Also, let your photographer experiment a little bit. They may surprise you with how to best portray you. So, keep an open mind and play a little bit.
Keep it simple.
Stick with classic clothing in solid material instead of patterns and add a pop of color like a red blazer or tie for punch. Patterns tend to date a photo quickly as does trendy clothing. Let your personality come through in select accessories. Wear your hair as you normally do and if you wear make-up wear a little more than usual. You may want to consider hiring a make-up artist for your headshot just to add a bit more polish for a pulled together look. Wear jewelry in a tasteful way and please remove any lint from your clothing. Every spec will show! Overall kick your look and style up a notch, but still convey the real you.
Now for the technical stuff ...
· As always, the eyes are the window to the soul. It's imperative the eyes be "tack sharp" in the photographs.
· Most headshots are made from the shoulder area up. You may also want to try full-length or three-quarter body shots. You wouldn't want to cut someone off at the knees in business and neither do you want to in your photos. No cropping images at the joint, elbow or waist, for example.
o Try a three-quarter pose looking into the camera. Very flattering for most people especially compared with a head-on straight pose into the camera.
o Try a three-quarter pose looking up into the camera. This elongates the face and neck – very flattering!
· Diffused light is your best friend. Soft, natural light is the best light and will make skin tones natural. Avoid harsh lighting.
· Use a neutral blue, white or black background for your headshot pictures. Don't be afraid to take your headshot with non-traditional backgrounds (which I prefer) like in your living room or office. The background will be blurred and give just a hint of the setting.
· Try different expressions from serious to thoughtful to a natural smile. You want to convey who you are through your photo.
· And, the last word goes to props. Use 'em if they are relevant to your business or if you're known for them. For example, I recently did a shoot for an woman executive who wears "funky readers" that she buys from all over the world. We photographed her in several different ones as she normally wears them and she really "looks like her" in her head shot.
Remember, a twinkle in the eye and a genuine smile is the foundation to a great headshot because your inner light shines through and that's why people work with you. Happy shooting!
Michelle BeginaPhotographer, PB&J Photography
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