Have you been thinking about updating your current headshot for business? A professional portrait can make all the difference whether you’re presenting yourself to potential employers, building your brand or connecting with clients. Just scan Linkedin and you’ll see the stark contrast between people who have invested in a quality photograph, and those who haven’t. As a professional photographer, I’ve shot countless business headshots over the years and always provide my clients with tips for getting ready. Today, I’m sharing that advice with everyone!
Style: First of all, know what you want and find a professional photographer who offers that style. What kind of headshot are you looking for? The answer to this question depends entirely on your field of work and what you want your photo to communicate. Most professionals want to convey capable yet approachable qualities, but the approach can differ. A real estate agent might prefer a natural environment and to communicate a more casual, friendly message, while a business executive might need a more conventional backdrop with formal attire. You may want to purposely avoid the norm in order to stand out creatively or you could be attempting to match a previous standard set forth in the company. Exploring these factors will help you and your photographer plan ahead for the best setting, lighting, and style.
Groups: If you’re looking to update headshots for an entire staff there will be a few additional questions to ask yourself. Do you need the style to be easily repeated as the business grows? If so, a studio setup will offer the most reliable repetition as compared to natural lighting or outdoor locations. Also, are you looking for total uniformity or would you like some variation within a cohesive style? A medical practice might need uniform posing while a marketing firm could prefer some variation, allowing for personality. Finally, will you need a group photo? If so, discuss with your photographer the best method for the number of people. Once you’ve got these details ironed out, it’s time for scheduling. When I shoot groups like this, I set up a portable studio in the place of business so that no one is away from work for more than a few minutes. This makes the whole process so much smoother and easier on the staff.
Clothing type: Think about your profession and your audience. How do you want to portray yourself and is there a certain standard your audience will be expecting? A graphic design contractor might dress casually working from home, but the best clothing choice for his portrait will vary if large corporations are his typical clients compared to a target audience in the music or fashion industry. Browsing various headshots on Linkedin or even just the examples on this website will help give you ideas. You might even want to shoot a few different “looks.” Quick change ideas include: removing a tie while keeping the jacket, removing the jacket and rolling sleeves, switching from blouse and jacket to blouse and scarf or cardigan, with and without eyeglasses, changing out accessories or trying a different color top.
Clothing color and texture: Consider colors that look best on you. Stay away from anything overpowering but adding some color or pattern will help you stand out in the crowd of grays and blacks. For texture, consider layers, fabrics, jackets, scarves, sweaters, and accessories. These things add dimension and interest.
Clothing fit: It’s so important to feel good in what you’re wearing! If you’re uncomfortable, it will show up in your images. If you have a problem area that bothers you, dress appropriately. Ladies, if you aren’t loving your arms lately, don’t wear a sleeveless top. Guys, if your shirt is too tight at the neck, consider skipping the tie and leaving it unbuttoned or shopping for something new. New clothes usually make us feel good anyway. Ladies, we sometimes find it challenging to look professional and still feel beautiful. You can do both! Don’t be afraid to wear something you love, just avoid the super trendy and keep it classy.
Hair and makeup: You should look like yourself on your best day. If you opt to have hair and/or makeup done professionally, it will certainly give you an added boost of confidence and a polished look. But, whether you go this route or DIY, keep it YOU. Sidenote: Be aware, mineral makeup will reflect light when combined with flash photography, resulting in a lighter than normal complexion.
Iron. (I know, I hate ironing too. And yes, this tip has been repeated just in case you were considering skipping it.)
Eyeglasses: If you wear them all the time you should probably have them on in most of your photos. Ideally, non-glare lenses!
Couch time: The thing is, we all need a little counseling when it comes to our self-image and the resulting stress we feel in front of the camera. Most of us aren’t 100% excited about the photography process, some of us are really not looking forward to it, and a few might rather be getting a root canal. Here’s my best advice and I won’t even charge an hourly rate:
Take a deep breath and relax. Leave plenty of time for getting ready – maybe even a glass of wine or your favorite tea.
Remember that this photo is just a piece of who you are. It’s not the sum total.
Think about your gifts and positive attributes, both physical and intellectual. Make a mental list of at least five.
Would you feel better having a friend or loved one come with you? Bring them! Would you feel better if they don’t come? Leave them home!
Trust your photographer. Tell her your favorite side if you have one. Allow her to bring out the best in you. You will most likely feel nervous in the beginning but the professional you’ve hired is skilled at more than just using a camera. She’ll help you relax, she’ll guide your posing, and she’ll probably offer excellent retouching options so that you don’t need to worry about the blemish that popped up out of nowhere or the coffee that dripped on your shirt during the drive over.
And, If I’m the one shooting your portrait, I can promise the experience will be way better than a root canal. Hands down.