Odds are your ideal client will see your headshot before they meet you, creating a first impression of you and your business. Professional headshots are so crucial in today’s connected world that doing business without one is much like doing business without a logo.
Your headshot should tell the story of who you are. Easier said than done? Indeed, it is a challenge if you do it on your own, but a good professional photographer will know how to capture what you need.
I always hold a pre-session consultation with my clients to be sure we both walk into the session prepared to make a great image that tells the right story. Whether you work with me or another professional photographer, these are the seven key ideas you should consider and discuss with your photographer to be sure you get a great headshot:
Find clothing that compliments your skin tones. Clothes that are the same color as your eyes or blend with your hair, skin and eyes are always a good choice. A headshot should bring attention to your face so be sure you clothing is subtle and does not lead the eye away from your face and to your clothing.
Wear clothing that matches how your customers or clients see you. If you show up for a client meeting in a suit and tie, that is the style you should wear for your headshot. If you are more casual then that is what you should wear.
2. Setting (environment and backdrop):
The setting is important and needs to compliment your wardrobe choice providing color harmony. It also needs to match your business model and job position. Think about where and how you work, and make sure the backdrop or environment matches. For example, a CEO or lawyer would most definitely have a different setting than a Realtor or an owner of landscaping firm.
Props can be great for storytelling. Think about an artist in her art gallery, a photographer with a camera in hand, a CEO in her boardroom, a lawyer in front of a law library, a realtor in front of a white picket fence.
Posing is important; it is something that takes professional photographers years to master. Here are a few trade secrets:
- If you want to look thinner turn sideways.
- Whatever is closest to the camera will look exponentially larger than what is further away, most of us want large eyes and small bottoms so lean in and push your bottom side away from the camera.
- Most people have one eye that is smaller than the other, it is often best to put the smaller eye on the side towards the camera unless you have another reason to prefer the other side of your face.
- Your stance will also tell a story so think about who you are and your professional persona when you strike a pose.
Studio lighting can make or break a great headshot. Lighting is key to the concept of taking a three-dimensional object (humans) and putting us on a two-dimensional medium (business card, photograph, screen). We do this with the use of shadows. Like other art concepts that have been in existence for hundreds of years, there are lighting techniques that are proven to complement the human face. Make sure the photographer you work with has an understanding of natural or studio lights to maximize your appearance.
Your expression is not the icing on the cake, it is the cake. A really good photographer can do everything else right: a great choice in clothes, backdrop, pose, and lighting but if the expression looks forced or unnatural it will not be an effective headshot.
My suggestion is to find a great photographer who has credentials and proven technical skills and who can make you feel comfortable.
Your new headshot will not only improve your professional image it can help stimulate sales; depending on how and where you use it, it can even get you dates!
7. Post Processing:
A professional photographer will allow you to pick your favorite headshots and then enhance them. A good image becomes great in post processing; blemishes are removed, stray hairs cleaned up, skin softened, eyes brightened, and teeth whitened. Make sure your photographer plans to enhance your headshot after you see the proofs.