First impressions have always mattered, and in the past it was all about the handshake. Now that we’ve entered the era of LinkedIn, virtual business, and online personal branding, a well-done headshot can be equally important as a firm grip.
A carefully chosen headshot is a key part of publicly representing yourself and your brand. As with all first impressions, your headshot should set the tone for who you are and what you’re about. It’s important that the image looks and feels like you, not how you think people want to see you. Luckily, the days of staged and stuffy yearbook-like headshots are over. Polished, genuine, and more relaxed headshots are in. Here are some tips for putting your best face forward:
- Don’t take yourself too seriously. Show some personality and SMILE!
- Don’t abuse Photoshop or Instagram. A little touching up is fine, but steer clear of any unnatural filters or alterations.
- No matter how pretty you look, skip any headshot that has other people’s body parts cropped out around your head.
- Lighting is key. If you’re using natural light, never shoot at midday–the strong light creates harsh shadows. If you’re indoors, try moving near a window since a combo of natural and artificial light often makes a better shot.
- Pay attention to how you frame the shot. Make sure horizon lines are straight, that there are no distracting objects in view, and that you have chosen the best angle. (It helps to take a few practice shots from different angles.)
- Keep your background simple and clean. This can mean a white wall or a tree; just make sure that the background makes you stand out, and not the other way around.
- Don’t wear anything with words, and stick to solids or subtle patterns. Words and flashy patterns distract viewers from your beautiful profile!
- Skip the suit and wear something that shows off your (work) style. Anything with a classic neckline should do the trick.
- Depending on your industry and career path, a professional photographer may be worthwhile. But if you have an amateur photographer friend, ask him or her to use you as a test subject!
- Update regularly—once a year is a good rule of thumb. A career change or branding adjustment may also mean an update is in order.
Do you have any headshot do’s or don’ts? Share them in the comments!