Professional Headshots: everything you need to know.
Having a professional headshot or branding portrait is one of the most valuable things you can do for your career. Whether you need a headshot of yourself for your LinkedIn profile or a whole set of images to complete your social media marketing strategy.
Professional portraits are the key to making great impressions, generating trust, and showcasing yourself as a leader in your field.
Why do you really need professional shots?
If you’re a job seeker or a CEO, we all have a personal brand. Our personal brand is an accumulation of the things we do, what we say, how we interact with others, and of course what we put up online.
So when it comes to creating your personal brand online, it goes beyond your logo design, chosen fonts, and colour schemes. It’s not just your website or the copy you use. The way you choose to showcase yourself (or, not showcase yourself) is very definitive of your brand.
Why wouldn’t you want to show who you are? After all, you’re the talented person behind your ideas and actions. By introducing who you are, visually, it allows others to put a connection between your business and a real person – with a life, bills, family, and emotions.
People will skim through text. You might have written 500 amazing words telling your story, but it doesn’t mean people will read it all. We often skim-read, and images are a great grab-point in a page. They can tell your story too.
After all, people do business with people – especially those they know, like, and trust.
It’s time to stop avoiding, and start growing.
For the everyday person, getting professional headshots taken can be a daunting experience. Not everyone has a load of experience behind the camera, and as such, they tell themselves it’s not a priority or put it off.
I’ve heard a lot of varying reasons as to why people have avoided getting their headshots taken. From wanting to lose a bit more weight to feeling awkward in front of the camera.
Yet the people that do get their headshots taken have shared their experiences of feeling empowered, confident and in control of their professional image. It is a big thing for both personal and professional growth.
So what can you do to combat the feelings of doubt?
1 – Plan, plan, and plan some more.
Don’t expect to stand in front of a camera and have an amazing headshot. Proper planning is incredibly important so that you not only get the shots you want, but the right shots that convey your brand, connect with your clients and fit in with your visual image.
This means getting inspiration of photos you love. Studying the poses that look and feel authentic to you. Considering the appropriate background and setting for your branding and profession.
2 – Put your trust into a professional photographer.
A professional headshot photographer isn’t only going to know their way around the technical side of a camera, they will be able to coach and direct you to achieve authentic expressions and natural poses.
Have you ever been in a group photo with a 10-second self-timer? Only to see the photos and find everyone’s smiles look a little strained? The same is with your professional headshots. Taking a selfie or using a timer means you’re not always capturing the authentic, branded you.
So find a photographer that specialises in the field, and make sure you not only love their folio but can form a connection with them.
It goes beyond just working with a photographer. If you want to get your professional headshots taken, here’s everything you need to know:
1 – Be organised
Have everything sorted out well in advance. Plan out your ideas and discuss with your photographer. Pick out your outfits and iron them the night before. Avoid the rush on the day, and stay relaxed.
2- Pick out some great outfit options
Stick to items of clothing that make you feel amazing. Keep it industry-appropriate. A starting point is something you might wear to an interview or client meeting.
Think about colours that compliment your skintone, hair colour and eye colour (matching your eyes to something you wear can really make them stand out!). If you have branding colours for your business, these can be incorporated in subtle ways (accessories, jewellery or one piece of clothing).
3 – Hair and Makeup
Look natural! Keep your look basic and professional. There’s no need to pile on thick makeup. My advice is to always start basic, and you can add more during the shoot if you want to.
Bring along up some touch-up makeup, hair pins, hair ties, and preferred hair product to your shoot. Being able to change your hairstyle as you shoot will give you some more varied options.
You can opt to use a professional hair and makeup artist, but find one who has experience in makeup for photography. You don’t want the makeup to be really obvious in the final shots. After all, it is important to stay recognisable.
4 – Backgrounds and setting
The background of your photo shouldn’t distract from you in any way, but it can be a nice way to add feeling or atmosphere to your shots.
Decide if you want a studio, outdoor or an on-location setting (such as your home or workplace). This is often dependant on your industry. Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box. You can use colour and texture. You don’t need to stick to the traditional ‘white background look’.
5 – Poses and expression
Research poses and expressions you like. Save them on a Pinterest board, and link to your photographer.
Once you have an idea on the ‘vibe’ you wish to communicate, you’ll be able to practise some ideas in a mirror beforehand and feel a little more prepared and relaxed.
6 – Pre-shoot preparation.
Have a pre-shoot routine down pat. It is important to stay hydrated in the days leading up to your shoot. To make sure you feel great on the day, have a well-balanced breakfast in the morning, and find something that will keep you happy, relaxed and positive beforehand (like reading a book or listening to music).
There are no excuses not to put yourself out there. Find a photographer, do the preparation, and have fun with it.