Headshots: why you need them and how to make the most of them
I hate having my photo taken.
I am content to be the wallflower at a party. I prefer to hang back, sip my drink and watch the party unfold. Having my camera in my husband's hands and posing for these nearly killed me. He's not great at directing me (yet!) so I had to dig deep and remember what I tell my clients when I'm in charge: "deep breath, close your eyes, and when you open them pop them right into my lens and flirt with me. Oh, did I tell you my latest dad joke? See there was this guy who...put your hand in your hair, and smile at that tree....walked into a bar...hey we should go for a little walk...and the bartender said..." and by then we're laughing and my client is relaxed and we're getting the winning shots.
This is the process I'm thinking while my sweet husband is trying to remember to focus and find the right composition after I've set up the camera settings. He's still not ready to talk while shooting, so I'm in my head reminding myself that I only have to do this twice a year.
Yes, you should be having your headshots done twice a year. Headshots are often your first impression and a representation of your work and you do not want to put an outdated image into the world.
Your headshots should be you on your best day, confident, friendly, and stylish. Someone you would want to get to know and work with.
You should take careful consideration of your wardrobe, background, and any props you might include. I chose not to include my camera in my headshots because I am not only a photographer, but also a creative director/stylist, and owner/designer at Little Sun Hat and will be utilizing these images for many projects both personal and professional. I chose a comfortable outfit and casual hair/makeup because this is a best representation of who I am at work. I work best when my clothes are simple and when I can put others at ease and support them while they shine.
Remember I said you should have your headshots done twice a year? Updating your images keeps your face fresh in your marketing of yourself, so if you want to rock bangs or recently lost a few pounds you'll look exactly like you do right now. A good way to schedule them is once in the spring and once in the fall. If you are unable to have your headshots taken twice a year, opt for at least once every year in a season-less setting. Your images will last a little longer without spring blooms or fall foliage giving away a definitive timestamp.
How to Pose For Headshots
I have to be honest and tell you that I don't really like "poses" because everyone is so different and carries their own bodies in a unique way. Posing tends to block the natural flow of showing your personality.
The best headshots are the ones with deep authenticity that allows the viewer to see and feel who you are as a person. A skilled photographer will be able to direct you and make you feel at ease. They may give gentle suggestions and will definitely tell you when you are showing your best look. The first few frames I take are always throw away shots, because I know it takes a little bit of time for someone to become comfortable in the spotlight.
A tip to remember is to roll one of both shoulders down and away from your ears, and elongate your neck forward which gives you a more engaging look. Before I jump in front of the camera doing a little jig to shake off nerves always helps me to relax.
How Not To Pose For Headshots
A general rule to remember, if you wouldn't hold a certain position in a natural conversation, don't do it in front of a camera.
- Do not cross your arms over your chest. This makes you feel safe and secure in front of the camera, but puts off a cool and emotionally cut off vibe. The last thing you want are your potential clients thinking you are a bully.
- Do not place both of your hands on your hips. Is Superman here to save the day? No? Then just one relaxed hand or no hands on the hips.
- Do not raise your shoulders.
- Do not tilt your head up too high, so we see right up your nose.
- Do not tilt your head too low, while artful, this look can be plain scary. Stranger Things Fans: save it for Halloween.
- Do not lean back on your heels or lean your head back, this makes you look uninterested and unengaged.
There are some mixed feelings about not looking right into the lens for professional headshots. I think there are some grey areas in headshot usage and that a more thoughtful and indirect look is useful to have on hand.
Here are my rules:
Use a direct look for About pages on your personal or company website.
You can use an indirect look (looking to the side or other pose) in blog posts/social media.