Headshot photography is not just for actors and authors; people from all walks of life can benefit from having some taken. For example, adding an image of yourself to a job application can give your chances of employment a boost, but don’t try doing it yourself with a smartphone. A selfie is not appropriate for an employment form, or a business platform such as LinkedIn — it’s best to arrange a high quality headshot from a professional photographer.
If you need headshot photography, there are a few things to keep in mind to get the best results for your money. The first of these is to find a good photographer with great interpersonal skills. Looking online for a headshot photographer can be overwhelming, so here’s a few things to consider:
- Check that the photographer holds accreditation with an institution that governs their ethical and moral standards, as this organization usually verifies their photographic expertise as well.
- Google reviews are a godsend for discovering if a photographer is flexible, affordable, and professional. Choose an experienced one and look through the portfolio on their website to see if their style is what you have in mind. When looking at their example photos, make sure you notice if the photographer prefers alternative and edgy photos, contemporary, or traditional and conservative shots, and find one who aligns with your brand and image. Be aware that some photographers subcontract jobs, so make sure the portfolio of examples were taken by the photographer you had in mind.
- Check on a photographer’s specialty. Many photographers concentrate on just one or two areas. A landscape photographer may also be prepared to do headshots, but a portrait photographer will have more experience in the nuances of headshot images.
- Make sure that you think about the different types of headshot photography available, and communicate the style you are hoping to achieve. There are two main versions: one for actors, and one for business professionals. Acting headshots can be moody and dramatic, featuring strong shadows and intensified expressions. Whereas in corporate headshots, the lighting is within a structured formula, and the photographer should coach you to present a friendly, natural, AUTHENTIC smile.
Once you’ve narrowed down your search to a few photographers:
- ask for an appointment
- ask questions
- or at least speak to them on the phone to see if you relate to each other.
You would most certainly do this with your realtor, investor etc, make sure to do it with your photographer too. And during this discussion, remember to ask how the final product will be delivered. Every photographer uses a slightly different vehicle. Make it clear what you have in mind, and ensure the photographer is willing to provide this type of service.
During the session
I may only takes a couple of shots to start with. I’ll probably ask you to turn to the left and then turn to the right while I take a shot of each side of your face. This gives me the opportunity to test lighting arrangements, get to know you a little bit, and have some fun together.
I’ll also look at the exposures I’ve chosen that will best suit your overall complexion. I’ll also have the studio set-up for your session beforehand, but with each individual being of different shape and height, we may need to fine-tune the settings a little. We’ll also view those test shots on the monitor to see which side of your face you think is most photogenic. Everyone has a good side, and it’s usually easy to discover this after seeing only a few examples. You may even learn something new!
Collab and coach
My role isn’t just to take pictures, but to collaborate, so don’t be afraid to make suggestions if you prefer a particular angle. Trust me, we love knowing these sort of details! At the same time, some of the suggestions from me may seem awkward at first, but rest assured, these positions will make sense when you see the results. For example, I may ask you to push your chin forward towards the camera. Thats a common request from headshot photographers, as this helps to avoid the appearance of a double chin. I may even ask you to look slightly above the camera because it helps the eyes to appear a little more open and active. Headshots are all about expressing your personality, I’ll coach to reveal your true self through the images.
I’ll also have my camera tethered to the monitor, so that both of us can view the images in real-time. Because these monitors are much bigger than the screen on the back of the camera, it’s easier to check your facial expressions, and you get to see the great results that I am confident you will see! Seeing these images gives you more trust in me and my craft. If I can make you feel comfortable being in front of the camera, it’ll provide that extra boost of confidence! I’ll also ask you which shots you like best, and this reveals a multitude of information:
- A pattern of body positions
- Facial expressions
Tethering is also useful so I can check the focus, the light intensity of each strobe, and the general exposure of the shots before we start snapping away.
When I find the best pose and angle for you, I will zero-in on making slight adjustments. Even little teeny tiny adjustments make a huge difference and this is something you will probably hear me telling you at your session. Photos will be taken as you move the chin up a fraction, then as you move it a little to the left and right, then a few more shots will be taken as you move your chin down a bit.
Worth your while
Having a series of professional headshots in your digital portfolio will come in handy for so many invaluable situations. Attaching a professional image of yourself to your blog posts adds credibility to your writing, and provides greater connection with your readers. Or, your new headshots could simply be used to update your social media profile images. Everyone can benefit from having professional headshot photography, find an experienced photographer, and make it happen!
Daniel Turbert is a philanthropist, president of a non-profit, and published photographer who runs a commercial photography studio in Chapel Hill, NC for headshots and fine art portraits