It shouldn’t be a surprise to know that headshots are your introduction to clients before you even meet them in person. Think of it as your digital identity – your business card.
What’s surprising though, is that people don’t usually realise that they can’t just go to anyone with a good camera to get their headshots taken (this is subjective, of course). There is so much to be put into consideration which is why professional headshots can cost an arm and a leg (well, maybe not really an arm and a leg but it can get expensive, and for good reasons!). We have some tips for you on how to take a good profile photo that represents you well.
Q1. How Do You Want to be Perceived?
In other words, what is your brand? Before even hiring the photographer, you should be able to know how you want to be presented. Think of it as on a positioning scale, on one end of the scale you can look super creative and funky, on the other end you can look very professional and trusted, or do you want to be somewhere in the middle where you look approachable yet professional? There is no one right answer, it really all depends on how you want to be portrayed and what will brand you and your company best.
For example, if you are a newly set up social enterprise dedicated to providing support for beneficiaries, you do not want to look too cold, you would be somewhere between the left end and the middle of the scale – warm, approachable and kind.
A different example would be if you are a lawyer, you need to look reputable and experienced, you would need a more professional profile photo that sits on the right end of the scale.
Q2. What Makes it the Right Space?
Sometimes it’s nice to show a more unique backdrop to help look more approachable and less cold. It could be outdoors in a natural environment, or it could be a textured wall, the right space can be used to enhance the right message. If you are a startup, with a more innovative mindset, you wouldn’t want to look like any other corporate headshots out there would you? With that said, a simple single-colour backdrop will do no wrong either!
Avoid backgrounds with text in them. your corporate headshot should be ambiguous enough to be used in different settings, imagine it could be used in official press releases or as conference panelist profile. You don’t want to have «Starbucks» logo or «Bank of ABC» behind you.
And avoid a space that is not well-lit. The purpose is to present you well, not to hide you in-between spaces under shadow.
Q3. What Should I Wear? How Should I Pose?
It’s important to wear what makes you comfortable. Only with the comfort of your clothes and the makeup, will you be able to take a profile photo that represents you true and well. Usually we recommend:
- Natural makeup that brings out your confident self! That means avoiding too heavy makeup or little to no touch ups. You should be embracing the age you’re at!
- Pro tip: Use 1 hint of colour in your makeup that matches well with your surroundings or clothes.
- Your hair should not cover too much of your face.
- Make sure your clothes is ironed! Clothes wrinkling or collar flopping will not represent you well.
- Practise good body language – don’t cross your arms! It can make you look defensive instead of being warm and open. Instead, sitting upright can make you look confident.
- Avoid make up that is too high fashion or editorial (unless you are in the fashion industry of course)
- Avoid wearing graphic tees or tops with words on it.
- Avoid jewellery that is too shiny.
In the end, it depends where on the positioning scale you sit on. If you are on the left end, be as creative and colourful as you want! If you are on the right end, utilise more neutral tones and less colour.
Q4. How to Stand Out from the Crowd
We know a corporate headshot is usually pretty straightforward. A suit or formalwear, plain background, looking straight into the camera, smile. But sometimes, you want to reveal a bit more of your personality. There are many ways you could do this! It could be a simple pop of colour in your clothes like a bright tie, or a statement necklace, or a bright red lip or even electric blue eyeliner that fits with what you wear. The possibilities are endless! Of course, we would recommend this only to those whose profession allows a bit of a leeway on this. If you are a doctor or a lawyer, unfortunately this section will not apply to you. (Tough luck!)
Yes, it’s a lot to take in, we understand. But like we said above, a good corporate headshot is like your digital business card, you need to present it well. Do make sure that you take quite a few different poses and angles so that you have a variety to choose from at the end. Your photo should not be taken too close or too far either, so remember that when you brief the photographer! Allow some bleed-space around so your photo can be re-cropped easily as you wish.
Your photos will eventually be seen online and offline, on your social media profiles, websites and other printed marketing collaterals. They’re pretty much there for a long, long time so you’ll probably want to get it right the first time round.
It is all about finding a right balance of your different needs and wants. If you are wearing something bright, your background should be neutral and toned down. If you are wearing a suit, your background can be more natural or textured to create a nice contrast.
Bonus Question: What Happens when You’re on a Budget?
This is where a friend (or a friend with a tripod!) comes in handy!
Friend and/or tripod in hand? Now all you have to do is pick a location where there’s good lighting and a simple backdrop. Usually, this is indoors where you’re away from direct sunlight and a solid backdrop is available. Remember to take your time! Regardless whether you’re shooting indoors or outdoors, you’ll want a backdrop that makes it look like you’re in a studio (Think: that white wall you have in your living room. As long as it makes your face stand out!).
Do you need a fancy camera for this? No, not really. Nowadays, phones are equipped with state-of-the-art capabilities. If anything, keep these in mind once you’ve gotten your backdrop down:
- Adjust your camera settings to make sure that you’re shooting on the highest photo resolution available.
- Give yourself time to warm-up, experiment with your postures and expressions!
- Take LOTS of shots.
- Time to edit? There are camera apps that have additional features to help you crop, brighten or even straighten your photos like Snapseed (Android | iOS)!
Think you’ve got it? Go forth and strike a pose!