Headshots are important for models and actors when creating their portfolios. They can be equally import for others who want to display a professional image for potential clients and employers. And while the tendency may be to just stick something up on your online resume, Facebook page, or LinkedIn profile, you are far better off taking the time to make sure you get it right. In the absence of paying for a professionally done headshot, let me provide you with a few of my own tips for taking a better headshot or portrait photo.
Before I start, a headshot is a picture that focuses on a person’s face, not the head per se. Further, if you want something that speaks to who you are, be sure to do the things you normally would do for a physical interview. For example, your own makeup and not something garish looking, your hair properly coiffed, and be careful of collars, hats and clothing that overrun the photo leaving your face in the background.
So, on we go …
#1 – The Eyes are Everything:
Like I discussed in the bird photography article, a photographer taking a good headshot will focus on the subject’s eyes. The eyes are intense and full of emotion. They speak to the person looking at the photo. Also, by focusing on the eyes, you get a bigger picture. In other words, the final product highlights the face and doesn’t include unnecessary distractions.
#2 – Make the Smile Natural:
Unless you’re an actress, it is going to be hard to make a fake smile look natural. Instead of trying to get the subject to smile on cue, carry on some fun banter and be ready to take a shot. Try to help the person get the right image by telling them what is nice while engaged in conversation. You don’t want to look grumpy if you are trying to find a new job.
#3 – Too Much Light is Dangerous:
Direct light, whether natural or the camera flash, will be the downfall of your photo. All those nasty blemishes and marks that you despise will come out front and center. Diffused lighting is best for headshots. While the picture should be crisp and clear, you don’t want the clarity on the negative apsects. A reflector also helps to fill in all the shadowy areas and create a smoother clean image.
#4 – Simple Backgrounds:
Because the person’s face is the sole focus of the photography session, backgrounds should be plain white, matte finished colors or even a reflector. Stay away from multi-colored sheets and blankets, busy curtains and textured wallpaper. They will all clash with the clothing and will take center stage in the photo.
#5 – Eye Glasses and Lighting:
Glasses do challenge the correct lighting. Try to light the subject on one side while having them tilt the head to the other side. The contradiction should give you the right coloring and prevent the glare from the glass lens.
I would finally like to mention that taking a selfie with your cell phone or tablet does not constitute a headshot, particularly if you plan on finding a job, new clients or an acting gig.
Backstage is more than fifty years old and experts in the field of helping actors and actresses to find work. This page is a great collection of their best tips for creating better headshots.