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Five tips to taking the perfect headshot

A good headshot is essential in today’s professional environment. Not only does it improve your LinkedIn profile, but it’s always handy to have a good headshot on file for websites, future speaking engagements, profiles or a host of other uses.

First impressions last so it’s important your headshot looks professional, clear, and above all flattering.  No one wants to see a photo of you at your friend’s wedding where you’ve obviously cropped other people out.

Here are five simple things to remember when you’re taking your next headshot:

1. Who wore it better? 
Make sure your clothes are portraying the image you want your clients to see.  You might consider taking two photos for extra flexibility: one in formal corporate wear and another in smart casual wear.  Avoid garish colours or anything that will date quickly.  After all, you want to look as though you’re off to an industry function, not a boozy night out on the town.

2. Walk towards the light
Good, preferably natural, light is key for taking quality photos. Don’t just rely on the camera’s flash as this can create heavy shadows.  Instead, use additional lights and bounce light off the ceiling or walls to achieve more a natural feel and even illumination. While dark photos and ugly shadows can be fixed — to a degree — in programs like Photoshop, it’s best to set the photo up properly in the first instance.

3. It’s behind you!
Nothing says “police mug shot” more than standing front-on to the camera with a plain wall behind you. Find your best side and stand on a slight angle to the camera. Make sure there’s nothing distracting in the background, like light switches, people or plants, and try different poses, such as standing, leaning, and sitting.  If you have scenery behind you, use the Portrait setting on the camera as this will keep the background unfocused and keep attention on you as the subject.

4. Time is on your side
Don’t make the mistake of taking a quick photo of yourself on your camera.  Kim Kardashian is the only person in the world who can get away with sending a selfie as a headshot.  Ask someone who is competent using a good quality camera to take your photo.  Set aside time to get comfortable in front of the camera and take many shots – you’re not a supermodel so it will take more than one shot to get it right.

5. Nothing beats the original
Your headshot will often get cropped and decreased to a small file size to be used on the web and on social media. Make sure you keep an unedited copy of the original file so you always have a quality file to start with when it needs to be altered for different applications and uses.