How to take a professional headshot at home - or anywhere else you are.
Your headshot is often the first impression people have of you. Email signatures, LinkedIn, company about pages…all of them are places that clients, prospects and colleagues go to find out more about you.
If it’s so important, then how do you go about getting a good headshot? Professional photographers are one option, but they’re often booked up and expensive. Lucky for you, smartphone cameras have become so good, we think there are great ways to take a professional headshot from the comfort of your own home! Here are 5 pro tips:
1. Take advantage of natural light.
Lighting is the most important factor in taking a good corporate headshot. Try getting near a window, shady spot outside, or well-lit room that uses daylight bulbs for best results. You don't want to be in direct sunlight as it’ll make your photo too bright and you’ll deal with harsh shadows, but soft, ambient light is a headshot’s best friend.
PS. If natural-looking light isn’t an option for you, you can try using a ring light by setting it up and adjusting it’s lighting settings to simulate daylight. Affordable ring lights can be found online, like this one here.
2. Smile & pose like a pro.
Perhaps the hardest part of getting a headshot you love is being unhappy with the way you look. Well, the best part of taking a professional headshot at home is that you get to be as picky as you want! A headshot should obviously focus on your face so it’s easily recognizable at a small size (like a LinkedIn profile picture).
A good rule of thumb is to shoot from the shoulders up by holding your phone slightly elevated above your head. Ideally you’d have someone else helping you take it with your phone, but work with what you’ve got! If you do have someone helping you, remember to bring your shoulders back, stand up straight, with tilt your chin down, as if you’re leaning towards the camera ever so slightly.
Try out different angles that you are most flattering, experiment with different smiles, take serious shots and casual ones, and don't forget to relax!
3. Take more than one photo.
As mentioned above, the best part of getting a headshot done at home is that you’re in charge! You’ll rarely nail it on the first try, so don’t be shy about taking a BUNCH of photos.
Try headshots in different lighting, poses or outfits until you feel you've taken the "right" one! Don't rush the process. You'll likely be making adjustments to it all for a little bit, so set aside 30 minutes or so and have fun with it!
4. Wear what you would wear to work.
Dress in a way that reflects who you are and is inviting for your target audience. Whether you're a big-time CEO or a barista at a small coffee shop, dress how you would at work. People want to recognize you when they meet you…and nobody needs to see that cropped wedding photo from 10 years ago that just screams “I want the good old days back”.
Be yourself and be confident, it’ll show in the headshot, and in what you wear. As a rule of thumb for whatever you wear: avoid clothing with logos, keep your outfit classic or simple, and try to wear solid neutral colors that won't clash with your background or profile.
5. Polish your headshot with some editing.
Once you're done snapping some photos, choose one you like the best and plan on enhancing it a bit. You can use the built-in editing features on your phone or an editing app like Darkroom, for example.
Features you want to play with include:
- Exposure: Depending on if your photo feels too bright or dark, you can adjust the exposure to get the right lighting.
- Contrast: Don't add too much contrast to the point you create harsh shadows, instead adjust it slightly to give yourself a little more definition.
- Saturation: Adding a little more saturation to your headshot can make it "pop" and avoid looking dull, but you don't want to overdo it or you’ll look like pop art cartoon.
- Sharpness / Clarity: Depending on what camera or device you're using, your photos might not be as crisp as you'd like. By adjusting the sharpness or clarity you can add a little more focus to yourself. However, note that if your photo is blurry overall, this don’t solve it.
PS. We’ve put a together a resource that walks you through taking a great headshot using our new virtual headshots platform: Studio. If you happen to be using Snapbar Studio to take a headshot, you can find that step-by-step guide here: https://snapbar.com/studio-resource