Professional Headshots

A guide to your headshot session

Headshot of actor Jeremy Earls

“I hate having my photo taken” if only I had a penny for every time I heard this. However, with social media so important for promoting our careers and businesses a good professional headshot is a must. Here the acting profession stole a march on everyone, for years an actor’s professional headshot was de rigueur. I would argue that everyone can benefit from having a professionally taken headshot; it’s no longer something reserved for the business world or the performing arts.

Professional headshot

I’ve listed a few pointers in the hope that it explains the process:

Choosing the photographer: look for photographers who do a lot of headshots. Someone who shoots just a handful a year might not be a good choice. Better to find someone who specialises, they have the experience.
Check out several online portfolios till you find one whose style you like.

Preparing for the shoot:
Cloths, choose solid colours, stay away from patterns
Bring a few changes jackets/tops if possible
Give your clothes a press before you arrive, Photoshop is no match for an old-fashioned iron when it comes to removing wrinkles
Don’t worry about shoes; they won’t be seen
Fellas, don’t get a haircut just before the shoot, visit your barber week or more in advance
Fellas again: ties are ‘out’ at the moment, it seems to be all open-neck- shirts. However, bring one along if you feel it would be more appropriate
Serious or smiling? Your photographer will shoot a range of pictures: a smile characterises approachability, while a more earnest look portrays determination.

During the shoot:
Collaboration with the subject is essential in every stage of the process. In my case, early in the shoot we take a break and review the first 20-30 images captured. Then, together, we fine-tuning hair, clothes, makeup (if applicable) well as tweaking camera viewpoint and lighting as necessary. Each of us working towards nailing that ‘look’ that makes a great headshot.

Professional Headshot

Now many of us are not naturally photogenic. Your partner or your friend with their camera phone’s pictures can end up making you look, well er…anything but you, and certainly not your best.

“I want you to Photoshop me”, there’s another phrase I come across a lot. Now while Photoshop is the ‘go to’ for minor blemishes, it’s not the secret sauce. Instead, a skilled photographer will resort to some ‘tricks of the trade’ for instance, use lighting techniques that slim a broad face or broaden a narrow one. Again, the camera position the photographer chooses can take the emphasis from a double chin or play down thinning hair.

Professional headshot

I hope this will help you prepare for your headshot session and will make the process a little more stress-free. Having a professionally taken headshot is an investment in your ‘personal brand’.
You can see some of my work here