Here’s How To Get A Sharp Headshot

Here’s How To Get A Sharp Headshot

Want to look professional for your social media or company headshots? Here are some pointers.
Angelea Busby
By

Whether you’ve just landed a new job or the marketing department just wants to freshen up the website, for some of us, anxiety ensues in anticipation of the dreaded company picture day. Even if you’re blessed with a natural love for the camera, preparing for a professional headshot isn’t necessarily simple. Fortunately, there exist some tricks of the trade. The following are some suggestions as to how to make your next picture day one of your best.

For starters, it’s important to invest in a professional photographer. This picture is one of the most important ones you will take throughout your career. Even though it isn’t always fair, your management, peers, colleagues, and future prospective employers may judge you on this picture alone. So, make it your best! Save your best buddy’s photography skills for Facebook.

Specifics On Choosing Headshot Attire

How do you want to look on picture day? Let’s begin with your clothing choices. Whether your firm requires a casual or more professional look, some guidelines are the same. Steer clear of patterns and stripes, for a busy clothing pattern will look messy and draw the eye away from your face. A good recommendation is to wear more fitted clothing, which will define your figure and thus serve you better than something flowy, regardless of your size. Of course, when I suggest fitted, I don’t mean something that’s inappropriate for the workplace, but something that outlines your figure.

No matter how great of a smile you may have, an observer’s eye will always find the flaw.

Guys, the traditional outfit includes a dark blazer jacket and a light-colored Oxford shirt. Although this is probably obvious, don’t overlook the condition of these staples. Make sure your suit jacket and shirt are pressed. Wrinkles are no place for a professional photo. How’s the fit around the collar? Either too tight or too roomy? Neither is becoming or comfortable. Wearing a tie? Keep it simple: the more basic design, the better. Let’s also make sure there are no stains, spots, or snags. No matter how great of a smile you may have, an observer’s eye will always find the flaw.

Ladies, you have a little more flexibility when choosing attire. A blazer jacket, a cardigan, or even a blouse will suffice. A traditional look that is always a winner is the standard blazer with a shell underneath. A shell is a simplistic, fitted blouse with a high neckline. This is incredibly professional and also very classic. As for jewelry, you also have options. I’d stick with stud or pearl earrings, and if you choose to add a necklace, the shorter the better. If it’s too long, it will get cropped out of the final photo. Fourteen- to 24-inch necklace lengths are recommended.

Don’t Forget Hair and Makeup

Believe it or not, your hairstyle says a lot about who you are. If you’re going to fix your hair like your stylist intended, picture day is the day! But be sure you’ve practiced a couple of days beforehand to avoid unnecessary anxiety on the day of your shoot. It’s also inevitable that the day you’re scheduled will be the day of a torrential downpour or suffocating heat wave. I’d recommend you arrive early to style your hair on-site, or else pack a comb and hairspray (guys, too) for that last minute touch-up. Men, watch the amount of gel you use to style your hair. The camera will pick up on that and enhance it to the shine of a Ken doll. If that’s the look you’re going for, awesome, but if not, you’ve been forewarned.

Some photographers don’t do a lot of editing with Photoshop, so your best bet is to prepare for these anticipated ‘flaws’ ahead of time

For ladies who have longer hair, try to be mindful of a good balance between your face and hair. If all of your hair is in front, you’ll only see hair once the picture is cropped. Conversely, if all of your hair is tucked back, viewers will see a lot of face without any hair to soften your features. The best balance is half and half: one side resting in front, the other resting in back. Having softness around your face is very important. Slicked back buns or ponytails are often too harsh for these type of photos, and they may not even make it in the frame. Also, be aware of potential fly-aways. Some photographers don’t do a lot of editing with Photoshop, so your best bet is to prepare for these anticipated “flaws” ahead of time (by bringing hairspray, for instance).

Make-up is a must, no matter if you’re an all-natural girl or former beauty queen! Without it, the camera’s flash will wash you out. Even the slightest bit will improve your photo’s quality, enhancing your natural beauty by highlighting your cheekbones and eyes. For a basic application, I suggest a light blush, mascara, and a matte lipstick. For those of us who prefer a bit more coverage, go for it, but keep your photo’s purpose in mind. You can play up your eyes and cheeks, but don’t go too heavy, especially with colorful eyeshadow and eyeliner. Lastly, keep your lip gloss in your purse. Similar to hair gel, lip gloss will give a shine from the flash, taking the focus off of you.

Posture Perfect Poses

Now, your photographer should help you with this, but if not, watch your body’s position in the photo. Sitting straight onto the camera is going to make you look wide, even for the most petite of frames. The best option is to position your body diagonally from the camera and simply move your head to greet the lens. This is a more slimming, natural position that gives you a flattering shape. Also, if you get to have multiple takes, smile for a couple of photos and briefly rest in between takes. If you hold your smile for too long, you’ll begin to look uncomfortable and risk losing the authenticity of your natural smile.

My last tip of photography success is a simple trick to keep everything in place for those few short seconds before the final snap. Since most headshots do not show the subject’s hands, lightly pull down on the front of your shirt. This gesture pulls out any wrinkles you may have once seated and equally keeps everything exactly where you want it. Guys, your photographer may disagree, but in this instance, untuck your own shirt so you can pull on the tails for this effect. It may feel unnatural, because it is, but your photo’s finish will thank you for it.

Now, not everyone is naturally photogenic, but with these simple tips you can be. When it’s your time to be in the spotlight, you will definitely have the advantage of putting your best face forward.

Angelea Busby is a Washington DC-based working professional, philanthropist, health advocate, and personal stylist. She holds a degree in journalism and a master's in business administration.

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