Ten Tips for Taking your Own Headshot

Ten Tips for Taking your Own Headshot

Make Sure You’re Dressed Appropriately
If fancy isn’t your thing, that’s totally fine… but, I’m begging you, please do not wear a cat shirt or your favorite sports jersey. This is one photo that will show people you can be professional and present yourself in a nice way. Think of this image as a business card or a logo, but instead..it’s your face. Take off your hat, unwrinkle your shirt, brush off the lint and show some teeth!

Take a Trip to the Mirror
Before you take the photo, go check yourself out in the mirror. Check those teeth to make sure there’s no broccoli in there from the night before, you don’t have any fly away hairs coming from your head or nose and practice some smiles until you find the one you like.

Use a Genuine Smile
It is important that you just look genuine – no frowning (duh), but don’t smile too big either – just a real life, friendly smile. Pay attention to your eyes. Don’t squint them or get the scared face from trying to keep them open. Just be casual!

Look at the Camera
Eye contact is so important in a headshot. This tip is the most difficult for me to do as a photographer being on the other side of the camera. It makes me feel like the camera knows everything about my life, and it’s intimidating, just like a really intense pair of eyeballs. However, it is exactly what grabs someone’s attention. Eyes can pretty much show you someone’s soul…. that’s a little extreme, but you understand.

A Straight Shot
A headshot should be taken from a straight-on point of view, not from above, and definitely not from below, where it could feature extra chins. Turn your body about 30 degrees either direction, but keep your head facing the camera. This exact pose is one you practiced through your entire existence of school pictures. Do that.

NO SELFIES – grab a friend, coworker, etc.
The next time I see a selfie as a headshot on Linkedin, I will most likely have a heart attack. Please don’t for my safety. Taking a selfie really limits the angle you can get. If you’ve ever taken a selfie, then you know it’s extremely difficult to keep your arm out of the picture. Let’s just avoid this all together. Grab a tripod and a timer as a second option if no one can take it for you.

Keep it Simple
The background of your headshot should be simple. A single color wall will be your best friend. Take a trip into the hallway or outside, because I don’t want to see your desk chair featured in your headshot. That’s too much. Keep the focus on your face, not your clutter.

A HEADshot is From the Chest Up
Your headshot doesn’t have to feature your entire body. Keep it from the chest up and cover your cleavage. There are less wrinkles in your shirt to worry about anyway if it’s taken from the chest up.

Shadow Face – No Thank You
Be careful to avoid weird shadows that may land on your face from harsh lighting. You do not want half of your face to be well lit and the other half covered in a dark shadow. The hard fluorescent lights can often cause some of these distractions, so look for places with natural light shining in. As a side note, if you go outside to take the photo, stay out of direct sunlight. It is too harsh and has the same effects. Outside, you need to find what’s called “open shade” to have a nice, even light without the harsh shadowing.

Cropping for Social Media
Keep in mind, leave some extra space (a frame) around you when taking the headshots. Social media often makes us crop into their format and you don’t want to cut half of your face out of the image if it’s a close up. Have the person capturing the shot either backup or zoom out to ensure you have enough room around your head. But, again, you don’t need to include much of your body for a headshot.

By: Taylor Hughes