4 Tips For Taking a Great Professional Headshot

When it comes to personal branding, a clear and professional photo depicting who you are across all platforms is very important. From your Twitter page to your LinkedIn profile to your personal website, each one should show who you are as a career professional (aka I don’t suggest using a photo of you in a bathing suit as your LinkedIn profile picture).

One way to ensure that your photos are clear and professional is to pay a photographer to take your picture for you. (Disclosure: I currently do not have a professional headshot as my photo on all my platforms, but I am scheduled to have them done in early June.) Now, when I say pay, I don’t mean your entire month’s rent. Find an amateur photographer who could use the experience for their resume, a family friend or anyone who you think takes great photos. It doesn’t have to cost that much, and you really only need one or two great shots of yourself for your brand.

With all that said, I did a little research on how to make sure you take the best headshot possible. Here are four tips to keep in mind when posing for the camera.

Keep It Real

There’s nothing worse than taking a photo of yourself and looking at it later and thinking, “who is that?!” Be sure you dress like you normally would for work. Wear your hair the way you always do and don’t go too heavy on the make-up (but do add a little more than usual if you want it to translate into the photo). If you wear glasses on a daily basis, wear them in the photo. According toBackstage.com, a website that offers advice for actors (who also need headshots), it is best to go for personality over glamour. People expect you to look like your headshot when they meet you in person, so be yourself.

Look for the Right Light

Lighting can make or break a great headshot. Skip taking your photos in an office space where the lighting is dull and flat, and aim for an outdoor setting with natural light. Not only will the natural light add dimension to your face and eyes, but it will add color, texture and dimension. In order to make the most of the natural light, wait for the sun to hit your face on an angle (aka don’t take photos at high noon), and stand so that you’re facing the source of the light.

Avoid Complicated Prints

Besides your hair and make-up, your outfit is the next most important aspect in your headshot. Your top will show in the photo, so it should not distract the viewer from your face and who you are. In other words, avoid busy, printed tops. According to Marie Claire, a simple top or sheath dress is best for women, and jewel tones look good on just about everyone.

Focus on the Face

When it comes down to it, you want your face to be the main focus of the headshot. According to LinkedIn blogger and professional photographer Scott R. Kline, the face should fill the majority of the frame. “Crop the photo from just below the shoulders to no higher than just above your head,” says Kline. He even says that when he crops his own photos, he oftentimes cuts into the top of the head a little. Don’t have too much space around your face and don’t worry about your outfit (though I suggest making sure it at least looks like you have a shirt on); focus on your face.

— Hilarey Wojtowicz