How to Take the Perfect Headshot

So you want to take the perfect headshot? Well, here’s to you! Making the decision to put yourself out there with a professional headshot is a bold and confident step. It’s also one that will help you to establish your credibility, attract exciting opportunities and build new relationships. Yes, the right headshot can transform your personal brand. But before you go into the studio, here’s eight questions you should ask yourself (and good answers, too) to help you get the confident, approachable and assured image you’re searching for.

how to take the perfect headshot1. What makes YOUR perfect headshot?

It’s startling how often people go into a photoshoot without having thought about what they actually want. What are you going to use your headshot for? Where will it be published? What result are you hoping to achieve? Don’t pap without purpose.

2. What is the authentic you?

It’s trite, but it’s true. Nobody is better at being you than you. Authenticity is your secret weapon – and it’s something that’s massively underrated in the era of personal branding. Be proud of who you are and let it shine through in your headshot. Think about your target audience and dress as if you were going to meet them in person. Resist the urge to double down on your makeup or transform your hairdo for the occasion. Publishing a headshot that both looks great and is bursting with quintessential ‘youness’ will fill you with confidence and reassure your audience that you are credible; the real deal.

3. What is the best colour to wear for a headshot?

Entire tomes have been written on the symbolism and meaning of different colours. But without diving headlong into a seminar on semiotics, know simply that block colours are your best bet. Avoid flesh tones (such as beige) and stark contrasts (like black and white), opting for mid-tones such as blue, green, navy and burgundy.

4. How should you pose for a headshot?

A professional headshot photographer will be able to guide you on all things posture. But some good rules of thumb include tucking your tailbone forward and engaging your abs. Then imagine a piece of string running from your head to the ceiling pulling you upwards to elongate your spine. Angle your shoulders, face your chin down slightly and push your head forward a tad to accentuate your jaw line.

5. Where should you look in a headshot?

Eye contact is one of the most crucial elements of an evocative headshot. It creates personal connection, steals attention and brings a focus to your image. Gaze straight down the lens. And mean it.

6. Should you smile in a headshot?

For some people, smiling on demand is a task akin to slicing a wheel of cheese with a toothpick: difficult and not much fun. Yet a study by Penn State University found that people who are smiling are perceived by others to be more likeable, more courteous and more competent. A good professional headshot photographer will be able to coax out your natural smile, so don’t panic about looking forced.

Yet while it can get results, you don’t have to smile. Especially if you’re looking for something a little more artistic. Remember: other expressions are available.

7. How do you choose your best headshot?

Sure, it’s your face. And it’s your photo. But remember that it’s hard to be objective about an image of yourself. Work with your photographer to shortlist the best images and remember that your best friend is basically obligated to give you honest and constructive feedback.

8. How important is a professional photographer?

It’s the age of smartphones and self-publication. Everyone thinks they’re a photography expert. But there’s way more to the perfect headshot than point and click. An expert headshot photographer is trained to consider aperture width, lighting, framing and all the rest of it to make sure you end up with a headshot that gets results. Sure, nobody likes spending money unnecessarily. But you will notice the difference a professional can make.

Oh, and just like you wouldn’t go to a baker and ask for a curry, be sure to search for a photographer who specialises in headshots. It’s a discipline all of its own and requires a photographer who has the necessary experience, skill set and equipment.

Ready to get started?

A professional headshot doesn’t have to break the bank. To discuss booking a session with experienced experts in headshot photography, get in touch for a quote.