And how to achieve a flawless photo
Your professional headshot is one of the single most important images you could have on your company’s website or collateral, and for your own personal brand. Your headshot is a first impression —a snap judgement — that will be viewed by potential clients and prospective employees. This one photo can convey many things, so you should know exactly what you want it to say: Are you friendly and service-oriented? Are you trustworthy and approachable? Are you serious and bottom line-driven?
All these questions are answered by your attire, facial expression, and posture.
A Good Headshot should…
- Depict a relaxed, confident you
- Catch you in a natural, comfortable state
- Communicate something about your style and personality
- Be a proud, accurate representation of yourself
A Bad Headshot…
- Was taken with an iPhone
- Is a selfie
- Is a cropped photo of your head taken while on vacation or randomly at your desk
- Looks over-stylized with overdone hair and makeup
- Is not taken by a professional photographer, demonstrating you are not serious about your career
Here are a few helpful tips to ensure that have a good experience during your photoshoot, and your headshot turns out flawless and professional.
Preparing for your headshot
It’s a common misconception that getting your headshot is like having your picture taken for school: You sit on a stool and it’s one-and-done. A CEO headshot photoshoot can take up to two hours; and an average working professional or executive should plan to spend up to 20 minutes with a photographer if his or her company hired the photographer.
General Tips – Before the Shoot
- Share your expectations – the look and feel you’d like to achieve
- Share your intentions and how/where the photo will be used
- Hydrate and come well-rested to ensure you don’t have dark circles around your eyes
General Tips – During the Shoot
- Try to relax; your mood will come across in the photos through your body language and expression
- Pay attention to your posture
- Listen to the photographer’s direction
- Voice any concerns to the photographer before the shoot or as it’s unfolding
What to Wear
- Be your stylish, fashionable self, but remember the photo is about your face, not your outfit
- Wear something that you love and feel comfortable in
- For a traditional business look, wear a classic dark suit
- Ties look particularly good when the shade falls between the color of the suit and shirt
- Small, simple jewelry
- For a business casual look, lose the jacket and wear a colored dress shirt/blouse that is ideally darker than your skin tone
- A V-neck undershirt or none at all
- Bring different jacket/shirt/tie options to choose from while on set
- Make sure the outfit doesn’t bunch when you sit down or have it buttoned
What to Not Wear
- Bold or distracting patterns and colors
- Clothing with grid-like or small herringbone patterns
- Shiny or reflective ties and jewelry
- Big, distracting jewelry and buttons; earrings that dangle longer than an inch
- All-white dress shirts or blouses when you are not wearing a jacket or sweater; white shirts cause loss of detail, depth, and can wash out a person’s face
- Female executives should not wear short sleeves or sleeveless blouses as they draw attention to bare arms
What to Bring
- Previous headshots
- Sample headshots to help communicate your expectations
- Lip balm/chap stick
- Hair brush/comb
Hair and Makeup Tips
- Your hair should be styled and makeup applied for the shoot (if a makeup artist has not been hired)
- Make-up should be clean and natural
- Apply a layer of translucent powder to your face and neck, which will help eliminate shine, the appearance of large pores, and even out your skin
- Avoid shimmers or products with lots of sparkle or shine
- Avoid overly-bright, unnatural colors
Your headshot will be used in many different facets, including your company website, collateral, on social channels like LinkedIn, and media opportunities where you could be interviewed, profiled, or have written a byline article. A professional headshot is also important for event promotion where you could be speaking or honored at as well as overall brand consistency.
Your headshot might be your first and only impression, reflecting your personal brand as well as your company. It could be a deciding factor between new business and a lost opportunity. You decide.
Examples of unprofessional headshots:
A random, unedited photo taken at your desk by a coworker.
A photo taken with a cell phone in the hall of your office.
Examples of high-quality professional headshots:
Photos by: Lyndsay Cayetana Bouchal