4 Tips for Taking a Professional Headshot at Home
It’s your first impression. It can’t be blurry, orange, or crooked.
They either establish credibility or obliterate it. The other day I was reading a blog post I found very valuable filled with unique tips. As I scrolled to the bottom of the article, I saw the author’s picture. It was atrocious. Blurry. Low Quality. Yellow.
Immediately (and subconsciously at first) I found myself doubting the information I heard just read. Was it even credible? Was backed well?
With people’s first impressions taking place online more and more, it is absolutely crucial to have a professional profile image. Whether its recruiter googling you before an interview or reader of your blog, you want to establish a positive presence.
My recommendation - cough up the cash and pay to get it professionally taken. As a photographer, I understand why prices seem high (photographers have bills to pay too), but as a consumer, I resonate with the frustration. However, if getting a professional photograph really isn’t an option, here are three tips to get the best possible profile picture at home for non-photographers. If you don’t have a nice camera, ask your friends. Most likely one of them is a hobby photographer who would be happy to let you borrow their camera or perhaps take the picture for you.
Take the picture outside in the shade. Unless you have proper lighting gear in your home, it will be tricky to achieve a well-lit, even photograph indoors. Although you might be able to get that perfect selfie with the lighting in front of your bedroom window, that's not optimal for a professional image. The shade will evenly light your face and being outdoors will help keep the white balance in check.
Make sure the background is professional and fairly plain. Nothing quite like a profile picture with a loud or confusing background. Once you find a nice background (ivy, an interesting wall, trees, etc.) take three large steps forward from it. Then have your friend adjust the aperture on your camera to achieve a background blur. I am assuming here you know a bit about cameras, if not, flip it to Aperture Priority mode and drop the aperture to 2.8. Make sure the images are bright. If you are looking do a little research on photography first. Also, pay attention to cropping and angle as these can be a pain to fix later.
Take a breath. Relax. Try to be comfortable and confident in front of the camera. Personally, I hate getting my picture taken, so I understand the struggle. Look up some posing ideas ahead of time and - Focus. On. The. Eyes. If your eyes look dead, so will your photo. Think about something that makes you happy and be energetic. Drink a coffee beforehand.
Take a lot of pictures. Snap away. You will want a variety to choose from. Plus it is a bonus if you can add multiple shots to your personal website or pitch deck.
Bonus Tip: Edit the photograph. If you have access to Lightroom, or a friend that does, perfect! If not, even use a simple editing application to boost brightness and contrast. Find someone else’s image you love and try to copy it. Steer clear from any filters. However, if you are using Lightroom, try looking for natural enhancing presets. Emphasis on natural.
Note: this one is a no-brainer, but dress professionally. Wear something you would wear to an interview.
The importance of professional-looking headshot is enormous. Get a shot you are proud of and make a good impression!