You have take the plunge and decided you need to get professional headshots or business portraits taken. Congratulations this is the right decision.Well I would say that wouldn’t I? Well maybe as a headshot photographer I would but I firmly believe that we all need to invest in ourselves. If you need a good online profile image for whatever reasons then it is worth investing in a professional headshot or business portrait. It doesn’t matter whether you want actor headshots, run a business with a website which includes a profile or want a pofessional portrait for LinkedIn. In today’s online world winging it with a phone pic just won’t do.
If you think it's expensive to hire a pro wait until I find out how expensive it is not to!
So now that the decision is made how do you go about getting the best results? Surely that’s all down to the photographer right? Well yes and no. Sure there are lots of things that are down to the portrait or headshot photographer such as lighting, building rapport with you and getting you to pose correctly but how do you, as the subject prepare? Steven Covey in his book The 7 habits of highly effective people has as one of his successful habits as starting with the end in mind. This is as relevant to a headshot or portrait photography session as it is to anything else I life.
So let’s break it down and make it easy as possible fo you.
1.Have a clear purpose for your headshots
2. Select your look/style for your photosession to match your purpose.
3. Be open about any sensitivities/insecurities you have with the headshot photographer.
4. Spend some (not too much) time practicing posing for your professional headshots.
5. Get proper rest before the photosession & be hydrated.
6. Do some research on images/looks you like or want to replicate during the photoshoot.
7. Arrive early for your business portraits/professional headshots so you will feel relaxed.
8. Spend the first few minutes of the photosession planning it out and getting organised.
9. Enjoy the experience
10. Have realistic expectations of yourself and time.
“I've never taken a photograph of someone and created a persona, I've just discovered what was already there.” ― Anthony Farrimond
1. What is the purpose of the headshot or portrait session?
I always advise clients to think of their target audience and then 3 emotions that they would like to evoke in them. Obviously this is going to be different depending on the purpose of the photosession. A corporate solicitor is going to want to portray themselves differently than a builder or an actor looking for headshots in London.
2. Select outfits & looks that match your purpose.
Make sure you style yourself in line with the message you want to portray. Someone looking for a formal business portrait would dress different from a therapist or a creative. Similarly someone wanting dating pictures might want different outfits to demonstrate his/her different interests and hobbies. An actor may want headshots with their hair up and down.
3. Be honest and upfront with the headshot photographer over any sensitivities that you have.
The portrait photographer’s job is to create a realistic yet sympathetic portrayal of your 3 dimensional self in 2 dimensions. There are various lighting & posing techniques that all professional portrait & headshot photographers employ to show features off to the best. Having said that you need to be honest about any insecurities you have. Everyone has them. Other people’s may not be the same as yours but we would hardly be human without some.
4. Practice posing a bit in the mirror and find out what your good side is.
What do you mean by having a good side I hear you ask? Well it’s a good question. Some portraits & headshots can look good full frontal but often they can look a bit flat and 2 dimensional. A boxer is either a standard meaning he has his left shoulder leaning forward or he is a southpaw which means his right shoulder is further forward. It’s the same with headshots & portrait photography. Most of us will feel more comfortable with one shoulder further forward than the other. Once you discover this you should inform the headshot photographer so he can adjust the lighting set up accordingly. A good tip if you have a parting is that generally people have their shoulder on the parting side further forward. It’s not always the case so with a bit of practice you will find out what feels most comfortable for you.
5. Get enough sleep and book a photosession when you will feel and look alert.
If you’ve had a long day at work you might feel or look a bit drained. Dark bags under your eyes iosn’t the greatest look. Whilst this is something that can be edited in post production it’s much better if you don’t have them in the first place. Similarly if you go out on the razzle the night before you are not going to look quite as perky as if you have had 8 hours sleep. Make sure you are well hydrated too. Unless you are in a band looking for that edgy lived in look then keep off the booze and on the water 24/48 hours beforehand. For business profile pictures and actors headshots it pays to get an early night before the shoot too. (Yes I know this sounds parental) You are investing in yourself and your image so why sabotage the whole thing in the 24 hours before the photosession? It’s not worth it.
6. Do some research.
Look at other profile pics, headshots or dating profile images to get an idea of what you like and what your competition looks like. If you are an actor in London then check out spotlight or headshots of other people at your agency. If you want good dating pictures do the same with dating sites. Similarly with LinkedIn or business portraits & other social media profiles; take some time to browse and find images you want to recreate. Take some screenshots of those images you want to replicate and send them to the photographer in advance
7. Arrive early to the photoshoot.
There is nothing worse than arriving late. You may not get the full time of the session that you have booked you won’t be as relaxed and at ease. As someone once told me when I was starting out on my photography journey. The first rule of photography is that on time is late. I’ve always remembered this and swear by it.
8. Spend the first 5 minutes of the session planning it out.
If you have pre-planned it so that all your outfits or accessory additions are planned then the photosession will go much smoother than if you make it up as you go along. One small tip is that in all walks of life people tend to underestimate the time and cost of projects by 25% so you might not find the time for all your outfit changes within the allotted time depending on how many variations you have. Make a point to prioritise them and allocate time that will be taken up in switching between outfits/looks. Make sure you liaise with the headshot photographer as you are doing this. Remember you are working together.
9. Enjoy the professional headshot experience
80/90% of my clients admit to me during the booking phase that they are not super comfortable in front of a camera. My usual response is “Well that’s not surprising is it? It’s not the most natural thing in the world to be in a studio with big lights having a stranger pointing a camera directly at you” As with many things in life we imagine that we are the only one’s to feel a little awkward. In fact it’s the opposite case. Only a few people are genuinely comfortable and come to life in front of the camera. You would be surprised how many of the actually enjoyed the experience once they’d allowed themselves to.
10. Be realistic with yourself and your expectations.
Don’t be afraid to look at the headshot pictures or business portraits as the photographer takes them. Check to find out if you are sending out the correct emotional tone to your audience. If you look at some of them and feel that you look too serious/not serious enough then you can adjust your pose accordingly. Once you’ve left the studio it’s too late. Feel free to refer to any moodboard or inspirational ideas you came up with in advance for comparison. It only takes 1/125th of a second to take a picture so you will get a fair few during the session but it’s better to have 40 great shots that were taken slowly & deliberately than to have 150 all the same. Remember you are the