4 Tips and 1 Trick for Better Professional Headshots

Professional headshot tips

With the culture of social media and real-time sharing of photographs through Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and most recently, a more prominent positioning on your Facebook news feed, I think it has become increasingly more important to “put your best face forward” so that you can feel confident about the pictures you share (and the ones featuring you that others share).  How many of us have been to a networking event or conference where pictures are uploaded in real time (and occasionally with hashtags) for all to see?  And we all know that a good LinkedIn picture can speak volumes about who you are professionally.

I’ve come to the conclusion that being photogenic is really more of a learned than an innate trait.  Here are some professional headshot tips I have picked up to ensure you are putting your best face forward in photos, including a trademark “trick” to use when taking pictures.

Professional Headshot Tips

1. What to wear for headshots

In a professional headshot, make sure that you wear a color that won’t blend in to the background.  For example, if you know the backdrop is going to be grey, I’d recommend wearing black or a bright color so you don’t blend with the background.

For women, veer away from big, bold or busy prints;  choose a color that compliments your eye color (blues and greens stand out), and keep jewelry simple.

Signature jewelry pieces are fine, but make sure they don’t take over the photo! Simple jewelry always works.  For men, jacket and tie are always appropriate; bring a few tie options to see what looks best.  Layers are a good idea for men; although polo shirts are fine if your business or industry tends to be more casual.  But always make sure your shirts and jackets are wrinkle-free.  And if you wear glasses daily, wear them in your photo!

2. Practice in the mirror

It might sound silly, but practice a few times in front of a mirror (preferably in the privacy of your home) so that you can see what smile and look suit you the best.  Do you have a better angle?  Get to know it, and use it when being photographed!  Make slight adjustments if you need to, including turning your body and placing your arms in different positions and seeing what you like best.

3. Relax before you take a picture

Often when people look too stiff in their photographs, it’s because they were too nervous and tense when the photo was taken!  My favorite way to achieve this is to have a laugh, so lighten things up a bit by joking around or thinking of something funny right before you have to have your photo taken.

4. Prep yourself a bit more than usual

When you know your picture is going to be taken, go ahead and put on a little extra makeup or spend five more minutes getting your hair to cooperate with you.  Extra makeup (if applicable) shows up well in photos, so go ahead and go with slightly more color on your lips and cheeks, and highlight your eyes.

And finally, I wanted to share with you the personal trademark that I’ve developed and shared over the past few years.  May I please present:

5. The “Out-and-Down” Trick to Taking Pictures.

It’s simple, really.  Right before the picture is snapped, stand up straight, push your head out slightly, point your chin down, and look up.  And don’t forget to smile!

Go ahead, try it.  First, pretend like your photo is about to be taken and give your normal smile.  Now, slightly move your head forward, point your chin slightly down, and look up.  Do you have a mirror in front of you?  What do you think??  Remember, slightly is the key word!

Not only can this strategy make you look your best in snapshots, it can make you feel confident to share pictures and increase the likelihood of social media promotion. This will keep increasing your sphere of influence, expanding your network, developing more contacts, and creating more new business!

To go a step further, I would encourage you to take any positive feedback or compliments you receive and try to figure out a way to pay it forward and help others.  Sharing this strategy with friends and colleagues and having them be satisfied with pictures for the first time has been immensely more meaningful than hearing the compliment.


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