11 Tips for Taking a Great Headshot Photo

Photo SessionLast week, I shared 9 tips for preparing for headshot shoots. From time to time, we all need an update.

You'll know it's time for new headshots:

  • if you've gained or lost 15% of your weight and stayed at that level for 6 months
  • people you met online don't recognize you when you meet in person.

When preparing for my shoot, I looked at dozens of photos to identify what makes a headshot and compelling. It's all in the eyes. Whether it's an intense shot or an approachable photo in which the subject is smiling, it is important for the eyes to focus directly into the camera and connect with the person who will be viewing the photo.

Here are some tips for making sure that you get the best results the next time you head to the studio for a new headshot.

  1. Prepare for quick changes.
    Press or steam all of the selected outfits. When models prepare for quick changes during fashion shows, they place the shoes under each outfit, and undo zippers and belts.

After you have changed into your first outfit and your hair and make-up are finished, your photographer will take you into the studio.

  1. Double check to ensure that your clothes are crease- and lint free.
    As you move, your clothing moves with you so take the time to pull down shirts and smooth any clothing that may have bunched up. Ensure that your collar is flat, smooth and even on both sides. Do one final check to remove lint or fluff as they will distract from your face. Repeat this with each new outfit and throughout the shoot.
  2. Follow the photographer's directions.
    A good photographer will guide you through the process.
  3. Make adjustments to your position slowly.
    If the photographer asks you to turn your head to the right, move it just slightly. Abrupt movements will take your face out of focus. Same story if you are asked to move to the left or the right, forward or backward. Inch forward, turn your head slowly. If the photographer wants you to move more, he or she will say more and, again make a slight adjustment.
  4. Stand up straight, keep your head still, and look directly into the camera lens but don't stare.
  5. To relax your eyes, look down and away from the camera and then look back into the lens.
  6. Breathe and stay as relaxed as possible. Be natural.
    Remember photo shoots are not about posing mechanically. Think of them as capturing moments in your life.
  7. When you find yourself becoming stiff, relax your jaw and move your shoulders and hips for a moment to loosen up.
  8. When asked to give a big smile, think of a specific incident that makes you want to burst out laughing.
    Due your environment, you won't burst out laughing but you will smile.
  9. When it's time for shots that are intense and focused, wear boots.
    This will give you a firm stance and this firmness will be reflected in the photo. Thin of a specific situation in which you had to be firm but you were locked in conflict. Relax your forehead and mouth Look firmly into the lens and  don't squint.
  10. Change quickly to carve out more time in front of the camera
    Remember to put the scarf over your head to avoid messing up your hair or getting make-up on clothing.
  11. Above all, have fun.

Voila! Here are the results. My old headshot on the left and my new headshot on the right.

Old HeadshotNew Headshop

What tips would you add to this list? 

For more photo advice, read  A New Twist on Headshots at Conferences and Toronto Corporate Photographer Donna Santos Shows You How to Select Photos to Market Your Events.

Photo Credits: dudaphoto, Tim Leyes, Pierre Gautreau

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