Tips & Tricks – 5 Tips for Great Headshots

Tips for Great HeashotsTips for Great Headshots

Over the past several weeks, my Thursday posts have been dedicated to headshot sessions.  And while I have one more session to share before I start mixing it up again, I wanted to take this opportunity to share some tips & tricks for getting the most out of your head shots photography session.  If you’re spending the money & investing your time to have an experienced photographer take the photos for you, you want to make sure the photos turn out wonderfully.  Today, I’m going to help you do just that by sharing 5 tips for great headshots!

Apparently after engagement season (Thanksgiving to Valentine’s Day) comes headshots season, because I have been getting lots of requests for head shots sessions over the past couple months!  I really enjoy headshots sessions because, like engagement sessions, they are a little slower paced & allow for plenty of time for me to get to know my clients. Having the chance to talk to people about their business or what they’re passionate about helps me understand exactly how they want to use the photos we’re taking, which in turn makes for better photos overall.

So, needless to say, I’ve been happy with all of the requests for headshots sessions. I’ve come to realize, from personal experience as well as having witnessed how my clients approach their sessions, that preparing before the photo shoot makes a big difference in regards to how these very important photos turn out.  I hope this list will go a long way in helping you prepare for your shoot & that these tips help you get some really great headshots!

1. Think About What You Want to Convey

At the very beginning of the planning process for a headshots session, I send my clients a questionnaire & one of the first questions I ask is what they are trying to convey with their photos.  And this goes back to what you’re using the photos for.  Are they for posting online at job search engines or resume websites like LinkedIn?  Are they for auditions?  Will you be using them on marketing material, like business cards or signage?  Are you posting them on your website to help people feel like they know you before doing business with you?  Or are you using them for your online dating profile?  Or even just your social media pages?  Most people know exactly what they want to use their headshots for, but taking that one step further and analyzing what you want to convey with your photos will help you go from getting just the standard headshot to a great headshot.

If you’re using your photos for business, do you want to come across as powerful or approachable?  Friendly or serious?  If you’re using them for online dating profiles, do you want to come across as serious or fun?  Carefree or thoughtful?  Sexy or girl/guy next door?  These are all things to consider before you step foot in front of a camera.

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2. Communicate Clearly with Your Photographer

This tip is important any time you’re working with a professional photographer, but especially when you’re having headshots taken.  Now that you’ve thought about what you want to convey in your photos, you’ll want to communicate that very clearly with your photographer.  As I said, I start my collaboration process with a questionnaire, but if your photographer doesn’t do that, make sure you let him/her know what you plan to use your photos for & what you’re looking to convey with them.  That will help your photographer know how to pose you & help you choose a location if you need help with that, and will get him/her brainstorming & get the creative juices flowing!  The more you share with your photographer, the better your photos will be.

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3. Match Your Message

I love to help my clients with this part by reading their responses to my questionnaire & suggesting locations that are in line with what they are trying to convey in their headshots photos.  At the end of the day, headshots are all about your beautiful face, so you want a simple, uncluttered, non-busy backdrop that will bring all of the focus to your head & not distract from the message you’re conveying.  And you want to match your location selection with what you are trying to convey with your headshots.  If you want to come across powerful & serious, tall white columns are a great backdrop.  If you desire to look friendly & approachable, I would suggest some greenery in the background.

Next thing you’ll want to match to your message are your clothes.  As I said, headshots are pretty simple in that the focus is on YOU.  You want your clothes to match your personality but also be in line with what you’re conveying to people who are viewing your photo.  If your headshots are for business, match your attire to whatever line of work you’re in.  If the photos are for more casual use, just make sure your clothing aligns with what you’re looking to convey.  I expand on this in the Photo Shoot Style Guide I provide to my clients, but you can read more about this here & here.

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4. Prepare Professionally

I had to learn this lesson the hard way.  You would think a professional photographer would know that having her hair & makeup done professionally before having her headshots taken is essential! Haha My headshots were taken at 7:30 in the morning on a weekday, therefore I didn’t have time to go to a salon beforehand.  I basically rolled out of bed & did my best with what I had.  My makeup was alright, but in hindsight, I should’ve had on colorful lipstick.  And my hair was super frizzy! Ay.

So take it from me: if you’re a woman, get your makeup done by a professional.  They will know exactly what to do to make your makeup look natural but help your features stand out in photos.  And get your hair professionally styled too!  They’ll know how to defrizz!  And you’ll obviously want to have your roots touched up if you color your hair.  And if you’re a guy, get a fresh haircut.  You will have these photos to use for a long time, so you will want to look your best.

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5. Variety Is the Spice of… Headshots!

Now you’re finally in front of the camera!  You are at the perfect location in clothes that align with the message you’re looking to convey, and have your hair & makeup professionally done.  You even have a great rapport with your photographer.  So now, you’ll want to mix it up!  Like I said, you’re going to have these photos to use for a long time, so variety is going to be your friend.  You should bring clothing options – even if you’re adding or taking off a jacket or piece of jewelry or a tie or scarf. Make sure you’re taking photos in front of a variety of backdrops within your ideal location.  And switch up your facial expressions: smile – some with your lips open & some with them closed.  Take some shots where you’re a little more serious-faced, maybe not smiling so big.  Look in all different directions – straight at the camera, off to the right, to the left, slightly down & to the right, etc.  Your photographer will give you directions but it helps to know beforehand that you’re going to want to do all of this in front of each backdrop, and in each ‘outfit.’

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