How to Prepare for a Professional Headshot
Headshots. Business portraits. Profile pictures. Speaking engagement photos. Proposal images. Avatars.
Call them what you like, they are simply the very first thing that most potential customers are going to see when they come across your information.
And as the old adage goes, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”
But this really isn’t that hard. Even if you “always take a bad picture”, there are some simple things you can do to help optimize your photoshoot and get results that will help you market yourself and company.
Disclaimer: If you are one of a very few people that I have come across, who really and truly hate yourself, I probably can’t help you with your portrait. I am sorry to say it but I can’t. Especially not with a few brief words on a blog you happened across online. If you refuse to participate in the process and totally believe that the session will fail, then it will. And, there is nothing I can do about it. But, there is always something YOU can do about it.
The Headshot Philosophy
The headshot, like everything you do in business, and in life, is all about attitude. A positive attitude will almost always be more successful than expecting to fail. Your attitude in the photo is actually more important than what you wear. It is more important than whether or not your tie is straight or your hair is combed. It is more important than the color of the background or, well, almost anything else.
Don’t get me wrong. All of the other elements in the photo (clothes, hair, jewelry, background, light, etc) are vital elements and will effect how people perceive the person in the image. That is to say, it will effect how they perceive you.
So, tip number one: interview your photographer carefully. You want to get great value from the photographer. But value is determined by how successful the photoshoot will be. And that is directly related to how comfortable you feel with the photographer.
Tip number two: If you are going to get a hair cut, get it a week before the shoot. This way, the cut will grow in a little and you will have some time to get used to how your hair looks and feels.
Tip number three: Plan your outfit in advance. If anything needs dry cleaning or ironing, take care of it. It is the little things that can throw off a great photo. Wrinkles can be distracting, expensive to retouch and can be taken care of in five minutes with a hot iron.
Tip number four: Wear what you feel comfortable in. A brand new outfit, if it doesn’t fit right or makes you feel awkward, can make you tense. An outfit that is an old friend can help you relax and let the real you out. Bring a few different outfits. But don’t bring something that you don’t like. Remember that being more conservative for your headshot wardrobe is often better.
Tip number four: Man or woman, if you are offered the services of a professional hair/makeup artist, seriously consider it. The makeup artists who work on photoshoots understand how people will look on camera and are there to make sure that you look fantastic. If you are already investing in the process, don’t you want to protect and optimize your investment?
Tip five: Get a good night rest and plan your shoot for the morning. Nothing worse than being bleary eyed, puffy and tired during a shoot. For that matter, shooting in the morning helps avoid some of the distractions that can kill a late afternoon shoot.
Tip six: Don’t be so critical of yourself! We shoot a lot of frames during a session and, often, use the frames we just shot as a reference point for the next series of pictures. Let the photographer give you directions and, if you see something that you hate, relax. Remember to breath. That is only one frame out of …well… a bunch! We’ll shoot more and, if you are open to experimenting, you may find a new look that you hadn’t considered before.
Tip seven: You have heard it before: Relax! No one has died at one of my photoshoots. My lens has never broken from someone’s image. And no one has ever turned to stone. Breath and enjoy an experience that doesn’t need to happen every day. It’s an adventure!