The coronavirus pandemic has had a significant impact on organizations and jobs. It has caused many individuals to look for new jobs, and many businesses to look for new clients. It has even driven businesses and organizations to restructure their companies to better assist clients.
With these events putting job seekers and businesses on the market, now is a great time to revisit your headshot.
Working from home eliminates the option for many to get a headshot taken by a professional photographer. So, we’ve put together some tips and tricks for taking a professional headshot at home.
Step 1. Dress for the part.
Your headshot helps you convey who you are and what you do in a matter of seconds upon looking at it. With that being said, you want to choose an outfit that represents your brand: Who you are, your profession, and your goals.
Headshots are typically cropped from the chest up, and some are cropped showing one’s full torso. Be sure to choose an outfit that will be best represented according to the crop that you choose.
Now, a professional photo doesn’t have to mean button-up and a blazer. Whatever outfit you choose should align with your goals, the field you are in, and most importantly, it should represent you. Are you familiar with the phrase, “dress for the job you want, not the one you have”? Keep this in mind as you prepare for lights, camera, action!
Step 2. Choose a suitable location.
This step is crucial, as setting, good lighting, and background can make or break the photo.
One thing we all have access to is natural lighting. Choose a spot that flourishes with natural light. Preferably, a room with many windows. If you wanted to take it one step further, consider investing in a simple studio light. You can find many affordable options online. If you decide to take this route, disregard the above advice regarding natural light, as you do not want to mix artificial lighting with natural.
Once you’ve found a room with good lighting, you want to make sure your background is plain and simple. Avoid backgrounds that are busy with household objects, pictures, wallpaper, etc. If you have access to a plain and simple backdrop, with good lighting, you’ve found your perfect location.
If you don’t have access to a plain background with good lighting indoors, you can certainly take a headshot outdoors. Keep the same guidance above in mind as you want to choose an outdoor setting that is not busy. Avoid a place where there is heavy traffic, people walking in the background, etc. Choose a location with simple nature, a city building, a blank wall, etc. Be sure to blur your background if you choose to take your photo outdoors to ensure you are the main focus. Many smartphones have a portrait mode option that automatically blurs the background, however, there are many photo editing apps that are free and easy to use if you do it manually.
When taking a photo outside, be mindful of the sun. Direct sunlight, especially at high noon, will cast shadows across your face. It is best in this situation to find an area where you are evenly in shadow. The camera will brighten it up, but the softer light can make you appear better. Additionally, if you aim to take the photo during the golden hour in the early hours of sunrise, or sunset, you can get some beautiful light to work with. Finally, when taking photos outside, an overcast day can be more beneficial than a sunny day because the light is already diffused and softened by the clouds.
Step 3. Clean your lens.
Just as you would clean your glasses to see more clearly, you want to clean your camera lens. A clean camera lens will make your headshot come out sharp and crisp.
The easiest way to clean your phone camera lens is by using a microfiber cloth folded into a triangle and using the tip of the triangle to get into that intricate area. Another way is to use a compressed air canister to get rid of dust and debris.
If you are using a camera, you can use a microfiber cloth or compressed air as well, but follow the recommended instructions for your camera model.
It is not recommended that you use any chemicals like soap or spray as these can damage the lens. Avoid using a soft tissue to wipe the lens as well, since it can shed and cause extra dust.
Step 4. Clear up space on your smartphone or camera’s SD card.
It would be great if you mastered your headshot on the first try, however, it’s not likely you will love the first photo taken. You should have options to choose from to make sure you are confident in the photo in which you are best represented.
To prepare for the surplus of photos that you will be taking, be sure to clear up some space on whichever device you are using to prepare for your photoshoot. You should be trying out different angles, different sides, maybe even different facial expressions.
If you are on iOS, click here to follow Apple’s guidance on monitoring storage.
If you are on Android, click here to follow Google’s guidance on monitoring storage.
Step 5. Grab a friend, family member, or tripod for help.
It may be tempting to pull out your front-facing camera and snap a photo of yourself. Although this may be the quickest option, you will benefit from a much higher quality photo if you ask a friend or family member for help.
Enlisting in a friend or family member will have the added benefit of providing advice and criticism, and you might even get better angles that you wouldn’t be able to conquer on your own. However, if you have to be on your own, you can certainly prop your phone on a steady surface that captures the photo from chest height up. If you have a camera, invest in a tripod suitable for the model. You can even invest in a tripod with a phone holder if you’d like to go that extra mile.
Make sure your friend, family member, or tripod are not blocking your light source when taking your photo. Also, you may be feeling tense for the shoot, so encourage some fun talk, or put on some lively music with your friend or family member to help you loosen up.
Step 6. Lights, camera, action!
Now that you have completed the above steps, it’s showtime! Start taking your photos, and examine them as you go. Examining as you go will allow you to notice things such as poor lighting, poor angle, your hair isn’t behaving, etc. This will make the work after the shoot much easier for you.
Take lots and lots of photos. This is why clearing space on your phone is important. You can delete them as you review them.
Step 7. Sift through your photos.
Once you are tired of taking photos and know that you are satisfied with at least a few, it is time for review. As you go through, delete the photos that you are especially dissatisfied with. Once you’ve filtered out the no-gos, it’s time to pick your favorites. Keep going through, as many times as you need, until you pick your perfect shot.
It is okay to love a lot of photos; that means you did the above steps correctly. So don’t limit yourself to one headshot.
Once you’ve gone through the ones you love, grab your friend or family member to help narrow them down a step further. Having multiple sets of eyes will help catch things you may not have noticed initially.
Step 8. Touch-ups.
Found your best photo? Go ahead and touch it up as you see fit. There are many free photo editing apps out there, so choose one that is most appealing to you. Try finding one that allows you to adjust color tones, brightness, exposure, and cropping.
Not confident in your editing skills? You can always hire someone who is more experienced. Some editing services start as low $5.
Step 9. Put your headshot to use!
Now that you have put the hard work in crafting up your best headshot, start uploading! Upload your favorite to networking sites like LinkedIn, and add it to your portfolio. If possible, you can also make this the profile picture for where you send work-related emails, to portray a professional presence.
Step 10. Stay in touch.
We would love to hear how your DIY headshot came out. Comment below!
Disclaimer: Please note that this is not all-inclusive. Our guidance is designed only to give general information on the issues actually covered. It is not intended to be a comprehensive summary of all laws which may be applicable to your situation, treat exhaustively the subjects covered, provide legal advice, or render a legal opinion. Consult your own legal advisor regarding the specific application of the information to your own plan.