A headshot starts way before the headshot. There is planning, prep and research to find the right studio to take it for you. What to wear, accessories, pose and more. The tips below assume you are not having to wear a uniform. Also, if you are appearing, speaking, etc. you'll want to provide an image as soon as you accept so that the intern doesn't do a Google search and end up with something outdated, embarrassing or not even you. I've done it several times for radio guests that don't seem to think they need to provide a headshot because it's RADIO.
Watch this episode of Geekspeak Guides on this very topic:
Wear some COLOR solids are best. Patterns are distracting.
Earrings – do they go with the outfit? Are the trendy or business like – yet with personality?. They, too can be distracting.
Shirts – are collars ironed? Is the jacket REALLY your size or the size you wish you still were?
Tie or no tie – depends on your target market. BORROW an expensive tie if you have to – that doesn't mean buying it at Nordstrom and then returning it. Have a GOOD tie. It will give you a lift.
Glasses or no glasses? Do you always wear glasses? Will anyone recognize you if you do not have them on or will they ask if you got Lasix surgery? When was the last time you updated your frames? You may be due if it's been more than 5 years. Styles change. You may end up with lighter weight ones, too, that are more flattering.If you bought your glasses with one shaped face and you've gained or lost weight, changed hair color, gone gray – your old glasses will not look as good as they did when you first got them.
Smile - do you want your teeth whiter or are you happy with what you have? There is no correct answer – just what fits for YOU. Whitening products. SMILE warmly like you are looking at a friend you haven't seen in a while and they look fantastic and happy!Remember if you use a whitening product the night before or even that day – the real ones will somewhat dry your teeth out and you'll need to replenish the moisture or the first thing you drink – coffee, soda, juice, wine – will soak right in to the more porous surface. Be ready to brush again.
Stray hairs – men - PLEASE trim your nose hairs and eyebrows. Get it done professionally. If your ears are showing – no YODAS! Same if your neck is showing – clean it up. Beards/mustaches – are they cleaned up or are you sporting that ZZtop – Duck Dynasty look?Women, as we get older hair shifts on us – chins and upper lips, sideburn area – defuzz, pluck. DO NOT WAX THE DAY BEFORE A HEAD SHOT. Sometimes, waxing your face stimulates the skin to cleanse and you end up with blemishes. RED is hard to hide.
DO NOT PICK your face – as a general rule – but REALLY leave it alone the day of your head shot. Be GENTLY, rub gently to avoid breaking something open. Patching it with cover-up will still show and add to the edits that need to be done.
Selecting the studio: You want someone with some artistic sense who can help bring out your best
Consider bringing a couple of shirts, colors with accessories: earrings, ties, etc. to give variety.
You will want a HIGH RES digital version at the very least.
Go for COLOR – you can always switch to black and white.
Ask them about your rights to post the images and use them in promotional materials. Once you purchase a high res version, can you use it anywhere you want to without watermark?
Pose time - backdrops, your angle and lighting. This is part of why you will have a professional shoot youCan't afford a studio, you can go to JC Penney, WalMart, Target, not to be confused with Mall Santa shots. They do a nice job for the budget. Preferably, find a local photography studio that specializes in head shots. Wedding specialists are not business head shot specialists, nor is the local business that does passport photos.
Thank you, +Adam Music who shared some tips about the actual photo itself with us. Love the part about wide and tall hair!
Black and white is nice and artsy; but when your head shot appears on other sites, it might be next to color shots, which makes you look out of place. There are sections of our site where we do not run photos if they are in black and white, even if they run in the paper, because of our site's optics. So make sure you at least get a color shot done, even if you're not going to use it, to give other sites options. Remember – you can't go from black and white to color.
Sites have different display dimensions and sizes. A nice, big hi-res photo can help them accommodate you into other sites without them having to mess around with the image. But make it a FULL head, please. Some people have sent us head shots with the tops of their heads cut off. And I can't manipulate an image to show your entire head if part of it isn't there originally.
The ratios we use in print and online are either squares or 14″ x 19″ vertical photos. I'd advise trying to fit that vertical ratio if possible. There are some people whose hair either is too wide or too tall, so there's a lot that has the potential to get cut off. As a photo editor, I do my best to get as much of a head-to-shoulders view of them. It's not always easy to accomplish. But when dressing and styling, those factors could enter into your decisions. Maybe you go for one pose that looks good vertically and one that looks good squared off. If you look better horizontally, I can't help you.
Look at the camera. The off-to-one-side may work for your site, but not others.
Keep it current! There are a number of subjects who look a lot different when we run their mug one day and a feature shot of how they actually look today.
We and some other publications also run knock-outs of photos, where the background is erased so the background appears to be gray. If you have a shot where the background is easily removed, you'll look better when an editor who isn't you gets it.
Final tip: Remember, we are all famous, just not everyone knows it yet. You want to be prepared!