How to get the best result from a DIY business headshot
Ok, don’t get excited, unless you have a professional personal branding photographer in your inner circle who owes you a really big favour, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to create professional quality images but that doesn’t mean you have to use some old selfie taken a few years ago that you look kinda ok in (we all have those right?!). If you’re in a hurry or just starting out and don’t have the budget to take your branding to that level yet, don’t despair, these top tips will help you create a DIY business headshot with your phone that should pass muster!
Have someone else take the picture
Selfies look like exactly that, which whilst fun to capture a moment are not synonymous with professional so are best avoided. Also, selfies are lower resolution which could cause you problems if you need to use the picture on your website.
Find a neutral background
A plain painted wall, a stone wall, a fence or a bank of trees, anything that creates a ‘blanket’ that will not draw the attention away from you. If your camera has portrait mode, stand with a decent gap between you and the wall to achieve a pleasing bokeh on the background.
Scan for tricky objects
You do not want to stand in front of something that will look like its growing out of your head!!!
Did you know photography means ‘painting with light’? Random fact for you there, but it makes my next point, lighting is essential.
If you are indoors, sit next to a window, have the light fall across your face. I prefer lighting from the side (45 degrees) as this enhances features, but facing into the light will ensure you are well lit too.
If you are outdoors, try to avoid the harsh midday summer sun, its unflattering to everyone and is likely to cause you to squint! If it’s a bright day, seek even shade (not dappled shade as this will create weird effects on your skin). If you have a day with even cloud cover – perfect! This is natures softbox!!
Choose your outfit wisely. What does it say about you? Is it in line with your business persona? Many people suggest schoosing an outfit that stands out from your background.
I prefer the more modern take of keeping the tones similar and allowing you to stand out, rather than have competing elements that detract from the main focus, which should be you. I suggest dark clothes on dark backgrounds and pale outfts on pale backgrounds, but that’s up to you and what suits your brand. Avoiding busy patterns unless they are a key part of your unique look is recommended as they can be distracting in an image. If you have a signature bold look, rock it and stay consistent!
You don’t need to ham it up, but be mindful of how your viewer will read your body language. This is one of the hardest things to achieve without a professional photographer so I’d keep it simple, stand in a neutral way or sit leaning slightly forwards. Don’t over complicate it.
Keep it steady
Make sure the person holding the camera can keep it steady. Avoid your toddler helping if you can!! Advise them to stand still, tuck their elbows in (for stability) and breathe normally. Taking the picture on the exhale is a good tip!
Focus on the eyes
Eyes are the windows to the soul and they speak more eloquently than we ever can with words. A good photographer gets your eyes to tell your story. The person taking your photograph probably won’t have this level of training, so just think about the message you want to convey and ask them to set the focal point (tap the screen) on your eyes.
You want breathing room around your head and shoulders allowing the image to be used in different paces with different crop ratios.
But still get close
Do not use digital zoom! It lowers the resolution and you want as crisp an image as you can. Get them to physically move closer to you instead.
Get them to take lots of different shots. Ask them to use the continuous burst option as you start to smile as pressing delete is much easier than setting it all up again of you haven’t got something good enough to use. If you have a continuous burst series you can pick out the one or two that look the most natural and capture you best.
When you get to the point of needing to up-level your brand to take it forwards, here’s 3 ways that personal branding can help you attract more of your dream clients.