A good business headshot helps you communicate in a nanosecond who you are and what you do.
As I’ve just commissioned new headshots for myself and am happy with the results, I thought it would be useful to write a blog and provide some headshot advice for your brand image. Over the years, I have art directed photoshoots or provided creative briefs for photographers to shot corporate headshots or team shots. I have learnt lots of tips from photographers along the way. However, it’s much harder when you’re the subject of the photo. You don’t really realise how many funny faces you pull or that you don’t stand up straight with your shoulders back. This is why working with a good photographer is key, as they will help you rectify the silly faces or odd positioning. So in this blog, I’d like to share with you some headshot advice on how to prepare and what the key considerations are when commissioning a business headshot.
1. Key headshot advice: Where will your headshot images be used?
So, here’s the most important headshot advice and what I always need to understand before commissioning a photographer. Make sure you know how and where the images will be used. Are they for your social media profile pics? To go on a website or in a brochure? A promotional flyer? They could even be for your dating profile perhaps? Has the design already been created? Do you know if you will you need to have text on the image? For example in a banner on a website?
Think about whether you need portrait, landscape or square images? Think of all the places you will use the headshot images and then write down the best format needed for each. For example for a website banner, you might need a headshot of yourself sitting down with a short depth of field so the background is blurred – this way you can add text on top of the background section of the image. See example below.
Or, is it for your social media profile shot? It’ll need to be clean and clear and fit a square format, as it can often be very small on mobile devices. Studio shots are often preferred for profile pics for this reason. A plain grey, white or black background works well. But make sure your outfit doesn’t blend in with the background – or your hair!
2. What will your headshot say about you?
Think about the tone you want to project in your business headshots. What do you want your headshots to say in words? Depending on the culture of your business, you may want to come across as trendy, friendly or creative. Or if you work in professional services, you may prefer to project an air of formality, knowledge and trustworthiness. The location of the photo shoot (in a studio or on location) will also have a bearing on what your headshot reveals about you and the business.
Consider your brand personality and what you’d like to project. If you’d like to come across as honest and approachable, then don’t sit behind a desk, be accessible and open in your stance, look straight at the camera and smile slightly. Alternatively, if you would like to appear creative, friendly and warm (as I do), then make sure you’re comfortable, be on location with colour and props that suit your brand.
Ideal for social media profile pics for professional services industry, corporate team shots are often also taken in a studio environment to create a consistency across all the headshots.
INTERNAL/EXTERNAL ENVIRONMENT HEADSHOT
Ideal for a more engaging, creative and informal type of headshot, which could also be used across other marketing channels such as website and brochures.
Internal headshots could be in your office, home, cafe, studio or anywhere indoors that represents your place of work or business. Ideally internal shots need to have a good source of natural light so that natural images can be produced.
External headshots could be shot in the street, cafes, restaurants, parks or gardens that make good use of nature light. When shooting outdoors and with nature, think about the season you’re in and whether it will create the right effect.
3. Have a pre-session consultation with a photographer.
Make sure you set up a pre-session consultation with your photographer, so that you can brief them fully on your requirements. They may also come up with suggestions that you’d not thought about as after all, they do this all the time!! It could be over the phone or skype. If on location for an environmental headshot, it’s ideal to have them see it to determine what equipment they might need for the shoot as well as giving suggestions for the type of shot and angle etc. You may need to prep the room for the actual shoot by decluttering.
4. What colours should you wear for your headshot?
The visual effect of your headshot needs to be on brand. Equally you also want to be reflected in the best light with the best colours suited to your skin tone and hair colour. So wear colours you know suit you. Also think about the background setting and make sure that what you wear stands out, so there is a separation between you and the background.
For clothes, plain colours are your best choice. Patterns or prints distract and date your photo. Choose mid-tone colours because they are universally flattering. Avoid wearing tops in flesh tones (cream, beige, pastels, peach or yellow) as they will blend your face into your clothes. Stark black and white are not good choices either because they play havoc with the camera’s exposure or the backdrop. Although black and white are great if you want to create a dramatic shot with high contrast or a black and white shot. A fail-safe tip is to pick a top that accentuates your eyes. That’s why jewel tones work so well.
Keep hair and make up as you would usually wear it to go out, so you are recognisable if they were to meet you in real life.
5. Smiling or serious?
Think about your facial expression as this reveals a lot. Serious. Happy. Creative. Fun. Quirky. Professional. You also will look better with certain expressions, for instance – my face comes alive when I smile – as do most people’s. But how big should your smile be? Teeth or no teeth? Work with your photographer on the day and work out which facial expression works best for you and the effect you are trying to achieve. Perhaps do a variety of facial expressions so that you have a selection of different shots that will suit different marketing channels.
Ok, that’s it for my headshot advice this Friday afternoon. I hope you found this article useful. If you’d like some advice for an upcoming shoot for your business headshot or company profile shots, just get in touch.
BIG THANK YOU TO SYARIFAH PHOTOGRAPHY FOR THE LOVELY ENVIRONMENTAL SHOTS IN THIS POST
OTHER PHOTOGRAPHERS I RECOMMEND FOR HEADSHOT ADVICE OR OTHER PHOTOGRAPHY SHOOTS
Do read some other articles which might help you with art directing your headshot shoot. The blogpost on best colours for your website is useful if your shots are to be used online. Or take a look at which are the most popular colours by gender to help pick out your outfit for your headshot.