Whether you are looking for a new job, updating your portfolio or just deciding to upload a more professional picture to your LinkedIn profile (that one from that party in college isn’t going to cut it), taking a quality headshot can be a challenge. While we all don’t have photography studios in our homes, you can still get a great-looking picture. Using a professional camera is always the best option, but our multimedia experts here, Mark and Susan, have a few tips for making that headshot the best it can be. And they would know – they have helped both clients and Gate6 team members get that perfect shot.
Let’s start off with an explanation. A lot of people use the terms headshot and portrait interchangeably, but a headshot is usually the shoulders and up while portraits can be anything from a headshot to the full body. A professional portrait or headshot is completely different than a simple snapshot of a person on a clean background. Some of the key components of a good headshot are lighting, framing, composition, post-production, and technical know-how from the photographer.
In either case, getting personality out of the subject is the key to taking a great picture. Finding the right expression to reflect someone’s personality is extremely important, and that usually takes some coaching. People usually don’t naturally position themselves in ways that look best in a photo – sometimes a pose that feels unnatural to the subject is necessary to get a good shot. A good photographer establishes trust by leading the subject, and often the best way to do this is to have a natural conversation before snapping any pictures.
With all the factors to consider, and showing personality being the most important one, how can you make people look their best in headshots? Even though headshots are usually posed, making someone look as natural as possible should be a main goal. Compose the picture, set the lighting and frame the subject properly so the shot looks great in and outside of the camera.
Picking a flattering angle is another tip to creating a headshot the subject will love. There isn’t one single angle that is best for every scenario, but the subject should be relatively open to the camera. Usually shots taken from an angle slightly above give a nice feel, but the photographer can make the judgment in each case.
Once you have a brilliant photo that truly captures the subject’s personality, looks natural and exudes professionalism, Photoshop can help with the finishing touches. One great tool to help soften skin texture is to pull back on the clarity a bit. There are also ways to improve color and contrast, but only make changes that are necessary. Remember, you want the subject to look as natural as possible, and that means showing what was actually captured by the camera.