6 tips to get the best out of your headshot.
Your headshot is often the first thing that people will see of you, whether you're a performer applying for a role, or anybody using it on your LinkedIn profile. It's important to maximise the value of your headshot so that clients, producers and employers have a positive and reliable first impression of who you are. Here's a few tips to help you maximise the value of your profile picture.
1. Make sure that you're the centre of attention.
It can be so tempting to put up that great travel photo and show the world that you are a diverse, well rounded human being. That's a great story! But if you're hiding in the corner, and Angkor Wat overpowers you, the story is no longer about you. As an actor, it's also really easy to have a character shot as your go to. But that's not who you are, it's only one part of you. A solid, neutral headshot is a blank canvas that shows your possibility.
2. Keep it simple.
Also you don't want to get lost in the image, so use a simple background. A white wall is a cliche for a reason, it works so well.
If that's not your thing, a background that suits your personality, professional role and industry works really well. Just keep it out of focus using a large aperture, like I've done with soon to be Dr Nick below.
3. Dress smart.
What you wear is an outward expression of who you are. We all know that. We also all know that we've each got an outfit that we feel super great in. Have you got a super-awesome-I-feel-amazing-in-this outfit that's appropriate for work? Or for your casting type? If so, wear that for your headshots. If you don't, go and get one! We all need our power outfits.
Also, think about how the camera will see the clothes you're wearing. Digital cameras love block colours but funky patterns tend to be a bit distracting. Are you wearing a top with a deep neckline? If the shot is going to be tightly cropped, you might appear to be naked in it! And that's probably not the story your trying to tell!
I recommend that all my clients have at least one change of outfit, or a jacket they can throw on top of their outfit. Women should definitely bring a bra that works with each top that they bring. If you need multiple bras, then so be it! Most places we shoot can accommodate a quick change.
4. It's all about the face.
I've stolen that line from one of my favourite headshot photographers - Peter Hurley. It's true though. Your face is your image and you've got to make it work for you. Peter has a great series of videos on YouTube that describe how to make your face work for you in headshots. Simply put, accentuate your jaw line (by pushing your chin forward and down) and squinch (raise your lower eyelids a bit toward your top eyelid). Those two things will eliminate your double chin and stop you looking like a deer in the headlights.
Remember to get a good night's sleep beforehand, no-one likes baggy and or bloodshot eyes. Also stay away from the sunglasses for a couple of hours before the shoot, this lets your eyes adjust so that you're more comfortable with being in the spotlight, whether figuratively or literally!
5. Have fun!
A photoshoot doesn't need to be a stressful experience! It should really be a lot of fun, after all - it's all about you! Play some tunes that make you feel relaxed, have a laugh, go to a place that makes you feel good. If you're happy in your photos, you'll be approachable - the sort of person we all want to work with!
6. Choose wisely.
If you are shooting with a photographer - get to know them before you decide to work with them. Meet them for coffee or chat on the phone, nothing is as important as getting along well with them. If I'm not compatible with a client, I won't work with them. I'd rather they get better results from someone else than have a disappointing experience with me.