How to Take Your Own Professional Headshot

How to Take a Professional Headshot | How-to & Tips |

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Throughout the hiring process, employers may want to gain a better idea of who candidates are before meeting them in person. A great way to express your personality is through your professional headshot to showcase your professionalism and confidence and provide hiring managers with a strong first impression. Learn what elements make an effective headshot, materials you should feature your headshot in and how to take a professional headshot.

What elements make a good headshot?

A good headshot is a picture of yourself that shows hiring managers what you look like while also showcasing your professionalism. Since this is often the first visual impression employers gain, your headshot should look friendly with limited background and lighting distractions. It should also portray a professional image that shows hiring managers your seriousness and dedication to the role.

Examples of elements that make a strong headshot: 

  • Proper framing and positioning of your face and body
  • Eye contact with the camera
  • Natural lighting with limited shadows
  • Simple and non-distracting backgrounds
  • Clean look and straight posture
  • Well-edited and properly touched up

Reasons why employers may ask for headshots

There are many instances when employers may expect to view your headshot. This may allow them to familiarize themselves with what you look like to make interviews more personable. Depending on the industry or field, a headshot may be necessary to include on materials like resumes, applications or online job profiles.

Common instances when employers may want to view your headshot

Here are some instances when employers may want to view your headshot:

Social media profile pictures

During the application and interview process, employers may search your social media pages to learn more about both your personal and professional life. Viewing your profile picture may be the first photo they see of you, which can give them the impression that you’re a serious and hardworking professional.

Your digital portfolio or website

Your digital portfolio is a great way for employers to understand your personality and work experience. Hiring managers can learn who you are by viewing your professional headshot in the About Me section of your portfolio.

On your business card and networking resume

As you search for positions and attend networking events, you can include your headshot on your resume and business card. This is a friendly way to introduce yourself to employers and your headshot may help them better remember speaking with you.  

Industry-specific resumes

Some fields and industries may require employees to submit a headshot on their professional resume. These careers and industries can include theatre, film, modeling and music. Headshots help hiring managers better determine if you meet the position’s requirements.

How to take a professional headshot

Follow the steps below to take a headshot that displays your professionalism to employers:

1. First, block out plenty of time for your headshot

When you take your headshot, you should give yourself plenty of time to pose for the picture from different angles. You should also use various backdrops or travel to different locations until you find the most flattering background. Since it may take extensive work to find the best picture, you should block out several hours to take your headshot to give yourself time to find one that suits you best.

2. Second, find a location with simple lighting and a basic background-color

As you search for possible places to take your headshot, you should find one with simple lighting that highlights your facial features and with little to no shadows reflecting on your face. This helps the picture better capture a clear image. Find an area outside with strong lighting and the proper amount of sunlight. If you’d rather take pictures inside, you can invest in lighting equipment that provides a colorful balance when focusing on your face.

When picking a background color, find one basic color that complements your shirt and hair. Try to locate one that helps you stand out rather than blend in with the background. For example, if you have dark brown hair, you should choose a lighter, different-colored backdrop to make your hair and face stand out.

3. Third, ask a friend to take your picture

When you’re ready to take your picture, ask a friend to take it using a smartphone or professional camera. Your friend should help you determine which angles look best and can assist in finding proper lighting. If you’d rather take it yourself, take a tripod with you to different locations and set the timer on your phone to give yourself a steady shot.

4. Fourth, make yourself feel comfortable

Professional headshots should look natural and friendly. To provide this natural look and feel, make yourself comfortable while taking the picture. Tell yourself a joke or have a lighthearted conversation with your friend before taking the picture. This helps you look presentable and confident, which may impress hiring managers.

5. Fifth, wear professional clothing

To establish yourself as a professional candidate, you should wear professional clothing in your headshot. Pick an ensemble you’d wear to a job interview.

Examples of possible wardrobe options: 

  • Suit and tie
  • Professional blouse or shirt
  • Blazer

Since the framing of your headshot is from your chest to your face, the bottom half of your outfit shouldn’t appear in pictures. However, you may feel more professional and confident if you decide to wear a full outfit during your picture. Try to wear outfits with only one or two basic colors to limit any distractions from your face.

6. Finally, pick your favorites to crop and edit

Once you have finished your photography session, you can review each of your pictures and narrow down your favorites. You can have friends or colleagues provide their feedback and input regarding which they believe is the best. Once you have found your favorite, you can use editing software to touch up your picture to make it brighter and well-focused on your face. Research the proper image sizes for your resume, social media pages and other documents to crop it accordingly.

When picking the best photo, find one that looks natural, conveys your professionalism and makes you feel confident. This motivates you to proudly feature your headshot on various application materials.

Tips for taking professional headshots

Follow these tips when you are taking your professional headshots:

Use a proper camera lens

As you take your picture, use a lens that is high quality and captures your face well. You can purchase or borrow a professional camera or use the camera on your phone if the quality is strong. Use only the back camera of your phone rather than the front, as the back camera lens has a higher quality and can capture a clearer image.

Make yourself look natural

When getting ready for your picture, try to look natural. Properly groom and shave to ensure your hair is out of your face, making it easier to see you. If you choose to wear makeup for the headshot, try to apply a natural look that complements your facial features and conveys your professionalism to hiring managers.

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