I have been contacted by many people recently who are starting a new business or expanding their current business, and are in need of updated headshots. This is great news for the economy! So I thought it would be helpful to write about how to get a great headshot.
Why do you need a headshot?
No matter the size of your business, when people visit your web site they generally peruse the home page first and then click on the about us page. They want to see who are the people behind the business. Humans have a need to connect with other humans. When they are choosing between you and your competitors this first impression of you may be an unconscious deciding factor that causes them to choose your business over a competitor. So think about what kind of image do you want to project? If you are a therapist you may want to project a caring, supportive image. Or a lawyer may want to emphasize a confident, trustworthy image. If you have done specific work on what your brand stands for make sure that your headshot reinforces that brand. For instance, if you have decided that your logo features the color red, wear a splash of red in your headshot. You want to create a clear, consistent picture of who you are and what your company does.
Five Tips to get a Great Headshot
1. Pick a great outfit. Be sure to wear a color that is your best color and brings out your features. How do you determine your best color? In my case whenever I wear royal blue I get a lot of compliments that day. So that seems to be my color. If you are unsure, try several different outfits. KPO Photo Headshots are done at the studio in Hillsborough, NC. You will have the option to try a couple of different looks. The idea is to get your headshot done well so you don’t have to do this for another decade!
When wedding planner and owner of An Elegant Affair, Barbara Clark, came in for her headshot we tried several different outfits. For us, the green on the left was the clear winner.
2. A headshot is all about the eyes. So be sure to get a really good night’s sleep the night before and drink lots of water leading up to your headshot. It really does make a difference, especially in your skin. It is also better to be photographed in the morning while you are still fresh. For women you may want to apply just a little more makeup than normal. It really does photograph better. Strange but true.
This is a photo of my father, Stephen Prelipp, who needed a new headshot for his consulting business. He heeded my advice to get a good night’s sleep and drink plenty of water and I think it really shows. This photograph will be his client’s first impression of him. This image is so important as they will be trusting him to help steer their businesses in a better direction.
3. Choose the best angle and lens. A long lens, such as an 85mm or longer should be used. And everyone looks better if they are photographed from above rather than down below.
4. Second to the eyes in importance is the skin. A typical headshot is composed of just your head and shoulders so your skin is featured prominently. You will want to be photographed in diffused light that wraps around the skin rather than glaring light that shows every wrinkle and blemish. We will use soft boxes, reflectors and diffusers to create the best light possible. Your favorite images will also be perfected in Photoshop.
5. Your expression is everything. Again, what kind of image do you want to project? When I was doing my self-portrait for my “about us” page I knew I wanted to come across as approachable and friendly. So I chose that kind of expression and was leaning in towards the camera. When I am photographing someone’s headshot I try to get them talking about what they do and what they are passionate about. We take shots of a whole range of expressions and look at them on a large screen television as we go along so you can get a handle on what you like best.
On the left, Planned Parenthood CEO, Janet Colm, wanted to project a more friendly image. I photographed her in the KPO Photo professional photo studio with a black backdrop. On the right author Sarah Dessen needed to update her headshot. She also wanted to have a more smiley headshot. She chose to use the KPO garden as her setting.
Mary Jane Flanagan is at a crossroads in her career. After a successful 30 years in sales and marketing she has decided to enroll in a culinary institute in New York, NY to realize her dream of being a personal chef, focusing on healthy foods. Because her background is in sales she understands the importance of a brand, so her first step was to get some new head shots that reflected her image. These were taken here at my studio garden where there is always something in bloom.