I’ll be honest, when I started my journey in photography I had no idea what a headshot was. A few years back I came across a video on fStoppers introducing Peter Hurley into my world. And my journey to become a headshot photographer began.
A quick search of Google for headshot photographer turns two definitions and a neat look at how the use of the term has ramped greatly in the past 20-30 years.
As my wife would be very upset if I was in the profession of killing people, we’ll run with definition #1.
A photograph of a person’s head.
Well, that’s pretty generic. If we dig a little deeper, we’ll see that a professional headshot is a promotional image that’s been used by actors, artists, authors, models and other famous individuals for years to build their image in the eyes of their fans. In the 80’s and 90’s these groups were the only ones who really needed a headshot. As we’ve rolled into the 21st century, the growth of the internet has forever altered who headshots are for.
Now, for little or no investment, anyone can build a web site, join a social network, and promote themselves to the world. Social networks like Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and Twitter allow anyone to build a personal brand. Each of these networks is very visual. When setting up your profile, you’ll be asked for a photo. The image you choose to use will say a lot about you and will define the first impression others will have of you.
Your Headshot Can Separate You from The Pack
People use the craziest mix of images for their social media profiles. We’ve all seen profiles with their kids photo or an animation as their profile photo. Others crop their head out of a group photo from the previous night of partying. Worse yet, we’ve all seen the LinkedIn profiles with the generic gray head. Simply having a headshot that’s actually of you and not cropped from a group photo immediately puts you ahead.
Stand Out With A Great Headshot
So now we know what a headshot is, and why you need one. Let’s discuss if any headshot is okay or if you need a great headshot.
Headshots come in all shapes and sizes with many parts including:
- Lighting – A professionally lit photograph highlights your good and disguises the rest.
- Outfit – Pick an outfit that works well with your body, reflects your personal style and connects you to your position.
- Styling – Your outfit, hair, makeup and even jewelry says a lot about you, spend time on this.
- Positioning – The relationship between your head and your body is a very important part of your headshot. Work with someone that knows how to guide you into the best position for your body type.
- Expression – The final and most important part of your headshot is your expression. You want your image to exude a level of confidence and sincerity that allows the viewer the opportunity to connect with you. This is also the hardest step for many. Getting past the “OMG, I’m in front of a camera!” and being yourself is a true challenge.
Put all of these together, and you’ll have a headshot that you can be proud to show the world. You’ll have achieved the elusive beast that is The Great Headshot.