In my last post, I covered The Importance of a Professional Headshot. Now to make a confession: the photo in my sidebar was not taken by a professional photographer. After a discussion with my husband, I had agreed that I needed a professional photo and so I began researching studios and pricing.
The average studio/photographer in Australia offered a reasonable price for a set of photos. Some even offered specials. However, when I mentioned to them I needed the copyright of the photos their eyes lit up, much like a baker’s eyes light up when you order a wedding cake. The prices skyrocketed.
You want how much? Would you like my kidney with that?
To avoid having to eat nothing but spaghetti for the next six months, I convinced my hubby to help me fake a professional headshot. And here’s how we did it:
The camera: You don’t need a fancy camera to achieve a professional look. You do need a digital camera and a happy trigger finger. Take a gazillion shots—even if 99% of them look freaky, one of them, by the odds alone, is bound to turn out halfway decent.
The photographer: A professional photographer with a fancy camera will be able to achieve a lot more, but for the purposes of this exercise, a trusted friend or family member will be sufficient. As long as they are patient and know how to point the business end of a camera, they’ll do fine. They don’t even have to worry about taking a straight photo or a centred one because most photo editing programs will fix that problem.
The look: Make yourself look perdy. I don’t normally wear makeup so all I did for the shoot was slap on a bit of lipstick. I even brushed my hair—gasp! Tip: don’t wear huge earrings, don’t wear patterned clothing. You want your face to be the focus of the picture, not your accessories.
The background: pick a plain background, something neutral, nothing too busy. Outdoor shots are fine and generally add a relaxed feel to your portrait, but there are hazards to outdoor photography. Sunlight can cause dark shadows across the face, and squinting into the sun is never a good look. If you are going to take an outdoor shot, then take it in the shade—not a speckled shade, otherwise you end up with strange highlights.
Indoor photography has its own pitfalls. Without a studio, lighting is difficult to get right. Avoid flash photography. A flash is a stark light that will do you no favours. Neither is a light from directly above or below. I don’t recommend indoor photography unless you understand lighting and have a fancier camera that can take longer exposures.
This final shot was taken outside in the shade. It was late afternoon and I stood in front of a glossy white card.
Without naming names, what mistakes have you seen authors make with their headshots?