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Are You Ready for Your Close Up?
Published Tuesday, September 5, 2017

We’ve all seen them—the bad headshots. The one taken with someone’s phone that is one step up from a mug shot. Or  the one that is out of focus. Or that has been so overly photoshopped that the person looks more alien than human. And you ask, this was the headshot they picked to send out to media or post online for thousands to see?

Everyone wants to create a solid first impression, so having your headshot at the ready is non-negotiable in today’s digital age. You know you need a headshot, but do you know how to get one that is great? One that will stand out from the crowd, is professional and flattering, and appropriate for your field? Even if you don’t like having your picture taken, you have to think of this as more than a quick picture to endure; it’s not something that only the family will see. This is a representation of who you are professionally that you are purposely putting in front of potential clients.

Consider how you want to be perceived. What fits your brand? Are you a serious banker taking an authority position on the housing market? Are you the adventurous maverick that investors trust to come up with new ideas? Do you run a bakery that endears you to the local community? Choose wardrobe that fits not only you, literally, but also your profession and your brand. Plan to bring two looks: one formal and one casual.

Tips for Men
For a traditional, formal look, a classic suit in black, grey or navy blue is best. Make sure it is well fitted and not too big, which is a common problem. Choose a shirt that is lighter in color, preferably light blue or white. A tie is considered standard, and you’ll want to choose one that is either solid in color or has large stripes. Avoid small patterns or checks, as they do not photograph well and can distract from the overall portrait.

For a business casual look, choose a solid color polo or button down shirt. Avoid a white shirt if you’re not wearing a tie, as you may end up looking like a floating head. Consider layering a sweater or jacket if that is appropriate for your brand.

Tips for Women
For a traditional, formal feel, choose a classic suit or outfit that is flattering and polished. Blazers and suits are considered timeless and professional. Avoid wearing anything of the moment or trendy, as you do not want something that will be dated within a year of your portrait. V-necks are universally flattering on women, as long as they are not too revealing.

Choose a light or bright color underneath, such as blue, cream or pink.

For a business casual look, leave the suit jacket at home in lieu of a fitted blouse or sweater. You’ll want to choose something with sleeves. Avoid high collars such as turtlenecks and crew neck shirts. Choose jewelry that reflects your personality and day-to-day style, but be careful not to overpower your face, which should be the focus.

Hair and Makeup
Makeup should be natural but not light. Photography lighting often washes out colors on the skin, so you’ll want to choose a lip color one shade darker than normal, and avoid any products that have shimmer or shine to them. Fill in your brows, and be sure to have even coverage on the skin.

You may want to use hair spray or other products to tame frizz and fly-aways in your hair. Opt for products that provide a shine as opposed to a matte finish. If you’re going to get a hair cut prior to your session, do so at least a week before. This allows for adjustments if the hairstyle turns out not to be to your liking and avoids tan lines around the neck and ears, especially for men. If you’re not confident in this area, hire a professional hair and makeup artist for the day of your session.

Pay Attention to Details
Consider where you will be photographed. Most photographers offer clients the option of a studio, on location at your place of business or an alternative location such as a coffee shop.

Consider what fits your brand best, where your clients work with you, and your career goals.

Photos should be cropped to head and shoulders, with a sharp focus on your eyes. Lifestyle photos can be more relaxed, but a proper headshot should be just that—a shot of your head, looking right at the camera. It should not include another person, a drink in your hand or be shot from so far away that we cannot see who you are.

The biggest challenge can be looking relaxed in front of the camera. Many people do not like having their picture taken, and it can show. Take time to choose a photographer that you connect with. Search on social media, ask for referrals and talk to them to determine if they are a good fit. Not all personalities will jive, and you want someone who will make you feel comfortable.

Move around during the shoot. Your photographer should pose you, but within those poses, move a little. Breathe. Think happy thoughts. If you’re worried about how you look, your worry will show on your face. Lastly, have fun. Even if you’re in a serious profession, taking photos doesn’t have to be awful, and embracing the fun is going to get much better expressions than nerves.

Kristin Hardwick is a portrait photographer, specializing in personal branding and commercial photography. She has a studio in Nashua. She can be reached at info@kristinhardwick.com, 603-718-0094 or kristinhardwick.com.

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