Portrait Photography Tips: The Art of the Headshot

Our portrait photography tips apply to selfies too!

The Law of Unintended Consequences is a funny thing: You try to predict how something will affect future events, and you’re almost always wrong. And when you’re right, you probably can’t explain why. This happens in big ways and little ways all the time. Take the Internet: It’s changed the way we do just about everything. It’s also responsible for the surge of importance of the formerly humble headshot.

It used to be the case that headshots were for models and actors – but in the modern day everyone needs a good professional headshot. You need one for your resume, for the company intranet, for your LinkedIn account and as an avatar for your Twitter and Facebook presence. And so much can go wrong with this vital aspect of your personal marketing, because that headshot is the first thing people will see when researching you for a job, as a customer, or just checking you out after a personal meeting. Here are some portrait photography tips to ensure that your headshot works for you, not against you, even if you’re doing it yourself.

Our portrait photography tips will help you take stunning portrait shots.

Personality Goes a Long Way

Before you do anything, take a moment to think about what you want your headshot to do – what kind of vibe do you want to give off? Are you a professional and want to appear serious and experienced, or an artist and want to be creative and funky? Do you want to appear friendly and casual, or mysterious and challenging? Your headshot is part of your personal marketing and branding, so decide what you want it to accomplish before you do anything else.

Head and Shoulders and a Blank Background

Don’t make the mistake of taking the term ‘headshot’ too literally; your headshot should not be just your face filling the frame – that’s off-putting and will freak people out a little. Better to back the camera up a bit and include your shoulders as well. This gives the portrait more room to ‘breathe,’ feels more natural, and gets some of your clothing in the frame which informs the viewer about who you are.

Also, keep the background of the photo as blank as possible – let people focus on your face, not some crazy wallpaper behind you!

Relax and Take Lots of Photos

Our final portrait photography tip is to have some fun and relax, and then take a lot of shots. Don’t mug for the camera, but try to let your mind wander a bit and forget that you’re being photographed (whether by a friend, a tripod, or a professional). The more photos you have to choose from, the more likely you’ll be able to come up with a truly magical headshot that’s ideal for all your personal marketing needs.

In the end, that headshot is going to represent who you are to anyone who hasn’t met you yet. The good news? The magic of the Internet also means you can always switch it up and change your headshot. And if you get a particularly good one that you want to turn into art prints to give to everyone you know? Click here and we can make that happen.