Your Best Look for a Headshot Session

In earlier blogs we’ve talked about the messages that imagery sends to viewers of your headshot(s), whether for individuals and companies, and importance of the right look. So how do you achieve the right “look”?

As with many things, there are many different valid approaches to achieving this – here are some tips/things to consider when you’re looking for an updated headshot for LinkedIn, etc.:

Determine which side of your face looks the best (when ask this of most of my clients, I get a very puzzled look…) – believe it or not, our face is not symmetrical, and generally people look better from one side vs. another. Your photographer can help you here.

Choose clothing that supports but does not take away from your face – unless you’re a model, actor, musician, etc., your clothing should not draw attention away from you and should be somewhat secondary. The level of formality needed (think ties/jackets for men) will depend on who your audience is and the image you want to convey.

Clothing color – again, lean more towards subdued colors, and avoid prints or strong patterns for most corporate/business photos. Darker jackets/suits complemented by lighter shirts, dresses that are professional looking – think of clothes you would wear to an important meeting, etc.. Minimal jewelry, appropriate makeup, etc.

Lighting/background color – for corporate/professional settings, less dramatic, more evenly lit lighting is generally used, along with more neutral backgrounds (white/off white/grey/black). Again, you don’t want the background to be the focal point of the image – your expression/YOU are the focus.

So, you might be thinking this sounds very boring and corporate, and not very creative – you want to be different, stand out from the crowd! And you can, but first you need to know your audience and what they expect.

Let’s say you’re a corporate attorney or finance person, who is looking for your next job and need to update your LinkedIn photo. Your applying to a number of firms who are conservative by nature – you go to their website and look at the profiles/pictures of their senior management. They’re shot on a neutral background, and they’re all wearing suits and ties (for men) or navy/black high cut outfits for women. Posting a picture of you wearing an open plaid shirt, or low cut dress against a highlighted blue background, or outside in the yard leaning up against a tree is probably not the image you want to convey.

On the other hand, if you’re in the entertainment industry, an artist, etc., you could go with a more colorful or creative look. And if the purpose of the photos is more social (eg, a profile picture for a dating website), a more creative, impactful shot can also work – again, depending on the message/image you’re trying to put across.