It’s my job to make the best headshots people have ever seen of themselves, regardless of what profession they’re in. Models and actors need very different headshots than lawyers and realtors. Executives need different headshots than musicians. Every headshot and portrait we make at Paul Bellinger Photography is unique to the person and what they need it for. That being said, there are some universal best practices when it comes to making an effective headshot, and you can read all about the general principles of our headshot philosophy on the session information page here.
But given that most of our clients are business professionals I thought I’d mention three things to avoid in a professional business headshot.
1. Don’t try to stand out by using colorful wardrobe, weird angles, or a unique background or setting. The goal is not to stand out by looking different, but to stand out by looking your best. More often than not, trying to get creative with wardrobe or setting will make you stand out for the wrong reasons, looking tacky or worse, looking unprofessional. This is why I recommend business professionals use a white, gray or black background depending on their branding, a tight crop that features the eyes and not the wardrobe, and lighting that flatters the face so the unique beauty of each face is what stands out.
2. Don’t cheap out on your headshot. Sure, we all know someone with a camera and headshots don’t seem that difficult right? Wrong. You’re a professional, you should hire a professional. There is an art to making headshots that stand out for the right reasons and if your photographer isn’t a headshot specialist then chances are good your new headshot will do more harm than good. If you’re a professional, you know how important specialization is, and how big of a difference it can make. Not only will the quality of the headshot be better, the entire experience will be better. Imagine you need a tooth removed, you can have your friend with a nice pair of pliers remove it for free, or go to a dentist and pay a professional price. Either way the tooth will come out, but you’ll have a much better experience with the dentist. That being said, coming to my studio is nothing like going to the dentist. I’ve honed my craft to the point that I can typically make the best headshot anyone has seen of themselves in about 5 minutes in front of my camera. Most people actually enjoy the experience and leave looking good and feeling confident. It’s a good experience and I charge a professional price for it.
3. Don’t put off getting a new headshot. Business professionals in particular are expected to have a current headshot and it’s a sign of professionalism. People often use outdated headshots because they look skinnier or younger, but for a business professional, a great headshot is not about looking skinny or young, it’s about looking like your best self today. Being 10 pounds heavier or 10 years older than you’d like is no excuse for having an outdated or unprofessional headshot. Looking unprofessional is so much worse than looking 10 pounds heavier, and the people that matter are going to be looking at your eyes and the quality of your headshot, not your weight. Think no one will notice that your headshot is 10 years old? Think again. Everything about your old headshot is probably dated, from the wardrobe and hairstyle to the background and lighting. It’s obvious, and it sends the wrong signals. In contrast, staying updated with your headshot shows that you take your professionalism seriously, that you take initiative, you’re ambitious and you don’t cut corners. They say “dress for the job you want, not the job you have,” and the same goes for headshots. Want people to take you seriously? Do everything you can to stand out for the right reasons. An up to date headshot is an easy thing you can do to stand out and with the right photographer you’ll stand out for the right reasons.