We all know how awesome it feels to brush our teeth in the morning with Lizzo’s “Truth Hurts” at full blast, right? What if a headshot could make us feel the same way when we click send on an important e-mail?
This is about headshots, not Lizzo, but dope tracks aren’t the only relevance she has to this conversation. Lizzo covers her albums and singles with awesome portraits of herself, she is absolutely gorgeous, confident and approachable in all her photos without trying to fit the mold of a size 2 celebrity figure. By combining great expression with great lighting and great photography the artwork on her albums is flattering, beautiful and gives us an impression of her music before we hit play. A juice cleanse might make you feel like a cranky super-hero, but it won’t get you the perfect headshot. The perfect headshot is never a photo of a perfect looking person, even when a celebrity is in front of the camera. A hundred dollar moisturizer might make you feel like a fresh swag machine, but it won’t get you the perfect headshot.
A FRESH PHOTO WITH THE BOMB LIGHTING
It might seem obvious to start with the photo, but a great headshot is a great photo, and a lot goes in to making one. Believe it or not, not everyone will think the perfect photo is perfect, but there is an industry standard set by greats like Peter Hurley out of New York. Headshots and portraits are a specialty, and you’re about to find out why.
Headshot lighting is clean, soft, and even. We love using Westcott’s Eyelighter 2 for the nice curved catchlight and simplicity. There are a few more tricks of the trade to use, like a backlight and a huge lights source. Take your next selfie near the largest light source you can find, usually a big window, and you’ll notice a huge difference. The bomb lighting is a must have, and a fresh photographer is a surefire way to get there, but these two aspects only contribute to a great headshot. The best and worst thing about the next step is that you won’t even know it’s there.
YOU DON’T SEE GOOD RETOUCHING
Celebrity photos are flawless, and they take hours to get that way. There is no “celebrity treatment” filter. There are face tuners and skin filters on phone these days, but here’s the thing… you can usually tell when they’re used. Confidence is not the message we get when someone’s photo is clearly retouched. Skin has texture, people have pores, and scars or beauty marks make a face unique. Using professional photo editing software manually with a sense of balance is a skill. A great headshot includes a well produced and subtle retouch that makes you look and feel like a million bucks.
A PURPOSE AND A MESSAGE
These days we make a digital impressions long before we make one in person. We meet and make impressions online. You’ll be scoped out there before you get a second interview, your social profile is the new resume, and clients will often know who they’re dealing with long before ever shaking hands. It takes a second or two to make an impression these days, and if your goal is to impress and elevate your earning potential a clean professional headshot is the way to do it. There are profession specific reasons to deviate from the corporate approach. Actors, athletes and photographers all have unique goals in their headshots. If you’re making money you need a headshot these days.
Having a job will probably help you pay for a date, but what about getting one in the first place? It’s never a bad idea to have a photographer help you with your online dating profile. It’s a tricky balance to take a photo that feels and looks natural, but shows your best side. The message with a great dating portrait is the same as a corporate professional headshot, confidence and approachability. The way we send that message is the essential element of the best headshots.
EXPRESSIONS MAKE IMPRESSIONS
A fresh photo with the bomb lighting, a balanced retouch, and a clear purpose don’t mean a thing without that swing. Expression means everything. You can practice in a mirror. Cycle through greetings using expression alone. Start with a simple hello and go through any greeting you can think of, all the way to the cheesiest pickup line you can muster, using only expression.
What do you see? We don’t always look confident when we smile, we might look smart or sultry when we don’t, but not approachable. Getting the right expression is a balancing act. Confidence can be intimidating, approachability can be needy. We’re aiming for a balance between confidence and approachability, and your purpose will give us a clear target.
Your mirror is cool and all, but what if it could talk back? A professional photographer is just what we’re looking for. It’s a skill to find the expression that projects the message at the most flattering angle. There are tricks to compliment faces of every shape and size. It’s great to practice at home, then find a photographer you can communicate with, and trust to apply all the other elements to create an awesome headshot.
YOU DESERVE A GREAT HEADSHOT
If you have a social media profile or exist in any way as yourself online you can benefit from a headshot, so just about everyone. According to statistics released by Linked-In “Members who include a profile photo receive 21x more profile views and up to 36x more messages.” Using a professional headshot can increase profile views by 14%. Treat yourself to a great headshot!
Gabriel Reyes is a professional photographer and owner of Anchors Collective Photography in Miami, Florida.