Dos and Don'ts of a Great Head Shot

Dos and Dont's of a Great Head shot

  When tackling this topic in my first article about personal branding and the importance of a headshot, I must admit, I didn't even have a real head shot of myself to represent my brand. In that moment, I felt a bit like a fraud. How can I advise professionals young and old to think of themselves as their own brand when I didn't even consider myself as a living and breathing representation of my business? I had to remedy that, so I had my head shot taken. It was nerve racking and I did a ton of research and thought a lot about what makes a great head shot. For a beer-lover like myself, I naturally decided the backdrop for my session would be the Modern Times tasting room in North Park, which was whimsical and eclectic, words I use to describe my personal style.

  That experience didn't just inspire me to put this list of "dos and don'ts" together for all of your go-getters out there, I wanted to do more. So, I'm excited to announce that I will be hosting my first (and hopefully not only) Head Shot Happy Hour at Helix Brewing Co. in La Mesa, CA. What does this mean for you? That means on August 8th from 5pm to 8pm, you'll receive a complimentary head shot, just for coming out and having a beer with me. Say what? Yeah, I'm pretty excited about it myself. Keep reading for the Dos and Don'ts of a Great head shot, and keep an eye out for a special offer at the bottom.


DON'T use a wedding photo.

This might be controversial coming from a wedding photographer, but you need to hear this. Men may be able to get away with a photo from their wedding day, if they’re wearing a suit, but ladies; unfortunately the same does not apply to you. A gorgeous image of a bride in white tells me absolutely nothing about the woman behind the veil. All that photo of you holding a bouquet on the beach tells me is that you got married sometime in the past 10 years. You owe yourself a new photo shoot to show off who you are now in your career, not who you were on your wedding day.

DO dress for your brand.

Have you ever heard the saying "dress for the job you want"? This is key when it comes to choosing an outfit, location, and style for your head shot. A yoga instructor wouldn't dress in a Tahari suit, but that would be a great option for a tax accountant hoping to land a prestigious position at a corporation. An Attorney looking to become a partner at a law firm wouldn't dress in a blazer and a band tee, but a graphic designer might. Humans are visual people, and first impressions are everything when it comes to a head shot. So dress the part according to who you are, your personal style, and the career you want.

DON'T be a bore.

Okay, so "boring" is totally relative, right? But what I mean to say is, just because you are an accountant doesn't mean you can't incorporate your own personal touches in your choice of dress. A meaningful piece of jewelry, a trendy tie, or pops of your favorite color are great ways to set yourself apart from all of the grey suits out there. If understated grey suits are your thing, own it, and make sure it is impeccably tailored. If you're in a more creative industry, why not push yourself to create an image that fits in line with your creative style?

DO keep it professional.

Creatives, I'm talking to you. We are blessed to be in an industry where lax dress codes and personal style are accepted and encouraged, but that doesn't mean cut-off jeans and wrinkled clothing is okay. Yes, distressed denim is totally "in" but we can all agree that there is a way to wear distressed jeans and still look put together. If you can't walk into a staff or client meeting in that outfit, don't wear it.

DON'T forget about your hair, skin and nails.

Some poses your photographer may try will include your hands. So ladies and gents as my good friends Tom and Donna say, "Treat Yo' Self," to a manicure before your session. Make sure your skin is camera ready as well. Ladies, this means great foundation and appropriate make-up (for your industry). I don't wear much make-up, but I am a huge fan of the Pixi by Petra line. Their concealer and skin tint combo not only has SPF but I feel like it makes my skin look all lush and glowy. If you're a make-up novice like me, a beauty concierge may be a worthwhile investment. Check out my interview with local service, Elwynn & Cass here. Now for the Men, moisturizer is your friend, and make sure that facial hair is on point. When it comes to hair, if it isn't pulled back, it does frame ladies faces nicely, and will give you lots of variety in your photos. However, a headshot is not the time to experiment with a new hair or makeup trend, just aim to be the best version of yourself.

DO communicate with your Photographer.

Don't like your ears showing? Do you have a good side? Maybe you want photos only from the shoulders up, or you want a casual lifestyle photo at a cool brewery (I know I'm not the only one, can I get an "amen"). Tell your photographer. Although we are sometimes called magicians (more on that later), we unfortunately cannot read minds. The more information you give us, the happier you will be with your photos. Sure, we will try to push you out of your comfort zone for a cool shot, but just make sure your photographer knows what you like and what you want out of your session before it happens. BONUS TIP: It's okay to ask once or twice to see a peek, just don't go over board, photographers like to surprise you.

DON'T rely on Photoshop.

Sure we could clone out that bra strap, make you look 10 years younger and remove all those grey hairs, but most of us don't really like to do it. It's not about the time (that's a lie, it takes forever, I want to get it right in camera), it's more about being comfortable and accepting of who you are. If you aren't, how do you expect anyone else to be? Covering a blemish that appeared overnight is one thing, but altering your appearance to the point where people won't recognize you when you walk through the door for that interview, is not advised.

DO keep it current.

This seemed to be a hot button issue that there wasn't a clear answer to when I was researching the topic. The answer I found is, it depends. Some industries benefit from a constantly changing head shot every few months, so developing a relationship with a photographer you trust is key since you will be relying on them to keep your brand consistent and recognizable. You never know when you will need a current photo for a new opportunity or media release, and there's nothing worse than scrambling to find a current photo of yourself. So anytime you accept a new opportunity, change your look, or at least every two years, update that head shot.

DON'T forget.

I'll be hosting a complimentary Head Shot Happy Hour event at Helix Brewing Co. (8101 Commercial Street, La Mesa, CA) on August 8th from 5pm-8pm. Come out, have a beer with me and receive one free image optimized for web use on all of your social channels. Bring a friend and you both will receive $25 off a 60 min Visual Branding appointment with me! RSVP on facebook here.

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