Ideally, consider updating your headshot at least every two years – that’s how often actors and models update their headshots. The reason why a new headshot is suggested to be updated every two years is due to hair cut and color, weight loss, eyebrow trends (really), and clothing choices – we all change in two years! If you can afford the time and cost of getting a new headshot every year, great! But knowing not many look forward to getting their photo taken except maybe models and actors, once every two years is fine.
If your profile image is currently a selfie, iPhone photo, or an image from your wedding or a recent family photoshoot, it’s time to consider a professional headshot.
A great headshot can make you look approachable, professional, and if you use LinkedIn to network or apply to jobs, it is a first impression to recruiters, peers, and possible employers. A professional headshot should suit your personality and goals – it will attract the right attention on professional networking profiles and company websites, and Google searches. It’s important to have a good photo come up when someone sees your profile for the first time or searches you in Google. It’s also great to have a professional headshot for any seminars, presentations, and publications. You may also be asked for an image if you contribute a quote to a story. (I use the term “headshot” but this can also mean portrait and include more of your body)
Here are a few headshots I have taken over the past decade in the Phoenix Valley for a variety of some of my favorite professionals that might suit your goals, style and most importantly, your personality. Many of these are assignments from Phoenix magazine and Phoenix Home & Garden publications.
There is no wrong or right headshot, unless it’s a selfie. *wink*
5 Types of headshots for websites and profiles to consider
1 / In Your Work Environment
I like getting a glimpse into the spaces of professionals – by heading into their office or workshop. Doctors, athletes, creatives that have a unique space would be a great backdrop to storytelling.
Your backdrop doesn’t necessarily have to be your main social networking profile photo but this image with more personality or a special backdrop can serve as a horizontal banner for social media, in addition to a great profile to submit for any inclusions in publications.
I hope by seeing these images you know the subject’s profession! Make sure props are or signage are clear.
2 / You + Your Work
A great way to showcase work you’ve created or designed is to also put yourself right in the middle of it!
Artists, architects, landscape designers, a setting that you’ve created or products that would make a beautiful backdrop can actually make the ideal backdrop for headshots.
3 / Creative with Personality
Tania Katan is an author that speaks, and Kate is a professional organizer in Philly. These are fun opportunities to showcase your bubbly or fierce personality – or laid back hot tub style. Photographers will often hold their camera in profile photos so you know exactly what they do.
These are great usages for website about pages.
4 / In Studio Lighting and Backdrops
A headshot on a white background is almost a staple for anyone, you cannot go wrong with it – the usages are endless. This look is a popular choice for authors, organizers, real estate, corporate professionals, and actors. For some it might seem too old fashioned, cold, or corporate, but it’s far from it!
With the right lighting you are the entire focus of the image and there is no distractions. This looks great on all white business cards.
Also, imagine how much your profile image will pop on the screen because it is vibrant and if on a white backdrop, bright and eye catching. What you get is an incredibly clean professional look – even pageant photos look great with studio lighting. Can you tell I’m a fan of the studio lighting with white backdrop? Because I am!
Specify to your photographer if you want the backdrop to be pure white, or just a softer white background with a little fall off (last image).
*Also no heads were cut off in actual image – this is the way images are cropped in this lineup.
Companies with employees also like to have headshots for email signatures or staff profiles on the website. If you can have a photographer come in once a quarter to shoot new employees or offer updates, you should. I have a client I regularly see and also shoot their marketing stock images that go on their newsletter and website.
5 / Natural Lighting
Natural lighting works for any business if done well. Outdoors can provide a more relaxed approachable feel. I often shoot these as featured business profiles for magazine advertisements and interviews.
You can shoot outside your business building, leaning against a clean wall, there are unique ways to use natural light as well – as I did with this realtor and had him stand directly in the sun! He looks so powerful. I also offered lightening the shadows of the background so you can see his office better but I prefer this dramatic contrast.
Also consider if you want to shoot in the afternoon or evening. The above images were taken during the early morning and afternoon. Lots of light can provide a cheerful, bright and vibrant look. You can also look for covered shaded areas. A little more muted look is around the evening and is also dependent upon your surroundings and the colors you choose to wear.
Tips To Prepare for Your Headshot
BE FAMILIAR WITH YOUR GOOD SIDE
If you have a better side of your face (many of us do unless we are perfectly symmetrical) make sure you give that photography only that side, or straight on. Let them know when you arrive to the shoot, they will be glad you mentioned it if they don’t ask you first.
PREPARE YOUR HYGIENE
The better you feel about yourself the better your images will turn out – so if you need a haircut, shave, Botox, tan, or makeup done, do it! You want to look like you, on a good day. Go a bit stronger with your makeup, it will look better on camera. I do strongly suggest hiring a professional makeup artist for hair and makeup because they know how contouring and colors will show up better on camera.
BRING SEVERAL OUTFIT CHOICES
Bring several outfits you feel most comfortable in and feels like you, not what you wish you could pull off. Avoid graphic prints, or worn out tops. I’ve done this myself, where I wanted to look good in this specific outfit because I wanted to believe it was my personality but it really wasn’t. I never really loved the way I looked in the images because I felt like I looked stiff (and was because I felt it!). Wear what makes you feel like the best version of yourself. Ladies, don’t forget your bracelet and earrings – and remove any hair ties or plastic watch bands.
KNOW HOW MANY LOOKS YOU WANT OR NEED
We consider “looks” outfit changes, and possibly location changes, not poses. You can pose a variety of ways but know how many varieties you might want. It also depends how many high res images you will receive.
You can have the photographer come to your office and shoot a portrait there, and one on a white backdrop.
REQUEST TO SEE ALL THE SHOTS TAKEN
Most photographers do this, but it’s safe to check. You know which is your good side or how you should look better than the photographer – but trust me when I say a photographer really has a great eye too so don’t hesitate to ask for their opinion. I shoot for a half hour or more and let the client see all the images in a proofing gallery. I then let them select which they want me to touch up and that’s it!
How to Find a Headshot Photographer
If you like natural light photos, consider asking your family photographer or a wedding photographer – but avoid taking it at the same time as your family photos.
Here’s why: Your location matters. Wearing a suit or professional outfit needs to find the right background (so no shooting in fields or a desert in your suit). Look for office buildings (perhaps even yours?). This might require booking a separate shoot but you may want to anyway since you might be frazzled after you just spent 45 minutes trying to get your toddler to smile.
You can also look for commercial, studio photographers for in studio lighting for crisp studio images on colored backdrops, or in your work area.
You can also call local modeling agencies and ask for photographer referrals – many great headshot photographers shoot their models and actors.
Once you decide which lighting situation resonates with your look (you can also do both!) then you can begin your search to find the right photographer. Look at their portfolio or ask your co-workers for a referral.
*This post has been updated from it’s original publish date on June 12, 2019.
Diana Elizabeth is an editorial and corporate photographer based in Phoenix. Her work can regularly be seen in PHOENIX Magazine and Phoenix Home and Garden magazine. You can see her work www.dianaelizabeth.com.