Not everyone has the time, budget or inclination to hire a pro when it comes to taking a quick headshot for their website or PR efforts.
However, taking portraits can be a daunting task when you decide to tackle them yourself. Here are some quick tips that I’ve learned – and used for many clients! – to create great portraits.
1. Use a good camera.
Ok, we all don’t have top-of-the-line cameras, but it will help to use a decent camera to capture a good portrait. There are many settings – including a portrait setting that will get you started on the right foot. It is also easier to adjust the focus. Of course, there are times my iPhone does a great job, too, but I always prefer to use a DSLR (digital single lense reflex) camera for portraits.
2. Avoid the white wall.
We all know the typical “mug shot” look! One way to add interest is to have your subject stand in front of a more interesting, but still neutral, background. For PR photos, this works best with a subtly textured wall or neutral color. Avoid anything too busy or distracting in the background – the focus should be the person!
3. Dress the part.
I like to ask my subject to wear clothes that they feel confident in – you can just tell when someone feels good in what they wear! Generally, I advise people to stay away from wearing white, black and loud patterns. Neutral or bright solids usually work best and can help bring out the best in skin tones.
4. Come to the light.
If possible, take advantage of natural light by having your subject pose near a window. A mix of natural light and artificial light works great. Also, have your subject face, or partially face, the window – you want that light to be hitting their face, not behind them.
5. Make them smile.
My guess is that 95% (or more!) of the population are uncomfortable having their photo taken. I like to engage my subjects in casual conversation and try to make them more comfortable. Try a few different poses and stop for a joke or two – laughter makes us all look good!
Not everyone can play the part of photographer, and the pros can make us all look really (really, really) good, but sometimes you do just need a quick photo of your new employee PRONTO! Hope these tips make your headshots a snap. Good luck!