Let me just say: I LOVE a good picture of myself.
They’re handy professionally! They’re a cool snapshot of a moment in time! They’re great for memory-making! It’s an artistic expression! They are therapeutic and convey feeling!
But I hate (like, really hate) being in front of the camera.
In my many years of working with photographers and the humans they photograph I’ve come to realize—A LOT of people don’t like having their pictures taken. Especially formal, professional ones. I’m sure there are statistics about it. The reasons are myriad:
Maybe you feel uncomfortable being the center of attention…and there’s nothing more centering of someone’s attention than being in front of their camera lens. Talk about pressure.
Maybe you think it’s totally dumb to spend money getting a professional photograph taken when really the job you’re looking for isn’t about looks *at all*, it’s about the power of your brain and your skillz.
Maybe you don’t like that glazed, forced-smile look that we all get when we’ve posed for too long, and that’s what you *just know* you’ll get.
Maybe it’s just annoying to add one more thing to you to do list.
I’ve had all those thoughts.
And I’ve also taken a fair number of professional photos and I’ve learned a few things and here they are.
Thing one: if you’re that uncomfortable in front of the camera, get some help. If you’re like me you’ll wind up trying to selfie it, and you’ll wind up looking like THIS. Don’t be like me.
Also get your roots done before you take a picture, sheesh.
Okay so the point here is if you CAN bootstrap and take your own picture, I totally support you. Grab that tripod, or that bestie with a new(ish) iphone, or your polaroid camera or whatever, and go for it. I'm deeply NOT into spending money on something I can do for trade, cheap or free. So if you have some skills in the bank, by all means proceed.
Here's where we get to the anatomy of a good headshot. It's three things. Only three pieces of criteria that you need to consider:
First, eye contact.
There are lots and lots of places for those snaps of you looking thoughtfully off to the side, wearing sunglasses or meditatively closing your eyes. Your pro headshot isn't one of them. In a professional headshot, you want your viewer to not only see you, but feel seen by you. In an existential, sub-conscious way we feel connected to the subject of a photo when we can look into their eyes. And if you're not trying to make connections, why are we here together in professional headshotlandia?
Corny grin not required. Stoicism is even acceptable. But a pleasant expression will get you the furthest. It's like being at a networking event: the more approachable you are, the more likely you are to make connections. And again, connections are our goal.
Third, it's gotta be current (sorry).
I, too, love pictures from my twenties when my skin was really smooth and I looked well-rested all the time (even if I wasn't). But let's be real—those pictures are not a true reflection of who I am today. It's inauthentic to position yourself under an outdated headshot (sorry). You can maybe squeak a few years out of a headshot, but honestly...not more than that.
This is the headshot I'm currently using. It's a selfie, I took it at the local juice place (funny story about that, ask me about it some time). The color was mediocre so I did some color correction on it, and it's working...for now.
If you don't wanna take your own pic...
You'll need a photographer. A good photographer is like a therapist in some ways. They really see you. They know how to help you see your best side. They know how to put you at ease in an uncomfortable moment. And they usually have a super sweet rolodex of folks who can help with style, makeup, hair and location.
They'll help you get shots you love. Just go into it with that energy and trust the process. It's when you get to photo selection that the work begins. I'm scheduling a shoot for later this year. Let's keep it fresh.
If you have Q's about headshots or need help with styling, finding a photographer or ID'ing the perfect shoot location for your brand, ping me. I'm here!