How to Create a Professional Headshot by Wendy D

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Wendy D’s article is the first in a series of guest blog posts from local entrepreneurs, artists, marketers and authors.

When Matt asked if I would be interested in doing a blog post about “headshots” I said absolutely. These days everyone needs a headshot. What exactly is a headshot you might ask? The dictionary definition is a photograph of someone’s face, especially a promotional photograph of a model, actor or author. Yes that is a bit outdated, so I went to wikipedia to see what it had to say.. 

A headshot is a modern portrait for today’s branding needs, where the focus of the photograph is the personality inside the person captured. A headshot is a specific type of portrait. A head shot is an image that portrays a person as he is, however simple or stylized the image might be.

The very first line says it all… “today’s branding needs”. So much of business is done online and your avatar (headshot) is often the first impression. What does your photo say about you, who you are, or what you do? Is it a photo of you that was taken at an event that you have cropped? or a photo with your iphone? In my mind, that sends out the signal that you are not taking your personal brand seriously. So what makes a good headshot? Here are a few questions to ask yourself.

  • Who will be looking at my photo?
  • What impression do I want to give with my photo?
  • Should it be casual or business?
  • Should it be in studio, or environmental?
  • What expression should I have?
  • Where will I be posting the photo?
  • You need to think about sizing and format, for print or web? Portrait or landscape (web banner)?
  • What should I wear?
  • What colour should it be?

Your photograph should match your personal brand, including your clothing, colours, and even your hairstyle. When you are searching for a photographer, they should also be asking you similar questions. Work with them to come up with a plan for the session. I usually suggest a couple of different looks within your branding. You may have different needs for different places you will use your headshot.

During your photo session, be yourself, imagine sitting with your future client/prospect chatting with them. You don’t need to try to be something you are not. The photo is to represent you, be true to yourself. Keep your hair, makeup and wardrobe how you normally present yourself. If you don’t smile a lot, then don’t in your photo, if you wear glasses all the time, wear them. When people meet you, they might think.. “wow he/she is exactly how I thought they would be”, instead of “wow, this person isn’t anything like what I was expecting”.

My last suggestion for your photo shoot, is to have fun with your session! If you are having fun, relaxed and enjoying yourself that will come through in the image.

If you would like more information about headshot photography, don’t hesitate to contact me at wendyd@wendyd.ca.

Wendy D has been a photographer for over 20 years and has been head of her own photography business in Vancouver since 2001. She specializes in marketing, publicity and public relations photography. This includes photographic coverage of events, as well as profile photography, headshot photography and editorial photography. She enjoys working closely with communication teams to create images that can best deliver the intended message. Wendy’s experiences are vast, everything from gala events, taking photographs in an operating room, photographing personalities, CEO’s, senior lawyers, artists, university students and especially great a photographing those who hate having their photo taken.

5 comments

  1. Great photo (face wise and energy) but is it really necessary to be wearing a shirt where we can see your bra? Doesn’t exactly scream professional. :(

  2. A useful post, thanks. My pet hate for headshots is people wearing sunglasses (usually cropped from a glam holiday snap and more common than you’d think!). Like most people I also look better with sunglasses :) but I think it’s important to see a person’s eyes!

    1. I agree! I think professional headshots are worth the investment because they just look better and can be tailored to the individual.

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