When applying for jobs, anything you can do to stand out and give potential employers a taste of your ‘personal brand’ will make a huge difference.
So having a killer professional headshot is essential.
Here, with some wise words from headshot company Hey Tuesday, we take you through what you need to take to create the perfect pic at home.
COMPETITION: Enter here to win a professional headshot with Hey Tuesday worth £127.
Strike a pose
This is a tricky one and will take a bit of thought to get right. But essentially you want your pose – the alchemy of your facial expression and body language – to bring your personality to life. You want to want to exude natural warmth and confidence. So avoid poses that feel forced or overly staged.
Most professionals recommend looking and smiling at the camera directly. But if you don’t feel comfortable with that or want something more arty, ask the photographer to capture you in an action pose.
Saskia Nelson, founder of Hey Tuesday: “Relaxing into a shoot so that you come across as confident is often the hardest, but most important, bit. Aim to have fun with whoever is taking your photo. Relax and have a laugh with them beforehand to loosen up. Then become fully aware of your body language. Don’t be afraid to take up room. The easiest way to come across as confident is to use open body language. Avoid crossing anything like your arms, for example, as that can come across as defensive or even aggressive at times. Don’t shrink away from the lens, open yourself up to it. Own the space.”
Use the right equipment
You don’t need an expensive DSLR camera to take a decent headshot. These days, most phones have good cameras and there are some good photo editing apps available, such as Google Snapseed, VSCO and Pixlr, for retouching images.
When editing your images, be careful not to ‘over-process’ them so they look unnatural and avoid extreme filters.
Saskia Nelson, founder of Hey Tuesday: “If your friend has a good quality camera on their phone, you should be all set. Choose the ‘portrait’ mode on your phone, if it has one, and then make sure the photographer has the camera zoomed all the way out to ensure the best quality. If they want to zoom in, just get them to use their legs instead and walk nearer to you. Finally, make sure they have a super steady hand when they shoot to avoid any unnecessary blur.”
Find a dynamic backdrop
A good headshot is not just about how you look, it’s about how you are framed. So before you take your shot, you’ll need to think carefully about what your backdrop will be. And keep in mind the rule of thirds.
A few years ago, neutral backgrounds were popular for corporate headshots. The world has changed. Now, employers want to get a sense of your personality so choose a setting that is dynamic (but not distracting) and feels true to you. For example, if you love nature, you might choose to find a quiet spot in your local park surrounded by greenery.
Saskia Nelson, founder of Hey Tuesday: “I definitely recommend avoiding any messy backgrounds and including anything in the shot that isn’t on message with your personal brand. It’s important to know that whatever’s behind you in the shot will be noticed. Anyone looking at the photo will consciously or unconsciously check out the background looking for clues about who you are, so keep it clean and simple. A bright colour works well for making you stand out for the right reasons. A simple colourful wall, for example, can be an easy way to create a stand-out shot. At Hey Tuesday we love outdoor shots as they’re more dynamic and often more interesting.”
What to wear
This will depend on the industry you are in. But generally speaking, you should wear something that makes you feel comfortable and appear professional.
One good tip is to picture what you’d wear to an interview for your dream job and dress similarly for your headshot.
Saskia Nelson, founder of Hey Tuesday: “The easiest way to plan for this is to picture the person you’d most like to win over in business. Figure out who they are and what outfit you possess that is going to get you respected and/or noticed by them. The right outfit will make you feel much more confident and in turn create much better images.”
Find the right light
Good lighting can make a world of difference when taking the perfect headshot. The key, as Saskia mentions below, is to use natural light and shoot in the daytime.
If you’re indoors, try standing adjacent to a big window to cast your features in soft, complimentary light.
Saskia Nelson, founder of Hey Tuesday: “Flash photography in the hands of an amateur has been said to add 7 years to someone so now is definitely not the time to experiment. We recommend heading outdoors and finding some nice, even light. If it’s a super sunny day, find some shade ensuring that the light falls evenly across your face. You’ll find this much more flattering than if you stand in bright sunlight.”
And if all else fails…
Trust in professionals. Hey Tuesday holds regular shoots in cities across the country and will work with you to create a winning headshot to use for your Placed profile and elsewhere.
Enter our Instagram competition to win a free headshot or get in touch with Hey Tuesday directly to find out more.