Please don’t hurt’em with an ugly business headshots when you’re really quite beautiful. No more dark images where we can barely make out your face. No more shots with your ex or current love ripped out the other side or folded over — you know what I’m talking about. No more strange facial expressions — unless it fits the story you’re telling.
And no more excuses.
When it comes to marketing your business, image matters…
…and that includes your headshot. But marketing your business on a budget means you may not have the money for that allstar-international photographer who happens to live in your city. Fortunately, with a few do-it-yourself tips, you can still have a quality headshot. But first, I hear a question that needs answering.
“Why do I need a business headshot? I’ve never needed one before.”
Well. Yes you have. You just weren’t paying attention.
Businesses require ongoing marketing. You can market your company or your book through your website, business cards, social media pages as well as article interviews. And headshots can and should accompany all of those marketing items.
When publicity opportunities show up, you need to move quickly. Most journalist won’t have time to wait for you to get your marketing materials together. It’s not personal, but if they can’t get what they need from you, they’ll move on. I know this is true because I constantly write under a deadline and I’ve watched small business owners — and authors — miss some great opportunities, solely because they weren’t prepared.
So get ready now — and that means a business headshot, as soon as possible.
It’s time for a close up and you’re the photographer.
In order to end up with some usable pictures you have to pay attention to a few things.
1) Respect the sun.
Lighting is everything to great headshots. And to make the most of it on a budget, you have to work with the sun. For the best look, the light should be behind the camera, shining onto your face. The light should be in your eyes.
Because I don’t have a studio or professional lighting equipment, I take my headshots first thing in the morning or in the evening. Pictures with a noonday sun, directly over your head, creates a deep shadow on your face and that doesn’t look good. So use the start or the end of the day for the best sunlight opportunities.
2) Discover your best side.
It’s about finding a pose that’s flattering to you and that comes down to angles. The best way to learn is to take the shot and then have a look.
I’ve found that when the camera is slightly above my head, then it makes me look better — and by that I mean — slimmer. In fact, most of my favorite pictures are taken from this angle. Play around until you discover what works for you.
3) Set the timer and get your face right.
Relax. If you don’t, your facial expressions will be strained. And that’s probably not the message you’re trying to send with your photograph. Since you’re going to use the timer on your camera, you will have anywhere from 2 to 10 seconds to press the button and then get in place, calm down and smile.
But if the camera just makes you nervous, then play some of your favorite music. Having fun is a great way to rediscover your natural smile.
Keep in mind, whether you pay the experts or do it yourself, you have to get the pose right. And understanding the core marketing message that you want to share is key. The facial expression that seduces your audience, for example, is different from the one that says
“I’m friendly and approachable”
“I get the job done.”
To maximize your photo shoot, look at the headshots of people in your industry. Study the ones that you like. Take note of how each photograph makes you feel. And then choose the poses that send the best message.
4) Use a clean or inspiring background.
Even though it’s a headshot, some portion of the space behind you is going to show up. Consider a white background like most studios use, but also an office space, a book shelf, a nice seating area will work.
To make the most of it, declutter the space behind you. Move things around until you have the background that you want. Grab the camera. Set the timer. And take a test shot.
At this point you’re developing an eye for framing your image. Just keep in mind that it’s a headshot and not the full body. You are not trying to show off your cool background. You’re trying to capture your face and if the background shows up a little, you want it to help your story, and not hurt it.
It’s a HEADshot, so zoom in.
5) Use a camera with a flip screen.
It’s easier to frame the shot when you have a screen that can flip around to face you — wherever you are. This way you can get in place for your picture as well as see what’s happening on the screen. And while you’re waiting for that 10 second timer to go off, you can make a few adjustments if you need to.
For years, however, I have taken my own headshots without a flip screen. You can get it done. But it takes extra time and greater patience.
NOTE: When it comes to DIY business headshots, the morning sunlight and flip screen camera are your best friends.
Here’s a short list of the tools you’ll need in order to capture your best business headshots.
- Camera with a flip screen and a built in timer.
- Camera stand that can fully extend to a size that is taller than you — or as close as you can get.
- Music to relax or fire you up — depending on your taste.
- Patience and a sense of adventure because everything carries a bit of a learning curve.
In the spirit of full disclosure
With a little practice you may discover that you have an eye for these things. But you may discover that you don’t.
When it’s all said and done, if marketing your business with a do-it-yourself headshot just isn’t your cup of tea, then don’t drink it. Pay the experts instead. And don’t worry about the time you spent — you had to try, you had to know. Now you do. So keep it moving.
Besides, you’ll show up with a better understanding and respect for what it takes to make your photo shoot work, and a clearer picture of what you want.
And just think, your updated skills will make for some great vacation pictures.
2 Budget Conscious Options for your Business Headshots
Even though the best results are often with a professional — who takes headshots for a living, you can make it work on any budget. Here’s two alternatives to doing it yourself and the high-end professional.
- Pay a photographer with an affordable sitting fee. Pay that fee upfront and then only buy the picture that you need. You can come back for the rest later.
- Hire a student photographer. Because they are still learning, many of the images won’t be usuable. But all you need is one or two great shots to get you started.
Marketing your business takes time and effort and your headshot is just one part of the equation. But once you have it, you have it. And you can use a good business headshot for several years before it’s time to update. Although, if your budget can handle it, an annual photo update is a great way to keep your business image and personal brand fresh.
PHOTO: Furious Woman by olly via Fotolia