Lights, Camera, Angles, & More
Creating Your Most Flattering Headshot
Creating a flattering portrait goes beyond great lighting and a camera that can capture high-quality images. Most people want to minimize their flaws whether it be concealing a double chin, slimming a rounded face, or basic skin retouching.
There are effective measures that can be taken to address these concerns during the shoot and post editing. However, certain techniques should be used with moderation. The portraits should look natural and not deceitful of your actual appearance. After all, these measures won’t help with face-to-face encounters.
In a 5-part series, I will share my tips and sample photos comparing the effects of different lighting, lenses, and angles. I will cover the 5 topics listed below. In this article, we’ll dive into the first topic, preparation. The following topics will be shared in separate articles.
- Part 1 of 5: Preparation
- Part 2 of 5: Lighting
- Part 3 of 5: Cameras and Lenses
- Part 4 of 5: Angles and Poses
- Part 5 of 5: Post Editing
Preparing for Your Headshot Session | Prior to Shoot Day
(Part 1 of 5)
It’s important that you start preparing for your session prior to the day of the shoot. Make the extra effort to look your best by considering a hairstylist, makeup artist, fashion stylist or even a branding expert to help you achieve your desired look. This can give you a polished look that can make a big difference in your portraits. The best lighting, posing, and camera angles won’t address poor grooming or bad fashion choices.
The photographer and subject will both have a list of tasks to complete prior to the shoot. The first step is discussing the purpose of the shoot and how the images will be used. This will determine if a standard headshot session or branding portrait session is needed. Most photographers have stylists in their network and could assist with scheduling if needed.
Below are some of the general headshot tips that I provide to my clients upon booking.
General Tips for Professional Headshots
- Check your company’s photography guidelines first, if applicable. There may be restrictions on attire, poses, lighting, and backgrounds
- Think about what you want your headshot to portray about you or your business
- Tell the photographer your expectations and intentions
- Tell the photographer how the photo will be used: online, large scale print, etc.
- Be prepared for your shoot and arrive at the scheduled appointment time
- Don’t expect to nail the shot right away and allow yourself a few minutes to warm up to the camera
What to wear – General
Important: Try on your clothing options and accessories prior to the day of the shoot
- Clothes that express your personality and reflect your business image specific to your industry standards or clientele
- Wear properly fitted clothing that make you look great and feel confident
- Avoid tops that completely cover the neck
- Make sure clothes are clean and wrinkle free
- Avoid busy patterns that cause distractions from your face
- Add color to your outfit – hues of yellow, orange, blue, and red are great options
- When in doubt bring a few more options
What to wear – Women
- Refer to general what to wear tips above
- Bring a variety of shirts/blouses with different necklines and color choices
- Avoid shear fabrics or off the shoulder tops that reveal bra straps and lines
- Avoid low cut shirts/blouses (try your tops on prior to the shoot day)
What to Wear – Men
- Refer to general what to wear tips above
- Standard corporate attire is a suit jacket, dress shirt, and tie
- A casual business look is often an open jacket and dress shirt, shirt and tie (no jacket), or dress shirt on its own
- Polo shirts may be suitable for some casual businesses
- For a no-jacket or tie casual look, bring shirts with color to avoid a portrait with little contrast
- A white dress shirt by itself could washout lighter skin tones so select colors that complement your skin tone
- Avoid jackets that are oversized or too small
- Keep your jewelry simple and minimal for a standard corporate look
- May be used to add a pop of color to your outfit
What to bring
- A good attitude
- Your previous headshots (to determine what you would like to see improved)
- Sample headshot(s) that you like
- Various changes of clothes (see what to wear above)
- Hair comb/brush
- Lip balm
- Makeup (for retouching prior to your session or schedule a professional makeup artist before your shoot)
Hair and Makeup Tips
- Professional services are recommended or take the extra time needed to do it yourself as best you can
- Prepare for a bad hair day by bringing a comb, brush, hair spray, or curling iron to touchup your hair prior to your session
- Makeup should be neat and natural
- Wear a heavy layer of translucent powder – your face will appear flawless in photos. Shine disappears, pores seem smaller, skin looks even, and blush is smoother
- Line lips before applying matte lipstick, then reline. Don’t overdo it.
- Avoid shimmers or products with lots of sparkle or shine
- Avoid frosts or overly-bright colors unless it relates to your brand
- Don’t get a new hair cut just before the shoot (you may want to let it grow-in a bit or get used to styling a new cut)
- Do not try/use any new product on your hair, face or body the day before or few days before your shoot. In case you have a bad reaction to the product
Stay tuned for the next series, Part 2 of 5: And Let There Be Light | Lighting for Portraits