As any solopreneur or small business owner knows—you are the face of your brand. With most—if not all—of the promotion and marketing resting on your shoulders, how you represent yourself is mission critical.
This is especially true online. While your website serves the huge benefit of being open 24/7 to do your sharing and selling, you need to make sure the message it’s sending is representing you in your absolute best light.
That’s where high-quality headshots come in. They can make or break your website, and when done well, they give potential clients a glimpse into your personality and unique qualities, as well as sow the first seeds of connection.
Taking great headshots doesn’t have to be a crapshoot, however. Here are some tips for making the process easier from Christy St. John—actress, headshot expert, and one of brandiD’s very own web developers:
1. Before your photos are taken, get clear on the vibe you’re going for.
What side of your personality do you most want to show? What would serve your business best? How do you want to position and project yourself? Maybe you want to be bold and confident, or kind and nurturing. Create a “persona” for yourself and select five adjectives that help to describe that persona.
2. Find sample headshots online that represent your adjectives.
Look around online for pictures of people who embody the characteristics you want to portray in your headshots. Print them, then try to mimic some of their attributes with your own clothing choices, hair style, accessories, body pose, and/or facial expression if they feel authentic to you. Always make sure each attribute aligns with the message you want to send to prospective clients—as well as your own essence, of course.
3. Give your eyes and your mind a job in front of the camera.
Don’t think of looking into the camera’s lens as looking into a camera, think of it as looking into the photographer’s eyes. From the photographer’s perspective, you looking into the camera’s lens seems as if you’re looking at them. We’re all much more familiar with looking at a person’s eyes, and you’ll see more personality in your photos this way. The best thing to do is to interact with your photographer, so it’s critical you’re working with someone who makes you feel comfortable and able to be yourself.
It can also be helpful to have an objective or two while the photos are being taken. For example, pretend that you’re trying to get the photographer to take a certain action with your mind. You might mentally will your photographer to give you a hug, or smile at you. Focusing your attention on these objectives will change your facial expressions in slight ways to give your photos more variety and give you more possibilities to choose from once you see your proofs.
4. Pay attention to your lighting and background.
There are no great photos without great lighting—the king of which is natural light. Natural light brings out a subject’s authentic beauty and minimizes the effects of shadows or dullness that often result from artificial light sources. Likewise, you’ll also want to be aware of the background in your photos. Opt for neutral ones, such as a solid colored wall or something with a cohesive texture. Shooting in front of a background that’s too busy will distract from the photo’s main focus—which is YOU.
5. Dress for the job you have—not the job you want.
We’re often told to dress for the job we want. However, when taking headshots this can backfire, as clothing that’s too nice can come across as unapproachable. In the acting world, we say to wear what you would wear on a nice Sunday afternoon (though not as if you’re heading to a special occasion). This doesn’t mean wear unprofessional clothes. Take a surgeon, for example: clean cut scrubs might be a better option than a suit, tie, and lab coat because scrubs say hard-working and approachable. It all comes down to the message you want to send.
By following these five simple steps, you’ll be well on your way to getting headshots that’ll make your website more polished and personal—and help you send an intentional message that will connect with your ideal clients.By following these five simple steps, you’ll be well on your way to getting headshots that’ll make your website more polished and personal—and help you send an intentional message that will connect with your ideal clients. Here’s how: Click To Tweet
Ready to start right now? Do this:
On a piece of paper or a digital note-taking tool, make a list of the personality traits you have that you love most. Then highlight one or two that—if you really allowed them to shine through—would serve your business best. Doing this will give you a great start to creating the “persona” to use in your headshots.
About The Author
Christy St. John is a Los Angeles based web developer with a passion for helping people of all technical levels master the web. She studied web design and coding at Carnegie Mellon University where she graduated with a BS in Mechanical Engineering. Since graduating, she spent two years freelancing as a web developer before joining the brandiD team. Find out more!