Tips for a Winning Headshot:
Some people love to be photographed. Chances are, that isn’t you because those who can’t wait to jump in front of a camera are truly in the minority. However, with a little preparation on your part, and years of expertise on the photographer’s part, taking a professional portrait is quick, easy, low stress, and even a little bit fun. Most sessions are relatively short. The process is streamlined and your sitting generally only takes 10 to 20 minutes. Most of the real work starts after your appointment when the image is processed and retouched. With a strong background in advertising and marketing photography, Mark Ross values the importance of branding yourself with an image which should last for years.
Its all about being recognized. Often, people will dilute their public image by using a varitey of images of themselves in their various marketing materials. The idea that “less is more” is an appropriate concept with headshots. Like a logo, the more you use a single image throughout your website, social media, and all other applicable publications, the stronger your recognition factor becomes.
Headshots are small in most practical applications. Therefore; your face needs to be cropped relatively tight to be recognizable. Only in special situations we might opt to shoot a half length or full length shot. These circumstances may include brochures, magazine feature articles, or a book jacket. But for your normal business application, your headshot may end up being not much larger than a thumbnail sized image. Even if we plan to make an 11 X 14 inch print for the hall of fame in your corporate office, we need to think “small” for most uses.
In marketing, rules are made to be broken. However, it is wise to know some basic rules before we decide to go wild and crazy. Rule 1 is, business headshots are conservative in nature. The reasoning is, if we shoot too far out of the box, the use of your image will become dated very soon and we will be doing this all over again. Likewise, trendy hair styles, accessories, and clothes will become dated. Conversely, shooting you in whatever manner you are most comfortable trumps all other rules! We shall not stifle one’s wild and crazy side.
For some people, big smiles are a big challenge. Our philosophy is, in business, people want to do business with other business people who appear friendly and approachable. If a toothy grin just doesn’t work for you, we still have the rest of your face to work with. Your image needs to convey something in your eyes that says you are engaged, and the “lights are on”. We want you look smart and competent. Sometimes that looks like intensity or attitude. Sometimes it simply looks like you are comfortable in your own skin. Using our system of “live proofing” will serve as a means to allow us to work as a team to get the look you want to present to your clients, customers, and colleagues.
Tell us if you have something special in mind! Feel free to email an old image you want to update, or even send us an image you found on the web of somebody else. Browse our Business Gallery and let us know what you like. Sending pictures by email is a great way to comunicate. That way, we will be setup and ready when you arrive for your session with the appropriate lighting and background.
Men & Women
Unless we are shooting on a white background, we generally want your face to be the brightest feature in the scene to give you a visual “pop”. For this, your outer clothing should be darker than your skin tone. Also, patterns can be distracting. The only skin we want to see is your face, so avoid short sleeve or sleeveless dresses. Tweed, or fine repeating patterns such as herringbone, etc., can cause problems on computer screens. It is far safer to stay with solid, muted, or neutral colors. This has the added advantage of not clashing with graphics on websites and publications. We use a lot of gray backgrounds for this reason.
Oily or shiny skin is one of the larger retouching challenges. A little soap and water before your session can do wonders. If you are coming to the studio, running your air conditioner on the way might not be a bad idea. Ladies, a little translucent powder or foundation goes a long way to knocking down shine. Just keep in mind, easy on the makeup and go for a “natural” look.
Photoshop is a wonderful thing. Blemishes will go away. Lines and all those wrinkles you’ve earned over the years will be softened. Teeth and eyes can be brightened a little. We can even trim off a few virtual pounds. Rosacea can be reduced or eliminated. Any concerns of this nature should be brought up with Mark to ensure your image is handled to the level you are comfortable with.
A jacket over a blouse usually gives the best business presentation. If wearing a dress, we don’t want to see bare shoulders. It takes the viewer’s eye away from your face. “V” necks tend to be more flattering than the scoop variety. If you want a more business casual look, sweaters work well. I suggest not over accessorizing. Pearls always look great photographically. Gold, silver, and gems don’t always photograph well, so I suggest going small with jewelry. Regarding makeup, you don’t need to do anything out of the ordinary. Try not to over do it. Knock down shine and lean toward a natural look. You might want to have your makeup handy in case you want to do some touch-ups, but most of those issues can be handled easily during retouching.
Regarding makeup / hair stylists, they are not normally needed for executive portraits. If we were doing a fashion shoot with lots of clothing changes and models, that would be different. We used to provide makeup in the studio, but over and over again, people would say that they actually like the way it looks better when doing it themselves. Stylists take a lot of time, and frequently they create something that doesn’t look like you! If you have a hair stylist you like, I suggest we schedule your appointment around you going to your stylist first before coming to the studio. If this is a VIP location shoot, I can refer some good professionals that are easy and relatively quick workers. Consider first your budget and time, as stylists always slow the process of getting a busy exec. back to work.
“Business” = coat & tie
“Business Casual” = coat and open collar
“Casual” = long sleeve shirt with collar or pressed polo shirt
Suits with pinstripes are okay. Avoid coats with fine repeating patterns, such as herringbone, tweed, gingham, etc. Its generally best to wear solids. Shirts can be colored or white. Since ties frequently have small repeating patterns which may cause problems on screen, it is a good idea to bring an alternate incase the pattern causes odd, (moire patterns) on screen.