People tend not to like having their photo taken. I have never been able to work out why and it is a very British thing as well. Americans love to be photographed and see the benefits of a high quality headshot for marketing themselves. I thought I would jot down a few tips we have picked up over the many years of capturing corporate portraits.
1. What should you wear?
People often feel they have to make an extra effort when it comes to dressing for their headshots. But be careful not to overdress and I would not suggest buying a new outfit just for the shoot. Wear clothes you feel comfortable and relaxed in and this will come across in the photographs. If you are overdressed you will feel awkward and this will show. Keep things simple and make sure the clothes are fresh and clean. Have a brush down for stray hairs etc. We can adjust things in post-production but it is about how you feel during the shoot that matters. There is only one item of clothing I would mention that you might want to avoid (top tips). White shirts if worn without a jacket tend to reflect light very well. This is not a technical problem for us but can produce a form of uplighting under the chin. We tend to light our sitters at 45-degree angle so that there is a shadow cast under the chin. This makes the chin look stronger and can hide any signs of a double chin. A white shirt will weaken this shadow so if you feel this might apply to you avoid wearing one.
2. Do I need a make-up artist?
In the past, we have worked with clients who wanted a make-up artist at the shoot and it was always a tricky balance of not going to over the top and hiding blemishes, spots etc. These days we tell clients to wear what they normally wear and we can adjust any imperfections in post-production. Modern retouching is so superior to what you can hide with make-up. Also, we use retouching in a subtle way so you still look the same but with any wrinkles reduced, spots removed, scars can be lessened, bloodshot eyes cleared the list is endless but overall we retouch so you look like yourself on a good day.
3. Should I get my hair done beforehand?
Your call really. If you feel more confident and professional after a recent hair appointment then please do it. If not please bring whatever you need to get your hair looking its best to the headshot session. Sounds silly but just running a brush through it in front of the mirror works perfectly. As long as you are happy with it in front of the camera we can control wayward strands in post-production.
4. With or without glasses?
If you wear them all the time and clients are used to seeing you in them then yes. If you only wear them to read then no unless they make you feel more confident. In my opinion, the most important element to creating a good corporate headshot is the eyes. If you get the eyes looking engaged, confidence radiating from them you have cracked it and the rest will fall into place. The eyes give everything away though so if you are feeling uncomfortable in front of the camera it will be the eyes that convey this. The photographer should put you at ease, showing you the best way to stand, suggesting different head positions and guiding you through the process.
5. Should I smile?
I think this all goes back to our childhood with parents urging their children to grin ear to ear in any photo that they appeared in. I someone is a natural smiler then just go with what they feel happy to do. Others we have to nurture into a smile but in these cases, I do not suggest a large broad grin because this does not come naturally to everyone. We suggest a half-smile which gives warmth to the corporate headshot giving an approachable look. There is nothing worse than a false forced smile and a photographer asking a sitter to smile makes the situation awkward if the person does not feel natural doing it. You do not have to smile in your headshot. It is down to the individual’s character. People who know you will react if you are clearly out of character and likewise potential clients will want to see a true reflection of the person they want to do business with.
6. My friend is a photographer do you want me to tell you the tips they suggested?
Always interesting to pick up new tips but overall it is best to follow the process we have perfected over 20 years of experience. It might have been suggested that you practise different poses in the mirror or say a certain word to make you look better. These tips really do not work and only make the session staggered as it breaks the natural flow of the headshot session.
7. Is this my best side?
We shoot a full range of headshots on both sides getting you to stand at 45 degrees to the camera with your head turned directly at it. We will position you in a variety of poses giving you tips on how to stand. If they feel awkward we will change to another. Sometimes people want to stand in a certain pose or angle to hide a spot or scar. Let us know if this is the case as I mentioned these imperfections are best dealt with in post-production and certainly should not mean you are standing at an odd angle in your headshot.
8. Do I have to look at the camera?
Not everyone likes the confrontation of a long lens and even less having to look natural in front of it. We often capture people looking off camera and this can work really well as if they are chatting to a friend who is positioned out of the camera’s view then the sitter has something else to focus on and feels less inhibited. In cases when you need a companies headshots to follow a style for a website about us page for instance then we would have to shoot the headshot with the sitter looking to camera but there is something quite refreshing for a LinkedIn profile page to have an off-camera shot. Tends to make the person look like they have been captured during their working day.
9. Business casual or smart?
Which best for a headshot formal or informal? This all depends on your industry and what your business sector expects to see. For instance, an IT company idea of casual is jeans and a t-shirt whereas a bank would suggest casual is not wearing a tie. You will know your market sector better than we do so go with what your competitors are doing. We have several styles of corporate headshot photography which we can run past you but it is a very good tip to have decided the look you prefer prior to the headshot session.
10. Do you send me the best headshots for LinkedIn?
We tend to send you everything we have captured minus any obvious outtakes. People naturally want to see everything so they can make a choice from the selection. Once you have selected your favourites we will retouch and edit those. We can produce black and white versions of our colour headshots and give tips on which crop works best for LinkedIn or other business social media sites. One of our new tips is to think about the background image you can upload on LinkedIn. You have gone to the expenses and spent time creating a professional headshot for your LinkedIn profile but then happy to leave the background image as the default LinkedIn graphic. We have a large selection of corporate generic imagery which we can supply as cropped to fit the LinkedIn banner background. Try and use an image that reflects your business or market sector. We have found that the most popular is a London cityscape for those working in The City and we can tailor it to your corporate headshots so it does not look like a library photo.
Finally of all these tips, I would say that when you are choosing a corporate photographer in London to capture your headshot look at their portfolio carefully. I know that is an obvious tip but remember headshot photographers work for years creating styles and processes to define their portfolio so above cost and availability be sure that their style is exactly what you require. Suggesting to a photographer that they mimic or copy another photographers work might save you a few pounds but the outcome will not be their best work and therefore probably fall below your expectations.
© Corporate Photography Agency