Taking a photo of ourselves should be easy, shouldn’t it? There’s no-one we know better, we are aware of our best angles, we don’t feel so self-conscious in front of the camera. Do we?
And yet, to take a professional headshot is deceptively tricky. Just ask A story to tell… head honcho Ann Bolch, who has kindly donated images from her own collection for our analysis.
“The first one, I don’t even look like me. I look like my cousin,” says Ann.
It’s a nice photo – but this isn’t what we are looking for in a headshot. It needs to be professional, approachable and like you.
Our second image was taken by Ann’s husband Tim. It’s lovely, really – soft light and pleasing foliage in the background. Ann looks approachable but the posing and expression don’t read as professional.
In Exhibit C we see that Ann and Tim set up a home studio with the lights they had and “tooled around for hours and hours to try and get a shot”. As with most of these images, the lighting is quite acceptable. But … it is still not over the line.
Although I am a believer in DIY, it is wise to save time and energy by outsourcing what you don’t know how to do, and let someone else get it right. You can then spend that extra time on other aspects of your business (or life) instead!
Phew! Doesn’t that feel better?
Here is a fusion of knowledge packed into a short time frame to get the shot. Photographers have spent thousands of hours learning about their camera and current trends to create the image you need. They know when only one thing should be in focus, or everything, or something in between; through research and practice they have learnt to avoid time-wasting mistakes; they can judge if a flash is necessary or perhaps reflectors would work best.
All of this is running through their mind while retaining connection with the person, which leads to expression. For without expression, there is no photo. It may be technically correct, but the soul is not there. The technical knowledge needs to support the life of the image.
From the information you give them, photographers assess the tone your professional headshot needs. This depends on who you are, your audience and the style of your industry. These considerations lead to subtle changes in your final image.
Lastly, a professional will have that slight emotional distance with a magic ingredient: perspective. Funnily enough, the same applies to writing your 300-word profile. But more on that later.
May your words pour onto the page,