Your headshot photo shows up a lot. It’s not only on your company’s website. It’s also on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Gmail, other social media, and other sites where you log in with your social media credentials or upload photos.
Your photo is part of your marketing so you want a photo that looks professional and attractive. It should also be recent enough that people can recognize you.
I learned some lessons from a failed attempt—and my eventual success—at updating my headshot photo. I hope they help you to do better the next time you update your photo.
1. Value the crowd’s wisdom in assessing your headshot photo
“Ugh, that’s me?” That was my reaction to viewing the proofs from my initial photo shoot. However, I know I’m very picky so I asked my friends, “Which photo do you like best?” Perhaps I could learn to like the crowd’s favorite.
One photo proved most popular, but so did suggestions that the photographer had photographed me at a bad angle and with unflattering lighting. The suggestions, which came from people whom I trusted, prompted me to present their comments to the photographer. In our email exchange, I learned that my friends were right. The photos were bad, due to the photographer’s response to my glasses.
2. Ask your headshot photographer about your glasses
Ask your photographer if your glasses will pose a challenge. This question hadn’t occurred to me. After all, the same photographer took a perfectly fine picture of me in my glasses some years ago. However, I learned after seeing my proofs that the photographer had had two problems with my current pair. First, my lenses turn dark in the sun. Second, they lack an anti-glare coating. To work around the reflections, the photographer made choices that didn’t flatter my appearance.
3. Fix the glasses problem
I arranged for a photo re-shoot and decided to do whatever I could to make it more successful.
My key move involved my glasses. To avoid the reflectivity problem, I got the lenses popped out of an old pair of glasses. The store where I bought the glasses did it for me, to avoid damaging the lenses.
If you wear glasses, but lack old frames, you have options:
- Be photographed without glasses
- Buy an inexpensive but attractive pair of reading glasses and remove the lenses
- Ask your photographer to use some of the tips in “10+ tips for photographing people in glasses and avoiding glare“
4. Fix other problems
You can also tackle other issues, such as clothing, hair, and makeup. In a sense, I was lucky because my bad headshot let me work on issues that weren’t caused by the photographer’s lighting or angle.
Your issues will differ from mine, but here’s what I did for my headshot photo re-shoot:
- Picked a jacket that fit better
- Added a red scarf to flatter my coloring
- Wore brighter lipstick and more blush—even though I was already wearing more makeup than usual
- Grew my bangs longer—my hair stylist had despaired of getting me to grow them longer since I like to keep my hair out of my face, but seeing my initial round of photos convinced me that she was right
- Made an appointment to get my hair professionally blow-dried the morning of my photo shoot instead of doing it myself—I even got the bit of the gray in my hair professionally colored because I found it distracting in the initial round of photos
- Brought a friend with me to the photo shoot to help me relax so my smile would be reflected in my eyes as well as my mouth—as a bonus, the friend also arranged my scarf far better than I would have done on my own
YOUR photo tips?
I’m not a photo pro. If you have tips for great headshot photos, please share.
Here are some links that a photo-savvy friend, Dianne Highbridge, author of In the Empire of Dreams, a novel about expatriates in Tokyo, sent me:
- How to Look Better in Photos Based on Your Body Type
- Video: It’s all about the Jaw—it’s amazing how big a difference positioning makes
Camera lens photo image courtesy of Sura Nualpradid at FreeDigitalPhotos.net