A Professional Headshot is Worth the Money (+tips)

Get the Best Headshot Money Can Buy. Here’s Why. 

It is the most powerful marketing tool for authors, professionals, and businesswomen. Unfortunately, many women cut corners to save a few dollars or hate being photographed. As a result, too many women mess up their headshots. It’s time to get serious! When potential clients see that little JPEG headshot on their computer, it should make them want to know more about you. It should draw them in. It should say to them “I’m serious about what I do.” 

A bad headshot makes you look bad; that’s the simple connection. If you want your clients to take you seriously, you must have a good, high-quality, killer headshot. People will not take you seriously if you have a picture taken with your iPhone, a Facebook photograph of you outside with the wind gently blowing your hair, or a JCPenney shot with fake palm trees in the background.

Here’s what you need to know about quality headshots.

Having a professional headshot is worth the money.

The money is well worth it if you go to a properly trained specialist in lighting and photography, not a friend who has a good camera and “sorta knows a little about photography.” A good headshot typically costs $400 or more. Anything cheaper is probably just a glorified passport photo. If the headshots look cheap, they probably are.

When selecting a photographer, find one who matches your personality. You should feel comfortable working with them, and you should be able to use the same image for a couple of years at most. Research photographers and examine their work to understand how they photograph people of different ethnicities, genders, etc.

A professional photographer gets it right. 

It’s all about the eyes and expression in a great headshot.

Your headshot should portray the right expression to appeal to your target client. Again, a great photographer will guide you through this process; your eyes should be bright, lively, and expressive.

Difference in expressions helps show different sides of you.

Next to consider are framing, lighting, and background.

Unless your brand demands it, a good headshot should have no strong shadows. A three-quarter photograph is suitable for printing, while extreme close-ups are only suitable for nothing. Your body positioning (your pose, your body language) is everything. Your body language should invite people in, not close them out. And while you may think a peace sign should do it, a good photographer will tell you otherwise and find the right pose for your unique body type. If there is a background, it should be blurred, which happens only with a high-quality camera. You can take the photo in natural light on the beach, but your clients shouldn’t see the beach — it’s all about you, not the setting.

Three quarter framing for a headshot is more useful than a photo of just your head.

A Headshot can be taken outdoors or in the studio, with natural light or flash. Each lighting option provides a unique look and feel; your photographer can help you decide which is right for your specific situation. Studio lighting tends to be a bit more polished with a neutral backdrop, whereas outdoor photography tends to be more suitable if, let’s say, your brand makes outdoor gear–or something that effect. Again, your photographer can help you decide which is right for you.

Lighting evolkes different moods.

Here’s where you come into the mix.

It’s a headshot, not a fashion shoot. So please keep it simple.

Don’t get too crazy with your clothing; stick with basic, classy looks. You’ll be noticed for your professionalism, not the distracting patterns on your clothes. You can wear a simple shirt or blouse with a little texture that matches your eyes. No white shirts, no graphics, nothing that might distract from your face, and no props. (You know this, right?) 

What to wear to your headshot shoot.

A lot can be accomplished with retouching, so you don’t need to pile on tons of makeup. Many women pile on cosmetics only to redo their headshots because they appear phony in all pictures. You want to look like yourself at your finest, not like you were trying too hard. Be yourself. Do your hair and makeup the same way you would when you meet your clients. 

Your presence should be conveyed with responsible retouching.

Chill out about the airbrushing. Your clients want you to look just like your picture, so don’t show up looking different or older than your headshot. It’s not about looking good; it’s about representing yourself as you are on your best day — wrinkles and all. 

Back to the beginning, don’t skimp on a quality headshot.

It is most important not to skimp on quality, which means getting yourself a professional-grade headshot.