Should look like you
This may sound obvious but a business portrait or headshot isn’t a fashion portrait. So, no dramatic lighting, heavy make up or massively touched up images. If a customer meets you they should be able to recognise you.
Reflect your business and business type
Whilst rules can be broken it is fair to say that certain industries do have a certain perceived look to them and deviating from that look too much isn’t wise. For instance people wouldn’t expect a barrister’s chambers to be dressed in hoodies and sagging pants. By the same token a video game company wouldn’t be expected to be wearing Saville Row suits. Think carefully about the look which is appropriate for both your business and your business type and convey this in your headshots.
Look relaxed, warm and happy
Even in the most serious of professions it’s good to look approachable, honest and friendly. There is nothing worse than a dour headshot. Outright laughing tends to be a bad look, as does grinning like a cheshire cat. Many adults have a problem initially smiling naturaly in front of a camera, thankfully a few photographs later with a good photographer should cure this problem. Practice poses and expressions in front of a mirror prior to the shoot if you think this may help.
Look into the camera
People want to see all of your face and your eyes. Looking away from the camera can work well for a personal portrait but it doesn’t work well for a business headshot.
Avoid busy patterns and stripes
Quite simply these can be a distraction from the face. For gents think carefully about the tie you are wearing and consider bringing a spare.
If the headshots are being used on a website where many images of people are being used they should all be shot in a similar style, eg similar background, all colour or all black & white. The style should also be easily replicated to cope with new joiners and people not present at the original sitting.
- A badly cropped holiday photo. We’ve all seen them and they are probably the worst example of poor headshots on Linkedin.
- Poor lighting. On camera flash can create too harsh shadows and red-eye. Where flash hasn’t been used I often see the face too much in the shadows.
- Background distractions. We’ve all seen trees growing from peoples heads but I also see many images where the bacground is simply messy and takes the eye away from what you should be looking at.
- Crossed arms. It can make people look moody and defensive, the opposite to what you should be looking to achieve.
- Strange angles. I don’t want to tilt my head to see what someone looks like, neither do other people.
- Fully square on. Leave this one for the politicians. Be angled somewhere between square on and right angles to the camera.
- Photos with family, friends, pets or even in one case a fluffy cuddly dog on shoulder. Need I say more?