Professional headshot photos are important! They’re often the first look that recruiters and employer representatives get when searching up your name or LinkedIn Profile. This first glimpse should be high quality, especially if it’s going to be the perfect final touch on your already-strong profile. For tips on exactly when to change your professional headshot, check out this article from last semester. When it is time to change your professional headshot and if you don’t want to pay $$ for a professional photographer, follow the guidelines below to get a free and high-quality photo that rivals that of a pro.
- Choose a background.
- A background should not distract someone from your face in the picture, meaning that neutral, non-patterned walls or areas would work best. Many people at Bentley use the conveniently beautiful red brick of campus buildings as their LinkedIn profile photo background, which can be a good idea if you can’t find anywhere else to go. Because so many individuals do use the red brick, being unique would probably be better, so if there’s an opportunity to find another solid color wall that won’t clash with your outfit, try to take it.
- Because lighting will heavily affect the outcome of your photo, it is recommended to take the photo outside, where natural light will do its job. If that’s not a possibility, be cautious of rooms without windows or natural lighting, as it may be harder to get a good-looking photo there. If you have a ring light, utilize it.
- Be aware of time (as time of day controls light).
- The famous golden hour (hour after sunrise, hour before sunset) would create a well-lit LinkedIn professional headshot. If a dewy, golden photo and complexion isn’t what you want for your LinkedIn, which is totally understandable, still go during the brighter hours of the day, just not golden hour. This would be anytime within three hours from sunrise and three hours prior to sunset. Having a bright photo is important and will make sure that your facial features are highlighted and shown, so make sure to plan when you want to go get the ideal photo and be ready to go accordingly.
- Choose an outfit.
- Once you’ve decided on a background and time to take your picture, choose an outfit that will help you represent what you want to be seen as on LinkedIn. Some people prefer to let their personal style shine through with a business casual look and fun colors while others keep it fully professional in a blouse or dress shirt and suit jacket. Generally speaking, because every company is different in dress code and etiquette, keeping a more professional look cannot hurt you. Remember, this is a headshot, so only a little bit of your shoulderline will be visible. Dress accordingly and if it’s super cold, like it is now, don’t be embarrassed to wear sweatpants when trekking out to your background to get that picture. We’ve all been there.
- Enlist a friend.
- You’re going to need someone to take the photo (or dozens of photos) for you during this process, unless you have a tripod and are very talented. To get the perfect headshot, you might have to play around with facial expressions and figure out whether a smile showing your teeth or more of a soft smile fits best for you. Have a friend take multiple pictures with slightly varying angles to see which way you like your face best. Don’t be afraid to do multiple rounds of photo-taking. Again, we’ve all been there. Try a smile with teeth, try a more serious-looking face, and don’t leave until you’re happy with your picture. After all, it’s a big ordeal and you won’t have to do it again too soon, so make sure it’s done right!
- Use a high-quality camera (phones count!)
- Smartphone cameras and professional cameras definitely vary in quality, but not enough to impact your headshot quality. Most smartphones are able to perfectly and easily capture a professional-looking headshot. You don’t need a fancy camera, just make sure you or your friend have a charged phone with a working and pretty high-quality camera.
- Moment of truth.
For more tips that I might have missed, here are 20 professional headshot tips from someone else!