Camera-Shy? Preparing for Your Headshot

January 18, 2020

POST: Senior Boys need grad pics too!

Post: lifestyle/branding for corporations

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Headshot, Branding and Senior Photographer - bringing personality and fun to your photo sessions!

Meet Melissa

As an entrepreneur or a business owner, I’m sure you’ve been hearing this for a while now: You are the face of your brand, having photos or videos of yourself on your website, and in your marketing materials is invaluable to attracting your ideal client.

Yes, I know it’s easy to say, but less easy to do. What commonly stops us from this common-sense and simple business move is our fear of being in front of the camera. The truth is, I became a photographer because I feel more comfortable on the OTHER side of the camera! But, since we know that we need to do it, making a little extra effort to get your best shots, will not only result in a better image, but I promise, it will even make you feel GREAT!

Here are some quick tips for preparing for your headshot or branding session – as well some insight into how you can shake off all those negative feelings associated with getting in front of the camera.

I teach the “Four P’s:  Prepare, Practice, Pose and Present!

PREPARE: To be clear, this does NOT mean losing ___(insert number) ____ pounds!  If we all waited for our body to return to that target weight (that was probably pre-baby, pre-job, and maybe even prepubescent) no one would ever update their headshots. If planning a portrait session inspires you to work out and eat healthy,  that’s fantastic, but that’s only because we all should be working out and eating healthy, not because of a “magic” number on a scale. 

What this does mean, however, is  that you should do what it takes to look authentically like you on your BEST day. When it comes to hairstyle, nothing more than a trim should happen the day of your session. For a more radical haircut, give it a week to make sure you like your cut before it becomes your go-to shot for the next few years. A blow-out and styling is definitely recommended on the day of session, and highlighting or touching up of roots should be as current as possible. Likewise, no radical facials, such as chemical peels or microdermabrasion, within four days of a session. A good hydrating facial will be helpful to improve the smoothness of your skin. Even drinking more water than usual for a few days prior is beneficial!

If you are shopping your closet and not purchasing anything new for your session, I suggest you try on your outfit ahead of time and study yourself critically in the mirror. Does it need ironing? Is your favorite blouse starting to look a little worn and tired? Does the collar/neckline hit you in the right place (especially important for a cropped headshot)?  Does the color compliment your skin tone and hair length? Most important, does it make you feel attractive and confident when you wear it? I encourage my clients to send me shots of potential outfits so I can offer my professional opinion on how it would photograph against the background selected.  I also believe in the value of  working with a professional makeup artist – even if that means going to your favorite department store makeup counter. Makeup for the camera should be stepped up a notch so you don’t look washed out in the lighting. Steer clear of the glimmer, shine is your enemy when it comes to strobe lighting, and many moisturizers and foundation have shine built in – particularly those with SPF.

PRACTICE:  Now that you know what you are wearing, start thinking about how you want to appear in your shots. There’s no shame in practicing for your close-up! It’s important to understand what the images will be used for and what you want to covey; power? Strength? Compassion? These are all questions I ask my clients before I plan their session. Look on Pinterest or websites of others in your field to get ideas of how to be photographed. So, go ahead and lock the bathroom door, put on your blouse and power blazer (or whatever you have decided to wear) and pretend that the mirror is the camera.  No one is watching, so practice a smile and see how it feels – do you like smiling with your teeth showing? Pretend to laugh at a joke and then catch yourself at the end of that laugh. That’s when I often take my shot; notice whether you like one angle of your face more than others.

POSE: Any good photographer will walk you through all the posing the day of your session – my biggest aim is to make you feel comfortable during your session, so you are posing, but also look and feel comfortable. But that doesn’t mean you can’t strike a few poses on your own – notice what happens when you roll your shoulders back and stand up strong in your core. 

One thing that’s hard to replicate without looking through a camera lens, is what is closest to the camera, looks the biggest! This is how the portrait camera lens works, so, I always tell my clients that I want the head a little in front of the body, which means to slightly lean the top part of your body towards the camera. It may feel a little awkward, but when you step in front of my camera I will walk you through it all.

Finally (and this may be the bravest step of all) PRESENT! What good is all this work if you are afraid to show off your images! It may be harsh to see your face in high resolution filling your your computer screen.but it’s important to look at the pictures objectively. Stop yourself from thinking “Why don’t I look 10 years younger or 20 lbs lighter (simple answer: because you are not, but that is OK!) Notice instead, how polished you look, how professional and amazing!

As a professional portrait photographer I use all my tools; posing, lighting, location – to ensure that the happy experience you have during your headshot or branding session is reflected in the final images. Once you have your image gallery, sit down with your significant other or a friend, and select shots that stand out to you. I am always available to my clients to help go over the images, often the ones I select for the header of the gallery ends up being my clients favorite.

NOW…. show them off!  Add the images to your marketing materials, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram – or print and frame if they are portraits. And feel confident and worthy of the value you just placed on yourself and your business.

If you are ready for your branded portrait or headshot session, don’t hesitate to reach out. I’d love to work with you!

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