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Graphic Design

4 tips to take professional-looking headshots yourself

At Page Design, we see a lot of headshots. Including headshots in your collateral is an excellent way for people to feel a connection with the people in your organization. 

Sadly, many of the headshots we see are pretty bad. Not all bad headshots are created equal, but the worst headshots we see do share similar symptoms.

  • The headshot is blurry.
  • The subject is dark.
  • The background is distracting.

Every once in a while, it is an old headshot taken in the 90s. 

We don’t think it should be expensive or complicated to get a headshot you are happy to share with others. By following a few simple rules, you can quickly take great headshot photos on your own. If you are in a pinch and need to take a picture of yourself, you can follow these tips to take the perfect selfie. 

Step 1: Find a light source. 

Good lighting is the number one thing that will make your portraits better.

Large, soft, light sources create the most flattering light. The sun is a harsh, small light source and is not an ideal way to light a portrait. The best way to get great lighting is to modify the sunlight to make it softer.

Two easy ways to do this:

  1. Find a large window in your home with a sheer drape. Face the window from inside the house. Step back until no direct light is falling on your face. The camera should be between your subject and the window.
  2. Another excellent light source is to find large shadows outdoors. A place under large trees or in the shadows of large buildings often works well. Ensure your subject is entirely into the shade, so no direct light is falling on their face. Have your subject turn and face the brightest light source you can see (this will likely be the sun). Stand inside the shadow and put your camera between your subject and the light source. 

Step 2: Find a suitable background.

In a headshot, the person should be the focus of the photo. You should find a background that is free from distractions. Good backgrounds for headshots usually have a consistent color and texture. Neutral color backgrounds are professional and are useful in most situations.

You may want to provide a little bit of separation between your subject and the background in some cases. In that case, many phones today include a feature to blur the background to recreate the effect you would get from a professional DSLR camera. 

Step 3: Don’t face the camera directly.

Slightly turning away from the camera is more flattering to nearly all face types. Your subject’s nose should tilt slightly away from the camera lens. Facing the camera highlights any small imperfections in facial symmetry.

Step 4: Hold the camera slightly above your head.

Almost everyone who has experience taking selfies knows that a downward camera angle is the most flattering angle. Holding the camera slightly above your subject’s head makes their head appear a bit larger, and their body appears a bit smaller by comparison. Always have the subject lean slightly into the camera. If your subject is sitting for your portrait, have them lean forward slightly.

Now go forth and take that new headshot.

There is no better time than today to take an updated headshot. Now that you know some tricks to create a great headshot, you have no excuse to keep sharing that dark and blurry of yourself from 1999. 

Oh, and don’t forget to clean your lens!

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