Do you know what your headshot is saying about you? Here are the five elements of a headshot that tell your story.
We’ve all heard the saying, “A picture’s worth 1,000 words,” but have you ever stopped to think about what your picture is actually saying?
It’s especially important to consider this question when it comes to your headshots — because that’s when the message really counts.
The face you show the business world affects your credibility because it separates the professionals from the amateurs. It’s also central to your marketing in this digital age.
So, to help you better align your headshot and your message, here are the five elements of a headshot that tell a story.
When a headshot is done right, the viewer’s eye should be immediately drawn to a person’s expression. It’s the first thing people look at, and it’s one of the best ways to infuse a headshot with emotion. Essentially, your expression sets the mood for the rest of the body — and the rest of your headshot’s story.
So what different emotions can you elicit from expression in a headshot?
- A big smile with a slight head tilt says, “I’m relatable and trustworthy.”
- A straight-on gaze with a slight smirk says, “I’m excellent at my job.”
- A sideways glance with a laughing smile says, “I’m fun and approachable.”
- A serious face with a slight tilt to the side says, “I hear you, I see you, and I understand.”
- A relaxed smile with a straight-on gaze says, “I’m here to serve.”
Body language is the second language we all speak fluently, even if we weren’t formally taught. We’re constantly reading each other’s body language — and communicating back with our own posture and posing. We’re doing this all the time, even when we’re not paying attention or aren’t aware. In a headshot, however, you have the power to be deliberate in your posing, so your body language communicates exactly what you need it to.
What emotions can you communicate with posing?
- One arm on the waist and one arm near the neckline says, “I’m relatable and trustworthy.”
- Standing straight-on with hands on hips says, “I’m excellent at my job.”
- One hand in the hair or a jacket over the shoulder says, “I’m fun and approachable.”
- Sitting with arms across the body says, “I hear, I see you, and I understand.”
- Sitting while leaning forward into the camera says, “I’m here to serve.”
Of course you want your clothes to be flattering; however, you always want to think about the message your outfit is sending. Different styles of dress, for example, can communicate different levels of formality, so when choosing the outfits for your headshots, here are a few important things to consider:
- Are my clothes distracting? (i.e. busy patterns, clashing colors, etc.)
- Are my clothes appropriate for the camera? (i.e. fitted yet not restricting)
- Do the colors of my clothes match my brand?
- Would I wear this outfit on a regular work day?
- Does this outfit make me feel confident?
I know we’re all adults here, but this is such an important factor that it deserves a mention. The camera picks up even the finest details in every shot. While this isn’t meant to make you feel nervous or self-conscious, it does mean basic grooming is in order. Yes, Photoshop can work wonders to soften our insecurities, but it can’t touch up highlights or give you a pedicure. So consider these basic grooming tips, which convey professionalism no matter the angle:
- Clean and/or polished nails, for hands and feet
- A fresh haircut, trim and/or color
- Hair removal (i.e. a fresh shave, eyebrow waxing)
- Makeup that’s slightly heavier than your everyday look
- Jewelry and shoes that finish your look
Lastly, the most important factor when communicating your message in a headshot is connection. What does that mean? Well, connection is one of those things that’s easier felt than seen. Have you ever looked at a friend’s headshot, for example, and instantly loved it, not just just because it looked good, but also because it looked like them? There was something about it that just felt authentic and real — true to their spirit, even. Well, that photo had great connection! It happens when you’re being genuinely open with the camera, and it shows through the eyes.
So how do you create connection? Well, it’s just like it sounds. You stay genuinely engaged with the camera and the photographer. You remember that there’s a real person on the other end of this photo, and you smile as if you’re smiling at them. Here are a few tips to increase the connection in your next headshot:
- Think about someone you love.
- Pretend the camera is a cute guy/girl in a bar. Flirt.
- Try to look as deep into the lens as possible.
- Look away, take a deep breath and look up.
- Make a conscious decision to leave your fears and self-doubt at the door.
About SchlickArt Photography and Video
SchlickArt, a boutique photo and video studio in Santa Clarita, started in March 2012 with the simple idea that empowerment creates a kind of beauty and authenticity that shines through every camera lens. Built on a philosophy — rather than a product, service or person — SchlickArt has rapidly evolved, meeting professional portraiture, business photo and business video needs as diverse as the community we capture. It’s the desire to take care of you, the client, that drives us at SchlickArt.