You’re considering a professional headshot at home because your priorities are going elsewhere until you can get a professional headshot photo shoot.
It’s valid. You’ll learn a lot about yourself and your business in the process.
So you wonder:
How is the best way to take a business headshot at home?
What’s better a white, black or grey background?
There are several aspects to take into account before, during and after the photo shoot.
Let’s check all of them.
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First of all:
What’s the Purpose of a Professional Headshot
The business headshot is for marketing purposes. It’s part of your personal brand and will help your business to stand out from the crowd.
People will easily identify your personal brand throughout the web, and the events you participate.
Rudolf Berger, the author of Present-Day Corporate Communication, suggests a 140-160 elevator pitch to use in your profiles, author bio, etc., along with your business headshot to further brand yourself.
How to Prepare for a Professional Headshot Photoshoot
Brainstorming your professional headshot and your business is essential before the photoshoot.
How Do You Want to Be Perceived
Your headshot, logo, website are often the first contact between your clients and your business. It’s important to have the clarity to build your personal brand.
- Describe your business. Write the 140-160 elevator pitch.
- What you want the business headshot to look like.
To help you get clear you can use this exercise from Jenna Fischer’s Book The Actor’s Life.
It’s an advice for casting director Mara Casey, know what you’re selling.
Action: Pick five adjectives that best describe what you want to transmit as a brand. Prepare to get a headshot that matches those adjectives.
Diet and Sleep:
Refrain from excess salt, alcohol consumption, and staying up late.
Avoid eating excess salt. Too much salt will cause liquid retention and puffy eyes.
Alcohol consumption and lack of sleep can cause the blood vessels in the eyes to swell and be more obvious.
Outfits for Headshots
You already chose how you want to be perceived. It’s time to match the clothes.
If you’re an artist wearing jeans and sneakers or an executive with a business suit.
Wear Solid colors.
Not cleavage. The main focus is on your face and eyes. Nothing competing with your face.
In case you want to use jewellery, keep them small and simple. Nothing flashy.
Makeup – Hair
For business headshots, the main focus is the face, specifically the eyes. But don’t overdo it. Keep the rest of the makeup subtle.
Foundations have an ingredient that creates flashback. It’s a white effect on pictures. At practical wedding here, they tested a bunch of foundations with and without SPF.
If you want to keep your glasses on, emphasize the eyes make up.
Flyaway baby hairs – If you don’t see flyaway baby hairs on other headshots is mostly they’ve been retouched with a software.
If your hair tangles easily I recommend this brush. I’ve been using it for years to avoid breaking and damaging my hair.
Use a toothbrush with your favorite gel or hair spray to quickly tame those flyaway hairs.
There’s no need for a fancy camera. Whatever camera you have will work.
Force off the flash.
To stabilize the camera. I have two small tripods, one for my camera and another for my cellphone. So I put the camera or cellphone on a stool and books up to the height I want them to be.
For the cellphone, I bought a combo of a small tripod and a remote shutter years ago. The one I bought isn’t available, but it’s similar to this combo.
Cameras come with their tethering software where you can see the photos you’re taking during the photoshoot.
Digicamcontrol is a free tethering software is you need one.
Digicamcontrol works with my cellphone and a remote shutter.
I use the Procamera app on my cellphone.
With no light equipment, the best light is natural light. Plan the day to have the best hours to take the photos.
Look for the golden hour for the best photoshoots with natural light. It’s approx. two hours after sunrise or two hours before sunset.
The white background without a background light will need retouching unless you like the light grey background.
A white background is the best in its simplicity. And goes well with natural light and an interior set.
A white wall at home works well as a background.
You can use a white background of 2′ x 3′ sheet of white poster board or a white foam core also works well.
With natural light, the background will look light grey. You’ll need to retouch the pic to get a crisp white.
Grey or black needs more artificial light. I’ll let them for a professional photographer photoshoot, same with outdoors.
You can do so much with retouching software nowadays even looking like anybody else but you.
Set limits about retouching, you’ll have to meet the people in person at some point.
You can use Darktable and play with the settings to retouch the light effect on your photo or Inkscape to erase your photo background.
There are tips and tricks to look better in photos and still be you. Getting the expression is important, transcend the camera and show yourself as you are.
- Pose your sight slightly over the lens of your camera.
- Softly, touch your palate with the tip of your tongue to prevent a tight jaw. With this tip, you can portrait a serious face without looking angry or a Mona Lisa smile style.
Several of Tyra Banks advice for models work for a business photo shoot or any photo.
- A pretty face isn’t enough. Smile with your eyes. Remember the five adjectives you want to exude in your business photo shoot.
- Elongate your neck.
- Be present. Pose with tension in your body completely from head to toe.
Listen to your favorite playlist to make yourself comfortable.
Peter Hurley is a professional photographer specialized in business headshots.
Peter Hurley has created a style you can look at for inspiration here: White background mostly, horizontal, and cropped head.
Peter Hurley tip: Separate slightly your lips or closed them. If not, you have your lips touching at the centre, for example, and space showing your teeth. And you’ll need to retouch the photo with software.
Don’t misunderstand being humble with hiding your purpose in life. Others in the spotlight are embracing marketing with no shame and a useless purpose.
Believe in you, make a dent in the world and get ahead in your career and your life.
Take advantage of all these tips and tricks. Match your image with who you really are. There’s no need to portrait anybody else. You’re awesome.
Berger, R. (2018). Present-Day Corporate Communication: A Practice-Oriented, State-of-the-Art Guide. Springer. ISBN 978-981-13-0401-9
McCaffrey, L. (2018). Once Upon a Time in Small Business: A Collection of Bite-Sized Business. eISBN 978-1-9256486-7-6
Begoun P. (2018). The Complete Beauty Bible: The Ultimate Guide to Smart Beauty. Rodale, ISBN 978-1579549992 
Best Time of Day to Take Portrait Photos in Natural Light. https://improvephotography.com/51198/best-time-day-take-portrait-photos-natural-light/ [Consulted: 2019, February 23]
5 Professional Headshot Backgrounds For Any Headshot.
https://www.calebkeiter.com/5-professional-headshot-backgrounds-for-any-headshot/ [Consulted: 2019, February 23]
Tyra Banks’s Modeling Tips. https://www.seventeen.com/fashion/news/a16797/tyra-banks-modeling-tips/
[Consulted: 2019, February 23]