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You only have to spend a few minutes looking through LinkedIn to see how much of a difference a professional headshot can make. No longer are your shoes the first thing a person notices. We live in a visual time and your headshot is the new first impression.
Whether it’s Facebook, LinkedIn, Tinder or Instagram, different platforms have different audiences and therefore require different headshots. You know that photo of you drinking wine on the beach in Mexico? As good as you look in it, is not going to land you your dream job. I’m not saying that your professional headshot needs to show you sitting nice and straight in a sharp suit against a plain background — though that might work for an IT professional or a CEO — but even creatives like photographers and graphic designers need professional images, albeit with a little more creative license.
The beauty of working with a professional photographer to capture your headshot is that he or she will talk to you about your job and what style of image might suit your needs. You may need a few different styles to cover your online presence. Your photographer can help you determine what you need.
Some things to consider when thinking about your headshots are:
What length images do you need? Some options include full length, head and shoulders, or waist up.
Do you need a particular crop for your images? Some websites work best with a square crop, others with a standard crop.
What industry are you pitching yourself to? Are you in a corporate environment where a plain background and a head-and-shoulders style image is common or do you work in a creative industry where more relaxed images are acceptable?
Does your company have a style guide that needs to be adhered to? If so, are you able to obtain a copy to give to your photographer?
If this is your first time in front of a professional photographer, consider hiring a stylist or makeup artist. While these are not necessary, they can make a big difference if you are unsure about what to wear or how to do your makeup to get the look you are after. Your photographer will be able to recommend stylists and makeup artists if you are interested.
‘Okay!’ you say, ‘but how do I choose the right photographer?’
Good question. The most important thing is that you are comfortable with whomever you choose. Ask friends for recommendations, then look online for examples of the photographer’s work or ask him or her to send you some examples. Talk to the photographer about the style or any reference images you have seen to give her a good understanding of what you are after. Questions to ask your photographer may be:
How many outfit changes are included?
How many images will I receive?
Will they be edited?
How long is the session?
Will I receive both high-resolution (for print) and low-resolution (for online) image files?
Now have fun with it! Getting a headshot should not be a torturous experience. No one likes getting their photo taken but with the right photographer you’ll not only enjoy yourself, you’ll get some great images out of it, too.
Amanda Shackleton is a Melbourne-based emerging photographer with a focus on documentary-style imagery. She is currently exploring the relationship between people and their smartphones. To learn more about Amanda, visit her website or Facebook page, or follow her on Instagram (@amandashackletonphotography/).
Photography by Amanda Shackleton