Your Headshot - Vital for your career.
You’ve been told a headshot is important and agree that something needs to be done about your LinkedIn Headshot. But what? And more importantly, how?
Don’t worry, with our handy 5 Headshot Hacks we’ll give you all the information you need for a pain-free update of your online presence.
First impressions count. And in our connected world, first impressions are often made online. We might not like to admit it but we all judge a book by its cover. Researchers at Princeton University in New Jersey found that we make snap judgments on character within 0.15 seconds of seeing someone’s picture.
So whether you're looking to change companies, career or looking for your next promotion, your corporate headshot needs to support your objectives.
1. Do your homework
Your profession has a look; a dress code, a way of just being. Inter-weaved into corporate culture, you know when someone just ‘fits’ in your team. After all, you’d expect a Chartered Accountant’s headshot to be subtly different from a graphic designer.
So check out the competition. Search on LinkedIn for people with your job title (or the role you are after). If you are about to apply for a job, look at your prospective employer’s ‘about us’ page, does the company publish pictures of their employees? Take a note of the headshot style, expressions and dress code.
How far you match your corporate colleagues is down to you. Can you combine elements of different portraits to get something that is right for you? Don’t allow yourself to be forced by convention into an image you feel uncomfortable with. After all, it’s you we are talking about, not some corporate clone!
Images speak. People read pictures before they read articles. And they make judgments, consciously or subconsciously, immediately. Often it is an emotional response. And no matter how much logic and well-developed the argument, judgments made on emotional responses are notoriously difficult to change.
What kind of background would work best for your headshot? Classic white background (good for companies that have lots of staff and need consistency), outdoor, natural, office or dark background. Each will create a different mood and feel, exciting distinct emotions in the audience.
Your choice of clothing, colours, styles and approach to the shoot should be worked out before sitting in front of a camera. They should compliment and co-ordinate with both you and the headshot setting. Try to avoid strong colours and patterns: eye-catching clothes may look great, but it is you we want people to be looking at!
3. Work with someone
You do not need a medium format camera, complex lighting and top-of-the-range prime lenses to get a good headshot. It is perfectly possible to get great results with good quality consumer cameras.
The quality of your final image is dependent on the light. Firstly you need plenty of it. Cameras compensate for low-light situations by turning up their sensitivity. This creates noise (grain) which can make the image look indistinct and fuzzy. Whilst you need good light intensity, you also need great quality light. Direct sunlight casts dark shadows, eyes can look sunken and an unflattering shadow from the nose can detract from natural elegance. Finally, think about light direction: is it lighting you correctly? is it enhancing your features?
Some photographers talk about "natural light". Actually, light is just light. Photographers use modifiers (soft-boxes, reflectors and scrims) to soften, harden and change the direction of light to suit you as an individual. NB: we are all unique and photogenic in the right light. Your best headshot is going to be created in light that is suited to you. This is really one area where one size does not fit all.
Once you’ve got the right light, then make sure you are using a lens with the correct focal length. Wide angle lenses will distort, so use a telephoto to keep your nose and ears the right size!
5. Cropping and file preparation
Few consumer cameras produce square format images, so you’re probably going to have to crop the final image before popping it into your profile. A simple procedure which can be done either your camera’s, apple’s or microsoft’s editing software.
LinkedIn have recently changed the way your headshot is presented. Optimising an image for Linkedin is straightforward, firstly make sure your initial pose enables you to get your head in the centre of a square crop.
Consumer cameras will normally produce jpg images, perfect for LinkedIn. The optimum size is 400 x 400 pixels at 72 dpi. This produces an image that has been correctly sharpened and sized, giving you the best possible result.
About the Author
Mark Grey is an experienced, qualified photographer and headshot portrait specialist whose clients include: Accenture, Chanel, Charles Taylor, Kearney and PwC.
His studio is in Covent Garden, a stone’s throw from the tube station.
To make an enquiry: Click Here