Ranson and West

Confessions of a Suffolk Photographer – Preparing for your Head-Shot

When a potential client (or competitor) sees your business portrait online, they may make assumptions based on what’s in front of them. And that includes reading details into your body language and facial expression. The aim of a professional business portrait or head-shot is to make you look professional, friendly, approachable and trustworthy. Is your business portrait doing that?

Here are 10 top tips to help you get prepared for your head-shot

1. Posture
As we mentioned in our intro, when a potential client sees your business portrait online, they will make assumptions based on what’s in front of them (rightly or wrongly). This includes reading details into your body language.  A good posture communicates confidence.  To help achieve this, pull your tummy in and push shoulders back, stand or sit tall, as if an invisible string is pulling you upright from above.  Avoid slouching and rounding the shoulders as the body language changes to commutate uncertainty.  A professional photographer will guide you to the correct pose.

2.  Smile
Relax and think about someone or something funny that makes you laugh, your reaction and smile will be more genuine, look much better and more natural.  Having an open smile communicates warmth, smiling with your mouth closed can look serious and disinterested.

3. Expression
When it comes to facial expressions, confidence, approachability and trust matter and It’s important not to appear too serious.  Eyes should rest comfortably not too open and not too closed.  The eyes are so important when communicating to your audience, have a good night’s sleep before the shoot and drink plenty of water.  Check that the eyes are pin sharp when you receive your head-shot image.

4. Where to look
Looking past or in another direction to the camera lens can give the impression of a distant or unengaging look.  Making direct contact with the lens instantly connects you with the viewer and can help to make those first steps in building a positive business relationship.

5. Glasses
If you normally wear glasses and people are used to seeing you in them we advise to wear them. If you only wear them for computer work and would rather not wear glasses, make sure you take your glasses off before you come to have your photo taken, so you don’t have two red marks either side of your nose, as It takes a while for them to go down.

Give them a really really really good clean and if your frames pick up fingerprints or grease marks give them a clean as well.

Finally, when you’re having your photo taken, make sure you push your glasses back as far as they will go. Often glasses just slip slightly down the nose and may cover your eyes ever so slightly. In profile photos, it’s really important to see your eyes.

6. Hair and Make-up
Make sure that your hair is all brushed and neat around the face, getting rid of any loose hairs.  We provide a mirror so you can ensure that you are happy with your desired style. If you have a fringe, check for big gaps, unless that’s what you like. Photo Shopping hair is so difficult, it’s so much easier to get it right before the photo is taken than afterwards.  Freshen make-up (if applicable) as this can help you feel more prepared for the camera.

7. Clothes and jewellery
Avoid white and washed out colours when choosing what to wear, darker and mid tone colours will work best for your image.  Give your clothes an extra iron the night before.  Just before the shoot, check for creases and straighten ties (if applicable), smooth out shirts and blouses and check that jewellery is positioned correctly.

8. Practice makes perfect
If you work for a larger company who are having multiple employee head-shots taken, the photographer may be on a very tight deadline.  Practice before hand in front of the mirror and pose until you achieve a natural professional shot.

9. Background
Choose a plain neutral background, the head-shot is about you and too much going on behind can be distracting. White, grey or black are the most popular choices.

10. I hate my photo being taken!
Nearly everyone we meet does not like their picture taken and in a ‘looks-conscious’ society, almost everyone can find fault with how they view their image.  Forget about the ‘looks’ (you look fabulous) ask yourself instead:

  1. Do I look friendly & approachable?

  2. Do I look professional & trustworthy?

  3. Have I commutated the right impression for customers & clients?

Your head-shot is your shop window on the world wide web and represents you, your business and brand.  Potential customers and clients are more likely to engage if the people they see look friendly, approachable, professional and trust worthy.

If you would like to update your head-shot we would love to hear from you


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