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How To Take Good Headshots

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Image: fizkes, Getty Images/iStockphoto

The COVID-xix pandemic is finally beginning to abate, and let’s face information technology—near of us haven’t tried very hard to proceed upwards appearances. Nosotros’ve lived in pajamas, gone unshaven and have left uncut hair in messy buns for over a year, and now it’south time to face the music: It’due south time to look professional again.

One fashion to get back in practice is with a new headshot to grace resumes, social media profiles and other professional places. In an platonic globe, a trip to a professional photographer would be the way to do information technology, but that’s non feasible for everyone.


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To become some expert advice on taking the idea at-dwelling headshot I spoke with accolade-winning Louisville, Kentucky-based headshot and portrait photographer Ben Marcum, who has a lot of good advice for those unable to make it to a photographer’southward studio.

Don’t take it yourself

If you lot’re not going to a studio or seeing a professional lensman, there’due south i tip you lot should definitely brand use of to avert your headshot looking like a spur-of-the-moment Instagram selfie: Don’t take it yourself.

Attempt to get a friend to help (which will exist easier at present that COVID-xix vaccines are widely available), and if you tin’t get someone at the very to the lowest degree be certain to use a tripod, which can help you discover the right height and distance along with keeping the camera steady.

Use the right light

Ring lights take become the de facto male monarch of at-abode photography, but Marcum doesn’t necessarily recommend them. “Ring lights were designed for dental photography. They’re really bright,” Marcum said. Exterior of a studio, where a photographer is going to exist able to determine the best light for your wait, Marcum said that natural light will always be best.

Getting natural low-cal to look correct can be tricky, Marcum said, so be sure you take test photos until yous get it right. “Find a nice big window, preferably on a cloudy day so the light isn’t also hard. If y’all can’t do that, use a south-facing window and cover information technology with a white window sheer to take the edge off.”

Be sure yous’re looking directly into the light, also, which can help reduce shadows and eliminate lines and wrinkles. If you practise decide to use daylight, exist sure at that place aren’t whatever other low-cal sources in the shot so they don’t overpower your main light source.

When natural lighting isn’t an pick a ring light can still work merely fine, Marcum said, but exist careful what type you buy: It should accept a mountain for your smartphone or camera in the center of the band so the light is evenly distributed, like this one from Amazon.

Know your angles

While you lot need to face direct into your calorie-free source, that doesn’t mean standing squared off to the photographic camera: You lot need to detect your good side, and luckily at that place’s a play a joke on to doing so: Call back about where you lot part your hair.

“Nine times out of 10 people naturally part their hair on their good side,” Marcum said. Putting the part-side of the face toward the camera makes the face up appear more open up, which Marcum said is an of import office of taking a good headshot.

Tiptop is an important part of a well-composed headshot too, and at that place’south one gilded rule never to pause: Don’t take the picture from below your centre line. Marcum said he generally takes headshots at eye level with subjects staring direct into the lens, but the physical construction of smartphone cameras tin can change that strategy, he said.

“Smartphone lenses have a wider angle, which means they have a slight warping that y’all tin take advantage of. Position the phone above middle level and tilt the phone slightly, and that warping can help you shed a few pounds,” Marcum said. But be sure y’all edit the photo afterwards you take information technology to eliminate the tilt.

Don’t false a smile

A large office of Marcum’s strategy is getting natural smiles out of subjects considering “fake smiles always look fake,” he said.

When taking a home headshot it’s better to go without a smile than a fake one, Marcum suggests, but also said that there’s a reliable way to get a expert await without forcing a grin: What he calls “the Clooney maneuver.”


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“Squint but a lilliputian chip and enhance the corner of your rima oris in a slight smirk,” Marcum suggests. If yous desire to see it in activeness, simply Google “George Clooney smirk” and yous’ll find plenty of examples of it in activeness.

Stick out your chin!

This one might sound weird, but there’s a actually good reason to stick out your chin when taking a headshot, or a photo of any kind, actually: It’s piece of cake for the camera to make your chin disappear into your neck.

To avoid that problem, Marcum recommends you “brand like a turtle.” Don’t just stick your chin out, only rather motion your whole head frontwards to strength the camera to pick up your jawline.

Ideally, Marcum said, you’d encounter a professional like him to become a practiced headshot, and your mileage is going to vary when doing it at home. “Y’all’re going to go what you pay for out of a headshot, and a good lensman does more than just accept the movie.” Helping you look natural, getting a good bending and teasing out a smile are part of the professional person’south job just as much as impact-ups in Lightroom subsequently.

Follow these tips and you may be able to capture a fleck of that professional person headshot magic.