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In this increasingly digital age, your professional headshot is more valuable than ever before.

This photo may live on your company website, your LinkedIn page, or be the image that pops up when someone searches for you online. You certainly want to look your best! But not everyone has the time or budget to work with a professional photographer to capture that perfect photo. That leaves you with two options: Sure, you take the photo yourself, resulting in a less professional-looking photo. Or maybe you bite the bullet and pay for a professional to come out for a whole photo shoot. 

Or maybe there is a third alternative? Read on for our guide to headshots, packed with information, tips and tricks for nailing that home headshot, and the secret that will elevate your DIY headshot to pro status. 

Do you need to hire a professional photographer for headshots?

Traditionally, if you wanted a headshot for yourself or your business team, you would hire a professional photographer. But even in a less digitized, pre-COVID world, that option always had its drawbacks. Scheduling a team for photos can be like herding cats – a messy and unrealistic proposition. Even finding the right photographer to meet your needs and budget can be a struggle. 

Now, as telework opportunities have expanded and teams find themselves scattered across the country, businesses may be faced with finding professional photographers in a variety of cities, boosting the cost and resulting in a fragmented aesthetic. So is a professional photographer really the best option for your headshots? Well, a professional photographer brings a lot to the table. 

Professional photos show potential clients and stakeholders that you care about the image you project. That you hold yourself to a high standard and others should, too. A professional photographer can help you create a consistent look for all the employees at your company, and can edit your photos to ensure they are high-quality representations. 

Is it expensive to have professional headshots done?

While you may appreciate the benefits of hiring a professional photographer for your headshots, it may be cost-prohibitive and difficult to coordinate. The average professional photographer may charge upwards of $150 per headshot. For a team, that budget can quickly balloon as you add up multiple employees. If it’s an individual investment, that’s a lot to spend for what will essentially be one finished product. 

Can you DIY a headshot?

Many business owners and individuals embrace the “do-it-yourself” attitude. And that can be great! However, we’ve all seen how DIY can quickly turn into a major fail. To avoid the pitfalls of taking your headshot completely into your own hands, there is a better way. 

Thanks to the wonders of modern technology and the talents of world-class photo editors, there is an option that combines the best of both worlds: professional attention to detail AND cost-saving and accessible DIY. With Heroic Headshots, you can sign up to watch a brief tutorial, photograph and upload your own headshots, and receive a professionally edited headshot back from a world-class photoshop retoucher within three business days. 

before and after headshot example of a woman

Figure 1: Original DIY headshot                                               Figure 2: Heroic Headshots edit

What tools do I need to take a high-quality professional headshot at home?

Once you’ve made the decision to shoot your photos at home, you and your team members will want to prepare some basic tools you likely already have around your home or office. If you don’t have these available, don’t worry! You can still utilize the tips and leave the editing and improvements to the professionals. 

Lighting

Lighting will be hugely important to take your own headshots. But that doesn’t mean you need to invest in fancy lights or screens! Natural light will typically be the most flattering lighting, either outside or near a window. Artificial lighting can highlight problem areas, while natural light will give your photos a more organic and authentic feel. If you want to get fancy, you can hold a whiteboard or white pillowcase on your lap to reflect the natural light back onto your face.

Height

Camera angle and height will impact your photos, but these adjustments won’t require any fancy tools. If you or your employees will be taking the photos alone, a phone tripod and a stack of books can help. Regardless if you’re setting up the phone for yourself or if a friend or family member is taking the photo, pay attention to your height.  Try to set yourself at the same height or just below the camera lens. This will help you avoid awkward angles like the dreaded, universally unflattering “under the chin” shot. If you have a very round face, aim for a slightly higher angle when placing your phone.

Tips for taking a good professional headshot

As you’re preparing to take your headshot photos, these tips will set you up for success. The more thought and detail you put into your preparation, the better the output will be. Remember, since you get to take your headshots from the comfort of your home, you can already eliminate many of the pitfalls of photoshoots. There is no need to worry about being out and unable to adjust your hair, makeup, or outfit if something comes up! Since you’ll have the time and opportunity to get your look just right, consider these tips. 

Clothing for a Professional Headshot

Starting with the obvious, you should put some time and thought into your outfit. Plain colors are your best choice, as patterns or prints can distract and date your photo. Unless you have a color that makes you feel particularly confident, choose mid-tone colors in blue, green, wine, and purple. These are generally flattering and professional-looking clothing color choices. Avoid wearing tops in flesh tones as they will blend your face into your clothes.

Another consideration for clothing color choice is that you may want the option of converting your headshot to black and white. The combination of two pale colors may look great in real life or in color photos. But when the image has been changed to black and white, they may end up being the same tone and just blend into one another. Be sure to carefully keep an eye out for contrast and tones when choosing your outfit. When in doubt, take a couple of test shots of yourself in the mirror on your phone and convert them to black and white to see what works. 

Hair & Makeup

One of the biggest upsides to shooting the photos yourself is that you can take the photos immediately after applying makeup and styling your hair. No rushing to the office or some off-site location only to realize you haven’t packed a comb. Make sure you wash your face or apply your makeup to prevent sweat and shine, and smooth your hair. 

How to Pose in a Professional Headshot

Posing can be one of the most difficult aspects of taking a headshot. For some people, having a professional photographer shout suggestions at them while in a rush to get to the next employee is a recipe for a bad photo. Thankfully, you can take the time to practice your pose in the mirror. Take as many photos as you need to so you get your pose just right. 

Generally, when you pose for a headshot you should stand up straight with your shoulders back and lift your chin toward the camera. Turn your upper body slightly at a diagonal while keeping your head turned toward the camera to create an angled body image and avoid a squared-off look. Try to keep your back straight, though you can try leaning forward toward your phone for a slimming effect. 

Get started on professional headshots with Heroic Headshots

Now that you have all the insider tips on how to take a great photo at home, you and your colleagues are ready to get started! Your Heroic Headshots purchase includes a step-by-step headshot tutorial to put these tips into action. And don’t worry about your surroundings or backdrops. We include a backdrop of your choice, ensuring aesthetic cohesion for the whole team. Once you submit your photos, you’ll access personal, high-end professional retouching with a 3-business day turnaround guarantee. So what are you waiting for? Start practicing those poses in the mirror and purchase your team package today.