Professional headshots are one of the most common and basic portrait shots in photography. In the corporate world, it is an essential type of shot, as it emphasizes the subject, the pose, lighting, and image quality. This differentiates it from other types of shots where there are several objects or props. it is also why it is considered the go-to shot for professionals and artists. Taking professional headshots may seem intimidating sometimes, but there are ways to get the right results.
Tips for Taking Professional Headshots
1. Set up a consultation before the session
Whether through email, phone, or face to face, talking to the subject will help them relax and be better prepared for the photo session. In general, people feel a bit uncomfortable when their photos are being taken, but if you ask a few questions such as where they live, what they do, etc., they will be more comfortable. It is also important to set their expectations or what they want to achieve in the photos.
2. Little adjustments make a big difference
A headshot seems restrictive when it comes to poses, but you’ll be surprised at what a subtle turn of the head or shoulders can bring to the session. The face of the subject should be straight towards the camera. Ask the subject to slightly tilt his or her head, lean forward, or change their facial expression. Shifting the format from portrait to landscape can likewise lead to different shots.
3. Assist the subject in choosing the right attire
The face of the subject must be the focus of the headshot, so make sure that there are no distractions such as clothes that are too bright or feature a lot of bold prints. Consider solid and neutral colors. Depending on where the images will be used, it is better to ask the subject to bring clothes for formal and not-so-formal occasions.
4. Get the lighting right
There are several ways to perfect the lighting, but a classic setup is one light above and another one (second light or reflector filling) from below.
5. A plain white background will do just fine
It’s common to use a white background for professional headshots, but if you need a grey or even a darker shade, you can still utilize the white one by making some changes. You can adjust the distance of the subject from the background or the angle of the lighting.
6. Keep talking to the subject
A quiet session may make the subject feel awkward, not knowing what the shots look like. Be positive and keep talking throughout the session. If the shots look great, reassure the subject. But even if you can’t get it right, offer suggestions to get better shots.
7. The distance between the subject and the background matters
The separation from the background plays a role when taking professional headshots. When the subject stands too close to the background in a studio or a wall at an office, there may be shadows that can make the images look unprofessional. The same goes for outdoor shots.
Thank you for reading CFI’s guide to taking professional headshots. CFI is the official provider of the global Financial Modeling & Valuation Analyst (FMVA)™ certification program, designed to help anyone become a world-class financial analyst. To keep advancing your career, the additional resources below will be useful:
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