How to Take Headshot Photos from Home

Sam Antolik, 
Visual Designer, 

For the last year, we’ve all had to drastically change the way we work. Conducting everything from home: internal calls, client meetings, work functions, and everything in between.

Even with all of this, that hasn’t slowed the growth rate of our company, but unfortunately, this hasn’t been reflected on our team page, as we have not been able to take the team member photos we all cringe at afterwards. But no need to let that stop us anymore! I’m adding something else to the list of WFH duties!

Here are a few tips to become a professional work selfie photographer in no time!

 

1. HOW YOU PRESENT YOURSELF

The most important part of this is the subject matter… YOU! So let’s bust out the brush and swap out the WFH pyjama set with something a tad smarter. Try to keep patterns to a minimum, as they may be distracting and you want what you wear to frame your face, not take attention away from it. Dark colours tend to be more flattering (and they’re generally easier for the designer to cut out afterwards to paste you on the company background). Solid bright colours can also work, but lighter colours may make editing more difficult later if you blend in with the background.

Makeup should be more on the natural side and jewellery should be subtle, but not neglecting your personal style.

 

2. GET LIT

Location and lighting are essential. We need a solid background, with no clutter (or patterns, again) near a natural light source. If possible, find a north or south facing room at a time where light finds you just right. Natural light is 100% preferable and generally hits your face at more flattering angles than artificial light.

However, if you want full-on, no-nonsense natural light by taking your photos outside, stick to the shaded areas. However amazing natural light maybe, too much is too much and can wash out your features if it hits you too directly. Who knew there was so much science to selfies!

If it is impossible for you to take your photo with natural light by a plain wall, you may use carefully angled artificial light. Get your partner/friend/parent/flatmate/cat to hold a lamp at the angle the light would have come through the window. If it’s too bright, try to defuse it with a white pillowcase or a piece of paper. You can even look into getting an LED ring light. But whatever you do, do NOT use the flash on your camera or phone. No flashing is allowed!

Take it from an award-winning photographer:

“My top tip for taking a great headshot would be to use natural light when it’s soft, so no harsh light coming through the window. A grey cloudy day (plenty of that in the UK) is the best time to take a profile photo. Find a window, where the wall next to it is blank, and then slightly turn your body away from the window and turn your face towards the window.

Also don’t stand against the wall if possible, try to stand a couple of feet in front to create separation from your background, so when you take the photo you’ll be in focus and the background will be slightly blurred, to make you stand out.”

London Wedding Photographer – Rahul Khona

 

3. STRIKE A POSE

This part isn’t as simple as standing straight and staring into a lens, it isn’t a mugshot! This is the fun part, so let’s have some fun with it. Try out a few different poses: hands on hips, arms crossed, stand at a 30-45 degree angle to the camera to add some dimension, stand square on for a strong stance, just don’t forget to smile and look into the lens! You can even go for a couple of more candid shots, which is obviously difficult when it’s all set up, but add some laughter, like someone said something funny outside the shot. The more you experiment, the more options you’ll have in the end and the more chance you’ll be happy with a few of them.

Something that is easy to forget while you’re focusing on everything else is your posture, so just a friendly reminder to push your shoulders back and stand tall. Or sit tall, you can also make use of a stool if it feels uncomfortable standing in front of the camera.

I mentioned earlier about your choice of clothes. It would be a good idea to have an option or two close by as well. Find your inner model! The more photos to choose from, the better!

 

4. TAKING THE PHOTO

And now we come to the technical part, the part that shows the results of all the previous points. Ideally, you want to get someone else to take it to get the angles right. It is important to get the camera at eye-level so you’re not looking up or down at it. And even more important is the focus. There’s not much that is more annoying than a good shot that ended up being out of focus and can’t be used. Also, check that the lens is clean – you can use a cotton bud for this.

If it’s not possible to get someone else to take the photo for you, you’re going to want to prop your phone on something high, or on a tripod (there are inexpensive phone stands online). Set it on a timer in normal camera mode – selfie mode may distort the image.

When it comes to how much of you should be in the shot, we want it to be from the waist up in portrait orientation. Don’t cut yourself short – it’s easier to crop later than to add what is not there.

So what can we take from this in a nutshell? Natural light is key, smiling is encouraged, appearance should be tidy and professional while still staying true to your personal style and take lots of photos to choose from. At the end of the day, this is how you will be portrayed in your world of work, so make it a good one.

Hopefully, this helps you get the best headshot!

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