Here are 5 things to look for in a successful commercial headshot photo.
Difference Between A Headshot Photo And A Portrait Photo
Technically there’s no difference. Headshot photos are a type of portrait mostly used for commercial purposes usually to promote the person in the photograph. It could be for a LinkedIn profile, personal branding or a bio page on a web site just to name a few.
1. Eye Contact
Take a look at the headshots of your LinkedIn connections and you’ll find most of them are looking at the camera. If you’re in a profession where establishing trust and approachability is crucial, eye contact with the camera is the way go. But like anything else there are exceptions. For some professionals, especially creatives, eye contact isn’t always a must.
2. To Smile Or Not To Smile
This depends on the nature of your profession and the impression you want to convey. In general, a smile can help to make you appear more approachable, friendly, and likable. If you have a great smile good for you. Show if off and enjoy. For those who don’t have a beautiful set of teeth (I’m one of those people) a closed mouth smile can still convey all of the positive attributes of a full tooth smile.
A serious or neutral expression can convey professionalism and competence, which may be more appropriate for certain industries. Ultimately, the best approach is to consider your industry’s and target audience’s expectations and choose an expression that aligns with your personal brand and professional image.
A successful commercial headshot has a simple background that doesn’t call attention to itself. If the viewer is looking at the background more than the subject than that headshot has failed.
Some professionals want to be photographed where they practice because it’s a big part of their story. For portraits like that the camera is farther away from the subject and everything is in focus. This is not a headshot. This is an environmental portrait.
Soft lighting has softer and brighter shadows which is more flattering for the face. There are several ways to achieve this look. I use a large umbrella with a diffuser as my key light and a large reflector for fill light.
Retouched headshots for professionals should look natural, authentic and be invisible. Obvious retouching can look fake which is the last thing we want when trying to convey trust and approachability.
If you’re interested in working together call me for a free consultation 917-536-7277
(Updated February 20th 2023)