Fashion Fridays: The Headshot

Okay, so regardless of what career field you are in, you need a good headshot.   One that conveys quality, inspires confidence, and depicts you as engaging or approachable.  The reason I’m tackling headshots for Fashion Fridays is because I need one.  I am having a new headshot taken for my leadership book coming out in August, so I wanted to see what other women authors, corporate executives, and leaders were doing. 

I was surprised.  There’s a lot of bad headshots on the market.

Even very professional women that clearly have the resources to have a good headshot taken failed to think strategically about using a photo that would convey their “brand.”  Now, my entire career history with headshots has been that I went to work at a private law firm (I’ve been at three in 15 years), they hired a photographer to take my photo, and I prayed for the best.  They were all fine, some even good, but very “boxed.”  Generic.  See, this is my last firm headshot:

1485833That’s fine when a law firm needs consistency on their website, but it’s not fine if you’re not working in a law firm (or similar industry).  Maybe you have your own business.  Maybe your industry doesn’t have that photograph feature so your photo presence is LinkedIn.  Maybe you’re a writer.  Whatever the reason, you need a good headshot. 

So after doing a lot of research (and we’ll see how mine turn out, I’m getting them taken in three weeks), I’m sharing some of the tips I’ve found.  I also saw some examples of headshots that I really liked.  Some of these may not be quite formal enough for your industry, but I have been looking for something that translates as professional and confident yet not canned.  That’s why I’m foregoing the grey backdrop for something outdoors or with natural light.  It is a headshot, so the focus is on your face not the backdrop, but a unique or more organic background can convey a certain feeling or at least lay the groundwork. 

1.  Wear solids.  I really wanted to consider a patterned blouse under a solid blazer for my photograph, but almost every “career” headshot article out there says it is just too distracting.  So stick with solids.  But the solids should be darker (photographers say pale doesn’t photograph well) and some folks say stay away from red.  I’m undecided about that because I’ve seen some pretty headshots with red blazers.  I guess it depends on what you’re after – but I think red can relay confidence. 

2.  Wear something you’re comfortable in.  This seems silly since you’re really only going to be seen from the chest up at most, but your comfort helps you stand or sit more comfortably and will read through on camera.  Also, make sure it still fits.

3.  Don’t wear a lot of distracting things.  That means wacky make up or large jewelry.  Now I’m still on the fence about the jewelry.  I like statement necklaces.  Here’s an example of a professional who did it right with a cool necklance that I felt helped convey power and confidence since she was clearly wearing what she was comfortable with:

Mary-Davis-HoltFor my headshot, I bought a simple but chunky gold chain necklace that many women pair with a classic ensemble, but I had just not had anything that neutral that also has some presence. 

Here’s some of the photos I liked that felt professional but engaging:

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 headshot30118CourtneyRackleyheadshot1

Things I liked about these were the natural light (outdoors or windows), smiles that was warm but not over the top, they seemed at ease, and I also like the option of having the photo in black and white. 

What have you seen that worked?  Or didn’t work?  Do you have a headshot that you love?  Email it to me – I’m totally collecting ideas until May 22nd when I have to do my author headshot.

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