6 Tips to a Great Professional Headshot Session | 1099 - Mom
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6 Tips to a Great Professional Headshot Session

If you've worked online for any length of time, you've probably heard people referring to their "headshots." No longer reserved for those listed on IMDB or hoping to get into modeling, a professional headshot is now considered a requirement for people working online that need a good-looking photo for their profile pics on social media and their blogs.

While I've been very lucky and have had the chance to get professional headshots at least 3 times in the past 10 years, I haven't always been happy with how they have turned out. In fact, since I was pregnant for 2 of them, you can safely assume I don't use them much these days.

So, how can you ensure that your headshot experience translates to the perfect look you want for your media kit? Here are six things I've learned over the years that have helped me big time.

1) Don't overdo the makeup. I know that it's tempting to want to cover up every flaw and create the most beautiful version of you. Unfortunately, lighting can make an overdone makeup result look awful in digital format. It also seems to present a version of you that isn't likely to match what you really look like day-to-day. Try for a natural makeup look that's somewhere between "I'm just running to the store and I might bump into an ex-boyfriend" and "It's Grandma's birthday; let's take pics!" Leave the sultry evening look or experimenting with new colors to a time when the pressure isn't so high.

My favorite headshot. My hair wasn't done, and I had on no makeup. But I was happy and the lighting was epic! Photo by Walmart.
2) Consider impromptu moments. Perhaps you get nervous sitting in front of a photographer. Your lips shake when you smile, you worry about your teeth showing. I get it. I am equally a mess in front of a professional. That's why I've been able to ask that my photographers capture informal moments when I'm not posing in the front of the camera to see what they come up with. A conversation I'm having with someone else. A joke that's told. These are all opportunities to get me at my most lovely moments - you know, when no one is looking. (See photo above for an example.)

3) Be aware of your flaws, but don't obsess about them. If your teeth are a bit on the yellow side, it's perfectly OK to use a good whitening toothpaste in the week leading up to your shoot. Likewise, coloring those grays is never a bad idea (provided you use a product that works for you). But don't think you can drop 50 pounds in a month or get 3 inches shorter in a day. You're still you; best to accept and celebrate the 100% of traits that makes you very special -- good and bad and everything.

Chin up and shoulders back. Photo by Jennae Petersen.

4) Learn to pose.  I always laugh at the scenes in My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 where they are taking selfies. The older women have learned to put their arms around eachothers' shoulders and pull their friend's neck from the back to make them slimmer in the front. This genius trick is just one way to trick the camera a bit and feel better about your look. I've also heard that tilting your chin up slightly (or having your photographer standing a bit above you) can reduce double chin. Putting your arms on your hips and forming a triangle with your elbow can reduce arm sag. Ask your friends in the business what other tricks you can use. Every little bit helps!

5) Resolve issues at the time of the shoot.  I recently had a session that I wasn't really happy with. I didn't like the way I was asked to pose, and I could tell that they used the same poses with everyone they shot, regardless of size, shape, or gender. I rolled with it, because it was a complimentary session at a trade conference I was at, but had I been paying for the shoot, I would have definitely spoken up. Waiting until after the photos are processed and sent to you to complain is way too late. All they can do at that point is do a little editing. If you don't have a good feeling about the shots you are taking at the moment, ask to see a few as you go. They should be able to accommodate.

Sometimes, you just have to accept where you are at, and enjoy the ride!

6) Don't get too caught up in the details. I'm not a model. I have smile lines and a crooked front tooth and I close my eyes too often. But when I having my photo taken, I try to speak joy with my face and body and remember why I'm doing the shoot in the first place. If you're not having fun, you're photos will likely not look good, no matter how you position your arms or what you weigh. A good photographer can capture you life in a way that is beautiful... any time and any place.
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Thanks for Reading!

Linsey Knerl (the "1099 Mom") is a professional blogger, public speaker, consultant, and mom of 6!
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  1. This is so true. If you want to get head shots like those models from The Beauty Insiders, you are going to want to know how to pose. And smile need to reserved but poise. Thank you for the tips!