What’s the difference between a headshot and a portrait?

Headshots are a sub-category of portraits. Portraits can cover a very wide range of styles and purposes. A headshot is usually head and shoulders, plus some of the upper chest, and often used for profiles, PR, self-promotion, modeling, acting, business, and professional uses. Headshot backgrounds are often simpler, mainly to be less distracting, and give more emphasis to the subject.

What does a headshot cost?

There can be quite a range of headshot prices. $20 at a local pharmacy, $50 and up from some photographers, and also $150 to $400 from some studios, depending on their structure and what you get for it. A reputable photographer will publish his or her prices on their website for all to see. Shop not only for price, but also for professional ability.

Does a headshot need retouching?

Moderate retouching (as in Photoshop) is a good idea. Nearly everyone can benefit from a modest amount of prep. But excessive retouching may misrepresent the person. Think of retouching as makeup. Overdoing either one usually draws attention to itself and works against you.

Can a headshot be B&W?

Yes, absolutely. Digital cameras shoot in color, but photographers can easily convert it into black and white. There’s no hard and fast rule a headshot must be one or the other. Think of it as a personal preference––your preference. Inquire and let your preference be known when you’re shopping around for a photographer.

Is a headshot better than a selfie?

Yes, it probably is––if you get a capable photographer. Selfies, although hugely widespread, often show facial distortion (due to an excessive wide angle lens too close to the face) and poor lighting (such as overhead ceiling light fixtures). Consider where your headshot/selfie will be used and who will see it. A casual selfie might be appropriate for personal social media, but not for a professional profile and bio. Choose accordingly.

How do I shoot my own headshot selfie?

• find a good location or backdrop
• make sure you have good lighting, whatever that may be
• decide what to wear
• watch out for wide angle lens distortion if you get too close: enlarged nose, bulging eyes, small forehead, receding chin
• shoot liberally, but edit ruthlessly
• scrutinize what looks good and what doesn’t
• tweak your shooting based on the line above
• only use & show the very best shot, never show runners up or second best
• do a new selfie every now & then, you’ll get better at it!

Does a resume need a headshot?

Best answer: if the resume has a spot for it, and you have a good looking photo of yourself, it’ll probably work in your favor. All of us have an insatiable curiosity of what other people look like, whether it’s a celebrity, favorite actor, radio announcer, person in the news, new neighbor, or your own resume. People will want to know what you look like, so don’t hide. Your resume lists your experience and attributes. Make your headshot an attribute as well.

What are headshot do’s and don’t’s?

• visit the hair salon beforehand, if necessary, not afterwards
• match your outfit and the headshot style to how you plan to use it
• find and save examples from other sources you admire to use as inspiration
• search online for headshot photographers, look carefully at their work, and compare them
• understand beforehand what you are getting and what it costs
• don’t be timid in front of the camera; instead, be expressive and pick the best one afterwards
• make your photographer give it the best she/he’s got!

What are good headshot tips?

• visit your hair salon ahead of time, not afterwards
• pick your outfit and a headshot style to match how you plan to use it
• find and save other headshots you like and use them as an inspiration for yours
• search ‘headshot photographers’ online, scrutinize their examples, and compare them
• know ahead of time what it costs and what you’re getting
• don’t be bashful in front of the camera–be expressive, show your best self, and get a range of shots
• make your photographer give it her/his best effort!

Headshot makeup tips

• decide if you want a makeup artist, you handle it, let Photoshop take care of it, or something else
• ask your photographer if you can do makeup at the studio
• do makeup consistent with your personal preference
• make it look real, not contrived or over the top
• keep in mind how the headshot will be used and who will see it
• use moderate foundation or concealer if you’re concerned about lines, pores, and imperfections
• do eye makeup according to your likes and what you’re familiar with
• makeup and Photoshop often go hand-in-hand to create the best effect, each in moderation
• determine ahead of time how much Photoshop prep your photographer will do for you
• final note: modern cameras are incredibly accurate in capturing the tiniest detail, sometimes they’re terribly harsh, therefore makeup and Photoshop will always be a part of good-looking headshots

Is headshot lighting different than other photos?

There’s no hard and fast rule about what headshot lighting must be. Headshot lighting is not determined by government agency, community standards, photography organizations, or anyone else. The lighting can be conceived by you and your photographer. Generally, a well-lit headshot flatters the person rather than make them look bad. Lighting method can be single source, open sky, studio flash, ambient light, softened with light boxes, hard edged light source, and multiple sources. Lighting style can be classy, moody, pensive, revealing, obscuring, avant garde, traditional, plain, classic Hollywood 1940’s, and much more.

Headshot with or without glasses?

• how do other people see you most of the time?–that may be your answer
• do you wear glasses only at specific times, such as close-up work or driving?
• sometimes glasses can make you look more studious, if that matters to you
• glasses or no glasses can sometimes make you look younger/older
• best tip: tell your photographer you want to shoot both ways, then compare them and choose afterwards which way you prefer

Headshots for business?

• use the primary purpose of the headshot as a guide, i.e. tailor the style to be appropriate for your field or industry
• possible style goals: to look capable, respectable, conscientious, enthusiastic, approachable, professional, trustworthy, and so forth
• if you have corporate portrait guidelines, share those with your photographer beforehand
• consider if you want your headshot to look formal, casual, traditional, avant garde, stylin’, relaxed, or something else
• do you need to get your hair taken care of ahead of time?
• bring more than one outfit (waist up only), such as different tie, shirt, blouse, or jacket to the session

LGBTQ headshots?

• best tip: find a supportive photographer to work with you
• check out samples on photographers’ websites and see if they’ve got what it takes
• communicate what you have in mind in the way of style or flavor, lighting, background, and other options in your initial discussion and during the shoot
• a collaboration between you and the photographer is likely to give you the best results
• bring more than one outfit or top to the shoot
• headshots aren’t limited to one person only; twosome headshots are equally good and twice the fun
• shoot generously, edit scrupulously, tweak things as needed, and shoot more until you’re both satisfied you have good shots from which to choose

Can headshots be taken outdoors?

• yes!–with the understanding that lighting and background can be variable, but also potentially rewarding
• will outdoor shooting fulfill your particular need for the headshot?
• talk with your photographer beforehand about the game plan, what to expect, and what you’re aiming to accomplish
• if using natural light, then weather, wind, season, position of sun in the sky, and time of day are important considerations
• check your photographer’s website to get a feel for their proficiency dealing with outdoor lighting and settings
• your photographer probably should bring portable battery powered flash or LEDs, reflectors, and other light modifiers in case they’re needed