For photographers, capturing the best possible photos with the right setting and lighting comes as second nature. And as photographers, you are most likely well-equipped to shoot amazing headshots for others. But when it comes to your own headshot, you may not be prepared with the right one. If you’ve been feeling stuck and have seen a dip in your bookings, it could be your headshot.
A headshot and its importance need no introduction. However, before we get into the nitty-gritty details of how a headshot may be the reason why you’re not getting booked, you need to understand a little something about your client’s psyche. As humans, your clients are likely to make a quick judgment call once they see your headshot. The thing is, when somebody looks at you, they make quick judgments about you and your personality, and psychologists have dubbed it as “thin slicing.” Thin slicing is a term used by psychologists that suggests that people tend to gauge a person’s personality and how good a particular person is at their job or skill set based on the first impression.
The term is relevant to photographers and videographers as a client will book your services after checking your headshot and bio. So, in other words, your headshot should match the appeal of your written bio. Furthermore, the headshot along with your bio will act as your non-verbal introduction and first impression.
If your headshot is not professional or recent enough, your clients may not choose you for the job. And this will be a pressing factor in your success as a photographer or videographer. Before we dive into the elements and tips to have the best possible professional headshot for yourself, let’s briefly discuss why headshots are important:
- First impressions matter, and a professional headshot helps your clients trust you.
- It helps you put a face next to your name.
- It can be used in different forms of media.
Apart from these points, your headshots showcase core values. For example, a selfie doesn’t say “professional,” so refrain from using one. However, a headshot that is shot in professional lighting and in a well-thought outfit, in the case of a photographer with their camera or in their studio, is considered professional.
Tips to improve your headshot
While it is easy to take headshots for others, the task could sound daunting when it comes to taking your own. However, the best way to improve your headshots is to follow the same tips you’d give to a client who’d want a new set. Here are some tips that will help you out:
- Choose the right clothes: Unlike corporate headshots, where subjects choose formal clothing, a photographer can dress casually and still look professional. For your headshot to turn out professional, you’ll need one of your best and favorite outfits you have. You can choose an outfit that you feel comfortable in, something that brings out your personality and your facial features.
- A crisp photo: Headshots are tightly cropped portraits. The primary focus of headshots is always the face. For your headshot, put on your best smile and capture yourself in your element, it could be your studio, or out in nature. Also, smiles are not necessary for all headshots. You can be candid or have a neutral face. As long as the headshot is professional, there are no bars to how you can look in the headshot. One of the most important elements to remember is that your headshot should reflect your personality. For photographers and videographers, candid pictures, especially the ones with you in action, can work just as well.
- The background: A professional headshot is not just about enhanced facial features and the right outfit, it is also about the background. A professional headshot usually has a clean background, devoid of elements to distract your clients. For photographers, however, the background can be in-action when you’re shooting at one of your assignments, or in your studio. Or you could be standing in front of your cameras and lenses. What you need to remember about a photographer or videographer’s headshot is that it need not be like corporate headshots. However, you will still need a clean-cut headshot. The background you choose, be it your studio or a collection of cameras, should remain second to the subject. The primary focus of the headshot should be you.
For professional headshots, remember to edit the photo. Ensure that your headshot focuses on your face and body language. Compose your headshot, and edit out any distracting elements from the background.
Although you can take a headshot for yourself, it would help to get some assistance from a friend in the industry. But if you choose to take your headshot, remember to use the right lenses, tripod for stability, and style the background for the perfect headshot.
If your headshot is professional, and bookings are still low, this could be the reason…
If you’re already following the above-mentioned tips, then there could be another reason why your headshot is standing in the way of more bookings. Oftentimes, a professional headshot becomes unusable because its been in circulation for a while. As times change, a headshot that works for you today will be outdated in the future.
And this is why you need to update your headshots. Consider your headshot as the “logo” for your services as a photographer and a videographer. Think of updating your headshot as updating your LinkedIn profile picture.
Here are more moments when you should update your headshot for more bookings:
- When you change your look, or when your physical appearance has changed.
- It has been two or more years since you last changed your headshot.
Another reason why you should change your headshot is to maintain synchronicity between you, in-person, and you, on-screen. When you get booked for photo and video assignments, your clients may be surprised to see that you look a little different than your headshot. And this may lead to your clients becoming more aware of you as you start with your assignment, leading to inauthentic photos and videos.
Things to remember about headshots
When you’re looking to leave a mark on your clients, it is best to start by looking at your current marketing assets. Look into a new set of professionally shot headshots, and check out reference headshots of other photographers and videographers. This will help you understand the kind of “vibe” that you like and suits your style best.
There are no rules, per se, for headshots. If you’re comfortable with corporate-style headshots, go with those, or choose a backdrop. If you’re looking for ideas for your headshot and how to take them, here are some:
- A professional editorial portrait-style,
- In your work environment,
- With your work on display,
- A creative headshot to showcase your personality, and
- In natural light.
With headshots, there is no right or wrong, as long as it is not a selfie! Be prepared, look for inspiration, and check out different ways to showcase yourself to get more bookings. Always bring your best face forward. Take a good headshot to boost your bookings.