If you're like me, being in front of the camera is awkward at best, excruciatingly embarrassing at worst. Most of us aren't natural models, and getting professional portraits that represent you in your best light can be hard to achieve without a bit of help...
Over the years I've learned some tips and tricks to getting relaxed, natural and flattering shots that you feel confident using to represent you. Whether that be headshots on your work website, LinkedIn, or for media opportunities, a set of high quality portraits that show you looking like the best version of yourself are a must.
Here's what I've learned that you can apply today, whether it's with a professional headshot photographer or with a mate and your phone...
1. Find good natural light
Light is the number one thing that can be your friend or foe when it comes to portraits. For best results, take photos outside or next to a well-lit window. The best kind of conditions for outdoor photos is a cloudy day (although not too dark). The clouds filter the sunlight so that it falls evenly across your face and doesn't cast hard shadows. If next to a window or outside, face the light to light your face evenly, or try a 45 degree angle to get more depth to the shot.
2. Find a good location
The backdrop to your photo is as important as the subject. Ideally go for an uncluttered background that won't distract from the main event - you! If you want a nice blurred background (bokeh) you'll want to stand further away from whatever is behind you (e.g. a wall) and use portrait mode if shooting on an iPhone. Look around your local area for interesting backdrops - a textured brick wall, a coloured mural, greenery in a park or a pretty cobbled street. Go for things that suit your personality and the impression you want to convey through your photos
3. Find someone you're relaxed with to take your photo
This is so important. I often ask my sister to take my photo because we will have a laugh in the process and I know she'll tell me what to do to look my best. If you're choosing a professional photographer, find one that captures photos you like and that prides themselves on taking the time to make you feel at ease. It's well worth spending the money on someone confident and experienced who can get the most out of your time together. If you're the one taking the photos, talk (a lot) to your subject, give them lots of encouragement and don't be afraid to give them some notes (chin down, look over there, hold that pose, etc!).
4. Play around a bit
With different expressions, poses, and locations. Gone are the days of the stiff head and shoulders corporate headshot. Try different camera angles and a mixture of photos looking at the camera and looking after the camera. If you're not feeling it, try some fake laughs - they usually look pretty genuine on camera and will help relax you.
5. Let us know who you are
From what you wear to where you take the photos, these details create interest and start to tell a story about what kind of person you are. Particularly if you are using photos for your business, this will give the person clues to your personality which is partly what they are investing in - especially if you have a service-based business. Include details that tell people what you're about - for example your workspace, the tools of your trade, or the books on your shelf.
I hope these tips help - now get outside and get practising! If you need some inspiration, head over to my Pinterest where I'm always saving creative headshot photos that I love, or drop me a message if you'd like to find out what it's like working with me.
If you find this useful, you may also enjoy my article with 5 things to think about when taking photos for your work, brand or business.