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4 Things that Ruin a Headshot

Guest Blog by Kevin Appl, Appl Photo

Professional headshots are an amazing marketing tool for you, especially considering most prospective employers, casting directors, and potential clients will Google you before deciding to connect or not.  We all know the value of an exceptionally well done profile photo.

Since I’ve done about 90,000 professional headshots in Saskatoon, here are a few things that I’ve learned will ruin an otherwise great photoshoot.

Let’s start at the top and work our way down.

1. Hair

Styles change, trends come and go faster than you can say “backcombed bangs” three times in a row. Our studio recommends not debuting a new hair style on the day of your shoot.

Often times for men, we recommend getting a haircut 3-5 days before the session just to let the hair grow back a little bit so it still looks clean, crisp and not fresh out of the barber’s chair new.  

For women it’s the same basic idea. If you’re colouring your hair, stick with a colour you’ve had before to make sure you’re happy. If you don’t colour your hair often, there’s the risk of roots showing or one area of your hair looking slightly more faded than the rest.

2. Makeup

Let’s be honest here—this is one area that has a tremendous impact on the results of the shoot.   We strongly recommend having your hair and makeup professionally done at a salon that you trust. If that’s not an option, the next best thing is to apply your makeup about 15 to 20 percent heavier than you normally would in an everyday scenario.  

Between the studio lights and the slight flattening effect of different focal distances of lenses, it’s vital to add a little extra contouring and shape to your face for the best results. Again, just like with hair, now is not the time to experiment with new techniques or trends.

Something to consider—makeup isn’t only for women. Sometimes men have slightly greasy foreheads or uneven skin. Even a hint of powder is a good thing.  Modern times, guys—it’s ok to wear a hint of makeup on your skin.

3. Clothing

The first rule we have at our studio: bring enough options. It’s not unusual to change your mind at the last minute in regards to the jacket or dress shirt you’ve brought. We like to suggest 2-3 options for flexibility.  

It’s very important to avoid wearing anything that has super bright colours, patterns or logos. The emphasis of the photo needs to be on your face and not the distracting polka dots or the giant eagle logo on your shirt.

Darker or neutral colours that complement your skin tones are the best. Typically, it’s best to avoid yellows, pastels, and pinks for headshot photos—they often aren’t as well-received in a professional situation.

In regards to jewelry, simple is better. If you’re unsure, bring options to the studio and we can decide if that beautiful statement piece necklace is a good fit for your outfit. Scarves are a nice alternative and can be used in a pinch to add a little accent of colour.

Men should avoid wearing wild-patterned ties (if at all). Its distracting visually and can date the image quite quickly, too.

4. Lack of Communication and Unreal Expectations

Trust your photographer to sweat the small details and work on posing with you. Having fun, making a silly face during a test shot or cracking jokes helps relax both parties, and relating to the camera becomes easier at that point, too.

Micro managing, being exceptionally hard on yourself, or just generally being in a negative headspace essentially ruins any shoot chemistry. It’s imperative that you communicate where and how the images are ultimately going to be used.

If it’s for an acting portfolio, it’s clearly going to be different than a law office or a LinkedIn photo.  Often times, a headshot needs to be versatile enough to be used in an advertising campaign or on a billboard, too.  

Those are all things that need to be discussed. Get out there, have fun, and smile!

——————————————————————————————————————————

Kevin Appl is a Saskatoon-based commercial hybrid photographer/videographer with 10+ years in the industry. His specialties include headshots, product photography, architectural images, real estate videos and video business profiles. When he’s not obsessing about learning new audio and visual media techniques, he enjoys spending family time with his wife and toddler son watching episodes of Paw Patrol repeatedly.

Find him here: http://applphoto.com/

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