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How to take a professional photo easily and affordably!
9 ways to beat the system and look like the star you are in every photo!
You’re smart. You’re savvy. You know your stuff. But it’s crickets whenever you try to break out of your own glass ceiling.
What are “they” doing differently so that “they” stand out online while you’re just getting passed over. Humm, maybe they look the part?
You owe it to yourself to be seen how you should be seen.
(so you can get that big podcast, a feature in national media, a higher-paying client, and the lifestyle you dream about).
It’s so easy to fall into the “undone” trap when you work from home. Afterall, no one really sees you, right?
Studies have shown that people are just more productive and confident when they are dressing “the part,” as well as being perceived as having more influence when they look the part.
So put those PJ’s and workout bras aside for a moment (yup, I still work from home too in an office that I created inside my NYC loft when my son was an infant so I totally get it).
Think about having a last-minute web call with a potential client or employer, or needing to upload a quick photo to social media, or adding your photo to a career search site for a hot job lead, or updating your website or creating a Youtube video or Facebook live thumbnail. Does that freak out that you don’t know where to start or pull out the same old photo that you’ve been using for years and know you should update it or do you simply brush your hair and snap something cool on the fly?
How you come across matters.
I don’t want to seem rude, but when someone actively publishes a photo where they look out of date, like a hot mess or über ordinary, you can’t help but think that they are not that relevant in their work either. Just sayin’
Your headshot acts as your your brand ambassador getting the word out about you before you say a word.
How you position yourself, particularly in your photos is paramount to how you engineer your personal brand building strategy so that your visual message fully represents you as you want to be perceived (hello to people taking your message more seriously and bye-bye to second guessing your abilities).
Positioning is the new currency.
So if you want success, you must position yourself for success. And that starts with your visual image. You can– and should– engineer how you want people to perceive you from just one look.
But you don’t need to break the bank and hire a big branding photographer. Or get stuck with the dreaded soulless “corporate” photo with arms crossed and a stiff smile either. You certainly don’t want the photo where you look like you just cleaned the carburetor or the one that looks like your yearbook photo- from 1991.
It’s costing you.
Research shows that communication is predominantly nonverbal. You are judged by how you come across before you even get to open your mouth. So that crummy photo that you pay no mind to can be costing you your next consulting gig, high-level client, or speaking spot..
Professor Amy Cuddy of Harvard University says it only takes one tenth of a second to judge a person’s character, even from a photograph. That is, it takes less than a second for an average person to make a ‘snap judgement’ the first time they see a person.
Your headshot is the most obvious step in how you are first perceived and, like it or not, what people assume about you. Your profile photo on your business website or social media profile can make a huge difference in the way you are perceived, and that can not only affect your earning potential but your positioning as an authority in your field.
So why the heck should you listen to me?
As the founder of FocusOnStyle.com since 1999, I was gun shy as a bootstrapping entrepreneur to be the face of my brand (and in front of the camera). I’ve been where you have been being timid about showing up but ironically, I have behind the scenes expertise as a New York fashion photography stylist for 15 years– I styled everything from Vogue covers to making polyester sweets look wearable — and that professional experience made me even more self-conscious as a business owner… until I figured out how easy it would be to confidently DIY my own photos on my own terms and on my own budget. This is how creating exactly what you need to be the best at being you in the ‘Simply Amazing Headshots’ movement was born.
As an entrepreneur, your headshot is your equivalent of a magazine cover- it’s what lures people to want to know more about what’s on the inside.
Every time your photo appears on social media, it is in the same stream a celebrities, thought leaders, industry experts and everyone else who has their shizzle together– so you can’t leave yourself behind with a cruddy photo. (FYI: they don’t always come to the set looking like celebrities, it’s the magic that makes them look so).
Make this your moment, YOU can do it.
But what happens when you don’t want to invest in a big photoshoot with a great photographer who really gets the true you (not some generic, run of the mill, and totally boring “headshot” you get in the “photo studio” of a big box store because that doesn’t show your personality and your personality is what makes you relatable)?
In this day and age, you don’t need any fancy equipment or photo set to get professional-looking results when you know the insider hacks– your phone, computer, or whatever camera you have on hand will do the trick… and on the go to boot!
If you want to get fancy and polish up your headshots you can always lightly retouch with one of the million photo editing apps out there or hire a retoucher on Upwork. That’s exactly what I did for the COVER of my StyleWORD: Fashion Quotes For Real Style (www.stylewordbook.com) book and on almost all of my headshots, profile pics, website photos, promotional photos, and pretty much every place I use a photo since I first discovered DIY magic… if I can do it, so can you.
Follow these 9 simple tips based on my free 30-page eBook How To Look Great in Photos and you’ll have your headshot looking better than ever (and possibly catching the attention of your next big thing).
Do it like a pro and be the star you are
1) Get snappy
Unless you still have a flip phone, you are holding an instant photo studio in your smartphone. Use a little tripod, prop the phone up on a shelf, even a selfie stick, or just extend your arm and snap. If you want to place the phone further away for a longer shot, the volume button your Apple headphones doubles as a shutter. Looking for a different angle? Use the camera on your computer (like I did in my photo here) or an external webcam. You can still use a “real” camera and get a wireless remote controller (personal style bloggers do this) or just set your camera (or phone) to timer mode.
2) Lighting is everything
Not only can good lighting conceal flaws, but it surely evens out wrinkles, hollows, and other less than fabulous parts of your face that can look harsh on camera, as well as making you look as fabulous as a celebrity.
Beautiful daylight is the easiest but not always available. Yet, direct sunlight can also be harsh (wrinkles are exaggerated as are hollows of face), so you may want to wait for the golden hour. This is a photography term that refers to the point in the day after sunrise and before sunset when the light is softer and much more inviting.
When it comes to studio lighting, the most common arrangement for photographers is the 3-point lighting setup. This consists of three lights- one main light on the subject (key light), one at 45 degrees to the subject to fill in the shadows created by the main light (the fill light), and one light behind the subject to separate them from the background (the back light).
But you do not need a professional lighting setup to achieve the results of 3-point lighting. If you are on a budget, try to shoot your photos in a spot facing a window and use household lamps to light your sides. You can also invest in a single ring light (be careful of it creating circles in your glasses) if you expect to be doing a lot of photos and videos or get a little ring light to attach to your phone (although cheap and convenient, I haven’t found one that gives off a pretty light).
3) Composition is not only a notebook
It’s all about you, meaning you are the focal point of your headshot. Avoid anything around you that overpowers you (that includes your outfit) and takes the attention away from you. A quick trick is to set up the shot and do a test. Squint your eyes and look at it. If your eye doesn’t “settle” on you, there is too much stuff around you.
4) The ideal background
You want them to see what you want them to see. That means that although you may have your computer in your bedroom, you don’t want a picture of you with an unmade bed behind you (that also goes for videos). Keep you background classy and let it best represent you in an authentic and elevated way. Don’t forget that people respond more to seeing you in authentic situations than a fake photo backdrop. BUT authentic doesn’t mean sloppy. Do a little set styling and tzuj up your surroundings so it’s not distracting from you as the subject. Play with moving things around a bit son they look better through the eye of the camera. Do not to overload the scenery. If you felt tempted to use books on a shelf as your set, go for it. It’ll make you seem prepared and well-educated, just be sure they are placed in an interesting way.
You can shoot a photo head on, but it’s a little more interesting to angle your shoulders and create a “shape” with your body- you’ll look thinner too! For a straight-on shot, make sure the camera is a little above your eyes and put your chin slightly down. This way you’ll manage to hide the feared-by-all double-chin. If you chose a side angle, make sure it’s about three quarters from the camera and try using the left side of your face, which is everybody’s best side according to science. If you’re other side is your “best” side, just flip the photo. Honestly, pose in different ways and see what looks like your best signature side.
6) The right amount of you
The photos that work best are the ones depicting your whole torso or the proportions of a bust (shoulders, a little chest and face). Consider this crop when selecting clothes and your distance from the camera so that the “break” is at a flattering angle. If you’re busty you want to crop above or below your chest. Consider where this photo will be used and set the shot up to crop appropriately.
7) Timeless, chic, and on brand styling
Keep your outfit on brand for your industry and shy away from anything too trendy that dates itself in a minute. Modern classic clothing works best.
The internet has made it so we live in a global community. Opt for clothing that is more national or international rather than styles and colors that define your region. Use the style example of national morning shows over local news if unsure.
Ladies, consider easy styling hacks like unbuttoning a cuff, flipping a collar, adding an undone scarf under your jacket or wearing several featherweight layers to add interest to to the photo without distracting from you.
Gentlemen need to be careful of the fit of their suit jacket across the shoulders, and if you’re going for a more casual look be wary of T-shirts that pull and look sloppy. Consider a sport shirt in a beautiful color and don’t be afraid to pick up a copy of GQ or Google your favorite well-dressed celebrity for inspiration.
8) Don’t overdo makeup + hair
This can be a tricky one. A little makeup makes you look well-groomed, not to mention that research shows that women who wear makeup earn around 30% more than women who don’t. But too much makeup will cause people to take you less seriously. There’s no way around this. That’s the way things are. It can seem baffling since makeup for camera needs to be stronger so you aren’t washed out yet it shouldn’t be overly bright, shimmery, heavy or makeup-y.
On camera makeup tip- Opt for natural shades and pay attention to defining eyes, brows and bone structure. Lipstick shouldn’t be overly goopy or vivid; stick to a natural shade in either a matte or gloss- you will not only look beautiful, but timeless (and your photo won’t become dated).
A new photo can be the wakeup call for an updated hairstyle. Keep it real and don’t think you need to add Diva hair extensions down to your waist to look glamorous. A little volume fills out fine hair either with clip-on extensions or a good blowout. If it’s time to touch up your roots, it’s time to touch up your roots. If you haven’t updated your hairstyle in five years, this is your wake-up call to look modern, relevant and chic.`
These quick tips should get you going to create great professional-looking photo to skyrocket your business and your self-confidence, BUT there’s more…
We live in a visual world and having great photos are key to standing out in any crowded market. So having a library of photos that can be used on social media, on your website, promo material, book covers, even dating sites is key to your success, your influence, your reach in whatever you that is directly connected to how you are perceived.
But how do you create real photos of yourself that show you as your best but are still authentic and relatable? I created the 30-page eBook How To Look Great in Photos that teaches you the 10 Key Ways to create a winning image without stress so you can confidently position yourself for success.
It’s the proven strategies I learned from 15 years on the other side of the camera on top photoshoots and simplified so anyone could do them on their own without getting overwhelmed. You don’t need fancy photo equipment, you just need the right attitude and techniques. If I can do it, you can too! I want you to have your headshot breakthrough!
Grab your free eBook here: www.HowToLookGreatInPhotos.com
About The Author
You do all the “work” or don’t even know where to start but you’re getting buried alive in a sea of samies. Sharon Haver knows that positioning is the new currency. You must step into your star power if you want to easily earn what you deserve and live the life others only dream about. She has a three-decade career in style and entrepreneurship which has led to her or her work seen in the media nearly 1,000 times.
Sharon is the founder of FocusonStyle.com online since 1999, personal brand success strategist, speaker, a former syndicated newspaper columnist on the Scripps Howard News Wire and 15 year veteran as a New York fashion photography stylist with a business degree in marketing. She channels her expertise to allow you to fully show up so you can confidently be positioned to get high-level clients and opportunities while being the best at being you. She hosts the 7 Days to Amazing Podcast, author of the #1 bestseller StyleWORD: Fashion Quotes for Real Style, and curriculum creator of the and curriculum creator of the C’est Chic Crash Course and Simply Amazing Headshots. You can grab your free copy of How to Look Great in Photos, here.