With the rise of professional social media sites such as LinkedIn, quality headshots have never been more important. Your profile photo is likely the first thing someone will see, potentially being an employer's first impression of you. This impression needs to be professional and dynamic, while providing a hint of your personality. Keep reading for our three tips on how to get the perfect professional headshot for LinkedIn.
1) Use a Clean Background
It goes without saying that you are the star of your own headshot. Anything happening in the background can make a significant impact on what your shot is communicating--for better or for worse. Any type of background that leads your eyes away from the subject of the headshot will detract from the photo's original purpose and ultimately feel unprofessional. The ideal background can be achieved with just a simple white, black, or solid color paper backdrop. If you want to add a bit more to the shot, a brick or tree background works best. It's important to make sure anything other than a solid color backdrop is blurred. This trick draws your eye to the person in the foreground, ensuring that nothing in the background detracts from the headshot.
2) Frame from the Waist Up
Waist up means no selfies, not even with a selfie stick. The front-facing camera on your phone that's used to take a photo of yourself is a wide-angle lens, which distorts your shot and produces low-quality photos. While taking a mirror selfie eliminates the wide-angle lens issue, it majorly detracts from the professionalism of the shot. Even with a clean background, a mirror selfie is distracting and suggests that you simply couldn't be bothered to present yourself in a polished way. When getting your photo taken, make sure that the headshots are from the waist up. Photos of just someone's face/head are too close (for anything other than a cute selfie) and can feel uncomfortable. Cropping the photo right above or right below the waist conveys a more complete sense of the person without feeling too invasive. When framing the shot, it's crucial that the image does not get cropped at the person's joints (neck, knees, elbows, exact waist). This kind of framing tricks our eyes into seeing the subject as disembodied, which is both distracting and off-putting. Meanwhile, full-body photos make it hard to see someone’s face, especially in a profile picture. A waist-up headshot creates the perfect balance.
3) Use Soft Lighting
Every time we use soft lighting (which, as you could guess, is quite regularly), we think of something one of our clients once said. She described this lighting as creating a "model glow" for the shot, and we really couldn't put it any better ourselves. Direct light, such as bright daylight or a camera flash, creates harsh shadows that can be unflattering and distracting. Instead, if you're going for an outdoor shoot, take photos while it's cloudy. If you need to use a flash, bounce it off a wall or umbrella, as opposed to aiming it directly at the subject. Yes, shadows can be artsy and theoretically convey personality. However, for a headshot, you need to go with something evenly lit.
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