How can I be more photogenic for a headshot?

Headshot Photography, Headshot Photography FAQ
Personal branding photo of Bath based Art Centre Director

A common concern I hear from my clients is – how can I be more photogenic for a headshot?

We’re all born with different characteristics. The way we look is to a large extent determined by our genes. They control our height, hair colour, bone structure, skin tone and our body shape etc. As we get older we may see a few signs of ageing too!

In our modern age with social media and digital marketing, we’re bombarded with thousands of images every day. There’s a lot of pressure to look a certain way and it’s not always good for our health and well-being.

In the fashion industry image re-touchers may spend hours photoshopping a single image to remove every blemish. But does it reflect reality and how the normal person looks?

As a headshot and branding photographer I see my role as helping you present the best version of yourself.

I do edit photos. I crop images, adjust the exposure, balance the colours and remove minor blemishes, such as a small spot or a skin breakout. However, I don’t use the techniques commonly used in the fashion industry, as I feel it’s more important to show a realistic image that reflects the best version of you. 

Having said that there are lots of simple things we can do during the photo session to help you look your best in your photos and be more photogenic for a headshot. 

Here are a few of the techniques I use…

Preparing for your photo session

I encourage my clients to consider what they’ll wear, get a haircut and prepare their makeup. This can make a massive difference to how you can be more photogenic for a headshot.

It’s worth considering a professional stylist or just getting some advice if you feel you need a little help with your wardrobe. A stylist will help you choose outfits that not only show you looking your best, but also sit comfortably with your brand. And choosing outfits that make you feel great, will give you that extra boost of confidence that really shows through in your headshot and branding photos.

Recently I caught up with personal stylist Reshma Field from Ishbel’s Wardrobe. In this article I share a few tips from Reshma to help you get ready for a headshot or branding photo session.

Choosing the right kind of light

Generally for portraits and headshots I work with soft light because it softens the skin, and makes any imperfections less obvious. Soft light won’t necessarily make you more photogenic, but it’s a more complimentary light. 

If you’re looking for soft light I’d recommend heading outdoors on a cloudy day. If you’re indoors look for a large north facing window, a location with indirect light or you can use a professional lighting set up such as a soft box.  

This article is also a great resource if you’d like to find out more about working with natural light for headshots and portraits.

Posing and direction

With subtle posing and direction we can create angles and shapes that help flatter your body shape.  This can be as simple as shifting your weight through your hips onto one of your feet and angling your body and face slightly to create a more relaxed posture. 

In the article “how do you pose for a headshot” I explore some of the options in more detail and I also link to a great reference book by Lindsay Adler if you’d like to learn more. 

Camera and lens choice

It’s worth investing in a good quality camera and a portrait lens.

Portrait lenses have a longer focal length which reduces distortion and the depth of field can also be easily controlled to blur and reduce any background distractions.

Ideally you should use a camera with a portrait lens. If you only have access to a smartphone, make sure whoever is taking the photos doesn’t get too close. Smartphone cameras tend to distort the image if you’re too close. So take the photo further away and crop the image afterwards if you need to.

If you’d like to find out more, I’ve written a series of headshot photography FAQs. Clients often ask me these questions, so I hope you find them helpful.     

If you prefer a chat instead, or you’d like to plan a headshot session you can book a complimentary consultation call here. 

Learn more about headshot photography and the other services I offer including business storytelling photography, personal branding photography and corporate event photography.