How to Take Your Own Headshots

Do you need professional headshots fast? Is your website designer pestering you for an updated “about page” photo? Are you just starting your business and need headshots on a budget?

Here’s the solution: you can take your own headshots with your cell phone.

But you don’t have to just take a selfie and call it a headshot. No sirree bob.  You can take a photo that doesn’t look like a selfie.

(For the record: this is a selfie. With my cell phone. Not a headshot.)

Lighting your own headshots

The first step to taking your own headshots is to find your lighting. The goal is to avoid awkward shadows, make your eyes sparkle, and minimize fine lines and wrinkles.

These two photos were taken in the exact same place, but in the left photo my back is to a window. My eyes are dark and sunken, the lines around my eyes are more pronounced, and my face looks wider.

By pivoting about 45 degrees, the window light is sparkling in my eyes and everything about my face looks more flattering.

In sum: face a window for easy flattering light.

Pro tip: intentionally choose the background.  Do you need a neutral, solid color for your headshot? Find a wall that suits that need. Don’t let your headshot be ruined by a stack of dirty dishes or pile of unpaid bills.

Angles for Your Cell Phone Headshots

Your goal in taking your own headshots is to intentionally craft the image the showcases the best you in a professional manner. Picking your angle is crucial to that goal.

The camera needs to be at eye level or a little higher.  I repeat: at eye level or a little higher.  Watch how the double chin disappears and my eyes grow in size  just by moving the camera a few inches higher.

Pro Tip: The object closer to the camera will appear the largest.  When in doubt, let the eyes have it.

Use a Tripod for your Cell Phone Headshots

So far, all these photos were taken hand-held, at arms length to demonstrate lighting and angle. But check out what happens when I put my cell phone on a tripod, add in a prop, and aim for a natural smile.

Boom.  Lifestyle portrait perfect for a website “about me” page.

Tripods are the cell phone photographer’s secret weapon.  They’re small, light-weight, and transform a selfie into a self portrait. Plus, a tripod is cheaper than a photographer’s fee. Promise. 😉

Pro Tip: Use Portrait Mode and the Self Timer.  Most cell phones these days have both. The portrait mode allows for you to turn a distracting background (my kitchen, in this example) into an asset. And self timer? Allows me to take a photo without actually touching the camera.

Editing Your Cell Phone Headshots

The goal of your cell phone headshots is a flattering image. Editing isn’t necessary, but it can help the photo sparkle (without actually sparkling of course!).   The effect of edits should be subtle (I don’t want to notice the filter!) so be mindful of the full effect; don’t get carried away by dramatic tone shifts and funky options.

My final suggestion? Be happy so you look happy. Take time to practice smiling – know how to smize (smile with your eyes) – so that you can reflect the you that clients will see in person.

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