Having a Great Headshot



Wikipedia defines a headshot as: a modern portrait for today’s branding needs, where the focus of the photograph is the personality inside the person captured. A headshot is a specific type of portrait. A headshot is an image that portrays a person as he is, however simple or stylized the image might be. In contrast to the headshot, an environmental portrait would portray a person with elements of his life such as his work, interests, etc.

So, why a headshot for you? Because words are hard. Really, people don’t operate on language alone.

Here are a few tips on how you can take a headshot photo that will really showcase your unique personality and paint you in the best light.


The eyes say it all. Eye contact captures the viewer—your prospective client or fan—and draws them in. Your personality is in your eyes, a look tells much more than your gestures or prop choices. Look at the camera! Don’t worry, it seems counter-intuitive to make eye contact with a lens—I draw eyeballs on a post-it and stick ‘em near the lens when I shoot video!—so talk to the photographer, to your audience, or your trusted teddybear, through the camera. Give yourself the time to get used to it, forget it’s there, like a pair of glasses.


Ladies, your features are delicately tapered and eyes enlarged by a slightly downward-angled shot.  Gents, a slightly upward shot can give you that subtle superman angle. However, this isn’t a mug shot. Try experimental things; backlit silhouettes, leaping action shots, intense cropping, all sorts of crazy stuff is getting a lot more acceptance in mainstream. Just make sure it’s telling a story about you, and not how inventive your photographer is!


Soft, diffused light minimizes flaws. Bounce it off a wall, through a curtain, or take the photoshoot outside during a cloudy day. (For a guerilla selfie, I find the best lighting and acoustics are still in bathrooms! Vanity mirrors are often lit to flatter.)


What’s the purpose of this headshot? Nail it in the expression. Is your image gonna be serious? Goofy? Sexy? This isn’t one of those freeze-up “Say Cheese” moments. This is where you and the photographer have a chat, shoot some warm-up pictures, and get a feel for each other and the big lens in your face. Get comfortable enough with the camera and the shooter to be yourself. The best shots will come when you do.


Drawing Out Authenticity

People make the mistake of looking externally for the inspiration to write a bio or get a good headshot. See what kinds of answers you get (and what kinds of faces you make!) when you ask yourself…

Why did you start making art?

What makes you unique?

When you do what you do best, what are you doing?

Simon Mainwaring, author and big brand consultant, says, “If you ask yourself these questions and lay out the answers, you’ll start to see a theme.” And that is the secret of your success. Take stock of yourself. Look from a new angle. Rather than going outside, look from the outside in. It is the best way to ensure your personality shines through.

– Kitty Boyce


Branding: Important Tools for Creating Your Artistic Image

How to Write a Great Artists Bio

How to Write an Artist’s Statement

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