It takes 7 seconds for someone to take one glance at you and come up with their own ideas as to who you are. Knowing this — let’s make it count.
A headshot is a representation of you in a snapshot. It can be used on your website, your resume, promotion materials, your LinkedIn profile and advertisements. We are visual beings and what we see can really influence our decisions on recruitment.
Here is what you need to know before getting in front of the camera:
Know what the camera likes
Your colour choices are crucial. Stay clear from whites, blacks, and any bright vibrant colours such as red. These colours don’t mesh well with the camera and can actually cause technical faults in the photo. A white will oftentimes create a glowing hue that will distort the photo. A black can create focus and saturation distortions. A bright vibrant colour will have similar effects as well.
What colours should you wear?
Neutrals are non-offensive, clean, and timeless. Your headshots shouldn’t date themselves throughout the year. Keep things clean, polished and simple.
If you choose to wear a blazer, stick to navy, a rich grey, or a jewel tone that is subdued but still deep. These tones are universally flattering and create just enough contrast that can have a slimming and polished effect that creates just enough punch and impact that will draw the eye to you. You do not want the jacket to be loud or distracting. After all, you want the attention on your face so that you become recognizable and memorable.
Jewel tones are always a go-to if you want to inject some personality. They can be deep shades of red, such as burgundy and wine. You can play with “sapphire blue” tones by wearing deep navy, marine blue, and even a blue-black. This is typically the go-to because it goes with everything, looks great on everyone, and is close to black without being as harsh.
Green is another underrated colour that looks great on many people. Again, you want to keep this rich in colour. Forest greens, emerald greens that are deeper rather than bright, and even hunter green could be a great alternative to brown.
The right colour for everyone is subjective. It needs to compliment your skin tone, hair, and eye colour — since these will all be visible on camera.
A nice trick is finding colours that compliment your eye colour. For example, if you have blue eyes, sticking with blue shades will help make them pop.
Should I wear a suit?
The anxiety kicks in once we have to figure out what is “appropriate” for a headshot. If you work for a firm, ask what the dress code is for the photos. Some places prefer a uniform look and there is a reason for that. You are representing a company and every company has an image they want to convey and uphold. So if your team is wearing a suit, follow suit!
Otherwise, if it is up to you, ask yourself, “What am I normally seen when I am in a professional environment?” And that is your answer.
A suit jacket is always a great choice. Keep it simple, free of wrinkles and lint, since the camera picks up on a lot more than you’d imagine. Ensure that it fits perfectly at the shoulders and that the lapels are sitting flat. Keep the shoulder padding to a minimum, since it can be overwhelming to the proportions of your neck and face.
A button-up is essential. Even if you choose to ditch the suit jacket for a more casual look. It is simple yet effective. Opt for a deeper tone if you have fair skin and a lighter colour if you have deeper skin, in order to create just the right amount of contrast. This will make your headshot stand out and demand attention.
A t-shirt or any other more casual articles of clothing can be a bit risky, but when done correctly, with the guidelines mentioned previously, you could absolutely get away with it. Just remember what your industry standards are and what message you are trying to convey.
The backdrop can be the deciding factor for what you choose to wear. Contrast the background in some way, but don’t get caught up wearing a colour that is the complete opposite of the backdrop. For example, if the backdrop is white, don’t just go with the darkest colour you own. Any colour against white will stand out effectively. If the backdrop is a darker grey, wear a colour. In this case, it is even more important to wear a brighter button-up to create that breathing room and brighten up the photo. The jacket can remain deeper but not too similar to the backdrop where it might blend in.
You don’t want to look like a floating head.
Headshots might seem of less importance, however, they really do create a visual connection with potential clients and employers. Ensure your photos are professionally done and give the best representation of you.