As a web designer, I frequently receive headshot photos and other bio images to place on “about us” or “our team” web pages. More often than not, these are taken with someone’s mobile device, and the quality is, well… crappy. This is not due to the quality of the camera—because let’s face it, cell phone cameras these days are better than most older, traditional cameras. It’s the way the images are shot that makes the difference.
Professional photography is ALWAYS recommended, but it’s well understood that time, budget and other factors come into play which may prevent you from employing a professional photographer to take headshots. Here are just a few helpful tips for shooting these types of photos at home or your place of business.
5 Do-It-Yourself Headshot Photo Tips for Your Website
Headshot Photo Tip #1: Take Photos on Backgrounds Other than a Blank Wall
Blank wall backgrounds are good for passports and driver’s licenses, but do you want your headshot to look like a passport or driver’s license? Get creative with your background. Choose a background with some context for your industry. A factory setting is great for manufacturing. Outside is great for Landscaping. An office setting is great for, well you know, an office! If nothing else, choose a brick or stucco wall—something with a good bit of texture or color, and not just plain blah.
Headshot Photo Tip #2: Have the Subject Stand Away from the Background
I’ve seen it a thousand times. The person is glued to the wall behind them! Step away from the wall or whatever objects are behind you. This will create depth, some nice shadows, and show that you are welcoming.
Headshot Photo Tip #3: Step Close to the Subject
Even if you are wearing your favorite outfit of all time, don’t take a photo of your full body. You want the focus to be on your face and likeness. Showing up close and personal helps to communicate how approachable you would be in a face-to-face meeting.
Headshot Photo Tip #4: Use Natural Light—Don’t Use a Flash!
Want your photo to look like a crime scene? Then don’t use a flash! Take the picture outside or close to a window with natural light. Taking photos with the flash on will only look amateur.
Headshot Photo Tip #5: Don’t Crop from an Image with Other People
It may be your all-time favorite picture of yourself, but if you’re cropping yourself out of a picture with someone else you are not thinking professional. What happened to that other person? What did they do to deserve this? Why do you hate them so much that you had to crop them out? That’s where my mind goes when I see this on LinkedIn, Facebook or any other profiles or websites.
Exception: If you’re in your natural/work environment, and you crop your headshot from an “action” shot in your office or industry, this is totally acceptable. Even if you are not looking straight into the camera, this is a great way to display how or what you do!
Why Do I Need a Better Headshot Photo on My Website?
Your photo represents your company AND your brand. Low quality, unprofessional photos on your website and in other marketing pieces will communicate the same about your organization and the products and services you offer. Always choose professional photography services if your budget allows! But if not, follow these tips, because customers want to get to know YOU–and what better way to do this than with a great looking headshot!
Bonus Tip: What to Provide to Newspapers for Press Releases
Always provide a black and white (grayscale color mode) to newspapers. Have you ever seen how bad a picture in the newspaper looks when the registration is off? When the paper prints, it lays down 4 different separations for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black (CMYK). If these layers don’t line up, the picture looks TERRIBLE. To avoid this, submit a grayscale photo. (You may need Photoshop or another imaging program to do this properly—a gray image from Instagram or another platform is not in true “grayscale”.)