It’s Ann Pierce here, co-founder and CEO of Photofeeler, with our best-ever resource for taking your own business photos in the privacy of your own home.
From job seekers to business owners, everyone needs a professional-looking business headshot to use online.
But if you don’t have the money or are too shy to hire a photographer, here’s how to take a great headshot yourself. I especially love this method because you can use it again and again whenever you want a different look.
Step 1: Find a plain wall across from a window
Where many homemade headshots go wrong is their background gives them away. What you want to do here is fake the look of being in a photographer’s studio. To do this, you need to be sure that identifying features of the room you’re in — window blinds, kitchen cabinets, couches, etc. — are out of the shot.
Rather, find a plain wall in your house and stand a few feet away from it (so as not to cast harsh shadows behind you).
Preferably you want to stand in front of a wall directly facing a window during a time of day in which the sun is not in immediate view. This will give you soft, diffused light that illuminates your entire face. This light is by far the most flattering kind you can get and, again, mimics the kind of lighting one would expect from a professionally-taken shot.
Step 2: Set up a tripod to hold your smartphone
This is the part where I warn you about extended-arm selfies. Selfies distort the proportions of your face, making your forehead or nose look larger than it is. While subtle, this effect tips people off to the fact that your photo is a selfie. (That’s why you can tell a photo is a selfie even when the photo-taking arm has been cropped out.)
To avoid this, we’re going to use a tripod.
If you don’t want to buy a tripod, a table stacked with books and a Kleenex box may temporarily suffice. The goal is to get your camera a few feet away from you at about eye level.
Step 3: Use your timer to take pictures
Once you’ve got your phone in place, turn on your camera’s timer setting.
If you’re using an iPhone like me, you’ll simply open up your camera app and tap the clock icon:
Once your timer is set, you simply press the button to take a picture, and it gives you a few seconds to get in place. Easy!
[Note: In my experience, 10 seconds is more than enough time to get in place for a picture. 3 seconds, by contrast, is a challenge. I got some blurry shots this way, but the usable ones were playful and fun because I was treating it like a game. If you have a hard time coaxing genuine smiles for pictures, consider this a hack to try.]
With your setup down-pat, go ahead and take lots photos to ensure you’ve got a few good shots in the bunch. Feel free to experiment as well with different outfits, accessories, poses, and angles.
Step 4: Edit your favorites
If you followed the steps above, you should have a whole bunch of pictures that look something like this.
Once you’ve uploaded the shots to your computer (by plugging your phone into your computer using a USB cable or using your Dropbox app or what have you), you’ll want to use a free online photo editor to make some easy tweaks.
For an example, here’s an edited version of the photo above:
Here are the exact edits I made:
- Rotated the picture slightly to straighten up my posture
- Cropped to a square
- Edited the color balance to be slightly less red and yellow
- Applied some blur to my background
All in all, these changes were very quick to make! I suggest you go ahead and edit several different photos to give you some options to work with in the next step.
Step 5: Get feedback to choose the right photo
Finally, you’ll want to take the handful of shots you just edited and put them on Photofeeler for some free, easy feedback.
Here are the results I got on my first test:
So, the first pic did pretty good.
Based on this feedback, I’d say I’m on the right track but should definitely experiment with other photos from the shoot (especially slight changes in facial expression) and maybe some different edits in order to pinpoint my best picture.
Here’s just a few more tests from this shoot to show you the variation:
Anyway, that wraps up all you need to know to get started! Want to change up your image? Want to adjust your picture based on Photofeeler feedback? Simply rinse and repeat. I hope you found this method simple enough to use again and again.
And as always, if you know someone who could use this info, be sure to spread the word. I’m sure they’ll thank you later.