Ask the Mompreneur:
From business cards to websites to social media profiles, it seems that every business owner needs a professional-looking headshot. What advice do you have for entrepreneurs to help them create a credible look on a do-it-yourself budget?
Many business owners tend to shy away from being in front of the camera, so when we need a good photo of ourselves, we're stuck with a cropped-down photo from last year's Christmas party. And what's worse, we're left feeling less than confident about how we are presenting ourselves to clients and contacts.
The good news is you can create a professional impression with a DIY headshot using these tricks of the trade (and a friend or tripod).
Gone are the days of wearing a solid white/black/navy shirt. My clients are always asking me, "Aren't patterns too unflattering?" Not for a head shot! Remember, a head shot will only show your neckline and shoulders, so choose a couple of shirt options in colors and styles that you like. Just steer clear of turtlenecks - they separate your head from your torso.
For ladies, eyeliner, mascara, blush, and lipstick are a must. If you're not a big fan of lipstick, wear a gloss so your lips won't look flat. For ladies and gents, bronzer works wonders when applied evenly on the cheekbones, either side of the forehead and chin. Also, don't forget to use concealer under your eyes. Even men can benefit from using a little concealer under the eyes to fight dark circles and even out skin tone.
Work Your Angles
We all have a "better" side. Practice your pose in front of the mirror and turn your head slightly towards both diagonals. See which angle you like best. The absolute best piece of advice I ever received was a technique I like to call the "out and down." Try it while smiling in the mirror. First, poke your head forward like a turtle. Then, tilt your chin down slightly. It may feel a bit awkward, but this trick is the simplest way to eliminate a slight double-chin.
If you're shooting with a point-and-shoot digital camera, it should have an Auto setting and a Portrait setting. Try using both settings and see which one produces a better result.
If you're shooting with a DSLR, it should have Auto and either an Av (Canon) or an A (Nikon) mode on the wheel. This is the Aperture Priority setting and works well for portraits. If you're outside with plenty of light, try Av or A and play around with the ISO and shutter speed dials. If you're not familiar with the Av/A mode, just pop it in Auto and you'll be good to go!
Smart phone cameras are very nifty these days because they use object recognition (those little squares) to hone in on a focal point. Have your photographer take one photo in Auto and one with the flash and compare the results. Flash always helps to eliminate face shadows!
Lighting and Setting
Finally, and most importantly, make sure you have good lighting! You can wear the perfect outfit and apply the right amount of makeup, but if you stand in a shadow with your back to the sun, none of your prepping will help.
My #1 rule when shooting portraits is to have my subjects face the sun while standing in the shade. I like shooting either in the early morning (9:00 a.m.) or afternoon (2:00 to 3:00 p.m.) when the sun isn't directly overhead. Overcast days are great, too, because the light will be evenly dispersed and you'll be less likely to have shadows on your face.
When choosing a background setting, keep it simple. An ideal backdrop for me would include something with texture and color, like a row of trees or a brick building. Either way, put some distance between yourself and your background to create that "blurred background" effect.
Now just relax and smile!
Jennie Wong, Ph.D. is an executive coach, author of “Ask the Mompreneur,” and founder of the social shopping startup CartCentric.com. Email your entrepreneurship questions to TheJennieWong@gmail.com. Guest bloggers welcome.