I’ve spent a lot of time over the years explaining what makes a great corporate headshot. But what makes a bad one? It’s easier to show you really, so let’s play a game I like to call bad headshot bingo. So go on, open up your LinkedIn suggested connections and let’s see how many of these headshot red flags you can spot. First one to shout “bingo” wins!
The Skulker. This shady headshot would look better on an album cover for a moody indie band. Lighting is tricky. Artificial light, and even natural light, can put shadows on your face where you don’t want them. Even a fancy camera won’t help if you don’t know how to work with light.
Attack of the clothes. Dress in nice clothes, they said. Be your natural and authentic self, they said. But nobody mentioned how eye-wateringly intense all those accessories coupled with that vibrant shirt pattern would look in the final picture. Personally, I consult with my clients before the shoot and advise them according to the purpose of the headshot and perhaps to bring a few clothing options to the photoshoot.
Buried by the background. I love photographing my clients against an appropriate backdrop, like premises, doing their job with appropriate branded clothing on or a branded vehicle, because it helps to tell their story. But, this kind of thing takes experience, planning, and location scouting to get right. Unless you know your angles and lighting, it’s easy for a location shot to become an al fresco apocalypse of parked cars, windswept hair and dingy clouds.
Death by photoshop. Apps and filters can fix anything, right? Unless you’re a digital artist extraordinaire digitally ‘improving’ your image is usually a one-way ticket into the uncanny valley. Sure, glamour models and Snapchatting teens go in for this kind of thing, but in the world of professional networking, it stretches your credibility. You also risk getting into the territory of looking nothing like your headshot, which can make job interviews and networking events awkward.
Missing parts. What happened to your left ear? Where is the top of your head? People should be able to see your head and shoulders at the very least. That’s the main rule of headshots really. It’s surprising how many headshots end up missing off facial features.
Poor image quality. In this day and age, there’s no excuse for this one. If your image resolution is poor, you’ll look unprofessional and behind the times. Bonus points for a corporate headshot that looks like a photograph of a photograph.
The hostage interview look. The eyes are crying out for help. This headshot looks like it’s been taken at gunpoint. I see this more in professionally taken images, to tell you the truth. It’s scary having a big camera pointed at you, sure. But a good photographer will work with you, to put you at ease, and then take the shots you need. If they can’t do that, then they haven’t done their job properly.
The blurred face. Is this an arty shot? An action shot? Actually, wait, is this a… still from a video? Don’t be blurry, it doesn’t look professional and does not allow people to see your full features, otherwise you aren’t selling yourself at your best.
How many did you get? And more importantly, do you recognise any of these from your own corporate headshot? If so, don’t worry, because I’m here to help. Contact me today so we can get your 2023 natural headshot boxed off.