I know starting a new business is hard and the costs to open the doors can be massive. When I opened my studio it took all my resources, time and like 25 gallons of paint!

I have a few friends who are in the middle of opening new businesses and as much as they would love to hire me for professional headshots, they just can’t swing the cash right now. I totally understand so I have a few tips on how to get a great looking professional headshot DIY style! Get whatever camera you got available and follow these tips. 

First things first, Your headshot should look like “you”. It should reflect what people can expect when they meet you. If you wear glasses all the time, don’t take them off for your headshot. You will confuse clients and that confusion creates distrust. 

Secondly, You have to make sure the photo you take works with your business look and feel. Try to keep it with your branding and company messaging. It needs to look good and stay on brand with all your marketing materials. 

Third, Please keep your clothing and accessories neutral. I don’t mean to wear tan. I mean keep it classy and timeless. Don’t jump on the latest fashion trends because those trends change and your headshot will get outdated really quickly. 

Lastly, keep your make-up or hair gel to a minimum. I know you want to look your best, but putting a putty sized amount on your face or head will only make it worse. I promise!

Vertical vs. Horizontal Headshots

Now you have to decide if you want Vertical or Horizontal Headshots. A vertical headshot, which is portrait orientation, is the style most used. It fits nicely on business cards and can be cropped to fit most social media platforms. 

Horizontal headshots can be a great choice. The advantage of a landscape headshot is that it fills up a space with background. These are great for banners or ads where you can add text next to your image. 

When I am doing a personal branding session I usually provide my clients with a mix of both so go ahead and do both if you're feeling it. 

Let’s Talk about the mechanics

You must use a tripod or set your camera on something roughly the same height as your head. Camera shake is real and your images will be blurry without a tripod. If you're by yourself, use a timer. The first few times it’s gonna feel awkward, but you’ll get over that quick.

Make sure to use your camera or phone’s portrait setting. This setting blurs the background and makes you stand out. It’s easy on the eyes and presents a more professional feel. 

Don’t forget about lighting. Find the nearest window and use the light to brighten up your face. Direct sunlight will be too much. Keep yourself about 3-4 feet away from the window and use the light there. 

Look at your background! No toilets, kids, pets or posters of the first movie you ever saw as a kid. Okay, If that poster matches your brand it’s a great choice, but keep your background clean and simple. If it’s at your office desk, make sure your desk is clean and free of clutter. White or grey walls look seamless and are very classic. 

Pose yourself in a flattering way. For men facing front towards the camera with the shoulders straight conveys authority. Women should stand more at a 45 degree angle with the chin to the shoulder for that lady boss feel. Both men and women can cross their arms or put their hand on their hips in a superhero pose to create a more powerful image. Play around with angles and smiles until you find one that works best for your features. Please, keep the camera relatively eye level. I know everyone loves the straight up selfie shot, but that is not a professional headshot pose. 

Take everything with a grain of salt and keep your sense of humor. DIY headshots are going to be a fun experience. Roll with the weird smiles and keep laughing. The beauty of the digital age is that you can take a lot of pictures and I am sure you will capture at least one that will work out perfectly. I believe in you!