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If your professional profile has a headshot, you are 18 times more likely to be noticed by a potential employer. That’s why adding one to your profile is so important – but not everyone has a stash of professionally shot images ready to go. Fear not: it is possible to take a polished photo yourself at home, with these expert tips. You can even take a professional headshot with an iPhone.

Step 1: Enlist help from a friend

The first step in taking a professional headshot is figuring out the logistics of who is going to take the picture and how they will do it. Have a friend with a quality camera? Ask them to come over and take your headshot for you. It’s a great way to receive immediate feedback and saves time and the frustration of constantly changing camera angles. If you are creating your headshot solo, don’t panic. You can still ace the perfect picture by setting up your camera or smartphone on a tripod and using the timer feature.

Step 2: Find a location with great lighting

Lighting can make or break a headshot. Finding a location that makes a good backdrop and receives a great amount of natural light is crucial, because a cluttered background (think furniture or patterned wallpaper) can distract from your headshot. Our tip? Take your headshot in front of a window, and choose a clean one that lets in plenty of natural light. Set up your camera directly in front of the window and position yourself in front of the camera.

Step 3: Use make-up that compliments your skin tone

Your headshot should represent the real you. “For headshots, and especially for work, you need it to look like you,” professional makeup artist and hairstylist Melinda Wenig says. “It’s important not to go too heavy or glam when it comes to using make-up.” Steer clear of artificial light when applying, as it will affect your look. “Applying your make-up in front of natural light, as opposed to the harsh light of a bathroom, ensures your make-up works with the light and setting of where you will eventually be taking your photo,” Melinda explains. She also recommends matching your foundation to your chest rather than your face or neck for the best colour match. And keep it neutral. “Stick to neutral and earthy tones, such as browns, blush and peach colours,” Melinda says. “These will work to enhance your natural features, without becoming distracting.” Products with glitters, sparklers or highlighters can give off an unwanted shine in your photographs and produce flashback. “Instead, utilising matte products, such as a matte foundation, is a great option,” she says. Most importantly, wear make-up that makes you feel confident, because – as Melinda says – “make-up shouldn’t be the focus, it should be you”.

Step 4: Decide on styling

It’s important to dress for the setting of the headshot. For a headshot for a corporate setting, it’s best to keep it professional. A button-down shirt or blouse are suitable options and may be paired with a blazer or fitted jacket. Sticking to a simple neckline assures the attention is drawn to your face. Plain colours such as blues, greens and purples are your best choice, as they are universally flattering and won’t wash you out. Your hair should be styled neatly. “For your hairstyle, keep it smooth and simple, as too much texture can cause flyaways and can come across as messy,” Melinda says. If you’ll be wearing jewellery for your headshot, keep it simple and understated as statement jewellery can become a distraction.

Step 5: Get shooting

Once you are all ready and set up to take your headshot, it’s time to get into taking the photographs. Remember that it’s unlikely you’ll get the perfect shot the first time; practice makes perfect. Play around with different poses and angles, and opt for a photograph from your chest up. Your personality should be the main focus of a headshot and can be brought to life with some movement to achieve a candid, yet professional shot. “You want it to be a good representation of how you present in your everyday life,” Melinda says. Try standing at a slight angle to the camera and then turning your head towards the lens to achieve eye contact. If you’re taking your professional headshot on an iPhone, don’t forget to use a tripod if you can.

Step 6: Select the perfect picture

Now the photoshoot is complete it’s time to select your favourite photos and start the editing process. Once you have narrowed down your favourites, load them on to your phone or computer and use an editing app to enhance them if needed. You want the photo to be light and bright, focusing on you. “Your headshot should be framed from the chest up, with your face being the main focus,” Melinda says. Asking friends and family for their opinion is a great idea before selecting your final shot to use. Finally, load your new and improved professional headshot to your I Want 2 Work employee profile.

Emily Kennon

Author Emily Kennon

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