What Are Professional Headshots?

Professional headshots taken by an experienced photographer are as important to getting a job, landing a role, or advancing your company’s goals and individuals careers as a well-tuned professional resume. Professional headshots should be tailored to appropriately match each occasion that they are needed for. Whether you are an actor, a model, or in the business/corporate world, your professional headshot is a crucial part of your personal brand!

Here are several differences between these types of professional headshots along with a few tips for getting great results.

Commercial and Theatrical Headshots

Models and actors are the group most associated with needing professional headshots. They are pitching themselves as a product and their headshot will be the image that best represents that product. However, there are differences between commercial verses theatrical types of headshots.

Commercial headshots are designed to appeal to the advertising industry and a broad audience. Your commercial print headshot should convey to potential agents and clients your versatility, your ability to express yourself, and should portray a range of feelings and emotions to the viewer. For these types of photos having a natural, approachable and confident look that audiences will want to connect and relate to is key. Professional commercial headshots are usually shot from a more relaxed angle with bright, crisp and clear lighting. Clothing for a commercial print headshot is usually more comfortable and relatively modest in a flattering neutral color to emphasize the friendly and relatability factor of the model. While you may be planning to audition for a specific commercial or product that may require you to play or portray a totally different character, research into that industry or brand key to your preparation. A friendly, warm picture with an easily identifiable personality type is what many casting directors look for.

Theatrical headshots are used for film, television, and theater roles and should portray and define the qualities and characteristics the actor naturally projects. Unlike the commercial headshot, professional theatrical headshots frequently have more dramatic lighting and moodier colors. They should convey nuances that fit the targeted role while at the same time conveying your versatility and widespread appeal. Actors need to think about how the headshots will be used and which type of roles and projects are being sought. These are just some considerations that should be decided on and taken into account before a professional photography session.

A common question for both of these groups is how many headshots should be printed? Ideally between 20 to 100 should be printed at one time. This may seem like a wide range, but it really depends on how many agents and casting directors you are planning to meet and how many different auditions you plan to go to. It is recommended that actors get new headshots roughly every one to two years, so keep that in mind! Remember, you can always print more off as needed.

Tips for Successful Headshots

· Have a clear idea about the markets in which you are looking to work in and target relevant networking events

· Let the photographer know a bit about the genres and markets you are targeting to ensure that you are both on the same page early on in order to achieve the desired result. If you are targeting multiple specific markets, it’s advisable to create a different headshot for each market or niche.

· It is a good idea to have both digital and hardcopies of your headshots. Dropbox or an online portfolio make it easy to send out your photos at the drop of a hat.

· Research and become as familiar as you can with the section of the market you want to work in.

· Use your updated social media profiles, such as Instagram, as networking tools.

· Include your headshot on your business card.

Business and Corporate Headshots

The idea behind business and corporate headshots is to inspire trust, confidence and relatability in the viewer. Whether you are a small business owner, a development professional, a real estate agent or a CEO, you want your photo to convey professional excellence and dependability.

Professional business and corporate headshots help provide a “face to the name” so to speak and provides potential clients a sense of familiarity prior to meeting in person. These professional photos are often used on individual’s business cards, company websites, print and media ads, quarterly reports, social media and more. For these types of professional portraits, the business itself should be taken into account. Many organizations already have a clear idea of how they want their employees to look and pose in their portraits to best represent their organizational brand, culture and reputation. Though a CEO might be photographed differently than say the Director of Global Security for instance, the ideal wardrobe that would apply to both would be business attire with a clean, polished look. And don’t forget to smile! With business and corporate headshots, the lighting is typically more natural and not too dramatic with a neutral, solid photo background producing an overall effect that serves to convey professional appeal.

Tips for Successful Business Portraits and Corporate Headshots

· Get to know your photographer! You want to look happy and relaxed in your photos so have a friendly conversation with your photographer, ask them questions and be yourself when you meet them. This can help make your experience more comfortable, especially if you are someone who doesn’t normally like having their photo taken.

· Keep your hair and makeup style simple and natural looking. Having a small mirror on hand is helpful to check for any last minute flyaways.

· In terms of clothing, solid colors are best. Patterns and visible labels can distract from the desired look. If your organization has scheduled your headshots, speak with them first about what look they prefer. It never hurts to bring one or two options with you the day of, just in case!

· Good posture is essential since it exudes confidence and professionalism.

· Updating your LinkedIn profile picture with your new professional headshot is always a good idea!

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