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Taking Your Own Headshots Until You Can Hook Up with a Pro

branding your business promoting your products starting a soap business
camera and an iphone sitting on a laptop

I am terrified of the camera, I'd much rather be behind it than in front of it. Plus, just like all of my lovely readers, I'm very much so in bootstrap mode of business.

I have professional photos booked in on my goal list for January 2015, but what am I going to do between now and then? Put my lovely DSLR camera to work, of course!

I have professional photos booked in on my goal list for January 2015, but what am I going to do between now and then? Put my lovely DSLR camera to work, of course!

While a DIY headshot isn't going to be as amazing as a professional shot, it still works better than that photo you scanned from a family photo album from 1995!

(Sshhhh, yes, you can tell.)

Let's talk about what you need...

In order to take your own headshot, you need a camera with a tripod and a remote. I have a Nikon DSLR, and a remote on Amazon was $15. (If you want to snag a remote, you need to get the right one for your particular model, but it should be relatively inexpensive!)

What else do you need?

An area that is well lit either by natural light or artificial light. You want a minimum of two light sources, if you are indoors, one on each side of the camera, directing light towards you. Do not mix natural light and artificial light! If you are using a window, use a white curtain or sheet to diffuse the light. You don't want to capture sunbeams dancing around on your face (unless that's your thing, of course.)

Optionally, you also need a background. I just used the closet door in my office for these shots, but you can also use poster board or a roll of matte gift wrap or bulletin board paper. Just tape them to the wall! ;) You want to stay away from fabrics for the most part, as every little wrinkle will show up! And keep your background super simple, you don't want to create a distraction.

Stellar, I've got it all. Now what?

It's time to shoot to your heart's content! Want some tips for taking your own headshot? Of course, that's why you are here! On we go...

  1. Consider your brand before pulling the trigger. I have a relatively fun brand, so I wanted my temporary headshots to be a little kitschy and fun. So, I took a couple "serious" headshots and then had some fun. That may not work for your brand, but always, always smile! :)
  2. Keep your clothes simple. No distracting patterns or designs hanging out here, your headshot should focus on your beautiful face. Plus, wearing something basic prevents your headshot from getting outdated quickly.
  3. Turn on some music that makes you happy. Dance, sing, loosen up. Trust me on this one! You will feel silly taking your own picture, but if you stay all clammy and nervous, it will show in the photos!

An example of some of the posing & posture tips!

4. Sitting is easiest! Sit with your rear end slightly pushed back, so your upper body leans forward a bit. (This keeps you from slouching and makes you look confident!) Make sure your face is facing towards your brightest light source so there are no harsh shadows on your face. (Shadow mustache, anyone?)
Remember not to slouch and keep your shoulders slightly back (but don't stick your chest out!) Very slightly press your chin forward, it'll make you look thinner and elongate your neck. Last but not least, angle one of your shoulders towards the camera as facing the camera dead-on will make you look wider and boring!
The Three Quarter Angle looks good on everyone. (Yes, seriously. Everyone.)

  1. Practice before you shoot. Try different poses and angles just to see how the light hits your face before you fully commit and dive in. The last thing you want to do is spend 30 minutes taking your own picture and hate every single one! Mark your sitting or standing spot on the floor with a piece of masking tape, if you need to!
  2. Ask loved ones to pick your best shots. We're overly critical of ourselves, and would probably let some really great photos hit the recycling bin on our desktops if given the chance. Ask friends & family to pick their favs!

Now, go forth! Take fabulous photos! And don't forget to let me know if you use any of these tips!

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