Having a headshot is crucial for your business. It lends credibility to you as a business person, and it has countless uses for your business in terms of their marketing. However, finding a quality photographer can get pricey. The average cost of a photographer to shoot these photos for you is between $250 to $400 per session. If that doesn’t fit in your budget, but you still need a headshot, you can use your phone. While the quality will not be the same as a professional photographer, it can do the trick in a crunch-time situation. Here are some tips on how to use your phone to get a quality headshot.
Grab a friend for help
It is possible that you can do this all by yourself. However, it could get complicated. Most smartphones now have timers that you can set to help you take photos. That is nice if you want to pose a group of friends and then run into the picture and join them. But that doesn’t mean it is going to give you a quality headshot. Utilizing this method is going to mean a lot of running back and forth. It is also going to mean you need a tripod. Just ask a friend to come along for an hour or so of fun. Maybe you and your friend can help each other with headshots?
Make sure you are using a smartphone
It should go without saying, but only take photos of this importance with a smartphone. For those of us who have had our smartphones for years, it’s hard for us to imagine there is anything else still on the market in terms of phones. But the flip phone with its very basic camera still exists. And without fail, people still try to use it for crucial projects like this. While it may get the job done as a phone, it will not get the job done as a camera. If you do not have a smartphone, ask a friend who does if they can be your photographer and take some pictures for you.
Don’t settle for taking a “selfie”
Selfies are not professional photos. These are the fun photos we take for our social media accounts and when we are posing for our friends. These photos are when you get to make silly faces and whatnot. But a selfie can not be used as a substitute for a headshot. A headshot conveys authority and your personality in business. A selfie shows that you are a fun person to hand out with outside of work. There is a big difference. Also, you need to be careful with the angle you take that selfie, usually the camera is higher pointing down to the subject and that could create some distortion in the photo.
Adjust the phone settings to high-resolution or RAW mode
Technology on phone cameras has come a long way. But they still do not compare to the functionality of a stand-alone camera. The ability to play with the lens and create depth in your shot is paramount to creating high-quality shots for your client. Phone cameras may lack that, but are still capable of producing some great shots. To get the best out of your phone, set it to high resolution or RAW, these days new phones have the capability to shoot RAW format, that allows you to get better quality photos. This way, you will get the best out of your phone’s camera.
Use as much natural light as you can
Since you are not a professional photographer, you most likely don’t have access to all the lights and flashes that a pro does. You can take your pictures indoors and use the lights in your home, but that isn’t always going to produce the best quality. That type of light can cause weird shadows, and truthfully, it is not the most flattering kind of light Unless you have big windows and bright space to shoot in. To get the best lighting for your shot, head outside, and take advantage of the natural light from the sun. Natural light helps you avoid any of the weird dark spots and shadows that can come from artificial light.
On the flip side of this, you don’t want too much sun. That can cause you to squint in your photos, and that is not a good look. There is a happy medium that can be found outside. The best and easy light you can use outside is from an overcast day since that produces a very soft light. You can also try to find some shade since you still benefit from that natural reflected light.
Finding the best background
The background of a headshot should add to the shot, but not take away from it. You will want to find something that adds value to your picture. If you are taking the advice of going outside for natural light, the outdoors can provide you with some amazing backdrops. Walls make great backdrops for photos. So will certain aspects of nature like trees. These will give your headshot the extra lift it needs without taking away from the main focus of the picture-you. These days new phones have a photo portrait mode that will help separate you from the background, making it blurry.
Take plenty of practice shots
Even though you know you need this shot for your branding, it doesn’t make you any more comfortable. Some people just don’t like the camera or having their photo taken. To get yourself in the mood for pictures, take some warmup shots. This can help you get used to the camera and being a part of a photo session. It can also be an excellent chance to get any silly moments out of the way if you need a serious-looking headshot.
Start your session and take plenty of photos
Once you loosen up and blow off any steam, it then becomes time to get down to work. Take as many pictures as you can tolerate. Take photos with you smiling. Take pictures without a smile. Change your angles and play around with tilting your head. If you want, have a couple of different shirts handy and take multiple photos in different outfits. This way, you have a wide variety of photos to choose from. Having multiples should make you confident that you will get the best shots in the end.
Edit your photos and select the winners
Now that you’ve done the hard part, you can get to the fun part. And editing is the fun part. Either load your photos up to your computer or scroll through them on your phone. Right off the bat, go through and delete the ones that don’t work. And there will be several that are just a no. Once you have discarded the ones that are a no, you can then start working on the images you want to keep.
If using your phone, there are countless editing apps available, both paid and free, in the respective app stores. These apps allow you to alter the lighting and correct any perceived imperfections in the shot. They also let you change the photo from color to black-and-white. Usually, smartphones allow you to do simple editing but if you want to take the photos to the next level, you can use one of the most popular apps, lightroom mobile for ios or android and snapseed for ios or android.
If editing on your computer, the gold standard for photo editing is Adobe lightroom and photoshop but if the idea is saving money and time since these two programs could be daunting. You can give it a try to Google Photos, it’s a cloud base photo app that allows you to correct lots of things on a photo. The other option I would recommend is the free program Darktable, this is more complex and allows you to do more.
Using your winning headshot
Once you have completed the editing process, then you get to pick your winners! Select a couple of winners and add them to your website, social media profiles, brand marketing, and anywhere else you need to use your photo. One quick tip is, keep the winning shot consistent on all your social media, which will help you build your brand easier.
While not the same quality as one that you could get from a professional photographer, it can serve as a great substitute until you can make that commitment and investment. Every professional needs a headshot. Our phones can help us make a quality substitute until we have a professional session with a photographer.
Jose Soriano is a photographer, visual content creator and blog writer with over 10 years of experience. He is working with start-up businesses, top commercial brands, and other amazing people, helping them to achieve their visual goals.