How to Photograph Head Shots for Social Media

Today’s post comes from Jessica Hammond of Jessica Hammond Photography. She’s going to teach you how to taking a beautiful head shot for your social media profile! Read on to find out what it takes to look good in your social media photographs.

How to Photograph Head Shots for Social Media

Photography is a unique art form. On the surface, it captures reality in a way that paintings and illustration never has. There is this notion that photography is a reflection of life as it is, and that there is little skill or perspective involved.

And yet as anyone who has tried to take their own head shot (see: “selfie”) can attest, there is much more to it than that! The importance of a powerful head shot for social media and blogging purposes is increasing by the minute in a world where marketing is deeply rooted in online presence. For those of you hoping to jump into your business, or are just getting your start, the cohesion between your social media accounts is incredibly important.

I recently contributed to Ashley and Stephanie’s amazing 100+ page business vision eBook, Jump Into Your Business. I was honoured to write the portion about the importance of a powerful head shot that aligns with your brand and personal identity. One of the topics we discussed in Jump ( which you can purchase here ) is how to pull off a great head shot. Whether you hire a professional, grab a friend, or set up a tripod, how on earth do people look natural in front of a camera?

Step One :: Awareness.

I know it’s called a head shot, but keep in mind that tension anywhere in your body is bad for business. Before you begin posing, start with a warm up. Posing is a physically-demanding activity, so prepare your body for the task at hand! Wiggle your toes, roll your ankles, and bend your knees. (If meditating is something you enjoy, or want to get into, now’s a great time to practice!) Sit down and swing your legs, or do a couple of squats to loosen up your legs. Feel free to jump on the spot (footwear permitting) and raise your arms above your head. Inhale deeply, and hold, before exhaling again. Shake your head no, and just to be contrary, nod it yes. Suddenly you’re in tune with the subject of this amazing photo shoot, and you’ve released any negative tension or worries you may have had building up in the moments before the lens cap comes off.

Step Two :: Posing.

There are many different fundamentals to posing, and often these are taught to photographers. Even famous models like Coco Rocha have stated they prefer a photographer directing them, rather than being told to “look sexy” or “just have fun with it!” Direction is part of a photographer’s job. If you’re taking a head shot for your Twitter account, you might have just grabbed a tripod and headed out. Or maybe you’re handing your own camera to a friend. Either way, here’s a couple of posing hacks:

Instead of approaching the camera head-on, tilt your body slightly. You can align your chin to just beside your shoulder for a slender look. Turning your body to the side also provides more layers in the photos.
If looking directly into the camera is intimidating (don’t laugh!) there’s no law saying you can’t lock your eyes on something out of frame. Often in the media women are encouraged to look directly at the camera, to invite the viewer into the shot. But look at any men in magazines, and you’ll see they’re more often gazing pensively towards the sky, the ground, or something unseen by the viewer. There’s no wrong approach: try both styles and see which feels and looks more natural!

Step Three :: Editing.

While all of our Instagram and Twitter profile images are quite small, you’ll want to edit in a larger format. You may want to use these photos for a blog post, so try not to resize them any smaller than they would appear on your blog. It is a popular choice for many photographers to take portraits and street photography in black and white (or at the very least edit them into black and white after the fact). Experiment with this approach, as it can be a daunting process for those not well-versed in Photoshop or Lightroom to get a “natural” skin tone in their photos. Sometimes you luck out and the lighting at the time of the photo made for a flattering skin tone. Other times, black and white can be a huge photo saver.

Head shots can help demystify your business that never intended to be mysterious. They can provide you with an essential image of yourself and your brand to clients, followers, leads, and fans. Once you have a great head shot, you can use it over and over and over again, it and will never lose its value. Though I do recommend updating your head shot as often as your haircut!

If you haven’t read it already, I highly recommend checking out the Jump Into Your Business eBook. Along with the 100+ page eBook (filled with strategy, pro tips, and daily/weekly/monthly worksheets) there are coaching opportunities provided by Stephanie + her co-writer, Ashley!

Jessica is a photographer and blogger living in rural Ontario, Canada. She is an advocate for online education and curious minds. You can see her work, follow her on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

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