Should I Get Headshots?

And 7 other questions about these brand-building photos.

Are they still a thing? How should I use them? And the biggest headshot mistake you can make is revealed in question 3.

Should I get headshots? Are they still important?

We get this question all the time, and in this blog, we’re giving you the answer to this question and others you’ve been wondering about headshots, like: 

Where would I use headshots? What will I wear to a headshot session? And what do I do with my hands? 

Male in dress shirt headshot on white background by photographer in St. Catharines

(Plus, scroll down to #3 if you want to see the biggest mistake to avoid in your headshot photos.)

But first, before we answer the seven most common questions we get about headshots, we have a question for you: 

When was the last time you had professional headshots taken?

(In other words: do you have headshot photos that a) Aren’t selfies b) Have proper, professional lighting and c) Actually make you feel good when you look at them?) 

Leadership Niagara

When to Get New Headshot Photos:

How recent should your headshots be? According to business experts on LinkedIn, you should have fresh headshots taken every one to two years; sooner if they aren’t working for you, or if your image has changed (for example, changing your hair colour, shaving off your facial hair, or if you got a new job that has a different brand tone). 

At Unger Studios, we’ve been mastering the art of headshots for over ten years. During that time, we’ve paid close attention to the way headshot trends come and go, and which practices are timeless. We’re experts at helping you pose, dress and use your headshot photos strategically to build your brand, career or organizational goals. 

So to answer your first question…

Are Headshots Still Common Practice in 2022?

Are headshots still a thing? Our answer is – YES! If anything, the demand for headshots has grown over the last two decades. Headshots are still a large part of the work we do for individual professionals, entrepreneurs and organizations, but they look a lot different than the common image that might pop to mind when you hear the word “headshot” — cheesy poses, boxy shoulders and over-salesy billboard photos. Or maybe it brings back some bad grade school memories of photo day: nervous smiling, blinking when the flash goes off, and that terrible second grade haircut your mom made you get. Ugh, let’s not revisit that. Modern headshots are on a totally different wavelength. 

Mortgage Agent Niagara

Why Headshots Have Changed: 

Originally, headshots were mainly used by actors and models to book jobs or agents. But as the general work force grew more competitive and personal branding became an essential part of everyone’s career development, headshots have become a necessary part of almost every industry, corporate or not. They are especially important for profile pictures on google, LinkedIn, and you email. 

But most modern headshots aren’t just about showcasing different angles and expressions of your face. They’re about making a personal, emotional connection with the person looking at them, whether it’s a customer, a potential employer, a social media audience or a hiring manager. Headshots are no longer cookie-cutter poses, sit-up-straight-and-face-the-camera kind of photos. They are a chance to showcase a particular mood, brand tone and personality that you want to convey to your audience. 

Business Headshot

And 6 Other Questions You Want to Know About Headshots:

Q 1. What is the difference between headshot photos and brand photography?

A: You’ll notice on our website we differentiate between these two types of photography. We recommend having both headshots and brand photography so that your photography can do more heavy lifting for your brand!  

In our work, a headshot is still a focused image of your head and shoulders, or in some cases the top half of your body. Your face should be the focal point without it being a close-up, so that you can convey your desired emotion through your eyes, mouth and body language. Are you wanting to appear friendly and approachable? Bright and bubbly? Powerful and serious? 

Modern headshots can have you looking directly at the camera, or taking your eyes away from the camera as well, looking at something in the distance. (Although for most LinkedIn profile photos, we like to have you looking at the camera for a sharp, clean look). You’ll also find our headshots tend to have neutral backgrounds; sometimes we use our studio background screens, and sometimes we can find a neutral backgrounds outdoors or in your work environment if that’s more on-brand for you! As brand experts, we’re always excited to work with you to help you decide on the best headshot background for your goals. 

Headshot for business person taken by headshot photographer in St. Catharines

On the other hand, brand photography opens up your portfolio with some more diverse shots. We can open up the environment to show more interaction with the objects around you, maybe holding a cup of coffee or typing on your laptop. This is where you can give behind-the-scenes looks, interacting with clients or hard at work strutting your talent. 

Stylist Charly Goss Team Photo in Naturally lit white room

Q 2. Do you have any tips to help me look good in my headshot?

A: Knowing your face is the focal point of photos can be a bit intimidating. We completely understand – it just takes one time of catching yourself in the mirror, mid-sneeze, to make you start feeling really self-conscious about what your face is doing when you can’t see it. But that is exactly why you’ve hired a professional photographer! We’ve worked with hundreds of people in their headshot session, and know how to guide you along through different movements, postures and poses so that you look and feel amazing. 

Also *and this is a big one* … we’ll show you the shots we’ve captured as we go along! That way you can change any facial expressions, correct any posture-issues and make sure your hair and clothes are sitting in the right place. 

Niagara headshot photographer

We are patient, attentive and we PROMISE we never get frustrated while you’re getting comfortable in front of the camera. It’s an honour to be there guiding you along to beautiful photography. 

Here are a few great tips you can practice for great headshots: 

  • Put your tongue on the roof of your mouth as if you’re saying the letter “L” – it will help accentuate your jawline 
  • For a happy, awake and more lively expression, try breathing in on your pose 
  • For a more serious, dramatic expression, try breathing out on your pose
  • Keep your hands and fingers feeling light and moving delicately – hands can be a distraction when they’re clenched into fists, but when you have soft hands, they can frame your face beautifully. 

Q 3. Are there any major headshot mistakes I can avoid?

A: Yes! 

The #1 headshot mistake we see has to do with shoulders! 

Many of us aren’t aware of our posture throughout our day to day life; especially if we’re nervous (or camera shy) our instinct is to roll our shoulders inward or shrug them up to our ears. We’re here to help you bring more awareness to your shoulders – tall, back and slightly tilted for a natural pose. You’ll actually feel more relaxed in that post too! 

We’ll be acting as quality control at your photo session too, but here are a few other mistakes you can avoid making in your headshot photos: 

  • Wardrobe: Don’t choose anything too bright or busy. Stick to soft, neutral, solid colours. For headshots, it’s better to choose more fitted clothing rather than loose-fitting – you especially want to make sure there is definition between your arms and your body (so avoid poncho-style shirts, kimono sleeves or baggy shirts). 
  • Posture: Don’t worry, you won’t come out of your headshot looking like you did in the third grade. Even if you think you have bad posture, we’ll be sure to avoid that stiff, boxy or slumped look by helping you keep your shoulders back (not rounded forward). We’ll keep it natural-looking with movement, tilts and slight leans. 
  • Makeup: Feel camera-ready, but make sure you look like yourself! Stick to the amount of makeup you would wear to work, meetings or an interview so that you are recognizable to new faces who have only seen your photos. Also, pro-tip, avoid really glittery or highlighter eyeshadow so it doesn’t pick up extra light. 

Q 4. What headshot photos should I get? 

A: This really depends on the purpose of your headshot photos. As photographers and brand strategists we’ll work with you ahead of time to learn about your business and career goals to curate a headshot collection that will meet your needs. But overall, we tend to work within 3 main categories: 

  1. Heart on Your Sleeve: Think fun and joyful! Full-teeth smile, tilted head, framing your face with your hands, maybe even the start of a laugh – but definitely a sparkle in your eye. For some brands, portraying this kind of friendly, likability is really important to the customers they want to attract, especially on social media. 
  2. Corporate Power Pose: When authority and reliability are top priorities to your customers, we’ll turn to classic power poses to get the perfect shot for your website or print material. These photos can happen with or without a smile, and tend to keep your arms away from your face to let customers know that you take your work and your customers seriously. 
  3. Approachable Professional: These are great for your classic LinkedIn or portfolio headshot. A closed mouth smile with smile-eyes (aka. The Smize)! Polite and professional, exuding expertise and confidence. Wear well fitted and pressed business casual clothes, and we’ll bring an element of approachability to your shot by loosening up the pose. 

We can move across categories in the same photoshoot so you can see what you look like with poses from each category. 

Headshot of business person smiling at camera taken by st. catharines photographer

Q 5. How many outfits should I bring? 

We definitely recommend bringing two different outfit changes. This will diversify your collection of photos, allowing your head shots to go a little further because you can create different moods with each wardrobe and pose style. 

Q 6. How and where should I use my headshot photos?

Having fresh new headshots will be a fantastic way to spruce up your brand presence across many different platforms. Our clients have used headshot photos in a number of places: 

  • “About Me” or “Meet the Team” photos on a website
  • Profile photos for a website chat-box function
  • Email profile photos
  • LinkedIn profile photos
  • Social media profile photos
  • Print or online portfolios to showcase your work 
  • Profile pictures for speaking events or presentations 

We’ll help you get the proper sizes, crops and styles you need so your headshot serves your purpose well. As brand strategists we want you to walk away with a strong plan for implementing your photos. 

headshot by Niagara photographer

Conclusion:

We’ll end with one last question for you!

What Personality Do You Want to Communicate in Your Headshots? 

For some people, headshots are an amazing opportunity to communicate power and confidence. For others, it’s more important for their brand to communicate a down-to-earth persona and approachability. And some others also want to appear fun, bright, and excited. It’s important that the photographer taking your headshots knows how to develop your photos within a brand strategy so they can create the personality that fits best with your business goals. 

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