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Why You Need a Professional Headshot


By: Zach Brooke

What? Many people dread putting themselves in front of the harsh glare of the camera lens for a set of professional headshots.

So what? Headshots, a business card for the digital age, are more important than ever.

Now what? Select a professional headshot expert whose work you can see yourself reflected in. Wear professional clothes and avoid anything distracting like chunky jewelry. ​​

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New York photographer Peter Hurley is a headshot honcho. In addition to capturing mesmerizing images of celebrities such as Chris Matthews, Sofía Vergara and Mikhail Baryshnikov, he's also authored The Headshot: The Secrets to Creating Amazing Headshot Portraits and launched the Headshot Crew, a coaching platform and referral engine that encompasses a global network of photographers nearly 14,000-strong. Marketing News recruited Hurley to give us the lowdown on capturing our good sides.

Q: Why do professionals need a set of headshots?

A: In this day and age, we have this digital identity. It's like your calling card. Business cards are out, headshots are in. It puts a face with a name. Companies and personal brands are starting to get that. Anybody that is entrepreneurial needs a headshot, even if it's just going to sit on LinkedIn. LinkedIn profiles without headshots look ridiculous.

Q: How often should you refresh your headshot?

A: You should shoot a headshot session every year—or for any major changes—and have different shots you can use for different things. I grew my hair long, then I grew a beard, then I shaved my head and then I shaved my beard. It's nice to update the headshot for the look you currently have. If you don't change your look, you can probably get a couple years out of them.

When somebody changes their profile picture on a social media platform, it gets the most likes out of anything they posted that year. The people following you on these platforms want to see you. They're looking for you.

Q: What is your basic headshot recipe?

A: Clean and simple. Most people are looking at these headshots on a mobile device or online, and if you put someone on a clean background, they are going to stand out from the noise. I prefer black, white and gray.

When your headshot is being taken, convey some approachability and confidence. When we get in front of cameras, we tend to not have a clue as to what to do. We certainly don't know what our face looks like, but our brain will try to tell us. We have to rely on a photographer to coach toward what a confident and approachable shot will be.

Q: What's the No. 1 request your clients make?

A: Make me look good. People want something that they are proud to present to others, but we don't have a clue what [that looks like] until we see it. Everybody looks at themselves differently. Usually we're our harshest critic. It becomes challenging for people who are tougher about their appearance to chill out and give something that's interesting.

Q: It's easy to photograph models, but what about those who feel they don't make good portrait subjects? What advice would you give on why they should get a headshot and how to enjoy the experience?

A: There's a misconception that models know what they're doing in front of a camera. It's not always easy to shoot models. It's really on the photographer to get that person to have an enjoyable experience. If you're with somebody who's knowledgeable and does this on a daily basis, you have to let them do their thing. Have faith in your photographer.

Some people have PAS, which is picture avoidance syndrome. A lot of people don't want to be there. I always tell the people that are with me: Do it once, do it right, and you'll be set for a while.

Q: How do you choose the right photographer?

A: First thing you look for is consistency. If the person's portfolio is all over the place, it's probably not somebody who has streamlined their workflow and knows what they're doing as an artist. Second, do the people in the pictures look confident? Would you want that picture to represent you? See if you can imagine yourself in one of those pictures and if you'd be proud to have one for yourself.

Q: What should people know about the cost of headshots?

A: The cost of headshots is dependent upon the photographer's skill and the marketplace they are in. If you're looking to spend $99 on a headshot, chances are that person's not a full-time, headshot professional. Costs can range anywhere from $99 up to thousands of dollars. It depends on what you're looking to get out of it.

Peter Hurley

Q: Would you advise people to include a headshot on their résumé?

A: I think so. In Germany, a headshot is required. If you think it's going to promote you as an individual, it should definitely be on the résumé. If the headshot isn't quite up to snuff, I would get a new one before I even considered putting it on a résumé—or avoid it altogether.

Q: Any advice on outfit, hairstyle or expression?

A: I want people to get a range of expressions—from serious to cracking up and everything in between. Most people that I shoot aren't going to use a laughing picture, but their kids or parents might love it. If you're a guy, you can do it with a jacket, shirt and tie. For a woman, you don't want jewelry that will stand out because it's so close up, it's going to take the attention away from you. You might want to stick to subtle jewelry like studs.

Q: Do you feel your role is at risk with the emergence of selfies?

A: Not at all. There are a lot of photographers who worry about that kind of thing. I think photography is so specialized. There are even these automated headshot booths coming out where it just gives you a clean white background and decent lighting shot in an automated booth. I don't worry about that stuff at all because I know it is so difficult to get yourself to behave [naturally] in front of a camera. Cameras do things to people that mess us up. We don't think about our expression all day long. It's subconsciously driven. You put yourself in front of a camera and you start to think about what your face should do. That's where it gets dicey and a little strange. You need somebody to coach and get the best out of you.

Daniella Pinto - The new fish in town


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Tuesday, 22 October 2019

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