3 ways to capture your best headshot

A new year calls for a new headshot.

As 2014 came to a close, I felt a new energy in the air. Last year I carved out time to finish a major creative writing project, fell into the groove as Editor of Professional Artist magazine and limited my coaching to artists who were making a serious commitment to their careers.

So, feeling serious, I wanted a headshot that reflected the tone of this new year.

Then, Christian Columbres showed me the headshots he had taken for a colleague and I saw a quality that drew me: a feeling of grounded soulfulness. When I scanned his portfolio, one black and white photo of a very old woman caught my eye. “I obviously don’t want to look like a very old woman,” I told him. “But there’s something about the quality of this photo that I love.”

He nodded like he understood. The next thing I knew, he was ushering me into his studio as I clutched two long-sleeve t-shirts and a new tube of lipstick. Almost two hours and hundreds of photos later, I had my new headshot for this year.

A headshot is your face to the world. Does yours reflect who you’re becoming this year?

If it’s time for a new one (and when isn’t it?) I have three pieces of advice beyond the obvious ones of get a good night’s sleep and try to relax.

  1. Find a photographer who specializes in photographing people. Faces are different than inanimate objects so even if you know someone who does a great job shooting products for catalogs, he’s not your guy.
  2. Scrutinize the photographer’s portfolio of headshots. Find examples you love and point out exactly why you love them. What’s the quality you see that you’d want in your own headshot?
  3. I was going to advise bringing a friend because I thought that having a friend might help me relax. But no. I realized that it was best for me to be on my own. Having a third person in the room changes the dynamic. There’s something to be said for the intimacy that’s captured when it’s just you and the photographer. So, choose someone you can be silent with so when the shutter is pressed, your whole self is looking back.

I look forward to seeing your new headshot for 2015!