Some things are just worth spending money on - wardrobe staples, wine, a car check-up when the engine light is flashing - you know, the important stuff. I'm pretty quick to put professional photographers in that "important stuff" category. Especially when I'm talking to a client in the midst of a job search, without a LinkedIn head shot.
But, I also know, that not everyone is a) comfortable with having their picture taken by a stranger, b) has the financial resources, or c) has a talented photographer friend that will take their picture for cheap (or free!).
So, if you're willing to invest a few hours of posing in front of your smart phone, feeling a little ridiculous, and sorting through some awkward pictures of yourself, I can walk you through the DIY strategy for your LinkedIn head shot.
HINT: This is the exact process I used for the head shot on my LinkedIn profile.
Find a wall in your house that’s across from a window. Remove any paintings or décor items – this will distract from the professional-feel you’re trying to create. It’s also best if it’s a light-colored wall. You’ll want to choose a time of day that’s bright, but not when the sun is directly shining through the window (slightly overcast days are optimal).
Not only did my bedroom offer amazing lighting (and a furry friend to keep me company), it also had the below, plain (yet to be decorated) wall to use as my background.
You want your phone to be positioned on a steady surface. You can use a tripod, or MacGyver one. You’ll be using the delay setting on your phone, so you need to be sure your phone is stable. Try not to position the phone too far above or below your eye level.
Also, in case you’re feeling tempted to use a selfie stick or your arm. Just don’t. Your shot will look much more professional (and less distorted) if you create some distance between yourself and the camera (phone).
Instead of stacking books or moving furniture around, I opted to balance my phone on the window (not recommended). I already replaced my phone once this year after dropping it and shattering the screen...I got super lucky that this worked out.
Set the Timer & GO!
Use the 10-second timer to give yourself plenty of time to strike a pose. Take a bunch of different photos. Check in every once in awhile to see if you're too close, too far, or making odd faces.
Experiment with different poses; glasses vs. no glasses (if you sometimes wear them), blazer vs. no blazer (for women to look competent and influential, a blazer is a must); tie or no tie, etc.
Ideally, you're just looking for 2 or 3 decent shots - remember, you can always crop and edit to get your photos just right.
Just for fun, here are some of my mistakes/rejects:
Too far away...and that light switch would make editing/cropping a nightmare!
Ugh...I thought that was a smile?
Edit the Photos
Pick a couple of your favourites and:
Rotate the picture to straighten posture
Crop to square (head and shoulders)
Edit color balance
Optional: Add some blur to background (or a "portrait" filter will work).
See the 2 pictures below for the "before" and "after".
Tip for my women – A free editing app I frequently use when creating photos is: Perfect 365. This is a “photo make-up” app. I keep the changes very subtle (smoothing my skin and reducing bags/lines around my eyes), it's wonderful if you feel like photos always wash-out your make-up.
My Ultimate Choice:
I looked hard and honestly at the two final photos I was left with. After editing, I chose the one below - and couldn't be happier with this DIY result! It is a bit more than "head and shoulders", but when I uploaded it to LinkedIn, it ended up being cropped a bit more anyway.
Have you taken your own head shots? How did it work out? If not, are you now willing to try? As always - leave me comments or questions here, or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org. (I respond to every, single one!)