Take your own professional headshot.
Your photos can still look professional, even if you’re the one behind the lens. Follow these tips to set yourself up for DIY headshot success.
Scout it out.
Find a location that suits what you want to communicate in your photo. If you’re an art lover, a museum or art gallery is an excellent place to start. If you’re into writing, a bookstore can showcase your love of words. Think about your headshot’s purpose — what industry or field you want to connect with — and make your decision based on your intended message.
Gather things you may need.
If your shoot is genuinely DIY, you may need to get creative with your gear.
1. Steady your shot.
A tripod is an excellent tool when it comes to self-portraits. If you don’t have one, a stable table and a stack of books to prop up a smartphone can act as a quick stand-in. If you can ask a friend to help you, even better. A second set of hands can help you get better angles and give real-time feedback.
2. Amplify your lighting.
A reflector is also a sound investment, especially if you’re shooting outside. It can direct light where you need it.
3. Grab your camera.
A DSLR camera is a great option. A good lens to shoot portraits with typically has a focal length of 50mm or longer. If you’re on a budget, a smartphone like an iPhone is more than capable as a stand-in. Modern camera apps with features like burst mode and self-timers can help capture professional-looking headshots, whether you’re alone or working with others.
Turn to the light.
A clean, even light source is ideal to produce the highest-quality headshots. Natural light outdoors during golden hour or midday light diffused by shade works best. Indoors, you can set up next to a window that’s away from direct sunlight to avoid overexposure. If sufficient light is unavailable, you can find inexpensive lighting equipment or create your own. White paper is a quick and easy replacement as a light reflector, much like in this DIY lightbox. It can help cast even light on a subject.
Though it seems like a minute detail, backgrounds can add depth, meaning, and story to your portrait. A simple background with solid colors balances your composition and makes your facial expressions stand out. Keep an eye out for interesting places with leading lines or natural frames that will set the scene and complement your appearance.
Alternatively, the bokeh effect blurs backgrounds, making subjects even more striking. Test how different backgrounds look on your next photo and find the right recipe to create stronger professional portraits by yourself. Be sure to review your background for any unwanted items before you shoot.