Career Coaching

How to Take a Professional Picture

By in Career Coaching

The Do’s and Don’ts of a Taking a Professional Headshot

There will come a day when that selfie you’re most proud of isn’t going to cut it. That day will be when you realize you need a professional photo to show your A-game. You’re going to need dedicated photos for your professional profiles and this will be something that you can use on your LinkedIn profile, resumes or other dedicated work platforms. 


The reality is that professional headshots can be quite expensive. On a student budget, they might be hard to afford. Fortunately, your headshot does not have to be taken by a professional photographer. You can have a friend or family member take the photo for you. We put together a few do’s and don’ts to help you take the best professional photo using only your smartphone.


Do have someone take a photo of you. Don’t take a selfie.

Selfies just aren’t professional. No hiring manager or HR professional will be impressed by your ability to take the perfect selfie. You will want to have someone take a photo of you. The photo should be a headshot. It should capture your face and upper body from the waist up. Asking a friend is great because they can take the shots of you from different angles and experiment to fight the best shot. 


Do use even, natural lighting. Don’t be positioned under direct sunlight.

Getting the right lighting is probably the hardest part. You will want to spend extra time on finding the right spot or adding the right lighting. The trick is to avoid direct sunlight. The best shots are usually taken indoors with a proper backdrop. You will want to find a window that fills the space with natural light. If you prefer taking your photo outdoors, find a spot in the shade.


Do choose a neutral background. Don’t use multi-coloured backdrops.

You want to choose a solid coloured backdrop because it mimics the look of a professional photographer’s studio and at the same time it makes you stand out. You will want to avoid multi-coloured or abstract backgrounds because they draw attention away from you.


Do dress for your industry. Don’t wear graphic t-shirts. 

Clothing matters. Choose clothing that matches your industry. For example, if you would like to go into law, consider wearing professional attire such as a full suit and tie. Avoid any type of graphic t-shirts or jeans.


Do use HDR mode. Don’t use digital zoom.

Your phone camera may have HDR mode, a shooting mode that mixes exposures to provide photos with more detail, colors and tones. This is the option you will want to select to make sure you’re optimizing the look of your picture. 


One thing you will want to avoid is using digital zoom as this option will lower the resolution of your photo. Instead, ask your friend to come closer to take the photo.


Do lock auto-focus. Don’t move your hand.

Most cameras on phones will have auto-focus. What you can do is tap the screen to have the camera focus on the face. This will lock the focus and make sure your image is sharp.


At the same time, your photographer will need to keep a steady hand. It’s important to keep the hands still. Keeping elbows tucked in can help your achieve stability. 


Do practice. Don’t forget to have fun.

Taking professional photos doesn’t have to be stressful. Find people you’re comfortable with and make a day out of it. You can practice the art of taking a good photo and at the same time have fun with it. Take as many shots as you can and then pick the best one as your professional photo!

We hope you enjoyed these simple tricks to take your next best headshot. For more career coaching tips, visit our Career Development Center!

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