How to Project Confidence in Your Headshot

Confident headshot, young man smiling in yellow sweater

Headshots are all about confidence and approachability. That’s what I tell all of my clients when we work together. The purpose of a business headshot is to let other people know you’re an expert at what you do, and that they can comfortably approach you to talk about this subject. As a doctor, you want your headshot to make a potential patient feel comfortable. As a job-seeker, you want a potential employer to see you as both competent and warm. As an actor, you want a casting director to see a reason to reach out to you. All of these uses call for you to look confident and approachable in your headshot. But how do you look confident and approachable if you’re not feeling confident about your appearance, or the entire experience of a photo session?

Trade Secret: Everyone is self-conscious

female headshot, blue dressEvery single person I’ve ever shot with is self-conscious about their appearance. There could be a specific facial feature they don’t like, or it could be something to do with their hair, their skin or their body size. A minor scar. Their eyes are two different sizes. They don’t like their teeth. It’s always something. Most of the time, the issue they’re most worried about is not something anyone else would ever notice. Sometimes it’s even the thing that sets them apart or makes them unique or memorable.

Remember, in a headshot someone is trying to assess your personality. That shows in how confidently you carry yourself. Sure, people make judgments about each other based on looks, but when you’re looking for a new doctor, you aren’t as worried about their skin texture as you are about whether or not they look friendly and competent.

So how can you set yourself up for success in a photo session, and get those confident, approachable headshots you need?

Top Tips for a Successful Headshot Session

1. Communicate with Me!

Before the session, have an open and honest conversation with me about your concerns. I am here to help you look and feel your best, and by understanding your insecurities, or areas of concern, I can provide guidance and use specific techniques to address them. I know all kinds of tips and tricks to highlight your best features or hide those things you don’t want to show, so communicate with me openly (I’ve already heard it all, I can assure you!)

Young woman smiling gray background2. Practice Poses and Expressions

Before your headshot session, spend some time in front of a mirror practicing different poses and facial expressions. It may feel weird, but this will help you become more comfortable with your appearance and give you a better understanding of which angles and expressions work best for you. Once you know the angles and expressions you like, let me know and we will focus on those for your session. (Don’t take a bunch of selfies. Those are wildly inaccurate, and actually distort the face.)

3. Choose the Right Wardrobe and Style for You

Select clothing and accessories that make you feel comfortable and confident. Choose colors and styles that complement your skin tone, hair color, and the specific feature you’re concerned about. Avoid clothing that draws attention to the area(s) of concern, and opt for pieces that balance your overall appearance. You can also consult with your photographer for wardrobe and styling advice. I send out a list of prep-tips when you book with me, which will give you specific recommendations on what to wear (and what not to wear!) You can also recruit a friend or family member to give you feedback about your clothing options, sometimes a third party can accurately assess how a certain item of clothing looks on us. (Only recruit someone nice and supportive though!)

4. Pay Attention to Grooming and (Maybe) Makeup

I don’t usually recommend that my headshot clients have their hair and makeup professionally done before a session. We want your headshots to reflect your best self on a normal day, and if you have a full face of makeup when you normally don’t wear one, or a different hairstyle than you normally wear, you won’t feel or look like yourself in your headshots. That said, do take the time to groom yourself properly before your headshot session. This includes getting a haircut, trimming facial hair, taking care of your skin, and making sure you’re well moisturized and hydrated (lip balm is your friend!) If you do choose to wear makeup, keep it natural and avoid anything too dramatic. Makeup can be used to enhance your features and minimize any imperfections, but don’t use it to camouflage, we can retouch any temporary imperfections.

5. Trust the Post-Production Process

Everybody gets retouched. My own personal retouching philosophy is that I want your headshots to look like you on your best day. Anything temporary like skin redness, texture, or acne? We take it away. Flyaway hairs, gone. Some of the lighting I use is designed to flatter your bone structure, but it can add shadows under the eyes. If so, I fix them in the retouching process. I am skilled in post-production techniques and can make subtle adjustments to your headshot wherever they are needed. I definitely still want you to look like you, so I have learned how to enhance images without compromising their authenticity, so I can ensure that the final headshot is both flattering and genuine.

The takeaway here is that feeling self-conscious about your appearance or a specific feature is a universal concern when preparing for a headshot session. By communicating with me, practicing poses and expressions, choosing the right wardrobe and styling, and trusting the post-production process, you can project the confidence needed to create a stunning headshot that captures the real you.

Are you in the St. Louis area and interested in booking with me? Let’s chat! I work with individual client in my studio, and I work with groups on-site at their location.

Check out my headshot portfolio, or contact me to set up a session.

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