Camera Shy? Tips to Prepare for Your Headshot

As an entrepreneur or a business owner, I’m sure you’ve been hearing this for a while now: You are the face of your brand, having photos or videos of yourself on your website, and in your marketing materials are invaluable to attracting your ideal client.

Yes, it’s easy to say, but less easy to do. What commonly stops us from this common-sense and simple business move is our fear of being in front of the camera.

I get it. The truth is, I became a photographer because I feel more comfortable on the OTHER side of the camera! But, since we know that we need to do it, making a little extra effort to get your best shots, will not only result in a better image, but I promise, it will even make you feel GREAT!

Here some quick tips for preparing for your headshot or branding session – as well some insights as to how you can shake off all those negative feelings associated with getting in front of the camera. As I tell my clients, it is not often that someone walks into my studio saying,“…this is your lucky day, you get to photograph me!” This type of self-confidence is rare; most of my clients come in a little hesitant – but they leave smiling! Especially if they have followed the tips I provide in the PDF guide that I provide all my clients and the guidance during the free consultation that I offer.

I teach the “Four P’s: Prepare, Practice, Pose, and Present!

PREPARE: To be clear, this does NOT mean losing ___(insert number) ____ pounds!  If we all waited for our body to return to that target weight (that was probably pre-baby, pre-job, and maybe even prepubescent) no one would ever update their headshots. If planning a portrait session inspires you to work out and eat healthy, that’s fantastic, but that’s only because we all should be working out and eating healthy, not because of a “magic” number on a scale.

What this means, however, is that you should do whatever it takes to look authentically like you on your BEST day. When it comes to hairstyle, nothing more than a trim should happen the day of your session. For a more radical haircut, give it a week to make sure you like your style before it becomes your go-to shot for the next few years. A blow-out and styling is definitely recommended on the day of session, and highlighting or touching up of roots should be as current as possible. Likewise, no radical facials, such as chemical peels or microdermabrasion, within four days of a photography session. A good hydrating facial will be helpful to improve the smoothness of your skin. Even drinking more water than usual for a few days prior is beneficial!

Clothing - It's not necessary to buy a new outfit for your session, but if you are shopping your closet, I suggest you try on your outfit ahead of time and study it critically in the mirror. Is your favorite blouse starting to look a little worn and tired? Does it need ironing? Does the collar/neckline hit you in the right place (especially important for a cropped headshot)?  Does the color complement your skin tone and hair length? And most importantly, do you feel attractive and confident when you wear it? I encourage my clients to send me pictures of potential outfits so I can offer my professional opinion on how it would photograph against the background selected. Makeup- I believe in the value of  working with a professional makeup artist. Makeup for the camera should be stepped up a notch so you don’t look washed out. Steer clear of the glitter, shine is your enemy when it comes to studio light, and many moisturizers and foundation have shine built in – particularly those with SPF.

PRACTICE:  Now that you know what you are wearing, start thinking about how you want to appear in your pictures. There is no shame in practicing for your close-up! It's important to understand what the images will be used for and what you want to convey: Power? Strength? Compassion? These are all questions I ask my clients before I plan their session, but it's good for you to think about it, too. Looking on Pinterest or other websites is a great way to see how similar industries are photographed.

So, lock your bathroom door, put on your blouse and power blazer (or whatever you chose to wear) and pretend that the mirror is your camera. No one is watching, so practice a smile and see how it feels – do you like smiling with your teeth showing? Pretend to laugh at a joke and then catch yourself at the end of that laugh. That’s when I often whenI take my shot; notice whether you like one angle of your face more than others.

POSE: Any good photographer will walk you through the posing during your session, and make you feel comfortable and relaxed doing so. But that doesn’t mean you can’t strike a few poses on your own at home. Again, your camera is your friend. Notice what happens when you roll your shoulders back and stand up strong in your core. If your arms are tight down at your sides, see how it makes you appear wider - I am always looking to define the body and show space between arms and the body.

One thing that's hard to replicate without looking through the camera lens is how with most portrait lens, what is closest to the camera, looks the largest. I always tell my clients when I pose them, that the head should be a little in front of the body. It may feel a little awkward, but when you step in front of my camera I will walk you through it all.

Finally (and this may be the bravest step of all) … PRESENT!
What good is all this preparation or practice if you are afraid to show off your images?! It may be harsh to see your headshot proofs filling your your computer screen, but it is important to look at the pictures objectively. Stop yourself from thinking “Why don't I look 10 years younger or 20 lbs lighter?" (Answer: because you are not, but that's OK!) Notice instead how polished you look, professional and amazing!

As a professional portrait photographer, I will use all my tools; posing, lighting, location - to ensure that the happy experience you have during your headshot session is reflected in the final images. Once you have your gallery to choose from, sit down with your significant other or a friend you trust, and select the shots that stand out to you most. I am always available to my clients to help go over the images, often the ones I select for the header of the gallery ends up being my client's favorite.

NOW... show them off!  Add images to your marketing materials, linked In, Facebook, Insta – or print and frame if they are portraits. And feel confident and worthy of the investment you just made for yourself and your business.

If you're ready for your branded portrait, don't hesitate to reach out. I'd love to work with you.


Melissa Maillett Photography
(703) 850-7212

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