Friday, March 14, 2008

The Dreaded Headshot

STATUS: Uh, it’s Friday, right? I think I’m going to be working this weekend…

What’s playing on the iPod right now? MRS. ROBINSON by Lemonheads

Trust me, I can sympathize. Every time I sell a client book, I immediately tell the author that it’s time to write the official author bio and to go get the professional headshot done.

This is usually met with a groan (and occasionally with author excitement).

And I know the feeling. Guess what Sara and I did today? Yep, we had our professional headshots taken. I try and do a new photo once a year (but it ends up more like a year and a half and sometimes two between shots). I wait until I change my hair style or have some other reason to endure the process yet again. In this case, it’s grown out so I don’t have super short hair anymore. I’m overdue for a new photo.

Off to the studio we went. It can be the equivalent of going to the dentist. Today I learned the importance of a really great photographer who can make you relax. That ended up being immensely helpful in the quality of the shots Sara and I did.

The first 20 shots could pretty much be thrown out. Then I decided to find out if “moving around” a bit could help the process. Boy did it. I got quite a few decent, more relaxed, normal-looking shots. When I have them to share, I will. (I haven’t done the official choosing yet as I plan to forward the link to all my clients so they can vote on which one they prefer. I figure it’s only fair when THEIR shots have been subjected to my vote and opinion. Turnaround is fair play and all.)

Here are some good tips the photographer shared with us before our shoot. You may find them helpful when that time comes for you!

1. A successful picture will direct attention to your face and not to your clothing so wear sold colors and avoid patterns.

2. Long sleeves are better than short since bare arms compete for attention.

3. Medium to dark tones are best against a dark background (who knew?)

4. Avoid bright colors (as they compete) and stick with neutrals. Also, splashes of bright can draw the eye away from the face.

5. Red is a good color for outside shots.

6. Avoid white or super light colored shirts. (Are you sensing a theme here yet? I think black or brown is going to be your best bet—unless of course both colors don’t work for you.)

7. Avoid shirts and sweaters that completely cover the neck (interesting!). V-necks are fine as long as they aren’t super wide or exaggerated (and I might add, too plunging as they would also compete with your face).

8. Throw out all these suggestions and wear what makes you comfortable. Big smile here.

In general, if you are going to a professional photographer with controlled lighting, make up probably doesn’t need to be too heavy (and I’m sure the guys just breathed a huge sigh of relief there). Lip gloss also tends to be too shiny.

And once there, see what you can do to relax or put yourself at ease. I think it helped a lot that Sara and I went together as we could casually chat and laugh at what didn’t work.

All in all, this was the least painful experience I’ve had doing the shot. I’ll definitely go back to West End Photography so you can certainly bookmark it if you live in Denver/Boulder.

And one last comment. Be sure that when you do the shot, you have the photographer agree to sign a photo release (or copyright assignment). That way you own the picture and can then use it for any type of promotional material without having to get permission, etc.

That’s really important.