If you’re a small business owner, it’s more than likely that you have been affected in some way by the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of us are having to adapt the way we work and diversify our portfolios to keep on top of the changing landscape. That is why NOW is a great time to update your business bio or spruce up your website or CV with a brand-new photo. I’m a photographer and I specialize in taking portraits and headshots using only the available natural light. Here are some tips that anyone can use to improve their photos whether they’re professional headshots taken with your own camera or selfies on a smartphone.
Firstly, decide how much of “you” you want to see in the picture. Personally, I think that it looks more professional to see a person’s upper body without the tell-tail selfie arm stretched out. If you don’t have a smartphone tripod just balance your phone on something in front of you and make sure that it is roughly at face height. You might need to experiment to get the framing right. Have your phone so that it is portrait rather than landscape with the phone’s lens at the top. Use the timer on your camera/phone so that you can get into position. If possible, shoot in burst mode. It’s all about quantity! The more you experiment with different facial expressions the more likely you are to find one that works for you.
Light is probably the most important thing to get right in a photo. If you are taking a picture indoors you need to find the biggest source of natural light. The easiest way to get flattering natural light is to position yourself so that you are facing a window as if you are looking out and position the camera/phone in between you and the glass. When shooting outside in natural light you have to get the timing right. If you are feeling particularly motivated, try to shoot during golden hour which is the time just after sunrise or before sunset as it gives photos a beautiful and very flattering golden glow. Avoid midday when the sun is highest in the sky as this will cause your features to cast harsh shadows over your face. If you are shooting outdoors when it’s very sunny – try to find somewhere that has shade but where you are still able to get a lot of light.
A lot of people aren’t sure what to do with their body in a photo. Be aware of your posture. Make sure that your shoulders are down and that your core is braced. Try to elongate your one of your limbs as it looks more flattering to have one part of your body engaged and in a position. For example, try shifting your weight to one side if you are standing and putting one hand on your hip. A lot of people don’t know what to do with their hands in photos and it can look quite awkward if they aren’t doing anything. Try putting your hands in your pockets, crossing your arms or even playing with your hair. Alternatively, you could bring in a prop. This could be a cup, a bag, a book, an umbrella – you name it. Not only does it give you something to do with your hands, but it also provides the picture with an action.
When it comes to facial expressions my one tip would be to smile. It doesn’t have to be a big smile. It might not even be a toothy smile but smiling makes people look relaxed and more approachable. Try a fake laugh. This can help a stiff smile look more natural. Somewhere in between the fake laugh and you genuinely laughing at the thought of yourself fake laughing – is the perfect smile!
Secondly, raise your eyebrows slightly. This gives your face a mini lift and makes you look more awake. Try not to go overboard as you can end up looking a bit surprised!
Emily Graham is an East London based photographer with over ten years’ experience in the digital media industry. She specializes in beautiful, authentic, natural light portraits of professionals, children and families.