Headshots – have a go!

Photography is a language and pictures are messages, so when it comes to your headshot, think about the story you want to tell. Do you want people to think you are creative, innovative or maybe reliable and trustworthy? Your image can communicate all of that in a second.

The key to a good headshot is good planning.

Once you’ve thought out your story and planned your headshot, you can shoot on a budget with a mobile phone and a friend to snap that ‘money shot’.

Below our ten tips on how to plan and take your headshot, extracted from the Frui course: Mastering the Headshot.


Tip #1: Think about your story.

Put simply, think about how you want the viewer to see you. This should be obvious, but it often gets overlooked. To make sure you don’t miss anything, go through this quick checklist:

  • Outfit
  • Hairstyle
  • Makeup
  • Body positioning (I have open arms in my headshot to signify I am an open communicator)
  • Facial expression
  • Authenticity

Make sure every choice you made above reflects your true self. Your story is unique, so don’t try to replicate an outfit or a style you’ve seen somewhere else.

Tip #2: Plan your location

While you want to avoid busy backgrounds to make sure you remain the hero of the shot, you might want to use something slightly different than the usual white background.

Tip #3: Plan for the light

The word photography comes from the Greek Ph?tós, “of light”, and gráph?, “I write” – “drawing with light”.

When planning the location make sure you choose a well lit. Natural light is preferred: indoor close to a window or outdoor, making sure the light is not too harsh on your face.

Whichever type of light you choose, it has to be uniform – this means no shadows or interruption in the source of light.

Tip #4: Choose your camera

Despite what many people think, it’s not the camera that makes a good photo. It’s a combination of things including subject (or story to tell), angle and light.

But a good camera helps you achieve a better shot with less effort – like a DSLR. So if you have access to one of these babies, do yourself a favour and use it. If you don’t have access to a DSLR, don’t worry: a point and shoot camera or a mobile phone will brilliantly do the job.

Tip #5: Choose someone to take the shot for you

You’ll only need your family member or friend for 5-10 minutes and having them will avoid the inconvenience of shooting with tripods and selfie sticks.

Set up the location and the camera and make sure you explain to them the vision you have for the shoot before they take the shot.



Tip #6: Set up your camera

You want to set up your camera in order to capture enough light to make your shot well exposed (e.g. bright and luminous).

If you have a DSLR simply follow the below tips:

  1. Set your camera to P (Programmed Automatic) mode (this is for Canon and Nikon, but most cameras call it the same way). This is like the automatic setting, but gives you some freedom
  2. Find the ISO setting in the camera (ISO sets the sensitivity of the camera to the light). Set it accordingly to the lighting conditions at the time: Sunny: ISO 200 or cloudy/indoor with light: ISO 400

If you have an iPhone simply use the camera app and:

  1. Point the camera to your subject
  2. Touch the area of the screen where the face is, you’ll see a yellow square popping up (this tells the camera to focus on that area)
  3. If you’re unhappy with the brightness of the picture, swipe the sun icon next to the yellow square up or down. This is a recent feature of the iPhone iOS8 that allows you to increase the exposure as desired.

Remember to turn off your flash as it gives a shiny and faint look to the skin. You also want to avoid harsh shadow under the eyes, chin and neck.

Tip #7: Think portrait or landscape

Traditionally, headshots are taken in portrait orientation, but there’s no fixed rule to it. In general, it’s a good idea to have a few shots in portrait and a few in landscape, if time allows.

Tip #8: Consider the distance between the camera and the subject

If possible avoid using the zoom (especially with your iPhone) and simply move closer or further away from the subject. This will ensure you won’t lose resolution (unless you’re shooting with a DSLR, in that case, don’t worry).

Tip #9: Rehearse your body positioning and shoot

Have your photographer take a few different variations of the shot for a couple of minutes. Then take a look at the pictures and discuss the results with them. Have another session of a few minutes and then you’re done!

Tip #10: Think quality

One final tip: think quality. Look after the details. This will immediately communicate that you are professional: you put the care and attention in.

You are now equipped to take a profile shot that will let your talent shine through!


These tips were prepared by Francesco Solfrini, Photography Teacher at Frui Creative Holiday & Courses with a background in advertising.

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