Can Headshots Be Selfies

Okay, right to the point… Never ever, if you’re serious about your career. There is no such thing as a professional selfie, but there is such thing as a professional headshot. There are many reasons to steer clear of the tempting ease of just using your smartphone.

It’s Not Even a Fair Fight

One might argue that there is no benchmark for what a professional headshot should look like, in terms of quality. But, you can look at a headshot from a professional photographer that used one of the best DSLRs available and compare it to a selfie and easily tell the difference. So, when you put your selfie out there to be compared with truly professional headshots, you’ve failed to meet that benchmark and to be judged by it.

A smartphone camera is simply not up to the task of producing professional-quality photos or video. This is because, for professional careers, full frame DSLRs (and full frame mirrorless cameras nowadays) have been defined as the benchmark of quality for headshots. No smartphone camera comes close to meeting that benchmark. Don’t let the fancy advertisements fool you.

Let’s imagine the below image represents an overlay of two rooms. The black room is clearly much larger than the white room. This is the approximate size of a full frame image sensor of a professional-grade DSLR camera – the black one – compared with the size of the image sensor on the latest iPhone XR – the white one.

Full-Frame to iPhone XR sensor size compare

While Not to Actual Scale, This is An Approximation of How Small the iPhone XR Sensor is Compared With a Full Frame DSLR or Mirrorless Sensor

Let’s continue using our imagination. Picture yourself inside the black room, which is 36 by 24 feet in size – quite a large room. Now, try to picture how much smaller the white room would be compared to the black room – much smaller. More imagination, please… Let’s say you were tasked with filling the black room with marbles all over the floor. The room must be completely filled without any marbles on top of each other. By the time you’re done, let’s say you were able to fit 36 million marbles on the floor. Now, let’s say you were tasked with then moving all those marbles into the white room, again without the marbles being stacked on top of each other. Impossible, right. The only way to do it is to make much smaller marbles. And when you make the marbles much smaller, they just are inferior in quality – they will crack easier, have less density, etc.

This is the relative quality problem with how many pixels can fit on the image sensor of a full frame DSLR compared with the latest iPhone. It’s why there is no comparison. Not only can a DSLR or mirrorless camera accommodate more pixels, they can make each one of those pixels vastly superior. Even making the pixels much smaller – and thus, even more inferior in quality – the number of pixels on a smartphone still isn’t close to the number of higher-quality pixels of a full frame sensor.

Put one more way, full frame sensors have vastly – and vastly cannot be overstated here – superior pixels than a smartphone and a whole lot more of them too. Thus, the quality of a DSLR or mirrorless with a full frame sensor vastly beats the capabilities of a smartphone camera.

The Selfie Self-Destruct Scenario

Still, many people are tempted by the relative ease with which you can snap your own headshot. On top of that, it’s free and free is always good, right? This is the Selfie Self-Destruct Scenario: “I’ll just take a selfie – and wonder why I’m not getting messages.” The quickest way to put your resume, application, etc. at the bottom of the list is to have a headshot selfie go with it. This goes for actors, models, etc. This is also true with your LinkedIn profile, where a professional photographer is recommended. How about other professions – you name it: accountant, doctor, lawyer, real estate agent, etc. How likely are you to hire one of these after landing on their website and seeing a selfie as their headshot? Well, you might tell yourself it’s not that bad, but research proves otherwise.

Here are some other quick reasons to avoid selfies and to use a pro instead… Approximately 88 percent of hiring managers said that they felt a selfie on an online CV was unprofessional. And, from the same survey, 58 percent also said they would not hire someone who had specifically used a selfie on LinkedIn. Getting a professional headshot done demonstrates self-confidence, a desirable trait employers seek. Also, you only get one chance at a first impression and it can do damage if it’s not good – your headshot is often the first impression for an online profile. Other reasons can be listed but, the point is clear. Be sure to avoid the Selfie Self-Destruct Scenario.

Finding a Professional Headshot Photographer

So, perhaps you’ve decided to avoid the Selfie Self-Destruct Scenario. You’ll then need to find a professional headshot photographer. You’ll want to make a short list, and this will likely begin by checking out reviews online and photographer portfolios on their websites. When viewing their portfolio, be sure to do so on a desktop monitor or very high-resolution laptop. Don’t do it on a smartphone – the small screens can hide some poor-quality images. You’ll also want to have a call with them, so you can evaluate their professionalism.

Getting on the phone with them is also an opportunity to evaluate how much they know. Even if you don’t know yourself, ask them about their equipment and why they use it. Do they do retouching and what and why. Again, even if you don’t know about the topic, knowledgeable people generally sound knowledgeable. It’s an opportunity for you to see if they stumble.

For more details on evaluating a photographer, read this article. Evaluating photographers is something you’ll have to do. Properly and efficiently operating a DSLR and studio lighting is technical, much more so than a selfie that anyone can pull off.

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