If you know what you’re doing, you can pretty much do anything. So, yes, it is possible to take your own headshots. But how good they’ll come out depends on how much you know and what you use to do it. So, if you need to ask this question, it’s probably better, faster, and definitely cheaper to seek out a professional headshots photographer.
What You Need to Know
Most people in the market for these photos understand the importance of a good headshot. Therefore, they want them to be the best headshots possible. Making a good headshot requires solid expertise in how to use a camera outside of auto-mode. This ability is what makes the initial difference between a polished professional-looking photo and, well, one that isn’t.
In addition to understanding how to manually use a DSLR, mirrorless or medium-format camera, you’ll need to understand the laws of light. If you’re looking for studio-quality headshots versus natural light, you’ll also need to understand how to use studio lighting alongside your camera. No, we’re not talking about a pop-up flash but instead premium high-quality monolights, modifiers and other accessories.
And there’s much more to it than just this, such as background options and post-production work. It’s not just knowing how to use photography gear but also what gear to use in the first place. And acquiring all this gear is why it turns out to be cheaper to just pay a professional that already has it.
What Gear You Might Want to Use
There are no set rules for what gear to use, and this varies by photographer, but for optimal results start with a full-frame DSLR or mirrorless camera. You can also consider a medium format camera but that’s seriously more of an investment.
As mentioned, studio lighting with modifiers are also optimal to use. Typically, you’ll look to have a two or three light setup. There are other devices necessary to use the equipment mentioned herein but, for the sake of brevity, we’ll not mention everything.
You’ll also want an environment where you can control the lighting. This means avoiding harsh sun so you don’t have to combat any poor-lighting effects it might render. A good place is a studio-like setting. These are the minimum items.
Of course, you’ll also want post-production software to polish the headshot. Everyone can use some retouching – stray hairs happen, lint, red eye, perhaps some acne or other temporary scars that need to be removed, and so on.
Why You Need to Know
You might have wondered; can I use my iPhone to take my headshot? No. You can use it to take a picture of yourself but it’s not a professional photo. Consider this. A headshot is different than every other picture you take of yourself because the primary purpose of it is to market yourself.
A headshot is to be used to directly influence a customer to do business with you, as in the case with actors to real estate agents. It is also used to indirectly influence customers to do business with you, such as posting one on LinkedIn or a company website. In other words, this particular photo is an important investment and should never be taken with a smartphone.
If you opt to settle for a smartphone photo to use, you’ll certainly stand out poorly against others that invested in a professional headshot. It’s not really a good idea.
People sometimes steer clear of headshots because they believe they’re expensive. Despite touching upon the many expensive things needed to take a good one, headshots can be affordable.
People also sometimes steer clear of them because they’re not comfortable having their photo taken. One thing to consider here is this particular photo isn’t taken, it’s made. This is a process and a good photographer will help make it a comfortable experience and an enjoyable experience.