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Headshot Tips

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

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Can Headshots Be Horizontal

It’s a question sometimes asked by actors, executives, models, musicians and other people in need of a headshot. The very quick answer is, sure. Of course, a headshot can be horizontal. There is no law stating otherwise. Some industries might have norms and some institutions might have requirements for a headshot’s orientation. So, it’s best to check before submitting. The better answer overall is your primary headshots should not be horizontal.

Why Can Headshots Be Landscape or Not

A primary reason you get a headshot is to put the focus on you – your face and body. Humans are mostly vertical; thus, your headshot should match. Part of the reason is you want to fill the frame of a photo with you, not empty space or other backgrounds that take away from the focus on you.

Most corporate executives need just one headshot and it should usually be vertical – an 8×10” format, to be more specific. However, if you’re in an industry where you use multiple headshots – actors, models, real estate, etc. – you should consider employing “The Overlap Portfolio Technique.”

The Overlap Portfolio Technique

It sounds complicated but, it’s actually simple. In The Overlap Portfolio Technique, you employ a mix of vertical and horizontal shots. The vertical shots you have done should be close-up shots that feature you. These are your primary headshots for submitting for career-oriented requirements. Generally speaking, because horizontal headshots will show more background, these headshots can use a strategy for the background.

The Overlap Portfolio

“The Overlap Portfolio Technique” is When You Uses a Mix of Vertical and Horizontal Headshots

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7 Tips for Getting the Best Headshots

There are a lot of tips – 7 in this post – that can be offered for getting good headshots. There are also so many proven reasons why everyone in business – whether corporate business or show business – must have a professional headshot. So, what can you do to be sure to get the best headshots? Let’s get into the first tip.

I’ve put together a 5-minute video you can watch instead of reading this or read on.

Headshots by The Light Committee - Actor - Los Angeles CA

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