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How You Should (and Shouldn’t) Take Your Own Headshot

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I’m all about going the DIY route whenever possible, but there are some things that are best left to experts, and professional headshots may be one of them. Don’t get me wrong, not everyone needs a headshot, but nearly every professional requires a passable photo of themselves for use on social media. Here’s how you can get around having professional slot joker online taken without succumbing to some seriously amateur-looking photo mistakes.

1. Don’t try to replicate a professional photo shoot.

If you’re not going to pay a photographer to have a headshot taken, don’t try to replicate a professional headshot yourself. Unless you’re a skilled photographer, or you have a friend who is, trying to mimic a professional picture will likely miss the mark and draw attention to technical flaws in the lighting, composition or overall exposure.

Instead, opt for a photo that has the look and feel of a snapshot. It’s better, even on a professional network, to have a photo that looks nice (but is clearly not a headshot taken in a studio) than a photo that looks like someone’s poor attempt at taking a “professional” photo. A snapshot shows that you know the difference between the two, while a poorly executed DIY headshot makes it seem like you can’t tell the difference, even when others likely can.

2. Use natural lighting.

Whether you’re taking the photo yourself (hopefully with a tripod and remote shutter release) or employing a friend, your best bet for getting a snapshot that you don’t have to filter into oblivion is shooting in indirect natural light.

If you’ve had difficulty taking good photos in natural light in the past, it’s likely because you were shooting when the sun was high and the sky was clear. When there is a strong light source coming from just one direction, the options are essentially to either shoot with the subject facing the light (squinting), which will result in a blown-out image, or angling them partially or totally away from the sun, in which case extreme shadows will occur (often under the eyes and near the edges of the mouth, which is typically unflattering).