Modern business portrait – head-shot not mugshot
Naturally, you want to look good in your business portrait, so what are the top 10 things to think about to ensure your photos are great? In the second of this two-part blog, we are going to look at five things you can do to make yourself look great, from what you wear through to how stand in front of the camera…
1. Outfit - For your killer business portrait I would always say wear something classic, especially if you aren’t planning to get your portrait re-done every year. Imagine you are going for a job interview, you want to be the very best most polished version of yourself and the same goes for your shoot.
For the guys - A simple white or pale blue shirt and blue/grey blazer works well for a more corporate look, open collar no tie looks much more modern than a tie or suit. An ‘I mean business’ look is a shirt, open collar, rolled/pushed up sleeves, nice chunky watch and no jacket. This works well but if you are carrying more than a few extra pounds you many want that jacket on to streamline your look. Avoid anything heavily patterned like hounds-tooth and checks - it just makes the viewers eyes go funny.
For the ladies, again, classic is best. It depends on your business and the image you are looking to portray. Whatever you choose it needs to be well fitting - baggy clothes and shapeless tops simply make you look bigger in a photo, so more structured and tailored always looks more polished. A crisp white shirt looks awesome, again avoid heavy pattern and anything that will date quickly. Black can look a little harsh so always try to soften black with something coloured and more feminine. Jewelry works well here - something bold and with a bit of colour can often pack a punch, looking contemporary and stylish without dating too quickly.
Whatever you wear it should be something that you feel good in, empowered and attractive.
One thing to note is that if your shoot isn’t first thing in the morning, then take a spare top/ shirt with you, I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve turned up to a shoot to find the ‘model’ has spilled their (usually ‘his’) lunch down their front. Not a good look.
2. Hair and make-up – Ladies, your make up should be worn slightly heavier than usual, although a natural make-up look is always pretty timeless. It’s a good idea to take your make up kit and hairbrush with you to the shoot that way you can apply extra if needed. Loose powder works well to stop any shine, (think of the news presenters getting their noses powdered moments before going on air, male and female). You will most likely have a favourite side to your face, perhaps without even realising it. If you have an off-centre parting, it’s likely to be the side with more hair. Ensure you have photos taken of both sides. Your photographer should be able to see which looks best but ask them to take both sides anyway. Guys, get a haircut in advance if your hair needs it. Don’t wait until the day and then suddenly remember. Brushing your teeth prior to the shoot is always a good idea.
3. Posing – The most flattering angle is always ¾ to the camera. To achieve this, stand with your feet at 45 to 90 degrees to the camera, then twist from your waist towards the camera. If you can shift your weight into your back hip that will make your hips and legs look slimmer. Think about all those celeb photos, they twist, they pose and they shift their weight back away from the camera. You want to do the same in a less obvious way. If your weight is in your back foot you will know, you will be able to lift the foot closest to the camera and still maintain your balance. It’s always going to be more flattering if the photographer is slightly taller or a little bit above you.
4. Facial expressions – Try to remember to keep your chin down a little. It’s a natural instinct to try to minimise a double chin (or the worry about one) by looking up and trying to ‘stretch’ your chin out. This has the total opposite effect in a photo, it simply highlights the chin area. Remember in a photo, whatever is closest to the camera looks the largest. We want your eyes and smile to look largest, so chin down a little (think Princess Diana and those puppy eyes in a less dramatic way). Another top tip is to push your forehead forward just a little, not too much, but a little can tighten the jawline and skin wonderfully!
5. Hands – This is a funny one. Your hands are about the same size as your face, go ahead, try it. If you have your hands in a shot in the foreground they can look even bigger! To avoid giant hand syndrome. You want those hands tucked out of the way, certainly relaxed and with your fingers together. The only exception to this is the ‘talking heads’ type shot where you want some hand movement as if someone is in conversation or being interviewed. In this case, it’s important not to have any pointing, or aggressive looking hand gestures. You want to aim for a gentle explaining type hand movement. Try resting your elbow on the table and keeping your hands up fairly close to your face.
If you are having a head and shoulders shot, it's good to remember that as soon as your hands move up, say if you put your hands in your pockets, then your shoulders become more hunched and the line of your neck and jaw is altered (in a bad way!) If it’s a ¾ length shot then a hand low on the hip can create a nice shape to your waist and an interesting line through the image.
Liz Carrington is a professional photographer, founder of THE informal SCHOOL OF PHOTOGRAPHY and likes straightforward people and almond croissants. Find her at www.informalphotoschool.com and www.lizcarrington.com and follow her at https://www.facebook.com/informalphotoschool/
These shots were all taken by Liz in natural light on location to demonstrate the ten steps. Thanks to our wonderful model Katie, interior designer extraordinaire, who can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org.