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How to take a good headshot for a website

How to take a good headshot for a website

How to take a good headshot for a website

If you’ve decided to save some money and take your own team headshots, here’s some useful tips.

Quick checklist:

1. Preparation

Find the right person to take them

Grab that person in your business who loves taking photos. They’re likely to be the one always showing pictures on their phone to their colleagues.

Notify your team in advance

Most people hate having their photo taken, so reduce the amount of objections from your team by giving them advance warning. It’s best to set a couple of dates to allow for people being on holiday or off sick.

Make sure you get their permission. There may be personal reasons employees may not want their photo online. Create a simple consent form for them to sign that can be kept on file.

Use the right equipment

A digital SLR is best, but most smart phones can get a good result if they are on a high quality setting. Taking many shots in can be tiring, so maybe buy something to keep the phone steady whilst the shots are taken, like this:

2. Find the location

Find a good background for your headshot

A clean, white wall with plenty of room around it is ideal and usually available in all premises. Avoid walls with patterns, picture frames or sockets. Avoid branded backgrounds as these will date the photos. Remove any clutter or rubbish that’s either behind or in front of the subject.

Lighting the subject

High ceilings with daylight are best. If you’re in an office environment without natural light, make sure there’s no light directly above the subject, or you’ll have reflections and bright spots spoiling the photo.

Check the camera settings

Experiment with the settings first and do some test shots before the shoot – check the camera lens is clean. Turn filters off as they won’t look natural or achieve an accurate likeness.

3. Get ready to shoot

Setting up the shot

Mark a spot where people should stand, using some removable tape. It should be one large step away from the wall, to create softer shadows. Pace out three strides away from this spot and set up your camera.

If you think people will struggle to stand in the right position, set up a chair and ask people to sit down without moving the chair.

Positioning the subject and yourself

The subject should never be positioned face on, but standing or sitting at a 45 degree angle. This prevents it from looking like a passport photo.

While the subject gets into position, chat to them to help them relax. Ask them to lay their hands loosely on their lap if sitting. If standing, ask them to pop their hands in their pockets (you can crop this out later). If they are standing and have no pockets, ask them to loosely entwine their fingers in front of them.

Check their hair and clothing is tidy. Make sure name badges, ties and collars are straight.

4. Camera… action…

Taking the shot

When in position, ask them to turn their head and shoulders towards you and look straight at the camera lens. Don’t ask them to look into the distance, or away from the camera, as this just looks odd!

If you’re photographing people you don’t know, make sure you keep a list of people you’re taking. It will save time later when labelling them.

When you ask people to smile, they will either not smile at all or give the biggest grin they can. As soon as they smile, count to three in your head, then take the shot. This can make the smile look more natural. Remember some people will never smile and there’s not a lot you can do about that!

Take 3 shots of each person, because they might blink or pull a strange face without realising. Don’t offer to show them the photos, just promise you’ll pick the best one. Most people are never happy with their photo.

Check the images before telling them they can go, to save calling them back again later. Leave all the images on the camera and choose the best when reviewing them on the computer. It’s easier to compare them side-by-side on a bigger screen to see which ones are in focus and which are the best ones.

5. Storing and sending

Straight after you’ve finished shooting, save them to your computer to prevent images from being accidentally deleted or lost. Open up the images for each person using your photo software, then compare them side-by-side. Choose the best one for each person and move all others to a folder named ‘Unused’.

Organise them into folders of teams or departments if necessary, then label them all with the right names, using the following naming process: firstname-surname-title. Unless your web designer has provided pixel dimensions to work with, you’re best to let them do the cropping as they’ll know what will look best.

The final files provided should be in full colour and .jpg format (jpeg).

To send your images, zip them into a folder and use a file transfer software such as:


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