How to Look and Feel Your Best in Professional Photographs

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The dreaded professional headshot.  Do any of you feel the same way about having your picture taken?  There is nothing more awkward than sitting in front of a big camera and holding a smile for far too long. That is the way I used to feel, until I discovered, Korey Howell from Korey Howell Photography. I have heard nothing but amazing things about Korey, the headshot guru.  I truly believe it is very important to have a professional headshot as your picture is the forefront of your professionalism and you never know when you will need one. I haven’t had my headshot updated since 2012, and a friend recently told me, “Your Linkedin profile doesn’t even look you!” I knew it was time to have some new shots taken. I decided I would find out for myself what this amazing photographer was all about.

When I walked into the Korey Howell Studio, I felt at ease almost immediately. Initially, I hesitated to tell them I had little dog with me (I was dog-sitting for my neighbor that day) However, immediately Korey and her team welcomed little Taz into the studio and began swooning over her cuteness. This kind gesture made me feel so much more relaxed, and right away I knew that I had chosen the right place to have my pictures taken.  The first few shots she took of me were done inside the studio with a neutral grey backdrop.

After about ten minutes of snapping away, Korey suggested that we head outside for a our final shots. The second we got outside, she said, “You seem much more relaxed and natural outside than you are sitting in a studio.” Korey definitely got me right away- because this could not be more true.  The studio equipment and bright white lights definitely made me feel a bit ‘stiff’, while being out in the natural sunlight with the fresh outdoor air and surroundings made me feel much more ‘in my element.’  Korey snapped a few more pictures before we ventured back inside. We both immediately sat down at her computer and narrowed the photos down to our favorites. With Corey’s professional guidance, we finally selected two images that I felt represented me best.

Throughout the whole experience, I learned a few things about how to look your best in photos. Here are my suggestions:

A little movement.  Whether it is a long run or a brisk two-mile power walk, nothing gets your skin glowing quite like some physical exercise does. Doing this the morning of your photo session before you shower will ensure that you not only feel good, but that you are ready to put your best (and brightest) face forward as well.

Clothing. Deciding what to wear for your photoshoot is no easy task. However, I learned a couple things from Korey. When choosing what to wear for your photoshoot, opt for a simple, solid-colored shirt that fits you well. I recommend selecting a top with a neckline that you like and possibly a little bit of texture to it just to make it a bit more interesting.  I brought six different shirt options with me that day and let Korey decide which ones she thought would be the best for our shoot.  She immediately gravitated toward the white one because of the contrast it created against my brown hair. She also chose the blue one since it worked well with my blue eyes. She knew which ones would look the best for the occasion.  Of course, don’t forget to ensure that whatever you choose to wear is well pressed and clean.

Hair Done.  I was not about to spend the money to have a headshot done with my hair out of place and/or frizzy.  While I opted to do my own makeup for the shoot, I did decide to have my hair professionally blown out and styled.  I strongly recommend spending the extra money to make sure that your hair looks its best and at select studios this is a service that is offered.  I chose a style that I am comfortable with and wear regularly so that it reflects who I am.

Keep it Natural.  While a lot of studios offer hair and makeup sessions for photoshoots, I suggest doing your own makeup if possible. I personally do not feel comfortable with a lot of makeup on my face. I knew that if I were to have it done, I would have felt a little weird and probably even more insecure and out of my element. But if you do choose to have your makeup professionally done, keep it low key and natural looking!

Hire a Professional!  The key to great photos is finding the right photographer. Don’t be afraid to spend some money. From what I have seen, you really do get what you pay for. I once had a guy taking my headshot and he kept saying, “Your smile looks fake. You don’t look natural. Your smile looks fake. Make it real.” Seriously, I can’t deal with this kind of negativity!  I wanted to take the camera out of his hand and throw it at him.  He was making me extremely nervous, uncomfortable and even more unnatural than I already had been!  Korey was just the opposite.  Because of her calm and positive demeanor, I (for the first time ever!) felt incredibly comfortable. She had a way of making me genuinely laugh. Not to mention, there was a sense of trust from the second I walked in.  She is the type of person you want to meet up with on the regular for a glass of wine.  She is that awesome!!

If you are a professional, it is critical to have a new headshot taken every one to two years.  In a world where social media is so important, there is no better way to keep your public image fresh and up-to-date.

This was the first time ever that I have walked away from a headshot experience feeling confident, happy and proud of my pictures.  (Of course, It also helped knowing that I had selected THE best photographer in the biz for the job.)  Have you had a new headshot taken recently? Feel free to upload it, and don’t forget to share any tips you have for looking and feeling your personal best.


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