The Blog Formerly Known As Practical Paralegalism
I don’t know many adults who love to have their pictures taken. But you need a nice head shot for your LinkedIn profile, so your viewers can put a name with a face (preferably smiling). Without a head shot, your profile looks blank, incomplete and well, to be perfectly honest, not particularly personable. Substituting a picture of your mother’s prized roses or your beautiful Yorkies, Teeny and Bitsy, for a personal profile on Facebook is lovely, but simply won’t do for professional purposes. (Sorry.)
But you don’t have to pay the big bucks for a professional head shot. It’s nice if someone, like your employer, offers to pay for a professional head shot, but if it’s not economically feasible, you can have a friend take your head shot. In fact, with today’s digital cameras, you can take your own head shot. I never understood why my kids took so many pictures of themselves until I recently got an unbeatable deal on a Nikon Coolpix S550 from Adorama.com. Now it’s ridiculously easy to photograph myself in dark restaurants to see if I look 20 years younger. I took the head shot I published with this blog entry and for my blog profile, and I’m using it on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook now. I’m not happy about the bags under my eyes, but that’s how I really look at 7:30 a.m.
The benefit of taking your own head shot is that you can take as much time as you like and as many pictures as you want, without driving a photographer crazy with your nit-pickiness and insistence that he or she hasn’t quite captured “the real you”. Also, you won’t hurt anyone’s feelings if you don’t like the pictures. I didn’t really like the last professional head shot I had taken, but didn’t say anything, because the stylist spent an hour on my hair and make-up. I didn’t want to hurt her feelings after she’d worked so hard to tame my rebellious hair.
Here’s some tips to get a nice head shot of yourself using your own camera:
- Dress your top half like you are going to an interview for a legal position. Guys, that’s at least a tie and well-groomed hair. Gals, that’s a conservative blouse, jewelry and hair, and daytime make-up – no cleavage and not the come-hither face and hair you might post on a dating website, or for that Glamour Shot you’re giving to your sweetie for Valentine’s Day.
- Use an uncluttered background, although most of it will be cropped out. Light-colored river birch tree branches growing out of your head simply make viewers wonder if you’re related to Rudolph, as in the reindeer.
- Lighting is important. Find a well-lit place, even outside, to take your picture so that you don’t have shadows in your photo which suggest that you have something horrible to hide.
- Smile. I know, you don’t want to take your picture, and you have a million criticisms of your own face which no one else even notices. (I’m absolutely certain that my nose gets bigger with age.) None of us look like air-brushed magazine covers and that’s a good thing.
- Take head shots that fill up the frame, leaving only your head, neck and shoulders showing. Don’t worry, you can crop out your own arms or that tree branch you forgot to move away from.
- Don’t rush. Take your time and get several shots that are representative of how you actually look, relaxed and almost glad to be having your picture taken.
- Edit the best photo by cropping it so that your face fills most of the frame, and adjusting the lighting if necessary. Try changing color photos to black and white to see if you like the effect. Don’t worry if you don’t have photo-editing software on your computer. There are plenty of free and ridiculously easy programs online for the technologically challenged, including DrPic.com and Picnik.com.
- Last, post the picture at your LinkedIn profile. I know you don’t want to, but your profile represents a person, and a person has a face. You show your face everyday. If you get a new haircut, new glasses, a great new suit, find a miracle wrinkle cream (email me!) or cave in to all those endless commercials and whiten your teeth, you can always have another photo session with yourself. After all, the price and convenience are unbeatable.