1. LIGHTING. Avoid what photographer’s call FLAT lighting. Think passport photo. The background should appear to be at least partially in shadow, and one side of your face should appear slightly brighter than the other – which adds depth and a look of quality to the image.
2. BACKGROUND. What’s behind you can make a statement. If you can possibly avoid the vague-mottled-brush-stroke-in-no-particular-color type of background you’ll be taking a giant step in the right direction. Lots of headshots now are done in natural light, in offices or lobbies where there are subtle architectural features and gentle reflective surfaces. A solid neutral gray paper is also a contemporary look.
3. CLOTHING. Wear clothes that fit properly and are not too busy or distracting. Your clothing should not grab more attention than your face! Solid colors that either match or flatter your eye color are usually a safe bet –and go easy on the accessories! For female execs, too much jewelry can work against you, and so can a really busy print blouse or scarf. For any executive wanting a power look, the old saying "a suit can never be too dark and a shirt can never be too light" still holds true.
4. POSTURE. Pay attention to body language. Don’t slump! Remember the camera tends to exaggerate, so sit up taller than usual, make eye contact with the camera and lean slightly forward to project energy. Leaning back with your chin up in the air will make you look arrogant, while tucking your chin down makes you look confident, but friendly. Sit at an angle to the camera. If your back is parallel to the wall behind you, it will look like a mug shot. Keep your shoulders at a slight angle to appear more relaxed –and you’ll look slimmer
5. GROOMING. Have your hair cut a week before your headshot appointment. Hair often needs a couple of days to lay right after a new cut. And be sure you don’t spend too much time in the sun the day before – there is almost NO Photoshop remedy for sunburned skin or those bright white eye circles you get when you finally remove your sunglasses.
In today’s workplace, many people never even meet their clients face to face – the headshot on the website is as real as they get. Work with a professional photographer and make sure yours is sending the right message!