The 5 Mistakes You Make When Getting Your Headshot Taken--and How to Fix Them!

Despite what you might think,  there's no such thing as being "unphotogenic." If you've ever had your business portrait taken and hated the way you looked, chances are you just made one of these 5 common mistakes. Lucky for you, there's an easy fix! So here's the 5 mistakes you make when getting your headshot and how to fix them!

Mistake #1: Holding Your Smile Too Long

Ever since we were little kids trained to say "CHEESE!" every time a camera is pointed at us, people feel the need to keep their smile on the entire time they're having their portrait taken, even when it comes to business portraits. But what many don't realize is that a smile can get stale pretty fast. When you hold your smile too long it starts looking forced and disingenuous.

The Fix: Wait to Smile Until the Photographer is Ready for It

Don't feel the need to keep a smile up the entire time! Relax you face between pictures to give your smile a break. To keep your smile fresh, wait until your photographer is ready for it. They'll let you know when to smile and help coax out a genuine grin. 

Mistake #2: Wearing the Wrong Clothing

A lot of people don't understand how their clothing choices affect their portrait. Wearing things like a bright white, patterns, or sleeveless tops are mistakes people often make when having their portrait taken. Your outfit might look amazing in person!--but how does it photograph? Some people aren't aware of how it will look on camera and end up committing a major style crime!

The Fix: Follow Your Photographer's Style Advice

At Elite Images, we photograph over a thousand business portraits a year... so we know a thing or two about how to dress! The main thing to keep in mind is that a viewer's eyes will go wherever skin shows. So this means wearing long sleeves so people aren't distracted by your bare arms. Other photography fashion tips include: never wear tops with patterns or prints and wear medium to dark solid colors. How you dress is so important that we made an entire style guide dedicated to how to dress for your headshots! Click here to check it out!

Mistake #3: Not Trusting Your Photographer

When you go to get your portrait taken it might be one of the first times you've ever met the photographer. So when a person you don't know is telling you how to pose for your picture and it feels really weird, it probably looks really weird and you shouldn't listen to what they're telling you, right? Wrong!

The Fix: Listen to Your Photographer Even If It Feels Weird

It's your photographer's job to make you look good! So no matter what it might feel like, your photographer isn't trying to embarrass you or make you sit in uncomfortable ways just for kicks. Your photographer is directing you on how to sit to bring out your best side. It might feel a little awkward, but no matter how strange you think it looks, trust that your photographer knows what they're doing and that you look amazing on camera!

Mistake #4: Thinking It's Going to be "Painful"

This mistakes goes along with the previous one. A lot of people come in with the totally wrong attitude. They think it's going to be awkward, stressful, or just an overall terrible experience, so they come in hoping to just sit down and get it over with.

The Fix: Stay Relaxed and Confident

Yes, your headshot can seem a little stressful, but it shouldn't be! In fact, the phrase we hear the most often after a business portrait session is, "Well that was painless!" People arrive with an expectation that having their portrait taken will somehow be the worst part of their day, when it's actually one of the easiest. When you arrive to have your headshot taken, let yourself just relax and be confident in front of the camera. The photographer has your best interest in mind and will make sure your portrait session goes smoothly... and that you'll love your image!

Mistake #5: Pushing Your Chin Up Not Forward

We all want to avoid the dreaded double chin. So it can seem like a no brainer that if you stick your chin out then your face will look slimmer. The problem is that a lot of people do this incorrectly and end up just tilting their head up. And a portrait looking up your nose is just as bad as a double chin!

The Fix: Keep Your Chin Forward, But Down

Some photographers call this "turtling." Again, it might feel a little awkward, but it looks fabulous on camera! What you do is stick your chin out and then down just a little bit. This brings your whole head forward which helps smooth everything around your jaw and neck. You can even try this in the mirror to see how it looks! So when the photographer tells you to bring your chin forward, you know that this doesn't just mean lift it up, it means bring it towards the camera, still keeping it slightly down. 


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As a full-service photography studio in Dubuque, Iowa for over 25 years, Elite Images really knows how to make Headshots awesome! With fun, fully-guided photoshoots specifically created to bring out your  best, confident self for images that you all fall absolutely in love with. Every portrait session at Elite Images features professional lighting and all images are color corrected and fully retouched to bring out your best qualities.

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