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How To Take Your Own Headshot In 6 Easy Steps

Some people don’t have enough money to hire a professional photographer to take a profile photo for them. Fortunately, learning how to take your own headshot isn’t that hard so long as you follow a few simple rules. The part most people struggle with is fussing over the right details that will actually make a difference for your final photo. 

To illustrate this, the cover photo of this post is a headshot selfie of yours truly. Granted I am a professional headshot photographer with fancy equipment. despite this, I’ll be the first to tell you that it’s entirely possible to get a high quality portrait with pretty minimal gear.

You’ll likely need to pick up a few items if you want your headshot to look professional. That said, I’m going to show you an inexpensive headshot lighting setup that will give you quality results, using just your phone and a few other things.

How to take your own headshot:

  1. Gear You’ll Need To Take Your Own Headshot
  2. Things That Will Enhance Your Appearance
  3. What To Wear For Your Headshot
  4. Lighting Set Up For Your Headshot
  5. Editing Your Headshot

This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I get a commission if you decide to make a purchase through my links at no cost to you. Please read my disclosure for more info.

1. Gear You’ll Need To Take Your Own Headshot

How to take your own headshot

There are countless ways to light and capture a headshot. For the purposes of this post, I’m going to show you an inexpensive and novice friendly set up similar to the one I used for my portrait. This set up will be accessible to anyone and will allow you to capture a quality headshot with minimal gear.

To capture your own headshot you’ll need:

2. Groom Yourself Before You Take Your Own Headshot

How to take your own headshots

Now that you know the tools you’ll need to capture your headshots, it’s also important to properly groom yourself before you take your photos so you can look your best.

This is the headshot checklist that I give to my clients so they are aware of all the different things they can do (or appointments they can book) to improve their appearance in anticipation for their headshot. These things include:

  • Removing your eyeglass lenses (if you wear glasses) 
  • Getting a hair cut and color
  • Makeup
  • Teeth whitening

Always remember that you’ll get the best photos if you try and capture everything as close as you can in camera (no editing). With a clean capture you can then edit your photos to your liking. For best results editing should never be done to fix something that could have been corrected in camera. This is why it’s important to think about the things mentioned above before you take your photos.

3. Headshot Attire You Should Consider Before You Take Your Own Headshot

How to take your own headshot

The last thing you’ll want to think about before you start taking your photos is what you’ll wear. Luckily for headshots this is a lot simpler then full body portraits as you’ll only need to consider the top half of your body and your background choice when deciding what to wear. This post will give women’s headshot attire ideas for ladies looking to take their own headshots. For guys, this post will give some ideas for men’s headshot attire.

In either case, I strongly recommend everyone check out this post about how to color coordinate outfits if you’re unsure how to do this. Learning how to color coordinate you outfits properly will help you better pair your outfits with the background you choose. It will also help you tie your outfit together when pairing a shirt with a blazer, or your blouse with jewelry.

4. Lighting Setup For Taking Your Own Headshot

Now that you have everything you’ll need to take your own headshot it’s time to start capturing some photos! Your attention to detail at this part will ultimately determine the quality of your headshots.

First you’re going to want to set up your background. You can cut off a strip of background paper and tape it to your wall. Alternatively you can get a background kit like this if you want. For maximum control, I recommend you get the biggest seamless background you can. This will allow you to stand further away from it which can help keep the ring light from spilling onto it in the final photos.

Second you’ll want to set up your ring light, tripod, phone and remote like the diagram. For best results you’re going to want to stand as close as possible to your ring light. This will build the most flattering light that will contour your features. If you stand further away the light will get flatter and will be less professional looking. 

Once you’re all set up, you’ll wan to use your remote to take your headshots. Using a remote will make capturing your photos much easier as you won’t have to rely on your camera’s timer and run back and forth to your phone for every shot. This will help you focus on nailing the perfect expression rather than setting up for every photo.

Lastly for iphone users, consider downloading a manual camera app like Halide. The reason for this is because even though you have semi manual control with the native camera app, I’ve found that the camera like to help you expose the shot when the scene changes. This means that even if you set the exposure manually, once you walk into the frame, the camera will change your settings in an effort to “help” you. 

Android users and those that use a third party manual camera app like Halide will be able to lock in their exposure and have it stay where you set it even when you walk into the frame. This is really important as without this capability, capturing your own headshot will be much more difficult without someone to help you capture your photos.

5. Editing Your Headshots

how to take your own headshot

Once you capture an expression you like, your photo should look great without any editing. If you need to do some minor blemish touchup, you can then process your headshot with one of the following apps:

Note that you’ll also be able to add filters with all of these photo editing apps. Instead of filters I recommend that you use standard photo editing adjustments like: white balance, exposure, black point, highlights, etc. This will help your photos hold up better over time as filters have a way of dating your photo. If you do decide to use a filter be judicious with it’s application and don’t overdo it!

If you already have the adobe suite on your desktop, consider using Lightroom or Photoshop for your edits. These apps will give you the most control and are what I personally use as a professional photographer on my clients headshots. That said if you don’t have experince with these apps, they can have a steep learning curve. Therefore if you’ve never used them before you may want to consider the mobile editing apps mentioned above to keep things simple.

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I hope this post was helpful in showing you how to take your own headshot. If you need more diy headshot tips you can check out this post here. Alternatively, if the thought of taking your own headshot still feels over whelming, you can contact me here and I’d be happy to discuss capturing your headshot for you.

If you have any questions about anything, please leave a comment below and I’d be happy to help you out. Otherwise, so long as you follow the directions outlined in this post, I have no doubt that you’ll be able to create a quality headshot that you can use to better represent yourself online!

Jason Guy

I am a portrait photographer based out of Sonoma, California. I create portraits for people of all ages with the goal of making images that are timeless. Portraits you will look back on decades from now, and still love them just as much then as you do today. While flattering lighting and pose are important, capturing how others see you is what I ultimately strive for.

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