Science behind the headshot (part 2)

How science should impact your headshot?

We previously looked at the scientific evidences to explain how the brain works and processes headshots. Now let’s look at what it means for your own headshot:

1. It should be all about your face! 

The density of visual cues on the face is so much higher than anywhere else, that you need to make sure the viewer can read your face even on stamp size image. And no, the color of your shoes does not influence how people will judge you!  

Make your headshot a head shot, one that directs your viewer to your facial expression. You should not hide your face behind heavy makeup or behind your hands.
Keep your outfit professional and simple so it does not draw attention to itself.

2. Simplicity is key, ambiguity is the enemy.

Make sure you are the only one in the picture, and that your expression of happiness is not too subtle. There’s no need for a fancy background, no need for jewelry, no need for extravagant clothing. At best they will have no impact on how people judge you, at worst they will confuse the viewer. Confusion means risk, risk means danger, and that brings negative judgements.

Keep it simple. Avoid anything that might be ambiguous.

3. You don’t have to be “photogenic”!

First, let’s clarify that “being photogenic” is not a fact put a perception! Of course, some people are closer to the conventional beauty standards of their time than others, but that has nothing to do with being photogenic. “Photogenic” people are people confident in their body. That’s why almost every child under 8-10 is “photogenic.”

A great photographer will light you and pose you properly to highlight the best features of your face. But what will elicit positive judgements of confidence, trustworthiness, likeability is YOUR NATURAL happy expression.

4. A glamour headshot? That’s an oxymoron!

There is headshot and then there is glamour shot. The latter is a type of portrait, meant to make the subject look sexy and appealing; as such, the subject is often made to look mysterious, sometimes not really engaged. They are more likely to be full body, use sophisticated heavy makeup, abundant jewelry, sometime even props, or hands in the middle.

In other words, a glamour shot is a fabricated illusion: It’s not about your face and it’s not really about the real you either; it’s highly ambiguous, by definition.

Don’t get me wrong, glamour shots can be beautiful and boost your self-esteem, but they are typically best kept for you and the people close to you. They should never be used in lieu of a headshot. Andrea McMillan-523-EditA heashot is a HEAD shot!A headshot can and should be flattering. It is however primarily about making a connection with the viewer, without mood or mystery...

Tell us what you think! 


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