How to Rebrand Yourself For a Professional Headshot in Any Kind of Career

It’s important to stick to your guns about what you want, while also listening to a pro.
Publish date:
May 3, 2015
photographers, makeup artists, photography

Many careers require a headshot or professional image to accompany you on your journey. Mine requires two or three a week! In fact, every Facebook and social media page requires a photo, and it can be important to both your professional and personal life to portray yourself as you want to be seen to the world.

Since there's plenty of flix of me looking like my usual self, I wanted my signature pic to translate my design sense into makeup, hair and props.

I have been working on my new website for a few months now, with my friends at Subculture Design, and I knew I wanted something that captures my personality as well as my abilities. We went with a curated image as the backbone of my site, turning it into a hub where you could then explore the many vocations that I simultaneously crank out.

This left me with lots of freedom to come up with a concept for the image, and I consulted one my favorite photographers, Darnell Scott, who takes 95% of the photos that accompany my articles, and Laramie Glen, the makeup artist whose talent I love to learn from wherever possible.

First, you have to decide what type of photo you need. Would it be artistic and interesting? Do you have to look approachable, competent, and professional? It can’t hurt even in the case of a basic professional headshot to use the help of a makeup artist. Most photographers or hair salons will have a contact to share if you don’t know anyone personally. Try The Knot, though it may not be a bridal situation; it’s a great way to find local makeup artists and photographers.

Organize your requirements clearly and in writing; this will give whomever you are working with time to prepare for your session as well as a spelled-out list of anything you need from them. Natural makeup for photos are one of the easiest things for a makeup artist to crank out, but using your own products may not always be a good idea. Things like shine, flashback and blemishes are all nonissues when working with an experienced artist, which most of us are not.

Study your own face (we all do it anyway!) and decide which type of facial expression and/or angle you would like to employ for your headshot. So many people who aren’t models freeze up in front of the camera, and this often shows in the finished look. That ol’ Tyra Banks saying about "smize-ing"—smiling with your eyes—really does work! A good photographer, even one at a Target photo studio, will tell you if anything is amiss.

Always warm up by taking a few pictures and then asking to see them, looking for any obvious things you can fix, such as showing fewer teeth, opening your eyes wider, angling your chin just so, etc.

In my image, I said I wanted to look like I was being interviewed for V magazine or Interview. Heavily styled, conceptual and otherworldly were my key elements, as if Mario Testino said to me, “You are a fairy from planet Axiom, where the atmosphere is part gaseous gold.” I wanted metallic skin, bold colors, and a striking overall effect.

I scoured some Vogue archives and Pinterest until I found inspirational images to send to Laramie and Darnell. Trying to illustrate exactly what you want and what inspired you is the easiest way to translate an idea into reality.

Laramie used pure metallic colors mixed into foundation to give a super-bright golden glow. We bleached my brows and created this fun persona for the shoot and I was in love. I usually keep things pretty straightforward with my hair and makeup, so it was so fun to be the subject of an editorial-style shoot, and the finished product is everything I could have wanted!

No more basic website for me! With a little help from my friends, the resulting product is original, well-executed, and exactly what I wanted. Whether you are a real estate agent, doctor, or weirdo like me, having an image that reflects your professional persona is important to keep your online presence in tip-top shape. Grabbing a pro to help is an important investment in your career, even if it's bartering with your time in whatever field you are in.

  • Do you have a headshot or conceptual photo of yourself for work purposes?
  • Share your site! Show us what you do in the comments!

Makeup by Laramie Glen; photos by Darnell Scott.