How to get the perfect headshot at home

Professional Selfies For The Poverty Stricken

Nothing beats a good professional photographer! But...

I happen to be an actor who also works semi professionally as a photographer. While I am quite happy with my £180 studio shots, they do look like studio shots - complete with that slick sheen and the little window of light in the eye. However, I needed something more naturally lit, that was still professional quality but looked like the me that walks into the casting room.

But I didn't have the money to get an alternative set of pro shots.

And I needed them quickly.

So - I decided to do them myself.

"What?" I hear you ask, "A selfie? For a professional head shot? Unacceptable!"

Though not for the faint hearted, the results can be more than acceptable. Now, this bit of advice is not trying to be "How To Become A Professional Photographer In 5 Min"; it assumes that you know your way around a DSLR camera. It also helps if you have a photographic eye - and the following:

1. A good DSLR camera with a decent fast (at least f4) telephoto lens somewhere between 50mm - 85mm.

2. The software & cable to tether your particular DSLR to a laptop.

3. Some basic photo editing software. There are many - some free on line - as well as the usual cheap-ish suspects like Adobe elements or Adobe Lightroom

3. A tripod.

4. A neutral background and some nice bright but diffused light courtesy of a cheap neutral coloured roller blind - which I happened to have anyway. If you have some reading lamps around the house, play around them, maybe putting sheets of tracing paper over the lamp to soften the light.

5. A friend with you who will tell you when you've got 'the look' and when you haven't.
OR ... if you really do know yourself - then you don't even need the friend.

With the above set up you can sit your tethered laptop on your lap - out of shot - and focus & frame the camera from the computer. A glance down with your eyes at your laptop will show what the camera is seeing - then start clicking - via a hit of the keyboard.

Review the results every ten shots or so on your laptop. Play around with angles - head down - right shoulder forward - leaning over the back of a chair - all that stuff a photographer gets you to do in a studio.

It's your house, your camera, your time - so your session can take as long as you like. You can even come back to it the next day after a shave and a haircut & a change of clothes. If you have an actor friend or two who also needs shots done - even better. Play around.

When you're done. Choose the shots you particularly like. Crop them down to 10 x8 on the editing software, convert them to b/w (copy a few in colour too) add a little 'punch' to the face and eyes and do away with a few (but not all) blemishes via a software smoothing tool.

You should have yourself some very nice natural - but professional -head shots.

Again - this is a money saving option for those who are totally skint and who have (or know someone who has) the facilities, the equipment - and 'the eye' - and who need shots in a hurry. If you don't feel confident then ...well, it goes without saying ...wait til you get the money together to pay a pro.