I recently got the chance to take some application photos for few friends of mine (here and here), so I figured I would share some of the things to consider when taking business headshots or application photos.
Outfit & Location
Before anyone even picks up a camera a few things should be considered. (Obviously, these pointers may differ depending on which job you plan to apply to, but the basics like brushed teeth and tamed hair are universally applicable. 😉 )
As long as you are not applying for a job in a very creative field, I would say a nice shirt or blouse and a blazer are a safe bet. Keep accessories to a minimum. Statement necklaces and chandelier earrings are completely fine for a normal portrait shooting, but for business headshots, less is more. Some small studs and / or a delicate necklace are more than enough. Make sure to bring a few options in different styles or colors to the shooting location so you can check which combination works best with your surroundings. Better bring too many options than not enough; the worst thing that can happen is that you have to carry most of it back home unworn. Things could be worse.
Business headshots are, as the name suggests, usually only portraits of the upper body. You will hardly ever find application photos that show a full-body portrait, so you do not need to pay any special attention on what pants to wear.
For application photos, outdoor locations are not really the best way to go. Therefore, if you do not want the typical white, grey or black background for your photos, big glass fronts or frosted glass walls are a great option as background. Whatever you choose, always make sure there is enough natural light in the space (no fluorescent light or mixed lighting). Remember light trumps location any day.
Posing & Expression
When it comes to posing for application photos less is more. Meaning, no extravagant poses, no hands on the hips, nothing too ‘loud’. What you want to achieve with an application photo is that your potential employer likes you right of the bat. Meaning simple poses and an open friendly expression with a nice smile are definitely the way to go.
Traditionally, application photos are vertical pictures placed in the upper right corner of your application or vita; however make sure you also get some horizontal pictures as well. In a pile of applications, it might get yours a second look if your application photo is at least slightly bigger than your usual post-stamp-sized headshot.
Last Minute Prep:
On the actual shooting day, it makes sense to bring along some emergency equipment… like bobby pins for loose strands of hair, Chap Stick, stain remover stick and obviously a lint roller. 😉
I hope thes tips were somewhat helpful. If you have any more questions don't hesitate to ask. 🙂