Headshot Photography

7 Tips for DIY Headshot Photos

March 20, 2023 by

In this guide, we’ll be discussing everything you need to know about how to take your own headshot (DIY headshots).

We’ll be covering the following topics (click on a bullet point to jump to that section):

Table of Contents

What is a DIY Headshot?

A DIY headshot is a photo of oneself. It can be taken with a phone, DSLR camera, or webcam.

DIY headshots are often seemed the next generation of “selfies.”

diy headshot

What are the Advantages of Taking Your Own Headshot?

There are many benefits to taking your own headshots at home rather than using someone else’s portrait.

1. Save Money

The biggest advantage is that you save money by not having to pay a professional photographer.

2. Control

Also, you have more control over the environment in which you are being photographed.

What are the Disadvantages of Taking Your Own Headshot?

1. Limitations

The main disadvantage is that there are limitations to what can be done with DIY headshots.

If you’re using a weak camera or connecting your phone to the computer, for example, there will be grainy quality in your picture.

2. Lack of Knowledge

The second disadvantage could be an overall lack of knowledge.

Professional headshot photographers are “professional” for a reason. They have the knowledge and experience of taking numerous headshots.

They know the ins and outs of the business.

For example, if taking your own headshot, you may not know how to control the lighting properly to get a flattering result.

How to Take Your Own DIY Headshot?

Now that you know the advantages and disadvantages, let’s dive into some tips you can use if you decide to take your own headshot.

There are many tips that can help you take the best headshots possible.

1. Lighting

The first is that you should always have good lighting.

You should have surface level familiarity with the three-point lighting system that involves key lights, fill lights, and back lights.

three point lighting
Three-Point Lighting System

If you don’t own a flash, try standing near a window or placing lights around your shooting environment. This will create nice ambient light.

Make sure to use natural light if possible.

Although flashes are good, the intensity of natural light will result in better exposure.

2. Tripod

Third, use a tripod to keep your camera still while you’re shooting.

If you don’t have one, try propping your camera against something that won’t move or using its self-timer function.

First of all, set up your camera or phone on a tripod or flat surface that is not moving.

Place the camera at eye level and about 3-5 feet away from the subject. This will help give the appearance of a flattering headshot.

3. Go Manual

Next, open up your camera’s manual settings so you can choose your exposure, aperture, and other technical modifiers.

If you need help learning how to photograph in manual, we recommend this video by Hyun Ralph Jeong:

You should also shoot in RAW if possible to get more control over tone and lighting in post-processing.

If shooting with a phone or tablet, turn on HDR (high dynamic range).

4. Background

Use a white or black backdrop depending on how much contrast you want between subject and background.

You can also use crumpled up aluminum foil to bounce light if no natural lighting is available.

When you’re taking a photo of yourself, it’s easy for your surroundings to look distracting in the background.

When you’re not being photographed, take a look around from your subject’s perspective and see if there are any distracting elements in the background.

5. Poses

Take headshots in different poses to see which look best. If you are shooting solo, don’t be afraid to take photos of your face from multiple angles to get the best photo possible.

Remember to take as many photos as possible and choose the best out of those! Try different poses and angles until you find one that looks good.

6. Sharing Online

If you plan on sharing these photos online, be sure that they are high enough resolution (at least 2500 pixels wide). The biggest photo-sharing sites are Instagram, Facebook, and Tumblr.

To edit photos on your phone or tablet, try the apps Facetune, Afterlight, or VSCO.

Also keep in mind that other people will be viewing these photos online as well as offline, so you want to make sure they’re appropriate for all audiences.

Stick to simple headshots with a plain background that show off your face and style.

7. Have Fun

Last but not least, have fun with it!

Be silly and show your personality. This can result in the best headshots possible.

When you’re taking your own photos, it’s easy to get distracted with using a tripod, setting up lighting, and fiddling around with exposure.

To make the best of your time, try to do as much research beforehand as possible on how to take a DIY headshot.

To further explore additional tips on how to take your own headshot at home, we also recommend this video by Shameless Maya:

Professional Headshots vs DIY Headshots

1. Used for Personal Branding

A professional headshot is a photo taken of someone for use in personal branding efforts and marketing materials such as their resume, website, social media accounts, or other professional purposes.

2. Usually More Formal

Professional headshots are more formal than DIY headshots, and they are typically done in a studio setting.

They involve picking out the right outfit (e.g., shirt, dress), styling hair, applying make-up or facial hair (if necessary), etc.

lawyer headshot outfit
Formality of a Headshot

3. Retouching

Professional photos also include retouching to remove blemishes and smooth skin.

4. Lighting Quality

Professional headshots are usually taken with a DSLR camera while the subject is sitting down in front of a white or black backdrop. This type of photo lighting often requires expensive equipment that DIY headshots don’t require.

Final Remarks

DIY headshots are an inexpensive alternative to photo shoots. With proper lighting and positioning, it is easy to take good portraits of yourself at home. So never fear the camera – embrace it!

This guide is also a part of our Headshot Photography Hub, so be sure to check that out for further headshot photography tips and insights.