A DC Tog in Dixie: Taking Your Own Head Shots

There are times when having a skill-based career benefits us. Coders and designers can create their own website, accountants enjoy a smooth tax season, and mechanics are saved from having to describe “that weird noise” their car makes when they start it.

Photographers can take their own head shots. But I wouldn’t recommend it.  

I’ve been shooting business head shots for 10 years, and my process is pretty streamlined. So when I cut 8 inches off my hair and needed new ones, I assumed the entire process would take 15 minutes – As a photographer, I give good direction, so I would be my easiest client. Every shot would be a winner.

 The "excessive lean."

The "excessive lean."

Every shot was not a winner, and it took an hour. Never mind the basic logistics of setting up a timer and adjusting the focus when there is no subject to focus on. Since my camera doesn’t have an adjustable display screen, not being able to see myself led to some unfortunate outtakes.

 The "I hate my glasses." 

The "I hate my glasses." 

There was the excessive lean, inexplicable and awkward. There was the “glare on the glasses” look from the studio lights (the face I’m making reminding me how much I hate wearing my glasses) and the shot my friends describe only as the “smizing” photo. Not ideal for a business head shot.

 The "smizing."

The "smizing."

In the end, I finally got a shot that worked – the winner featured on this very website. But at 30 minutes of setup and an hour of shooting, it solidified my decision to hire someone else the next time I drastically change my look.

I envy mechanics, accountants, and coders. Because when it comes to images, particularly the image of yourself you want to portray, there is no substitute to hiring a pro photographer to be your guide. Focusing on smiling is hard enough without also focusing a camera.

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