A headshot is your first impression, whether it be seen on LinkedIn or at an audition. You might not even realize how much power a good headshot can have in your professional success. But how do you know if your headshot is really making the right impression, and how are you to know when it's time for a new one? Here are the top ten signs that it's time to retire your current headshot: 1. Your current headshot is over 3 years old and/or defining physical features have changed. Did you chop off your locks, lose 10 pounds, dye your hair, or have a growth spurt that altered your face shape? It's time for a new headshot. Similarly, if people are looking at your headshot and responding with "That's you??", then you definitely need a new headshot that accurately represents what you look like in real life.
2. Your current headshot has harsh shadows. Harsh shadows are something a professional photographer will know to avoid. They are unflattering and reflect poor knowledge of lighting, whether it's from flash or harsh daylight.
3. Your current headshot is grainy or pixelated. Grain, another sign of improper exposure and lighting for headshots, is a clear sign of an amateur headshot. Pixellation reflects over-sharpening or printing a web-resolution photo.
4. Your headshot has a distracting background. Ask three people what is the first thing they see when they look at your headshot. If it's ever a background element that they are focusing on, then you need a new headshot that directs the viewer to your face.
5. You don't actually have an official, professional headshot! The photo your mother took of you in the backyard last summer just won't do. It's time to show casting directors that you're serious, professional, and know what you're doing. An unprofessional photo says just that: amateur.
6. Part of your face is out of focus. For example, one of your eyes is in focus and the other is not. This can create weird optical illusions for the viewer, especially if it's the eye that is further away from the camera.
7. You made the mistake of not wearing proper makeup or having your hair done for your previous headshot. If you're getting your headshots done, you should seriously consider having a professional do your makeup and hair. A makeup artist will know exactly how to play up your best features without piling on pounds of makeup to cover your flaws. They will know how to prepare your face for studio lighting or natural lighting, which will greatly help to improve the quality of your images.
8. The tones are too flat. "Matte" look images are a trend in photography, but they don't present you as an individual in the most flattering way. Some photographers will choose to do this because it appears to make skin look smoother. However, proper retouching and contrast in a photo has a much more professional look.
9. Your current headshot is overexposed. Over exposure can result in a loss of detail in the image. When detail is lost, your photo looks messy and amateur.
10. You look too intimidating. While a more serious look is sometimes preferred, you shouldn't appear unapproachable or angry. The intense glare must not be pretentious, aloof, or awkward. It should be friendly, professional, and trustworthy.
Article contributed by Caileigh Kyle. Caileigh is an international lifestyle and wedding photographer based just outside of Toronto, Ontario.