Friday, June 5, 2015

Show & Tell: DIY Headshots with a iPhone


So, today's post isn't really craft related so much as blogging related. I am not one for "selfies." In fact, I wish I could stop Facebook from sharing my profile picture every time I change it. I feel very self aware when people are commenting on pictures of me even if they are compliments. However, many people out there that have blogs or professional social media profiles (i.e. LinkedIn). Having a headshot not only makes your profile look more professional, but it also allows your audience to relate to with what you're posting.

If you're like me, you're probably not going to pay someone for a headshot for a blog you do part time. That doesn't mean you should never get a professional headshot. I absolutely find professional pictures are worth the money spent. I know from experience that anyone that can get two kids smiling at the same time deserves sainthood.

If you are in need of a simple headshot, you can get it accomplished right in your living room. I had been wanting to update my headshot for a couple of months. My first headshot was done with my nice DLSR, remote and tripod in my craft room. The background was a white wall, and I diffused the light with some wax paper taped to a window. It turned out pretty good.

However, I now look a bit different..well..mostly just more wrinkles. I wanted a updated picture. However, my remote's batteries are dead and the tripod is in the attic. I've stopped using my DLSR over the past year out of laziness and, because, my new iPhone 6 has a pretty darn good camera. It's convient to have it with me all the time. I decided to give it a go for my updated headshot.

DIY Headshots from an iPhone


Camera. I used my iPhone 6, but of course you could use any sort of digital camera.
Natural Light
Diffuser for Natural Light. I used a white curtain already hanging on my window. You can also use a sheet or strip of wax paper. 
Neutral Background 
Optional: Selfie Stick and/or Timer. I also use Photoshop Elements to blur my background.


1. Get Ready. 

Since you're going through the trouble of doing a headshot, of course you want to get yourself all dolled up. I don't wear make up unless I have somewhere important to be, so I waited until I had a reason to get ready. I work from home so my usual attire is sweats and t shirt. A uniform I'm rocking as I type this. You will want to put on a nice shirt. Simple solid colors work best. You also will want to keep jewelry simple.

2. Find a Location.

Natural light is your friend, so you want to find a location in your house that is getting good light but not overly harsh light. For example, you probably wouldn't want to use a east facing window in the morning, but you may find the same window okay as the day goes on. You will also want to look at the area around the window you choose. The background should be mostly free of distractions. A blank neutral colored wall is best. If you can't find that, you can try to rig something up with a sheet hanging behind you, or if you have Photoshop Elements, you can try to blur the background after the picture is taken. (I ended up doing this with my pictures to moderate success. One looks a bit strange because the blur was so strong, but otherwise it worked pretty good). 

My favorite chair and the white curtain was the perfect set up for me.

3. Diffuse the Light. 

You will want something to diffuse the light. I have an actual light diffuser disc, but it's with the tripod in the attic. I decided to instead pull the white curtains on my South facing window. It worked as a great diffuser for the light. You want to diffuse the light because it creates softer more flattering light. 
4. Position Yourself & Shoot...a lot.
I decided to sit in my favorite chair for my pictures. When you take pictures, you will want to face your light source. I just extended my arm out and took pictures that way, but if you have a selfie stick, this would be a good time to bust it out. As for what type of poses you chose, that's going to be up to you. I was a old time photographer for a summer (crazy fun summer job, by the way) and I learned quite a bit about flattering poses. As you probably have noticed from the "selfie" craze, pictures taken from above are more flattering. Just don't get crazy with your angles. I also did some research of different headshots to find poses I liked. I wanted something that was more relaxed and not too formal. 
Since we're in a digital age, we can afford to take a lot of pictures. So make sure you do! You will want to periodically stop and look as see what is working and what isn't working. Look out for distractions. I have a vase with pheasant feathers on my end table, and I found that at one angle it looked like I had feathers coming out of my head. I also had to be mindful if my hair was sticking up or my jewelry was caught on my shirt. Be detail oriented when reviewing pictures. In my blog picture, I have my hand on my head. I keep looking at it, because in some ways it looks like I have an appendage growing out of my head. I decided I didn't care. :)

 Lamp growing out of my shoulder.

Strange angle and some cra-cra eyes.

Another important tip to follow (and I found it very hard to follow it myself) is to make sure you're looking at the camera. On an iPhone, you probably will find yourself looking at the image on the screen. That means that your eyes are going to be looking slightly down in the picture. The camera is above the image, so make sure you look at the camera not the image on the screen. Also, make sure the screen is focused on your face, not your hair or some object in the background. Otherwise you'll have an out of focus picture. You can pick the location to focus on by tapping on the screen.
5. Edit
You can use an online program such as Picmonkey to edit your pictures. I have Photoshop Elements, and I love it. I used this tutorial on how to blur the background, and it worked wonderfully. I also have some of the CoffeeShop actions that I use. Finally, I'm a big Scott Kelby fan. I have used his books for years when editing pictures. I try not to go too crazy. Reality is I have some wrinkles, terrible under eye circles and blemishes. I'm just going to have to live with them and it doesn't do anyone out there, including my daughter, a service to pretend that I don't. 

This was a good blurred background. I minimized the heat thermostat in the background and the railing on my stairs.

Err. Not as good. Removing the door way was a bit more tricky and the section under my arm was hard to do.

So, there you have it. How to do a headshot with just your iPhone and different things around your house. Now you can create a professional looking picture without taking your sweats off.

Here's my final images. I tried both with and without my glasses. The glasses one is my "professional" one for my LinkedIn profile and the others are for my blog & social media. I'm set for another 5 years. :)



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