Take a #selfie like a pro

Being unemployed sucks. Waiting for companies to make decisions after your kick a** interview sucks, too. At least I’m learning patience. While I definitely keep myself busy with job searching, blogging, researching, working out, and (my least favorite) adulting… I seriously miss working. So, I’ve started opening my job search up to temporary work.

Light bulb: Become a brand ambassador.

I went to go and apply to my first brand ambassador gig since college, and guess what they wanted. Head shots. Crap. I’d been meaning to have professional ones taken for ages, since my LinkedIn profile picture was totally outdated. Unfortunately, being unemployed means I don’t exactly have the extra cash to spare for professional photos. Plus, I didn’t want to wait. Unlike “regular” jobs, temporary brand ambassadors get hired pretty quickly, so I needed to act fast (plus, I really needed $$).


You know that old phrase, “necessity is the mother of invention”? Yeah, I decided to think outside the box. After all, I already have a decent point and shoot camera (with a timer!) and a bit of photography experience…I could totally do this myself!

I started brainstorming: I’d done a self-portrait assignment in photo class back in high school…but I used my step-dad’s tripod. Okay, I’ll just re-arrange some furniture. Done.

But those photos were taken at a park, and I didn’t want my “professional” photos to be outside. Bleh. I could use my black bed sheets as a backdrop? But they have a bit of a pattern, and my other sheets are Tinkerbell Green. ADSC_0045nother light bulb. Curtains. Duh.

One last problem: I didn’t have Adobe Photoshop (or any other fancy editing software) anymore. Well, I guess I’ll just have to make the raw images as quality as possible, and do the rest of the editing with whatever program came on my computer. Ew, but it’ll have to do.

I consulted my trusty friend, Google, for a few more ideas and found this great article on how to take your own head shots with an iPhone. It’s got some great tips on positioning, cropping, and posing that I actually didn’t know, since my “self-portraits” were meant to be artsy instead of professional. It also reminded me that – hello! – I have some awesome photo editing apps on my (Galaxy S6 Active) phone.


I set up my make-shift studio. I didn’t have any professional lighting, but luckily I live in Austin, Texas. It’s usually pretty sunny here, and I prefer natural lighting anyway. I did my hair and make-up, got dressed, and struck a pose. Or two. Or three.

Fun fact: I hate being in front of the camera, unless I have control over it (ie; #selfies), so taking my own head shots was probably the best option for me. I didn’t feel nearly as awkward with only my dog around to judge me. Plus, you can take your time, act a little goofy, and check out every other photo to make sure you don’t have a double chin.

Pro selfies
Raw (un-edited) image of me making fun of myself

A couple of hours and a few hundred photos later, I was exhausted and the sun was starting to set. I decided it was time to call it quits, and put my apartment back in order.

Now, for the fun part.

If you decide to take your own head shots, I highly suggest rewarding yourself after with a greasy meal and a beer. I uploaded my photos, grabbed my computer (and my dog), and sat outside at a local bar to go through my photo-filled afternoon. A few hours later, I’d chosen a handful of my favorite photos. I use a simple smiling photo for LinkedIn (and any other professional platform) and a more natural looking (“model-y,” is what my step-dad called it) for brand ambassador applications. I used the photo editing app, Aviary, to spruce them up, and voila! I had professional (and fun!) head shots, and all it cost me was an afternoon!


Let’s Recap:

Pro
I can pass off as grown up & professional, right?
  1. Download a camera timer app for your phone if you don’t have a “real” camera
  2. Get a tripod (or prop your device up on a table like I did) and position it far enough away to give you a decent amount of background to crop around, but close enough to keep you in focus (not grainy or pixelated) once you’re cropped
  3. Find some sheets or curtains to use as a back drop, if you don’t have a solid-colored wall
  4. Pick a room that’s well-lit, or buy/rent some professional lighting
  5. Download Aviary or some other app to use to edit your works of art
  6. Choose some nice but solid-colored shirts to wear, and get dolled-up
  7. Set everything up and get comfortable in front of the camera (posing in front of a mirror to make sure I don’t look stupid helps me)
  8. Turn on some music, look at the camera, and smile!
  9. Grab a cold one and review your images – you should have about a million, but only
    Natural1
    I think this captures my personality a bit better…

    choose a handful that you like enough to edit

  10. Crop your photo just under your shoulders or just down to your torso…and avoid positioning your head smack-dab in the center of the square image…because that just looks odd
  11. Use the “blemish” button to remove any oddities from the background (or pimples, if you’re me), then play around with the brightness, contrast, and all the other fun tones
  12. Voila! Upload your masterpiece to every single social networking site you’re on and show the world how gorgeous you are!
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