Emergency headshot? Are you kidding me? Yes, these exist and they are 100% preventable.

No matter what your reason for having a portrait session is; if you want a dream session with gorgeous gowns, selfcare, hair and makeup done, or a full branding spectrum to show how awesome you and your work are and how you brilliantly stand out from your competition, or if you want a precious photo of you and your best most loving furry pal: I always make sure to get a kick-butt headshot in your session, and there’s a very specific reason why. Headshot emergencies!

It is not uncommon to hear: “But I don’t really need a headshot”, “Oh, this is silly, I don’t care what my business headshot is like, it’s rarely used,” and dozens more comments along these lines.

It’s silly until it’s no longer silly. Queue the panicked calls, emails, texts. “Mariah I NEED HELP!!…Can you get me a headshot today?!?!!”

Portraits, Travel

How on god’s green earth could anyone need a headshot so urgently? That’s what I thought the first time. By the 4th or 5th time, I realized this was  a real thing, and I am now determined to save the world from this particular emergency.

Anecdotal stories: a client came in with his wife for a maternity session, I had him sit for a “light test” (ahem, my sneaky way to get the reluctant hubby to sit for a portrait, your kid will love this some day, Poppa-to-Be!). He joked that it was completely useless to have a headshot and went on about how his field (engineer) doesn’t really need the for anything. Three days later I get the panicked call. Turns out his division decided to honor him in a publication they put out annually. And, they needed “a really good headshot today.” Whew.

This week, a worried parent needed a completely different crop, wardrobe, angle, and strict image size requirements for a senior photo. “Please please can you help?!” Woooosh, headshot by ME to the rescue.

The struggle is real folks. Make sure you have an updated headshot at all times, you never know when a villainous publication will come sweeping out of the ether to celebrate you! Or trickster school will give you new parameters. But fear not, I’m here to help.

Where did I put my cape?

Why An Experience Is Better Than A Gift

Life is short. It’s such a cliche, but we see it happening every day, and definitely every year when we send the kids off to the first day of school. Can you believe it? NO! Tears. Thumping heart. Moments fly by so quickly. How can we slow them down?

Brain science!

The more we can celebrate those moments, extend them and how they make us feel, the longer they will last. This part, is science. Neurotransmitters firing synapses and strengthening our ‘joy muscles’ (that’s my super not official term) the more we will feel joy. Our brains are designed to protect us from dangers; however, they do not understand the difference between a mountain lion attacking us and bills piling up, and queue stress response for both equally. How can we get out of this loop? JOY MUSCLES EXERCISES!

Part One: Savor. Part Two: Remember.

1. If we savor those memories, we make them bigger and stronger, and that feeling trickles down to our whole body (yes folks, the mind and body are truly connected). Side benefit of strengthening joy muscles: better health.

Yep, it’s true. The more we savor wonderful experiences, the more joy we will feel. How can I do that? Experiences. Create and participate in unique experiences. But don’t stop there. Relish in the, recount them, celebrate them, roll around in them as long as you can and flashback to them often.

2. Remember the memories: triggering that memory (photos work great for this, wink) triggers your brain’s response to it, which you conveniently strengthened in Part One. Do the same exercise again: savor it everytime it pops back into your mind. Turn that one little experience into a full-body happy feeling to reduce stress, increase happiness, and then spread it around. We could all use some wonderful feel-goods.

You’re all set now, go forth and work those joy muscles every chance you get!

Top Tips for a Kick-Butt Headshot

Your image is often your first impression. What does it say about you? About your business? There are so many elements you can use to create a kick butt image for your brand, whether it is for personal or professional use. Some of the key elements I use with clients are body language and expression. Learn about them here and take better photos!

Body Language. How are you standing, posed, how is the image cropped? What angle are your shoulders, hips in relation to the camera? First, hand the phone camera over to someone. Your arm has limited range, you’ll get a better angle if someone else takes the image. Think about how you want to come across: aggressive, confident, or powerful?

  1. Crossed arms will give a more aggressive/assertive vibe.
  2. Arms at the side will be more inviting, confident posture
  3. Hands on the hips is a power pose, and expresses power, confidence, and assertiveness without being aggressive.

Expression. This will always dominate over all else. Getting your intention to show through your expression is not always easy. Here are some tips, focusing on micro expressions. Know what your intention is, and use the best expression for that intention.

  • Beware of smirks, they convey ‘contempt’ or ‘disgust’ micro expression
  • Men: research has the greatest ‘know-like-trust’ factor is with a straight face or a full smile (not a half smile). Women can get away with small smiles, aka baby smile, and big full face smiles.
  • No smile, relaxed expression. This can either show a serious intention, or a calm, relaxed.
  • These are the windows to the INTENTION. Remember to engage your eyes. We all have the ability to warm up, lighten up, and/or ‘smile’ with the eyes. Practice in the mirror, and you’ll eventually get it, if you don’t immediately.

Now merge your body language and your expression, have someone take your photo, and see how you do. Keep practicing!


Interested in having me take your photo? Click here for a $100 gift voucher for a headshot session with me and see how I work with these elements.