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The Portrait Photographer’s Guide:

Pro Tips and Insights

How to take a good headshot without professional equipment

by | Headshot Tips

Taking a Striking Profile Picture Using Just Your Smartphone

Are you eager to capture a headshot that looks professionally done, but you’re working without all the fancy gear? Don’t worry; you’re not alone. Many people think that a great portrait requires high-end equipment. But I’m here to show you that with a few simple tips and tricks, your smartphone can deliver stunning results. Let’s dive into how you can achieve a professional-looking headshot using just your phone and some clever techniques.

Choosing the Right Background

First things first, the location is crucial. You want a background that’s clean and uncluttered. Why? Because a simple backdrop ensures that you, the subject, remain the focal point of the headshot. Now, let’s talk about lighting—your most powerful ally.

Pro tips:

– Avoid using the interior of a car as your background, as it usually doesn’t provide a good setting for headshots.

– Be cautious of Saguaros, or palm trees in the background; they might appear like they’re sprouting from your head, which isn’t a flattering look.

Light grey concret wall with a beam of light

 Open Shade is the best light for Portraits

Have you ever noticed how soft and even the light is when you stand in the shade on a sunny day? This is what photographers call “open shade,” and it’s your best friend for portrait photography. The idea is to find a spot where something large—a building, a tree, or even a tall fence—blocks direct sunlight, creating a shadow. The best light is in the shade of a white wall.

Why is this type of light ide
al? In open shade, there are no harsh shadows to deal with, which means no unflattering lines on your face. It illuminates your features gently, giving your skin a luminous quality that’s perfect for headshots.

Setting Up Your Smartphone

Once you’ve found your perfect spot of open shade, it’s time to set up your phone. A tripod is handy here as it stabilizes your phone, allowing you to step back and avoid any distortion from the lens. If you don’t have a tripod, any stable surface can work as a makeshift stand.

man smiling at a phone on a tripod with a plain concret wall as a background

How to Capture Your Best Self

Now, instead of snapping a quick photo, start recording a video. Why? Video allows you to experiment with different expressions and angles without the pressure to get the perfect shot in one go. Smile, look serious, tilt your head, try different looks. Play with your expressions and movements.

After recording, watch your video and pause on frames where you look your best. Take screenshots of these frames—these are your potential headshots.

Example from Experience

I once took this portrait on my patio in the bright afternoon, no special lighting equipment at all. The subject stood in the shade, and the result was fantastic. This kind of natural lighting was a favorite of the legendary photographer Richard Avedon. It’s all about how the light wraps around your features, creating depth and character in the photo.

Vincent standing in open shade

wrapping-it up

So, there you have it—your guide to capturing a professional-grade headshot with just your smartphone and a few simple tips. Remember, the best headshot feels like a true reflection of you, showcasing your unique personality. Don’t be afraid to let your true self shine through.

And if you’re looking to refine your skills further or just want to share your results, why not follow my journey? I’m always here to provide more tips and tricks to elevate your photography. Let’s keep learning together!

Taking a good headshot doesn’t require expensive equipment; sometimes, all you need is your phone, a little creativity, and the willingness to experiment. Remember, each shot is a step closer to mastering the art of photography. Happy shooting!

For more insights and tips from the author, or to explore her professional work, visit Marie Feutrier’s About Page



Meet The Author

High school senior girl with a bob haircut, wearing a light purple and gold dress, posing with her hand on her chest at Marie Feutrier's professional portrait studio in Gilbert, AZ, for her glamor senior photo.
 Marie Feutrier, a French transplant in Gilbert, AZ, masterfully captures personalities through her lens. With an accent as charming as her photos, she doesn’t just take your picture, she tells your story, one click at a time.

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