portrait of artist Jade Nguyen at a computer workstation

Photographing Yourself

A Professional Face

You’re creating 2 pictures of yourself this week, a “Headshot” and an “Environmental Portrait”.

In the contemporary world many people will see your picture online before they ever meet you F2F.

If they ever meet you F2F!

Your photographs really matter!

I beg you, please do not just scroll through your phone, find the single shittiest photo of yourself ever, and use that. You’re shooting yourself in the foot! Please make a quality image to confidently present yourself to the professional world.

A real camera is nice if you or a friend has one. But a phone is just fine. What matters more is Light & Background!

photo of Terri Carbaugh
Terri Carbaugh

A Headshot is exactly what it sounds like, a photograph of your face. This is very valuable because on many of the webites, fliers for talks you’ll be giving, and so on, your image might only be one inch tall. If your picture is any wider than a headshot, your face will only be 1 or 2 pixels.

Getting Ready

  • Headshot Background – plain! Avoid busy! No telephone poles growing out of your head! A plain wall.
  • Headshot Lighting, Electric – you could grab 2 lamps, put one on one side of our face closer/brighter, we’ll call that your “Key” light. Put the other on the other side of your face further/dimmer, we’ll call that your “Fill” light. Take pix, experiment with light ratios. Go for a bright, even, but not flat look.
  • Headshot Lighting, Natural – “Window Light” is fantastic. Put yourself next to an open window. Not with direct sun on you, but with diffuse light coming in. That’s your “Key” light. For “Fill” have someone hold a piece of white foamcore to bounce some of the window light onto the shadow side of your face.
  • Headshot Lighting, Outdoors – Tricky! Easy to get busy backgrounds. Easy to get crazy high contrast. Maybe in the shade of a building against a plain wall.
  • Headshot Face – Wash your face & comb your hair. Use makeup if you want to. Smile! Or, use a suitably emo-dramatic-artsy expression if you want to cultivate that identity with your clients. Not everybody has to smile all the time, but a smile is a powerful way to connect to other human beings. In my own selfies, I have a hard time looking artsy, I tend to just look lost and unengaged. A smile works better for me. If I try to use a big smile I tend to squint and it might look fake. For me, a small smile feels more natural and I can keep my eyes kinda open.
headshot of photographer Sean DuFrene
Sean DuFrene

Environmental Portraits

photo of artist Sheila San Agustin presenting design concepts
Sheila San Agustin

An Environmental Portrait is also what it sounds like. A photograph of you in your environment. This is also a very powerful tool for you. The headshot is great for small spaces. It shows that you’re human. But it doesn’t tell us too much beyond that. The environmental portrait lets your visitors perceive you as a talented prefessional in your field.

Location Ideas

  • Sculptor/Installation/Site-Specific Artist – with your tools. Sexy arc welders. Chains. Cranes! Lifts! Think big!
  • Graphic Designer – if it has to be a photo of you at your laptop on your desk pushed up against the wall of your room, ok, it’ll work. But that’s not the most exciting way to show you in your world. Many designers are Digital Nomads. How about a photo of you at a cool coffee shop working on a project. If you’re lucky enough to have a real camera or a fancy Google Pixel or iPhone, you can use “Portrait Mode” to blur the background so the focus is you but we get the soft context of a bustling coffee shop.
  • Animation / Illustration – working on paper, tablet, etc. Or perhaps with many sketches pinned to the wall.
  • Ceramicist – hand building or at a wheel. With pieces in one of the giant SOA kilns!
  • Photographer – you with camera, etc in the context of what you photograph: Documentary, Portraiture, Weddings, etc
  • Painter – A painting studio at the SOA is probably better than your room or house. A small canvas on a desk is OK, but a large canvas on an easel makes a bigger impact. Having brushes, canvas on the walls, and so on can make for a rich background.
  • Printmaker – all kinds of nice photography opportunities with all the big equipment in the SOA print studios.
  • and so on!
portrait of artist Jade Nguyen at a computer workstation
Jade Nguyen

Your Canvas Post

Post your images on Canvas.

The Basics

Please repeat:

  1. Career Goal
  2. Three Categories
  3. Current number of pieces for each category

Post from Laptop / Desktop

To add photos to Canvas from a Laptop or Desktop

Post from Phone / Tablet

It’s the same for Mobile. You just click the “picture” icon to upload images.

With one catch — in the image below, my iPad is wide enough to show all the icons, including the Image Upload icon, which is last on the right. But on your phone it will probably be hidden. All you have to do is swipe on the toolbar to reveal the hidden icons to the right. Then click on the image upload icon and upload one or many images.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.