How to Take a Non-cheesy Professional Headshot

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people on leaden, a Toronto-based bitcoin-financial-services-provider, knows that his industry can be intimidating. “When cryptocurrency companies ask people to turn over their most precious assets in the form of digital cash, trust and credibility are extremely important,” says Andrew Rapsey, the firm’s chief marketing officer. “If you look at our competitors’ websites, you won’t see a lot of flashy graphics and many human faces. We wanted our website to clearly communicate that we are a company people can trust first and foremost.”

And yet they didn’t want to appear stuffed. Crypto is about shattering the norms of finance so it was important that Leyden’s site not remind customers of a bank. (Read: no tough-looking men in three-piece suits.) To that end, Layden commissioned new employee headshots. “We wanted the personalities of our executive team to shine through,” says Rapsey.

The company hired Natalia DolanA Toronto-based portrait photographer whose past clients include Google and meta. Last fall, Dolan brought his equipment and crew of assistants to Layden’s office to shoot 10 employees.

Headshots of Leyden employees (Photos: Natalia Dolan)

Dolan’s first piece of advice for Lay’s employees: Wear what you feel good in, not what you think people want to see. “Pull out the things in your wardrobe that best represent you. If you don’t wear a tie, don’t bring one,” she says. “I always recommend that people have two or three options, both comfortable and dressier.” Keep it simple, she advised the team, but don’t be afraid to show your personality or wear color. “Even if the goal is high polished and professionalPops of personality and candid expressions can convey authenticity in your portraits,” says Dolan.

When it comes to posing, Dolan says it’s generally best to avoid the expected business stance, such as arms folded across the chest. At her Leyden shoot, she played music and the team tried funny poses to loosen them up. She often recommends doing some movement, like walking towards the camera instead of sitting in a chair. This leads to more natural, clearer looking shots. “We had so much fun that some of the staff asked if they could take some unretouched, fun photos for themselves,” says Rapsey. Dolan happily obliged. “I love capturing a moment or gesture that feels captured in real time,” she says.

When it comes to touch-ups, Dolan says it’s best to keep things natural. She doesn’t believe in major retouching or digital filters. Instead, she uses high-quality lights and diffusers and often works with a makeup artist to help cover up darkness under clients’ eyes or brighten them with lights. Dolan also recommends an old Hollywood movie trick for looking more fresh: ice. “The morning of the shoot, submerge your face in ice water for 15 seconds to reduce swelling and tighten skin.”

The team at Leyden couldn’t be happier with the resulting shots, and Rapsey is convinced that they help the company effectively communicate its brand. “Headshots look natural and authentic,” he says. “It’s just the tone we were looking for.”

Dolan’s number one tip for anyone taking headshots? Leave your inner critic at home. “The things we obsess over are the ones no one else pays attention to,” she says. “That one thing you’re insecure about is probably one of the most attractive things about you.”

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