One of the best things you can do for your business is to make yourself look as professional online as possible.

Your online portfolio is one of your greatest tools for client requisition, it’s here that most prospective clients will go to decide if they want to work with you. To make yourself and your business look professional, you need to put your best face forward – literally.

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Professional headshots shot with portraiture photography rules in mind will elevate your online presence. It can also be a way to showcase your business’ personality, take, for example, our in-house communication designer Kelsie Butterworth’s headshot for her personal portfolio.

Kelsie’s headshot was taken by our in-house photographer, Alaina Hase and edited by Kelsie herself. Kelsie’s a resident photoshop wiz, and Alaina has long been shooting incredible portrait photography. Butterworth and Hase together do an exceptional job with portrait photography and editing.

KB: “Alaina lit the photo and obviously shot it. Lighting plays a massive role in editing, the more talented the photographer is then the easier my job is. It allows for a cleaner stage or subject for editing. It’s important to edit so [the subject] looks natural, so there are elements in the skin that aren’t completely flawless.”

While professional headshots differ from fashion shoots with the style of post-production editing, things like colour editing still play an important role.

Butterworth goes on to tell us about her personal headshot.

KB: “For this, I wanted an overdone 80s look; I had to find a balance between the then over-the-top fashion look and today’s naturalism, creating a modern spin. I added the blue lighting last, to bring out the red tones in my lips and in Ray, the dog. I also removed the sunglass glare, to give it that extra soul-less high-fashion look.”

Kelsie Butterworth’s unedited headshot.

Kelsie is sure to mention that while this particular photo edit was very specifically stylized for an 80s Vogue aesthetic, the headshots that our company produces are less Madonna, more professional. Unless, of course, otherwise requested.

Alaina Hase has been shooting portrait photography since studying at Emily Carr. Captivated by light, she used portraiture as a method of exploration.

AH: “I was always drawn to beauty lighting from the 1950s, in particular, Butterfly Lighting. It’s called that because the shadow it casts under the subject’s nose looks like a butterfly. I was always fascinated by how different types of lighting could highlight the different anatomical features of someone’s face.”

AH: “Like what does the human eye find attractive about a female facial structure vs a male one? And how can you manipulate the light to highlight those different things?”

Describing using a human being as a medium for her art, Hase sheds light on the emotional intricacy of portrait photography.

AH: “I was naturally drawn to portraits [in art school] because there’s something really intimate about working with someone one-on-one. For someone to say, wow I feel so great because I have this image that represents me… That’s a really powerful thing for me, to be able to articulate someone’s own idea of themselves.”

By working with different clients, Alaina addresses their unique needs. She explains, “shooting a yoga instructor is going to be different from how you shoot a CEO of a company, and so on.”

AH: “The one thing I like the most about shooting portraits is that it doesn’t matter what your background is or how much money or fame or status someone has or doesn’t have, all of that doesn’t matter when I’m shooting their portrait. I’ve been in high-pressure situations shooting someone who’s time is very important, with none of it to spare. The second they sit down in front of me, when it’s just that person and myself… it’s a very human thing. Most people are hyper-aware of themselves. It’s a very humbling experience on both ends.”

It’s almost like an exercise in becoming at peace with yourself. Strangers sitting across from each other, you move from self-consciousness to not. It’s an exercise in being vulnerable.

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We asked Hase what advice she has for someone just starting out with portrait photography.

AH: “Start by shooting people you know, people you’re comfortable with, just shoot a ton. And don’t feel overwhelmed by studio lighting or feel like you need a 10-light setup to produce a portrait. Start with the available light, the light you have. Natural light, a lamp – try a bunch of different things. Work slowly and understand how the light changes.”

Hase holds up her hand, demonstrating a bonus tip for beginners.

AH: “If you’re waiting for a headshot client to show up, and you don’t have someone to test the light on, you can hold your hand out in front of you and rotate it to see how the light changes. Pretend its a face and rotate around the room, watch how the light falls on your palm when you have it in front of you. As you turn your body in a circle, notice where the shadows fall.”

We end the interview with our hands in the air, testing light sources. Hase reiterates how important professional photography is one last time.

AH: “What your business is will dictate how it is photographed, which is why it’s so important to go to a professional. To be honest, anyone can tell that the photo you have as your headshot is cut out of a group photo from ten years ago. No one is going to take you seriously.

You put so much time and effort into your business and company, it’s worth having a nice collection of photos. It’s worth being taken seriously.”

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