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Get the Right Crop for Your Headshot

SRK Headshot Day

Using the rule of thirds to crop this headshot of Glenn Smith makes the photo flow nicely and fills the image with his face.

The right crop on your headshot is very important. If someone is looking you up on LinkedIn before a meeting, they want to see what you look like. If they type your name into LinkedIn to connect after the meeting, they need to be able to see your face among the dozens of people who might have the same name as you.

This tight square crop of actress Aubrey Thye fills the square with her face making her instantly recognizable on social media like LinkedIn.

I recently saw the exhibit “Masterclass: Arnold Newman” at the Jewish Contemporary Museum in San Francisco. Newman was one of the great portrait photographers of all time. He was also a copious cropper. “Cropping was also a practice Newman valued highly. His edges were determined with minute precision. Trained as a painter, Newman never had doubts about the virtues of cropping. His famed Stravinsky portrait would not have a fraction of its power without the stringent crop.” Your headshot requires that same attention to the details of the crop.

The face is the most important element in a headshot. That is why when I crop our headshots I crop tight. No one wants to see the top of someone’s head or the third button down on their shirt. They want to see that beautiful face.

When I create a headshot, I frame the photo much wider than the final crop. Then I crop in tight for a 3×2 crop and even tighter for a square crop. Each of the three has its use. We will cover those here.

I start by shooting wide. This allows people to do a vertical tight crop later. Also, some folks just want to show all that space around them for overlapping text or other uses. I usually crop this shot so that the eyes are one third of the way down from the top.

The tighter 3×2 crop makes a great photo on the About Page of a website. The horizontal crop allows the eye to move around and explore the photo. Once again, I use the rule of thirds to put one eye where those lines cross. (See the photo at the top of this blog.) This gives a great composition to the photo and creates a more pleasant aesthetic. I crop into the top of the head and at the scapula on the bottom.

Your headshot is tiny on an iPhone view on LinkedIn. Make sure your face is recognizable by cropping close.

The square crop is intended specifically for social media ID shots. (See photo immediately above.) It’s best to crop in tight to fill the square with face. When someone is looking at a social media profile on a phone, that square is little. (See screenshot to the right.) This gives them every opportunity to recognize the person in the photo. Using the rule of thirds to place eyes in the square makes a more interesting composition. A centered shot is just boring. I crop into the head and make that face bigger in the square. On the bottom, I crop just below the collar bone unless the subject has an interesting scarf or necktie that adds to the aesthetic.

If you have a headshot you like and want to try this, all the social media sites allow you to crop your photos. Try cropping in tight. Fill that square with face. Get rid of all that space outside of the face. Remember why it is called an ID photo. You can learn more about posting your headshot on social media sites by clicking here.

You can book your own personal headshot appointment complete with makeup and wardrobe consultation on our website’s Book Now page.  Get a great headshot and see how it can boost the number of people who want to do business with you or bring you in for an interview.

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