Apparently it’s Israel

Israel came bottom in a list of 25 countries with a score of 66.39%. Chile came top with a score of 69.88%. But we can’t be too smug in the UK; we came in at 22nd on the list. The report was put together by photography portal, Snappr, which analysed facial expressions, smiles, cropping, backgrounds, editing, use of colour amongst other things.

And guess what?

The smile analyser marks you down if you don’t use a neutral background AND if you don’t show your teeth!

This really struck a chord with me because so many of us hate our teeth, including me. Personally, I blame all those cosmetic dentists in Hollywood for creating perfect looking but over whitened veneers. Those of us who don’t like our teeth struggle to put them on show for a photo, so we end up with an awkward smile. It creates a big hang up too, making us reluctant to be photographed.

But I have good news for you. When real people see your photo, they look at the whole picture, imperfect teeth and all. They don’t examine it pixel by pixel. People want to know what sort of person you are, but they aren’t looking for perfection. They’re looking for honesty, integrity, trust, confidence and approachability.

The neutral background thing was interesting though and I’m inclined to agree with that. When people are looking for a particular skillset or profession on LinkedIn or on a website, they skim through loads of profiles really quickly. The profiles with the best photos stand out, get noticed and get clicked on. If your photo isn’t clear, if you don’t look the part, if you don’t stand out then they skip past you. Your opportunity to do business with that person has gone forever.

So, which background works best? Some people think white is too harsh, others think it’s the only one to go for. Other people prefer dark backgrounds, but critics say it looks too sombre. And they are all right and all wrong at the same time. Because there isn’t a definitive answer to this. In my opinion, and it’s just that, but with 12 years’ experience in taking headshots and business portraits I have worked out some basic rules to decide on the best background.

If you have light coloured hair and fair skin then a dark background is likely to be best as it adds contrast and makes the person stand out from the background. But if you have dark hair or darker skin tones then a light or even a white background will be more appropriate for your headshots. The reason is the same – it adds contrast and makes you stand out.

But should the photo be really close cropped or not? It depends on your style, the photograph, your facial expression, and it has nothing to do with age. If you’re a bit more reserved and see yourself as a quiet, maybe slightly shy person then a close crop is not for you. But if you’re more of an extrovert and you want to show off that side of your personality then close cropping and bright colours are the way to go. They deliver the kind of impact that shows off your personality perfectly.

If you’re digesting all this, often contradictory, information and wondering what’s best for you then the best thing is to talk to your photographer about what you need, your style and personality. A specialised headshots photographer will understand your concerns, fears and goals and be able to guide you through the whole process and coax that winning smile out of you at your headshots session.

And as for being at the top or bottom of some computer-generated league table, well, I wouldn’t worry. But I do think it’s important to stand out from your competitors. A great headshot is the perfect way to show your difference.

If you’re concerned about your headshots and you’d like to chat about having new ones taken, why not book a free consultation so you can talk to one of our team about having new headshots and what’s involved.