Your Headshot - How-to

In Wednesday's post, I gave you a list of DON'Ts for your LinkedIn profile photo, and today, I'll walk you through how I created my last two headshots.

I'll admit, I waited way too long to replace my photo, but, I take horrible pictures. I just never look good in them. But, please, don't let procrastination and a fragile ego prevent you from making the effort to improve your professional image online.

Here is my last headshot:

Don't recognize it? 

How about now?
I did not have the funds at the time to even spring for lamps or good bulbs, so, my choice was between having horrible lighting in my 100 year old apartment, yucky fluorescent lighting in the office (like you saw in my even older headshot in Wednesday's post) or taking my photo outside.
I was crouched down because I didn't have a tripod and had to rest my camera on the windowsill.
Of course, none of that really matters, because it doesn't show in the final image.


The above shot was taken outside in evening light. Morning and evening light are the best for flattering photos, because they come in at an angle and aren't as bright and harsh as sunlight in the middle of the day.

My current headshot was taken indoors, late at night, so I had to try something different. I took the table lamps from my son's room and our office and removed their shades, and replaced their normal bulbs with 'daylight' bulbs (which we've recently started using in our ceiling and bathroom fixtures).
What are Daylight Bulbs?
A daylight bulb is mimicking the color of light from the sky, not the direct beam of the sun. These bulbs are often marketed as "full spectrum¨ or "daylight¨ bulbs but there are also bulbs not marketed as "full spectrum¨ that produce the same bluish white color appearance and perceived brightness of daylight. Many of these bulbs also do an excellent job at accurate color rendering.
I chose to shoot myself with my contacts in, because I didn't want to have to worry about my glasses causing glare, reflections, or having to additionally tweak the angles of my face, so that I didn't have a rim blocking my eye, etc.


Let's face it, the camera is the easiest part of the equation these days. If you don't have one with decent resolution, one of your coworkers probably has one in their pocket. I used a digital camera with an auto-timer for both of my shots, but, if you want to try using your iPhone, there are apps like TimerCam that can help.
You'll be taking photos at the largest resolution possible for your device, and cropping & shrinking it down later to fit the size requirements of whatever you'll use it for.


If you have someone take your photo for you, rather than using a timer and a tripod, try to use someone taller than you, or adjust the angles in other ways. The photo should be taken from slightly above you for the most flattering angle. Have them stand on a step stool or you can sit/kneel, as appropriate.

Position your body at about a 30 degree angle, then turn your head toward the camera. The shoulder closest to the camera should come down a little and you're leaning slightly toward the lens.
Your best bet for a good headshot is using what they call a 3/4 view for your face. While you don't want to be squarely facing the camera, you do need to be looking at it.
What is a 3/4 View? 
3/4 view is where your subject turns their face just slightly in one direction until you cannot see the far ear any more.

I do have a full-sized tripod, but, I did not use it for my headshot. As mentioned, the camera should be higher than your head, so that you are looking up at it. In my case, I used my gorillapod, perched on some furniture, to achieve the desired angle.You could hook it around just about anything you needed to, and adjust the angle fairly precisely.

Shoot, Shoot, Shoot... and then Shoot some more

I took approximately forty photos of myself (~cringing~ I know, it was awful) before coming up with something even halfway decent. I might have taken even more to get a better image, but, alas, my husband and sons were banging on the locked door to the room every 10 minutes asking if I was finished yet.

At first I had to find the right distance for the camera, then I realized my blouse's pattern was too busy and bright and changed shirts, then I had to find the right height for a flattering angle, then I tried a few different expressions (huge smile... oh, no too much gums! small smile, with teeth, without etc).
This requires lot of experimentation and you will not get a great shot on the first try, so don't be discouraged, just keep shooting.


Remember what I said about having nothing in the background? That's super easy to fix, along with cropping out the excess from the frame... just use a free program like Paint.NET.

Depending on how good your lighting was, you can also lighten or increase the contrast quite easily with Paint.net. I use the erase tool to take out the background of my photo and the autobalance feature to try to correct any bad coloring.
Now, I do have a problem with my current headshot, and I'll try to rectify it next time. If you're *really* good with photoshop or similar, you could correct it here, but, alas, I am not.

I have rosacea, so my color can be horrible at times. Especially when I'm hot, like when I've got two unshielded lightbulbs a foot from my skin for an hour. So, in my photo, I'm actually wearing three layers of foundation on my face (both tinted sunscreen and makeup) to cover up my red spots. But, as you can see, the flushing extends down my chest and makes the image look a bit weird. Next time I do a headshot, I'll apply foundation all the way down to my shirt and play around with more wardrobe choices.

My hair is pretty wavy, but, I straightened it for this photo, to make sure I could crop out the background easily (hard to do with flyaways, without making it look unnatural).

I did also pass it on to my Mom, Peggy, to see if she could help with the discoloration on my chest, but, that's a bit tough without real experience in that realm. She did, however, help me out by trying on a few different background colors for me. I thought I wanted something light, but, she also suggested this charcoal color and I ended up thinking that it looked the best out of all of the options she gave me.

These tips are borne from my own experience, if you're interested in trying this yourself, I'd encourage you to hit Google and see what other advice and tips people have provided. Oh, I've also heard that, the more painful the pose, the better it will look in the photo.

Of course, despite all I've learned about making do, next time, I might pony up and pay to have them done professionally. It is a bit of a pain, doing all of the lighting and having to change the background afterward and constantly get up to check the quality of your shots, when all of the necessary accessories and skills exist in a photographer's studio already.


Your Headshot - LinkedIn DON'Ts

I initially made a headshot for use with my articles, then my blog, but, almost everyone has a LinkedIn profile these days, and everyone needs a photo there. In today's post, I'll give you some DON'Ts for professional looking photos, and on Friday I'll tell you how to make a good headshot by yourself if you're disinclined to pay someone to do it for you.
In the November 2012 homepage poll, we see that 52% of AUGI members have a LinkedIn profile, 60% use Facebook and 24% use Twitter.
73% of recruiters are checking you out online, even if you don't give them a specific link yourself. You want to ensure you're presenting a professional image when they do find you.
But, I'll just assume we're purely talking LinkedIn, serving as an online resume and a way to stay connected with colleagues, current and past (and potentially, future), though you might use your headshot across a wide variety of sites.
After spending some time on LinkedIn, here are some headshots faux pas that cause me to twitch:

DON'T use a logo or cartoon as your image, that's even worse than having no image at all. Same goes for anything goofy like sideways or upside-down images
DON'T have no image at all, it makes your profile look incomplete and feels impersonal
You're 7x more likely to have your profile viewed from search results, if you have a photo than if you do not
DON'T be a gender-bender. If you've got a gender-neutral name, having a photo with a man and a woman in your shot is probably not going to prevent sexism, it will certainly be awkward and confusing
DON'T have more than one person in your image. This isn't Facebook, no matter how proud you might be of your partner, children, best buddy or pets, a professional site is not the place to show them off. This profile is about *you*, not your spouse, keep that in mind and don't mention them anywhere
DON'T get sloppy on your crop job. The photo is of you and your best bud and you just crop him out, but, we can still see his shoulder. Take a couple of minutes to use a real image editing program to remove any trace of other people
DON'T use a really old profile image. I like gray hair on the fellas, but, I roll my eyes every time I see your headshot from back when your hair was a different color
DON'T use something sexy. I cannot believe I actually have to say this, but, guys... keep your shirts on! And, of course, ladies, come-hither duckface looks are for your OKCupid profile, but not for your resume.
If you want some examples of things to DO, check out some of the images of your favorite authors or LinkedIn connections. Before doing my last headshot, I looked closely at a few respected writers in the industry to see how they presented themselves and tried to emulate their poses and styles
DON'T have a busy background. You need a plain background so that you are clearly the focus. Again, this isn't a family photo album or Facebook, the background should be either a solid color, or a simple stage (like a desk or bookshelf, no trees or anything with a lot of detail... not that you have to shoot in front of a blank wall, just that the final image should not contain them)
DON'T have a panorama, even if it's a blue sky or a white mountain. The focus should be on your face... not a miniscule pixel that vaguely resembles a human
DON'T ignore the aspect ratio. Sizes should be changed by cropping or scaling, not by freehand resizing
DON'T brag on your hobbies. Do you like cars and traveling and sports? That's nice, but, bring it up after you're hired. I think more exotic images or expensive toys could potentially make an employer feel like you are out of their price range or more interested in playing than working
DON'T dress too casually or display logos on your clothing or wear hats, flashy jewelry or sunglasses (or too formal... men *might* be able to get away with using a tux shot, if it's done right, but, no wedding dresses or evening gowns, ladies)

DON'T make it look like a mugshot. Okay! having a straight-on shot under fluorescent office lighting in an unflattering color isn't the *worst* thing you can do, but, I assure you, you can do better. Throw in some angles and use decent light to make a big difference

I'll cover how to do headshots solo, and on the cheap, in my next post.


Dork Side Tips: Very Valuable Variables & Commands

Well, this wraps up my recap of the Tips from the Dork Side, and the extra tips and commentary slipped within, I hope something has proven useful.

Very Valuable Variables                                                                          

I wish this were a fictional account, but, true story, I once saw someone asking a question on a social media network about how to bring back their missing File Open/Select File dialog. The reply was “That stupid thing happens all the time, you have to reinstall AutoCAD.” Imagine my look of horror. I couldn’t post “Just type FILEDIA!” fast enough. 
(This system variable can be changed by a crash, or by running a routine that suppresses the dialog but fails to turn it back on at the end.)

AutoCAD allows so many things to be controlled by System Variables, and it is hard to learn or recall more than a handful of them. I encourage you to poke around the help files and see what some of them do (start with the below list). 
And, if you’re experiencing weird behavior, just post your question in the AUGI forums, where you’ll get much better advice from experienced peers about the cause and solution than the poor guy mentioned above.

Have you tried…?

Here are some system variables you can look up and experiment with:


And, if you have not used any of the commands in the below list, give them a try:


I hope I have shown you something you hadn’t seen yet. If you have some favorite commands and methods of your own, please stop by the AutoCAD Tips and Tricks forum to share.


Dork Side Tips: Keyboard Navigation

Flight of the Keyboard Navigator

If you are old-school like me, you might always keep one hand on the keyboard. I habitually keep a few programs and many drawings open and like to navigate using typed commands:

Use Alt + Tab to toggle between open files and programs
Use Ctrl + Tab to toggle between different open AutoCAD files
Use Ctrl + PgUp & PgDn to toggle between layouts / modelspace – Page Down to move right, Page Up to move left
Use Ctrl + R to cycle through viewports

Using the keyboard when Coding VB.net

The above tip reminded me of something from my programming classes back in college. We used Visual Studio, but, none of the instructors directly covered the various ways to progress after making your autocomplete options. I noticed that all of them chose one method and used it over and over, rather than switching between them, which I found to be more efficient. When you're typing out a bunch of code, you don't want to move your hand off the keys to click an option with your mouse or the arrow keys or hit an unnecessary space if one could be added for you automatically.

When using Intellisense (like AutoCAD's command complete feature), you type a couple of letters, and objects/commands/variables etc pop up.
  • Pressing SPACE will fill in the selected item and insert a space after it. 
  • And, of course, hitting ENTER will fill in the selected item, and move your cursor to the next line. 
  • Obviously, you don't want a space after every single component of your code, so, hitting TAB will fill in the selected item, and keep your cursor at the end of it, so that you may continue typing.

 You can also toggle between the Intellisense tabs (Common and All), using the keyboard ALT< and ALT> (not that you need it with the simple example given in my code, but, trust me, it can come in handy).

I haven't spent enough time programming to have picked up any other keyboard navigation tips in Visual Studio. But, if you've got some additional to share, I'd love to learn them, too.


Dork Side Tips: Repath Xrefs, Snip Xrefs, Prevent Palette Docking


Just for Reference…

Do you need to re-path x-refs for a large number of drawings? A quick and easy way to accomplish this is by using the Reference Manager application. Go to your Windows Start menu, click Programs, then Autodesk, then AutoCAD, and you’ll find the Reference Manager application. Click the Add Drawings button, and the program will show you the data for each of the selected drawing. Once you select the necessary attachments, you’ll be able to edit a path or perform a Find and Replace on them.

For a first look at how'd you'd go about programming something yourself, using lisp and scripts, check out this class called "Changing Hundreds of AutoCAD Drawings in a Hurry." 

Snip Snip

Working in a large hospital, our projects are usually a pretty small part of each massive floor plate, so we use the XCLIP command quite a bit to omit irrelevant extents of a plan. Did you know that, since AutoCAD 2008, you can invert the clip selection, cutting a hole in your existing plan that you can fill in with new data?

Selecting the xref will bring up the contextual External Reference ribbon tab. Select Create Clipping Boundary, select Invert clip (or type I), then select a polyline boundary or drag a rectangle around the needed area.

Prevent Docking

To move a Tool Palette out of your way without having it dock on the edge of your screen, simply hold down the Control key while you’re moving it and it will remain floating.

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Dork Side Tips: C'mon baby, lets DVIEW Twist

I hope I gave everyone an earworm with that punny section heading, because I can't call the DVIEW command without breaking into song.
Continuing on with my Tips from the Dork Side...

C'mon baby, let's DVIEW Twist

Buildings are never built perfectly in line with magnetic north, or with each other. My campus’s plan (see yesterday's blog post for a brief explanation of how my campus is assembled) is accurate in direction, but, that means that when I want to use AutoCAD to print out a floor plan for just one of the buildings, they will not appear straight on the plot. I set up layouts for each of the buildings, so that I can print them ‘straight’.

Pull up a layout tab and click into the viewport, zooming into your preferred area. Type DVIEW and select an object. You will be prompted to select from different available options, type TW for the twist option, then rotate the view for best fit, without having moved the modelspace entities at all.

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