Guest Post, Ashley Maul: What Makes a Good Headshot?

I bet when you’re submitting to a magazine you read through your piece checking for all the usual suspects: grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Those are the easy things for us, a practice engrained since grade school. Then it comes time to write your bio and select – ah! – your headshot. It’s frustrating enough to sort through computer files for a picture we actually like of ourselves, or to pose in a never-ending photo session while feeling like Ralphie from A Christmas Story in his bunny outfit. A headshot is not the same as our Facebook profile picture; it’s a professional image used to build our brand and it’s often the first and only visual impression readers and editors have of us. Yikes, no pressure…

Randy Susan Meyers has many excellent tips in “Look Great in your Author Photo!” on The Review Review. Here is a Superstition Review spin on headshots that will help you be ready for publication in our journal:

  1. Know the specifications. Here at SR we require a high quality headshot with the following specs: .jpg format, minimum 300 dpi.
  2. Know your colors. We tend to convert photos to black and white here, so be careful to select a picture that isn’t too dark, or too light – we’d like to actually be able to see you.
  3. Dress to impress. Try to “match” your personality, but do so practically. Just because your smile looks great in it doesn’t mean you should send the pic with you wearing a Family Guy t-shirt. As Meyers points out, “Make certain your clothes send the message you want to project.”
  4. Know how the picture will be used. We crop every picture at SR into 197×197 pixels – a perfect square. Avoid cropping the pictures yourself, especially if you’re cropping someone else out. That tends to make a rectangle picture that we can’t use. We want you to be the center of our reader’s focus, not the empty space next to you.
  5. Make use of the space you have. Since you have a limited space to present yourself in it’s important you do it right. A good headshot is generally from the upper chest up – get it? A headshot. While we’re sure you have lovely feet, we’d rather see your face.
  6. Be aware of your background. Usually, a solid background works best as it means you are entirely in focus. Try to avoid other people/general disarray from showing up in your picture and stealing your thunder. Don’t be afraid of using a different background, just make sure it doesn’t pull a viewer’s focus.
  7. Be careful of phony or cheesy poses. Steer clear of the “Sears Studio” look. This is not easy to do, especially if you are taking the picture at home. I find this is best neutralized by not trying too hard. There’s a lot of pressure to take a classy photo, but remember, with the internet being the way it is, it’s likely this photo of you will remain in cyberspace forever. Make it timeless. Remember, “Photos freeze you in time. They can’t show all the good (though they can certainly reveal plenty of bad).”
  8. Practice your smile. How often do we come across old photos where we’re clearly grimacing instead of smiling as Aunt so-and-so snapped an obligated pose? “Smile with your eyes. That’s how you can project warmth,” says Meyers. Keep it light and natural. Show teeth or none, but make sure you decide before you snap the shot, it can mean less “re-dos” on your quest for the perfect shot.
  9. Be aware of your lighting. Inside is nice because you can control how much light there is, but natural lighting looks wonderful if the picture is shot at the right time of day. There’s no right or wrong to this, only common sense. Don’t wash yourself out.
  10. Build your brand. This is not always something artists/writers remember. Think of yourself as a creative company and your work as the product. What sort of tone should your “company” have and what sort of impression do you want to make? Make it a clear representation of yourself – no one wants to be lied to, even visually.

A great headshot is possible, just take a deep breath and make sure to think before submitting! Have a look below and see some of the great headshots we’ve had here at SR.

Look at how Kamilah Moon (issue 10) remains professional, but her personality isn’t whitewashed. She’s in focus, the lighting is great, and we get the feeling she’s looking right at us.

Kamilah Moon

Check out Tania Katan’s photo from issue 4. She’s engaging the camera even while hiding part of her face. More than that, she’s not covering her face for the sake of it. She’s making a clear and creative statement that is a part of her brand.

Tania Katan

There’s nothing fake about Colton Brock’s smile in his shot from issue 2. This photo is focused solely on his face and his expression looks very genuine.

Colton Brock

These guidelines are great, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. We’ve had many creative headshots here at SR and we encourage everyone to think outside the box – just make sure you can fit inside our 197×197 one. And Meyers has one other great tip I’d like to leave you with: “Look on professional photographers’ sites for hints on make-up, clothes, and other facets of preparation for a photo session.” It’s not cheating if you research before taking a picture and you’ll feel more comfortable by having a better sense of what to do.

Progress Update: Closing In

With just over three weeks left in our submissions period, Superstition Review staff are reaching a critical point in Issue 6. Submissions are pouring in and our section editors are reading and sorting them daily.

Our photoshopper has been busy formatting the head shots of confirmed authors as well as staff. We’re also looking to our Advertising Coordinator to develop new ways to expand our readership. Interview Editors are continuing their research by listening to National Public Radio broadcasts and reading previous interviews from our selected authors. This is allowing them to form more refined interview questions.

Content Coordinator Carrie Grant has confirmed poets James Hoggard and Amanda Auchter for this semester’s issue. Hoggard’s work has been published in Mississippi ReviewHarvard Review and others. His most recent work, out of the 19 books he’s published, is Triangles of Light: The Edward Hopper Poems.

Author of The Glass Crib, Amanda Auchter‘s writing has appeared in numerous reviews and magazines and she has received accolades from Crab Orchard Review and Bellevue Literary Review, among others. We look forward to their work with Superstition Review.

In addition to providing these weekly updates on our progress, I strive to provide information on Superstition Review authors, and upcoming literary events in the community. Stay tuned in the next few weeks for features on Matthew Gavin Frank and Melissa Pritchard.

 

Meet The Interns: Anthony Torres

Anthony Torres is a senior completing his last year at Arizona State University studying English Literature. He plans to attend graduate school in either linguistic studies or literature. His long-term goal is to be an editor at one of the major publishing houses. Along with his internship with Superstition Review, he also works freelance at the number one outsourcing company online, Burn Your To Do List, where he writes and proofreads article submissions to clients. This is his first semester with Superstition Review.

Superstition Review: What is your position with Superstition Review and what are your responsibilities?

Anthony Torres: I am one of two art editors currently working with Superstition Review. As an editor our main job is to choose different works of art from different artists to have in our magazine. Along with choosing artists for our magazine, we also get to correspond with contributors, which includes sending rejection/acceptance notices, as well as asking contributors to advertise in our issue, and to gather headshots and bios of each artist that we select for the magazine.

SR: Why did you decide to get involved with Superstition Review?

AT: I first got involved with Superstition Review because it was one of the only internships that I was offered where I can actually get hands on learning experience in order to become an editor specifically. Once my education is complete, I will venture off in the world where I hopefully can become an editor for a magazine or publishing company one day, and with the skills that I will learn with Superstition Review I can feel better about doing so.

SR: Besides interning for Superstition Review, how do you spend your time?

AT: I currently work freelance for the number one outsourcing company online, as their proofreader/writer. As well, I am also employed with Apple Inc. and spend most of my free time with either of those two jobs. My education is also a primary part of my day-to-day life. So studying takes up most of my time as well, and I usually spend my weekends with friends and family.

SR: What other position(s) for Superstition Review would you like to try out?

AT: I would also like to try interning as the advertising coordinator. I think that’s a major aspect of a magazine, that I feel like I could do some major damage too, in a good way of course!

SR: Describe one of your favorite literary works.

AT: This may be the existentialist me that currently seems to be possessing my body, but The Stranger by Albert Camus has got to be one of my favorites.

SR: What are you currently reading?

AT: Currently, I’m reading Franz Kafka’s The Trial and have been getting into more Albert Camus and existentialist sort of readings. They seem to be attracting my attention right now so I’ll just go with it.

SR: Creatively, what are you currently working on?

AT: As far as writing goes, I write everyday, or try to, whether it be keeping track of current thoughts in my head or just writing to write, the power that a pen and paper have is incredible and to do that every day is amazing. I also dabble a bit with photography, nothing extravagant but its fun to photograph your world, a kind of frozen memory.

SR: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

AT: In 10 years I see myself out of the internship realm and hopefully well into my career goal as an editor. Possibly employed with a great magazine company or even one of the major publishing houses. Either way, in 10 years, I see myself being happy.

Progress Update: We’re off to a smooth start

Even though our staff has only just started week 2 of Superstition Review Issue 6, a clear outline of tasks for the issue is beginning to form. The newest interns to the publication met with each other during a luncheon on Saturday August 28th to discuss their duties and to introduce themselves to their fellow interns. Check back on Friday September 3rd for an inside look at the event.

Last week our Section Editors for art, fiction, interviews, nonfiction, and poetry started researching authors and artists from whom to solicit work. Looking ahead to this week our Section Editors will be making their final choices and will begin sending solicitation letters. They will also start viewing open submissions, which will begin streaming in to http://superstitionreview.submishmash.com/submit during our reading period of September and October. Our Reading Series Coordinator and Advertising Coordinator have also begun researching their options for authors to feature in our two-part reading series and avenues for potential advertising opportunities.

Last but certainly not least our photoshopper is working on editing staff headshots and biographies for the Superstition Review website.

As you can see, we are just getting the ball rolling on Issue 6. Be on the lookout in the coming weeks for continuous updates on our progress.

Progress Update: Movement

It’s been a week with a lot of movement at Superstition Review. Our submissions period closed on Wednesday, so we now are shifting to preparing for our Issue 5 launch, which is quickly approaching in mid-April.

Once submissions stopped on Wednesday night, our Submissions and Solicitations Coordinators posted all final submissions to the section discussion boards for evaluation. Then, our Section Editors quickly finished reading and responding to all submissions. Now, their focus is on sending out acceptance and rejection notifications and awaiting the return of bios and headshots from authors with accepted works.

Our Web Design Team is currently brainstorming ideas for optimizing navigation on our website, while our student web design worker finishes resolving some issues with our site design. Soon, our Web Designers will begin adding the content of this issue to the website!

The rest of the interns are continuing along their individual tracks: our Advertising Coordinator is building connections and getting the word out about our Issue 5 launch; our Interview Coordinator is communicating with our interviewees; our Reading Series Coordinator is finding potential readers for next semester; our Photoshopper is formatting headshots as she receives them; and I’m keeping the blog updated.

The semester’s end is drawing near, and we are excited that everything seems to be falling into place. We can’t wait to see the final outcome of all our hard work!

Meet the Interns: Nicole Davis, Photoshopper

Nicole Davis is a freshman in Graphic Design.

Superstition Review: What is your position with Superstition Review and what are your responsibilities?

Nicole Davis: I am the Photoshopper. I use Photoshop to format all the headshots that are published in SR and I also help with advertising ideas.

SR: How did you hear about Superstition Review and what made you decide to get involved?

ND: I got an email about an internship and applied. I didn’t expect to get it, and I am so excited to be a part of SR this issue.

SR: What are you hoping to take away from your Superstition Review experience?

ND: I want to gain a better understanding of what it takes to put together and publish a magazine.

SR: Describe one of your favorite literary or artistic works.

ND: I really love collages and photomontages like work by Hong Hao.

SR: What are you currently reading?

ND: Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller, I love it so far.

SR: What is your favorite Superstition Review section, and why?

ND: I really love the art section. I’m a painter and a photographer so seeing other people’s art is really inspiring.

SR: What other position(s) for Superstition Review would you like to try out?

ND: I would love to be an art editor or work in advertising.

SR: Do you prefer reading literary magazines online or in print?

ND: Print, I truly love having that tangible object versus the computer screen.

SR: Do you write or create art? What are you currently working on?

ND: I used to write when I was younger but now I’m much more artistic. I’m currently working on a painting of superman for my older brother for his birthday.

SR: Besides interning for Superstition Review, how do you spend your time?

ND: I’m a full-time student, and I also have a part time job and a pizza place called Picazzo’s. I also attend a group called YoungLife and rehearse with the ASU Gospel Choir each week.

SR: What is your favorite mode of relaxation?

ND: Napping. Nothing is better than a nice, mid-day nap.

SR: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

ND: In 10 years I hope to have a job that I enjoy. While my dream is to be a magazine editor, I’m open to my future. I’m not positive where I’ll end up, but my biggest goal is to be happy.

Meet the Interns: Nicole Dunlap, Photoshop Editor

nicoledunlap_1Nicole Dunlap is a English Literature Senior at Arizona State University. She is currently the Photoshop Editor for Superstition Review.

Superstition Review: What do you do for SR?

Nicole Dunlap: So far I have been formatting headshots and designing various banners and logos for the website and advertisements. I plan to continue these activities throughout the semester and I also plan to do any miscellaneous tasks that will be given to a Photoshop editor.

SR: How did you hear about or get involved with Superstition Review?

ND: I first heard about Superstition Review through an advertisement for needed interns.

SR: What is your favorite section of SR? Why?

ND: I like the nonfiction section, just because I tend towards the creative nonfiction genre.

SR: Who is your dream contributor to the journal?

ND: I would love if my friend Kara would contribute some of her artwork. She does mostly performance art, but her paintings and prints are amazing; I would love to help publish some of her art.

SR: What job, other than your own, would you like to try out in the journal?

ND: I would love to be a nonfiction editor. I would love to read submissions and get a feel for the behind-the-scenes operations of the publication process.

SR: What are you most excited for in the upcoming issue?

ND: I’m excited to read the submissions, of course. But I’m mostly excited to see how the redesigning of the website will look.

SR: What was the first book you remember falling in love with and what made it so special?

ND: I’ve had several favorite books but the earliest one that I can remember is a book called Sirena. It was a young adult novel about the Siren mermaids–the author wrote a series of novels that reworked common stories or fairy tales. She put her own twist on them, added in a bit of drama and made them all great for teenagers to read.

SR: What are some of your favorite websites to waste time on or distract you from homework?

ND: www.stumbleupon.com (if you don’t have an account here, you need to make one), www.etsy.com, www.flickr.com.

SR: What are your feelings on digital medium?

ND: I’m hoping that being involved with Superstition Review will help rid of me this opinion, but it’s hard for me to take digital literary pieces seriously. Blogs have to be especially entertaining or humorous for me to like them. And similarly, literature needs to be especially engaging to hold my attention. I’m also a person who prefers a photo to a digital file, a printed page over a PDF. I just like tangible things better.

Do you create art? Tell us about a project you’re working on.

I’m always tweeking my own photographs, trying to decide on a series to shoot, a series to put together.  Currently, I’m working on putting together a poetry/photography book.  I’ve printed out a sentence or two on a transparency so I can bring it into the darkroom with me to make it a part of the printing process.