First of all, here’s how not to do it!
This is a typical selfie. The phone is too close and the photo is distorted – a bit like one of those curvy mirrors that used to be at a funfair.
You can see the distortion I mean in the photo of me (yikes!). My already large nose seems to be even bigger and my head is an odd shape. Not very flattering. That’s all from having the camera too close. So you’re going to need a friend or colleague to help. A selfie isn’t going to cut it.
If you have a compact camera with a zoom option, set the zoom somewhere in the middle of its range and use that instead of the phone. You’ll be able to stand further away and get a much more flattering picture.
If you need to use a phone, then stand about 4 feet away (twice as far as the length of your arm is a good way to remember). The picture will include more than the head & shoulders you might need, but you can crop it later.
The cluttered background in this photo needs avoiding. A plain white wall is great, but stand a little way in front of the wall so your own shadow isn’t in the photo.
Next is the light. Near a window is great. Direct sunlight, although bright, is actually best avoided altogether. Even if the sunlight isn’t hitting the person’s face, it will still create very bright, distracting splashes of light as in the image below.
Move out of the direct sunlight, or wait for a different time of day, or cloudy weather!
If possible it’s a lot better to look towards the window, or in any case not directly away from it. That way the light from the window hits most of your face, lighting up the eyes, and you won’t be in silhouette.
In the second photo, the jacket is good, but the patterned shirt is a bit bright. The best clothes to wear are plain colours. Stripes are best avoided. Another good tip is to stand slightly sideways to the camera, not face-on. Doing this instantly makes everyone look thinner!