Sue Kelley Harkey

The Artistry of Headshots by Karin Sousa-Racicot. (Featured headshots photographed and refined by Susan Kelley-Harkey.)


Theater headshot

 People are visual.  Statistics show that individuals get more views on social media when a personal photo is included.  According to LinkedIn (, a photo can generate up to 11 times more profile views.  These photos are known as “headshots”.


A good headshot should meet the following criteria:

Be graphically strong, reducible, and clear so that it can be used for a variety of purposes.

Be professional, refined, and natural.

Be in the proper digital file format for web and print use.

Be a good representation of what the person needs it for (i.e., profile picture, real estate, and modeling/acting portfolio).


blackandwhite headshotCrop

Lynn Leimer-Flint/QNEK Productions



Because Susan’s passion is portraiture, she can tap into various techniques used in creating professional portraits, portrait-based commercial illustration, and portrait art studies to do a skillful headshot interpretation.


A wide array of drawing, rendering, and sketching techniques that would normally be used when creating a portrait or illustration, combined with the use of Photoshop, can also be used to do some “lab work” or retouching in order to produce the most attractive and graphically strong photo that best captures the client’s  unique persona.



Red Hat Society Member

Red Hat Society Member



Susan also finds the right angle, pose, lighting, and background that best reflects their true essence.


She usually takes many pictures in the session to ensure success, so that she and the client are pleased with the outcome, which can also foster a surge in self-confidence and self-esteem.  Creating a beautiful headshot is a wonderful marriage of realism and idealism.






In summary, in this digital age, in order to be competitive in the field of visual arts, it is important, and possible, for artists to merge various artistic skills and techniques such as  sketching, painting, and drawing with portraiture, photography, and Photoshop to create an almost iconic representation of a person, to help convey their natural and unique personality, boost their self-esteem, and increase viewership on business-oriented social media sites.

Mark Violette

Mark Violette


Additional  headshot advice and info on developing self-esteem for youth through the performing arts can be found at these sites: (“7 Tips for a Better Headshot”).


Self-Esteem for Life Foundation ( A non-profit organization dedicated to building self-esteem among young people through the performing arts.


Child in contemplation


I may not be totally perfect, but parts of me are excellent.”

Ashleigh Brilliant


This blog is supported in part and has been made possible by a grant from the Vermont Arts Council ( and the National Endowment for the Arts (


NEA triangles Logo with National Endowment for the Arts