How do you get a good professional headshot?

Headshot Photography, Headshot Photography FAQ
Good professional headshot

If you’ve been thinking about refreshing your headshot you’ll want to make sure it’s worth the investment.

In our modern digitally enabled world a good headshot is an essential part of your marketing toolkit. Whether you work for yourself or for an organisation you need a professional headshot that captures you looking your best.

When I’m photographing a headshot there are five stages I always follow to ensure you get a good professional headshot.

Getting to know my client

Once a client has decided they want to book a headshot session I share a pre-shoot questionnaire with them. There are lots of questions that explore who they are and what they do. One of the most important parts of this process is getting to know them better and finding out how they feel about being photographed.

I always encourage my clients to have a consultation call, either on zoom or the phone. It’s much more relaxed that way and it’s an opportunity to ask any awkward questions.

Helping my client decide what to wear

In the article “what is headshot photography” I explore some of the characteristics of a headshot. I also talk about headshot styles.

Like fashion, headshot styles have changed a lot in the last 20 years. The covid-19 pandemic has led to more people working from home and business outfits are becoming more relaxed as well. Back in the 80’s it was all about power dressing and shoulder pads! In the 2020’s it all feels more relaxed and there’s more space for individuality.

I always encourage my clients to consider what they wear, and that includes hair and makeup where appropriate. A good starting point is to look at your company culture or what your personal brand represents. Always dress in a style that’s consistent with your brand.

Let’s consider LinkedIn profile pictures for a moment, as it’s the world’s number one social networking site. Your profile picture follows you wherever you go and it’s separate to the company’s LinkedIn page. The company page talks about the products and services. However, your personal LinkedIn page should reflect you, how you help your clients and your personal brand.

So in summary I encourage my clients to dress in a way that reflects their personal brand, makes them feel comfortable and reflects their personality too!

Create lighting that helps the headshot “pop”

You might have seen headshots that look a bit dull and boring and others that really standout and grab your attention.

Great lighting is often the difference between an average headshot and a great headshot. You don’t have to spend thousands on professional lighting equipment though. A basic understanding of how natural light works can make a huge difference.

A professional photographer will also control the light in a repeatable way to draw the attention to your face and create an image that captures you looking your best.

I prefer soft light for headshots. It’s more complimentary, reduces shadows and softens any wrinkles. A soft key light, combined with a fill light and an additional light to separate the headshot from the background will create that extra “pop”.

Attention to detail

It’s often the little things that separate an average headshot from a great headshot. It could be subtle changes in the body or head position or an adjustment to the hair to show more of the face.

Once I have my lighting set up and we’re ready to photograph I’ll quickly check the details. Is there anything in the background that could be distracting? Is there a hair on the collar, a crease on the shirt or a button undone. When you’re working quickly it’s easy to miss the little details but it’s worth taking the time to check.

A speck of dust or a loose hair can be removed in photoshop afterwards but a collar that’s out of place can’t be fixed.

Relax and have some fun

Finally I always encourage my clients to relax and have some fun. If there’s too much pressure to get the perfect shot in two minutes it’s going to feel stressful.

I’m not a fan of production line headshots. If you create headshots on a conveyor belt they’ll look dull and boring. The lighting may be fine but you’ll struggle to capture any individuality. Unless you’re photographing a professional model, who’s used to being in front of the camera, take it easy, mix it up a little and enjoy the process.

If you’d like to find out more about how to get a good professional headshot, I’ve written a series of headshot photography FAQs. Clients often ask me these questions, so I hope you find them helpful.    

If you prefer a chat instead, or you’d like to plan a headshot session you can book a complimentary consultation call here. 

Learn more about headshot photography and the other services I offer including business storytelling photography, personal branding photography and corporate event photography.