What is the purpose of a headshot?

Headshot Photography, Headshot Photography FAQ
Professional headshot of a mature business woman

What is the purpose of a headshot? When it comes to creating a positive first impression a professional headshot is a great way to help you stand out. Whether it’s on your website about page, part of a magazine article or your LinkedIn profile , you’ll want to show up looking your best. 

A headshot can be described as a visual handshake. It’s a head and shoulders photo, that shows you looking confident and approachable and importantly it allows people to recognise you.  

As our world becomes increasingly digitised, most social platforms have the option to add a profile picture. So sharing a good quality professional headshot or a profile picture that accurately captures you and your personality is an essential part of your marketing toolkit and your personal brand. 

Let’s take a look at LinkedIn as an example

With nearly 800 million users LinkedIn is now the world’s largest social networking site and it’s becoming increasingly popular every year. For a significant proportion of users, LinkedIn is used to build collaborations, to network and to generate new business. So it’s one place where you need to get it right. 

Imagine you’re connecting with someone new who’s been recommended and you reach out to them on LinkedIn.

Examples of a LinkedIn headshot

In the first example there’s no profile picture. How does that make you feel? I’ve heard phrases like “why are they hiding” or “why can’t we see them”. There’s an immediate lack of trust because we expect to see a profile picture. So being visible is essential if you want to be taken seriously on LinkedIn. 

In the second example there’s a headshot but it’s a smart phone selfie. The photo isn’t in focus and it feels a bit distorted. We have a headshot which is great, but it doesn’t look professional and doesn’t show the person looking their best. It may be harsh but people will judge you based on your headshot.  

In the final photograph the headshot has been taken professionally. The light is soft and the photograph is sharp and well exposed. There’s great eye contact, the eyes sparkle and the expression is warm and engaging. The outfit is on brand too and they look professional. 

These are the thought processes we go through when we look at a headshot. We scan quickly and form an opinion in an instant. This exercise quickly illustrates the purpose of a headshot.

In the article “how do you take a professional headshot” I explore this in a bit more detail. I look at the five elements that contribute to creating a successful headshot, including…

  • Why we focus on the face 
  • The importance of capturing a warm and engaging expression 
  • Avoiding distractions
  • Using soft light and why it’s great for headshots 
  • Choosing the right camera and lens

To answer the original question of what is the purpose of a headshot, whatever your profession, it’s important to create a headshot that reflects your personality and your personal brand.

If you’d like to find out more, 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.