What’s considered a good headshot?

Headshot Photography, Headshot Photography FAQ
Headshot photo for young professional female

What’s considered a good headshot? Let’s keep this one simple and I’ll give you a couple of links if you’d like to find out a bit more. 

A good headshot is a bit like your email signature, logo or your LinkedIn headline. It follows you around and allows people to recognise you quickly. The style might vary a little depending on your career and any cultural influences, but if you follow these 5 tips you’ll be well on your way. 

1. Make sure your headshot is up to date

Fashion changes, styles move on and unfortunately we all age a little too. So having a headshot photo that was taken ten years ago is going to give someone a real shock when they meet you! I’d recommend refreshing your headshots every couple of years. 

2. Focus on the head and shoulders

You’ll see plenty of profile photos with a full or half body and there’s no rule saying you can’t do that. I’d encourage you to keep the focus on the head and shoulders though, as your face is the most important part of your headshot.

3. Connect with a warm and engaging expression

A professional headshot photographer will help you relax and develop a warm and confident expression. Any tension in your expression will be easy to read, so I would avoid a conveyor belt session where you feel under pressure to nail the look in five minutes. A good headshot photographer will take the time to get to know you, and have some fun with you, so you actually enjoy the experience too! 

What about smiling in a headshot? There isn’t a yes/no answer to this one as it depends on the situation. Check out the article “do you smile in a headshot” if you’re not sure. 

4. Consider the lighting

You’ve got a few options here. You could go down the natural light route or choose a studio style headshot. A natural light headshot tends to feel a little more authentic and a studio set up tends to feel more polished with a little extra pop. I’d suggest having a look at Pinterest and decide which style you prefer. 

Natural light headshots can be a challenge in the winter when good quality light is in short supply. If you need your headshot taken in the winter, a studio lit headshot is probably your best option. 

Whether you go for a studio or natural light, I recommend a soft light set up. Soft light wraps around the face and softens shadows. It tends to be more complimentary as well and helps to reduce wrinkles and any skin blemishes.

4. Capture your personality

If we look at headshots going back ten to twenty years, they were much more formal, but thankfully it’s become a little more relaxed. There’s plenty of opportunity now to capture your personality too. I’d avoid anything wild though, don’t go too crazy with outfits and makeup as they could be distracting. 

So in summary, take it easy, connect with an engaging expression, have some fun and let your personality shine through. 

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.