Top 4 Tips for Mastering Headshot Photography

Headshot Photography

Headshot photography is one of the most consistently in-demand services a photographer can offer. No matter what profession, nearly everyone needs a headshot. Businesses like to put headshots of their employees on their websites to add a personal touch. Individuals need headshots for their websites, portfolios, and social media pages. These days, nearly everyone has some side hustle, and many have found a niche service that means they need a specialized headshot.

What is Headshot?

Headshot photography is an excellent market for photographers. Everyone needs a headshot, from corporate worker-bees to Instagram influencers. But what exactly is a headshot?

Headshots are photos that focus on the face. They provide a quick look at you and help people put a face to your name. They are usually corporate in nature, meaning they are for business purposes. But the lines between business and personal life blur as our lives become more connected through social media. More and more professional-style headshots are used for Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn profiles.

Classically, you’d find headshots on a business’s website to give it a professional but personal touch. Some professions, like realtors or lawyers, rely heavily on headshots for marketing purposes. Actors and models need good headshots as part of their portfolios. Some businesses ask for headshots to be included with resumes and job applications.

So who needs a headshot? Basically, everyone does!

Top Seven Headshot Photography Tips

Tip 1–Chat About the Purpose of the Images

The first step to any headshot photo session is to have a firm grasp on exactly what the client needs. This will set the stage for all of the decisions you make going forward. Where will you shoot, in the studio or on location? In their office or outdoors? What wardrobe choices must be made? Do they need a formal-style headshot because of their profession, or do they need something more relaxed and situational?

The importance of this conversation with your clients cannot be overemphasized. The needs of a lawyer are going to be completely different than the needs of a yoga instructor, and their two headshots should look very different.

Headshot Photography - 7 Tips to Take Professional Headshots

Tip 2–Find a Location That Works

Backgrounds for headshots can range from actual backdrops in a studio to pretty much any indoor or outdoor setting. While the location is unimportant, the elements that make a great commercial headshot are pretty consistent. Namely, your background must not be distracting. Plain-colored walls, empty offices, stairwells, or any other location with neutral colors will work.

Tip 3– Set up your Photography Studio

Having your own photography studio frees up your imagination from standard settings and lets you stand out from the competition. A studio will give you complete control of your photography work process. Besides, it also eliminates the heavy costs you incur while preparing for a shoot in a rented professional studio. Do read our article on how to set up your own photography studio.

Tip 4 – Pose the Subject Simply

Headshot poses seem pretty straight-forward at first, but once you’ve shot a few, you’ll quickly learn that it is anything but easy. With so little to work with, small details become more important. Remember, you aren’t shooting professional models. They’ll be looking to you for guidance with posing and wardrobe choices.

The first rule of thumb is to match the client’s posture. You can have them sit or stand, but make sure they sit straight with their shoulders back. Most are positioned with the shoulders 45 degrees to the camera lens and their heads tilted towards you. You may need to prompt them to look right into the lens, not at you or your flashes.

Ask your client if they have a preferred angle for photos. You’ll be surprised by how many people have a positive answer. Even if they defer to your judgment, they will appreciate that you took the time to ask.