Professional Headshot Photography


There is a wide variety of ways to take amazing head photos, however, the style in which the photo is taken will depend on the reason clients need to take it. Thus, a color photo in an artistic style with an attractive background and additional details will be appreciated by the modeling agency, but will not be suitable for documents or according to the requirements of the client's company.

Before you start taking headshots, discuss with the clients the purpose for which they need this photo, the style in which they would like to take it. Maybe they already have their ideas or photo examples that you would like to follow, ask them to tell you their ideas. 
If your clients want to take corporate headshots, they can invite you to their place of work taking headshots in the client's work environment. Perhaps, when you go here you will also have amazing ideas.

Photography tips on how to prepare to taking headshots

Photography tips for preparation to taking headshots

Before taking headshots you need to:

  1. sign a contract for a photo session;
  2. compile a specific list of views;
  3. choose clothes for taking headshots;
  4. and create the right background

If a client's headshot photography is required at work, asking about their professional background will help them better understand what style and setting they use to take the best photographs.
We have already said that you can even visit their place of work to plan your photo session together. However, your client may already have ideas ready and some of them may seem unusual to you, so it is very important to ask several questions before the photo session.

Questions you can ask your client might include:

  • Why do you need headshot photos?
  • What is your profession and where do you work?
  • Do you have any ready-made photography ideas?
  • Do you have the necessary props, such as a business suit?
  • Do you need a solid color studio background? 

You can ask any other questions that will help you decide on the style of photography.

Let's take a closer look at effective portrait photography tips that you can use to take stunning portrait shots:

Sign a contract for a photo session

Another important point before taking headshots is drawing up a contract that the client will sign. This contract describes the rules and obligations of the parties during the photography process. You can ask your clients for permission to use their photos in your marketing. If they agree, write this clause into your contract.

Also, the contract must specify the prices and tariffs for taking headshots. To determine the prices you will quote for your photography services. First, check the price lists of other photographers in your city.

Compiling a specific list of views

When clients contact a professional photographer taking headshots, for instance, they experiment with many angles, backgrounds, and requisites to select the perfect shots.
The difference with headshots photographs is that they more clearly delineate what is needed and narrow down the number of angles needed.
So, make a list of the headshots that you will take for your clients, it will be easier for you to work during the photo session. The list might look something like this:

  • Photo № 1: photo of the head, slight smile, serious look;
  • Photo № 2: upper body, smile, serious look away from the camera;
  • Photo № 3: full-length photo;
  • Photo № 4: photo of the head, the client is in motion.

Examples can be completely different, the main thing is that they correspond to the client's requests. It all depends on their professional activities. If the person is a fitness instructor, you can take a photo of him running on a treadmill.

Choosing clothes for taking headshots

Some pieces of advice before taking headshots

Often when clients want to make portraits photographs, they ask their stylist how they need to pick up clothes to create delightful headshots. However, they may also turn to you for advice. So, we prepare some pieces of advice for choosing clothes for taking headshots that you can share them with your customers:

  • We suggest you stop at the choice of classic outfits. Such headshots can be kept longer, as classics never get old, and can also be used for other occasions when headshots are needed.
  • For a photo of the head, neutral pastel solid colors are best suited so that the clothes do not attract the main attention to themselves and the image of the people allows you to do the focusing on his face. 
  • If you need a formal style photo, don't forget to wear your best suit or take it with you, especially for men who forget to bring their jacket. Just in case, bring a few sets of clothes with you to choose the one in which the photos turn out perfect.
  • When choosing the style of clothing for taking photos, avoid bright colors and patterns. A good option would be black, however, it should be selected taking into account the color of the skin, like white.
  • If the client wants to go for red, encourage them to go for a red with a deeper tone.
  • The main thing is to take care of the comfort and confidence of the client during the taking headshots and listen to his ideas.

Create the right background

A professional quality photo has a separation between the main subject and the background. 

  • Thus, the foreground object, and in our case, the head and face, should be clear, while the background is blurred. 
  • To achieve this effect, the best solution is to position the person so that all background objects are a few feet behind. 
  • Do not lean against the wall and studio background, as your shadow may be in the photo. 
  • Remember that you must be at a distance from any objects, including the wall. 
  • Also, one of the pro tips for achieving a blurry background and a quality main subject is to widen the aperture. This will reduce the sharpness when processing the background.

Set up the technique and the light before the taking headshot photography 

Coming to the topic of lighting for photography, we want to share the experience of a professional photographer. Among his several recommendations, we can highlight the following:

  • Use an umbrella or softbox to get rid of unnecessary shadows in the flash;
  • Position the flash close to the subject for softer results. Let it be at a distance equal to a couple of feet from the client;
  • When using flash, start with a low power level, say 1/16, try taking a test photo, then adjust the power until you get the desired photo.
  • Using multiple flashes allows you to get more options. When using a second flash, first use the main light to determine the light on the client, then try a second flash. Also, you can use the second flash as a background light, positioning it behind the subject.

But also we have prepared some more tips for you on how to set up the technique and light.

Choose a quality camera and other equipment

Preparing equipment for taking headshots

Most often, professional photographers take headshots with a 50mm lens or longer.
Our Aperture Tips:

  • Use f/4 for ambient and natural light;
  • You can use f / 8 aperture using artificial light and ready-made backgrounds for studio photography.
  • Using a lens up to f2.8 would also be a great idea.
  • To make your client's face as clear as possible, focus on the eye closest to the camera.

Regarding shutter speed, we advise you the following:

  • Set to 1/100 second when using a 50mm lens;
  • With a 70mm lens, use 1/140 second.

Set up quality lighting 

Lighting is one of the most important components of a professional headshot photography and it's up to the photographer to try and set the light as best as possible. So, try to follow the next photography tips:

  • For biz and actor photos, try to set the light evenly, you can take a photo in a restrained style (with a black background). But it's better to use a more balanced effect.
  • Classical lighting would be a good option, using one source from above and a second (also called a reflector) from below, try to concentrate the key light slightly away from the center to get more clarity on the object itself.
  • Also, make sure that the person is 45 degrees away from the camera and that their face is facing the lens. Quite often, the mistake is that people look past the camera and therefore may not get exactly what they wanted while viewing the picture.

One idea for the excellent headshot photography might be:

Position the person so that their body is turned 45 degrees away from the camera, with their face looking directly into the lens. Add a lot of light in front of the subject by moving it slightly to the left. Use a reflector on their face to reduce harsh shadows. Turn on a small softbox behind the client to separate the hair from the background.

How to take a professional headshot photography 

Prepare your client for the photo

Before taking the headshots, it is also important to prepare person for the photo, choose the right angle, smile, etc. Consider a few photography tips from vocational photographers:

  1. Seat people in the right chairs
  2. Work on your client's perspective
  3. Work on your client's perspective
  4. Try to relax before taking a photo
  5. Try to make a funny face for the first photo
  6. Communicate with the clients and encourage them

Seat people in the right chairs

People tend to feel more confident when they are in a seating position. The photographer should ask the client to put the client's hands-on their upper thighs, this allows them to control their hands so that they do not interfere in the frame.
However, sometimes when the client is in a standing position, head photos can turn out better, so experiment with different variations to select the best headshot photography

Work on your client's perspective

Fashion for formal poses dictated by photographers passed. However, there are general tips on the position of the subject in the background that make the photo more amazing.
We prepare an instructions for you, that helps photographers to do a right client’s perspective and then receive a beautiful headshot photography

Align posture

Most people know about this point, however, when excited at a photo session, they pinch the muscles of the back and shoulders and begin to stoop

Take the right look

Ask them to look away and look at the camera when you count to three

Push the chin of your clients forward a little and lower it down

More often than not, people involved in photography will tilt their head back and lift it, especially after straightening their posture, which does not lead to the result that is expected

Photograph your subject just above his eyes

We advise you to try this method, it will give amazing results

Take the photo while your client is moving

Some people are better on the move, so keep this fact in mind when you take the photo

  • Try to relax before taking a photo

A good tip before taking headshots is to talk to the client and the photographer for a short time on abstract topics, even the banal questions "How are you" can greatly relax a worried client and distract him from his tense thoughts before doing headshot photography. You can try to start a conversation about children, pets, choosing a car, etc., this will be a good start before you start working together.

  • Try to make a funny face for the first photo

One of the portrait photography tips on how the client can relax and make the photo session comfortable is to make the first shots deliberately unsuccessful by making funny facial expressions. This will help relieve stress and after funny photos get more successful comfortable headshots.

  • Communicate with the clients and encourage them

When you photograph people, constantly talk to them, reassure them that they are doing everything right and that the photos come out exactly the way they are needed. Sometimes you may feel that not everything is so optimistic, however, your words will cheer up your clients, which will help to relax him and get more attractive pictures. Constantly praise your client, especially with the right turn of the head, angle, smile.

Don't forget to add your headshot photography to your portfolio

If you have your online portfolio, don't forget to put your headshot photography there. This will help give more information about you to the visitors of your page, and perhaps many employers will wanna contact you to offer profitable deals.
If you don’t have your online portfolio, and you’re looking for the best platform to create your online portfolios, then you need to seek help from Portfoliobox. Portfoliobox is committed to being the world's best website builder for artists. The tools offered by our company will be quite easy to use, and the websites will amaze you with their originality.

Before we get started with PortfolioBox, we want to share a few facts about this site:

  • With most platforms, you have to choose a common theme to construct your online portfolio. Finding beautiful and resembling themes may not be that difficult, but changing them or customizing the design can be very difficult. But with our help, you can choose any template you like on any page and combine them on your page, the number of possible combinations is unlimited.
  • Portfoliobox offers you three types of accounts: Light, Pro & Pro Plus. The advantage of a premium account is that it contains everything you might need to construct your site, including a custom .com domain.

We are working on our online service so that you can use it to construct your portfolio website. Visit our site to see the best examples of online portfolios and our blog, where you can read interesting articles that provide useful and effective tips for creating your portfolio.


  • Should I wear makeup for taking headshots?

If the client wants to do makeup before taking a photo, where the face should appear in close-up, then nude makeup can be done.

  • Do headshot photography need to be polished?

Select the headshot photography that turned out the best, show them to your client to confirm that he also likes them, then start the process of processing them. To achieve a clean edited look, use fewer effects. Work on the clarity and contrast of the image, and you can also apply additional touches in the form of teeth whitening and a smooth skin effect.

  • What hairstyle should a woman do for taking headshots?

  1. Alternatively, you can pull the hair up on the top of your head, this way it can get rid of the double chin and make your neck thinner.
  2. As for creating curls, this might be a good idea, but don't get carried away with it.
  3. Curling straight hair is not recommended.
  4. Before the photo session, you can style your hair with special products.
  • What clothes should not be worn for headshot photography?

  1. Do not wear neon clothes;
  2. Baggy clothes;
  3. It is not recommended to wear clothes with patterns;
  4. Clothes, style, and color that you do not usually wear, you should look natural in the photo, as you look in life.

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