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Tips for Taking the Perfect Business Headshot

kokou adzo



job, office, team

A great business headshot is more than just a photograph.  It’s a powerful tool in your personal branding arsenal and can make a vital first impression for both you as a potential partner in business and your business itself. It’s the visual handshake that greets your current and potential clients, colleagues, and the broader professional community.

Here, we’ve put together our top tips on how to overcome camera shyness and prepare for a headshot that captures not just your likeness, but the essence of your professional persona.

1. Approach Your Headshot with a Sense of Purpose

A business headshot is not just about looking good. It’s about projecting the right image that resonates with your industry, your professionalism, and your personal brand. Whether you’re a creative artist, a corporate executive, or an entrepreneur, your headshot should reflect the essence of your professional identity. It should communicate your confidence, reliability, and approachability.

Take the time to get a very clear sense of what you’re going for and really embrace the significance of this visual representation before your photo session. It will make all the difference!

2. Choose the Right Photographer

It’s important to research and choose a photographer whose style aligns with your professional image and personal branding goals. Start by reviewing their portfolio to get a sense of their expertise in capturing professional headshots. Pay attention to how they use lighting, angles, and backgrounds to enhance the subject’s features and convey a professional demeanor.

A skilled photographer will not only have technical expertise but also the ability to make you feel at ease, guiding you through poses and expressions that best suit your professional persona. Don’t hesitate to discuss your vision and expectations with them, as this collaboration will be key to achieving a headshot that truly represents you. And, if they’re not the right fit, go ahead and cancel even if you have to eat the deposit.  Buying an expensive photo package for headshots that aren’t going to help you reach your goals will absolutely not be worth it.

Also, while it may seem like a big money saver to do your business headshots at home, there can be some risks. Home environments often lack the professional lighting, background, and equipment necessary to capture a polished and high-quality headshot. Poor lighting can lead to unflattering shadows, and a cluttered or unprofessional background can detract from the overall image. Hiring a professional photographer is the best way to get a headshot that conveys your professionalism.

3. Select the Appropriate Attire

Your attire should be a reflection of your professional role and the industry you belong to. Opt for outfits that are classic and timeless, avoiding overly trendy styles that may quickly date your photo. Solid colors generally work best, as patterns or prints can be distracting on camera. Consider colors that complement your skin tone and add a sense of vibrancy to the image.

It’s also advisable to bring a couple of different options to the shoot, providing an opportunity to see what looks best on camera. Remember, the goal is to look polished and professional, so well-fitted, wrinkle-free clothing is a must. Your attire should boost your confidence and make you feel comfortable, as this will reflect in your posture and expression.

4. Groom for Success

Men should consider a fresh haircut and a clean shave or neatly trimmed facial hair, as unkempt hair can detract from a professional appearance. For women, a hairstyle that frames the face elegantly is ideal. Whether you choose to wear makeup or not, the key is to aim for a natural, polished look. Makeup should be used to enhance your features subtly, avoiding heavy applications that may look overdone under the camera’s bright lights.

Both men and women should ensure their nails are clean and well-groomed, as hands can sometimes be visible in the shot. Remember, the focus of the headshot is your face, and the grooming should complement, not overpower, your overall look.

And remember that this is not the time to do a big last minute panic about your complexion and book an aggressive treatment you’ve never tried before at a laser skin care clinic. As with weddings and other big photo events, skip to your usual routines as best you can to avoid anything unexpected.

5. Practice Your Pose and Expression

Spend some time in front of a mirror practicing your poses and expressions. Find your best angles and work on a natural, engaging smile that reaches your eyes, often referred to as a ‘smize’. Avoid stiff poses and aim for a relaxed yet confident posture. Your photographer will guide you through various poses, but having a sense of your most flattering angles can be helpful.

It’s also good to practice different expressions to see what feels most natural and conveys the professional image you’re aiming for. Remember, a genuine expression will always translate better on camera than a forced one.

6.  Select the Right Setting and Background

If you’re opting for a studio setting, your photographer will likely have various backdrop options to choose from. Neutral or muted tones typically work best, as they don’t distract from the subject. However, if your professional brand is more creative or unconventional, a colorful or textured backdrop might be more suitable. For those preferring a natural setting, choose a location that isn’t too busy or distracting.

Outdoor settings can provide a relaxed and approachable feel, but the time of day and weather conditions should be considered. Discuss with your photographer the image you wish to project and the background options available to achieve that. The right setting should complement and enhance your professional image, not compete with it.

7. Mentally Prepare for the Photo Shoot

Anxiety and nervousness can be easily captured in a photograph, so take some time to calm your nerves before the shoot. Deep breathing exercises, meditation, or even a short walk can help you center yourself and reduce any pre-shoot jitters.

Even if you hate being photographed, as well, do your best to keep a positive mindset on the day. When you feel good about yourself and your abilities, it naturally shines through in your photographs. A genuine sense of warmth and professionalism can only be conveyed when you believe in your own worth. Remind yourself of your accomplishments and the skills that make you a valuable professional. Confidence is a key ingredient for a successful business headshot.

8. Arrive Early on the Day of the Shoot

On the day of your photo shoot, it’s essential to be well-prepared to make the most of the opportunity. Start by creating a checklist to ensure you have everything you need. This may include multiple outfit options, grooming essentials, and any accessories that can enhance your image. Being organized and having these items ready can save you time and reduce stress on the day of the shoot.

Arriving early is another crucial aspect of a successful photo session. Punctuality not only shows respect for the photographer’s time but also gives you some extra minutes to get comfortable with the environment and lighting. It also allows you to discuss your expectations with the photographer, ensuring they understand your vision and goals for the shoot. Effective communication with your photographer can help them capture the perfect shot that aligns with your professional branding.

9.  Go Forth and Upload

Once you have your headshots, it will be time to upload it to your business website and any professional social media profiles you have.  Consistency is the key to building a strong and memorable personal brand. By using the same business headshot across all your social media profiles, websites, and other professional platforms, you establish a cohesive and recognizable image.

10.  Plan to Update Your Headshot Regularly

This is the hardest one for people who hate being photographed, but it’s important to update your headshot regularly. Over time, our appearance and style naturally change, and our careers may take new directions. By updating your headshot regularly, you ensure that it truly represents who you are in the present. It may seem like a good move to keep using that headshot from ten years ago, but it can be jolting for your potential clients or customers meeting you in person if you look totally different.

So, plan on updating your headshot at least every 2-3 years, or more often if you’ve made big changes to your appearance or your career.


Kokou Adzo is the editor and author of He is passionate about business and tech, and brings you the latest Startup news and information. He graduated from university of Siena (Italy) and Rennes (France) in Communications and Political Science with a Master's Degree. He manages the editorial operations at

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