Headshot Backgrounds, Locations, Poses, Angles, Ideas & Examples

Outdoor Headshot Backgrounds: Business, Work, Creative, Professional, Outfits, Wardrobe, Outdoor Headshot Tips

When it comes to headshots, there are many things to factor. It can feel overwhelming to assess outfits, professional headshot backgrounds, hair, makeup, jewelry, locations, backgrounds, cropping, orientation, colors and poses, but a great photographer can help guide you along.  

While studio shots can simplify the process and remove some unknowns with headshots, they can often appear generic, cliche and repetitive. The purpose of a headshot is to be unique, standout and help connect with an audience whether it’s clients, business partners, media, future employers or industry folks.

Related readMen’s Headshot Examples  |  Women’s Headshot Examples


What Background Should I Use For A Headshot? Professional Headshot Backgrounds, Outdoor Headshot Background Examples

Below are a variety of options, styles and formats to consider when deciding to refresh your headshot or get one for the first time. Contact me below for a consultation to figure out what is best for you based on industry, function and what you want to convey, attract. 

Woman's Professional Business Portrait - San Francisco

Background Ideas For Headshots, Headshot Location Ideas, Headshot Background, Backdrop

When it comes to backgrounds, colors, textures and details set the tone for what you want to convey. Business backgrounds can feature office buildings, skylines, urban centers.

Creative industries like interior design, fashion, media and other related industries allow for more fun, bright backgrounds with off-center options to allow for more personality, approachability and creativity.

Tech companies and startups lie somewhere in the middle, as many adopt company colors and logos for backgrounds. Regardless of your choice, be sure you choose a background that will accommodate your hair, outfits and skin-tone. Some backgrounds are limited, while others are pretty universal.

Women’s Headshot Outfits


Business Professional Headshot Ideas, Corporate Headshot Ideas For LinkedIn, Business Headshot Background

Classic business portraits feature white shirts and navy blue or gray blazers that can be complimented by busy business and urban backgrounds and surroundings.

Depending on what you want to convey, business headshots should focus on professionalism, reputation, authority but still be approachable. Stiff headshots with intense looks (lack of smiles) can drive away people.

Men’s Headshot Outfits 

Men's Professional Business Headshot, Outdoor Male Portrait - San Francisco Headshot Photographer
Womans Professional Business Lifestyle Seated Portrait - Oakland, San Francisco Bay Area

Seated vs Standing Headshots – Headshot Posing Ideas, Headshot Looks, Headshot Background Examples, Headshot Styles

A popular, modern approach to headshots is taken them seated on steps. While technically not a true headshot, these photos are typically used for branding purposes on one’s own website and social media outlets.

This provides for additional options with hand and arm placements beyond leaving them on the side or folded in for a power pose.

Wardrobe Ideas, Outfits Ideas, Clothing Options For Headshots, Professional Headshot Outfit Ideas

It can be easy to get lost among the crowds with photos, especially if your hair, complexion or other attributes are pretty common or similar to others around you. Focusing on your wardrobe and colors and help add some pop to photos.

If you want to create even more of a separation, a neutral background can really highlight your clothing. Knowing what colors are flattering for your skin tone and hair, complement the backgrounds of photos and are still professional or suit your industry and function are key to getting the most out of these headshots.

Linkedin Headshot Tips

Professional Headshot - San Francisco Attorney Portrait, Male Lawyer Headshot Example
Women's Profession Business Portrait, Casual Corporate Branding Photo - San Jose, South Bay Photographer

Posing Ideas – Asymmetrical Headshot Poses, Hair Ideas For Headshots, Office Headshot Background

When it comes to poses, it’s important to know what you like, what you don’t like or what you are open to. Some people are particular about highlighting hair on one side of their body vs another (more so for women who on average have longer hair than men).

The way you favor a side of the face and hair parting will lend itself to how your hair might look best (one side in front, one side back; both side behind, both sides in front, or how much hair is present in these configurations (too much hair might need to be separated i.e. left behind). 

Whatever your hairstyle is, a great photographer will consider all these items including the material of your top (some are better for headshots as they will reduce static while others may help to hold up hair in place vs sliding around against silk or satin materials).


How To Pose For A Headshot, Favoring One Side Of The Face, Turning To The Side For A Headshot

When it comes to posing for headshots, you have three main options for positions in your frame. You can turn slightly with your legs pointed away from the camera, you can turn your torso to the side (same direction or opposite i.e cross-contour) or you can leave your legs and torso as is and rotate your head to or away from the camera.

Some people favor one side of their face over another. Some want different light intensities rather than a uniform look. Others want to hide or minimize features (eyes, nose, ears, blemishes etc). Some just want to avoid a DMV or passport type photo. Even in those cases, you can add some contour (example above) where the shoulder heights are different (asymmetrical). 

I am all about asymmetrical looks and poses, they are more lively, unique, relaxed and approachable.

Outdoor Headshot, Men's Professional Business Photo, Artist Portrait, Idea, Pose Male Example
Vibrant Woman Chef Outdoor Website Portrait, Red Background Pose, Idea Female

3/4 Body Headshots vs Traditional Headshots – Head Shot Ideas, Headshot Styles

Most traditional headshots are taken from the chest up but depending on the body type (what is more flattering), industry and vibe you want to communicate, 3/4 body headshots can inject more personality and a connection to audiences.

In this case, a chef portrait was captured with more body exposed to showcase the apron which may not have been as obvious if the photo was cropped in a traditional headshot pose, frame.


Landscape vs Portrait Orientation, Headshot Ideas; Professional Headshot Examples

Most traditional and contemporary headshots are taken in portrait orientation (different from portrait mode on camera phones that blur backgrounds). More modern and creative photos are taken in landscape orientation formats.

You can take photos in both, but ideally you should account for what your needs will be i.e. social media, LinkedIn, company websites, speaker conferences etc. 

In any case, a great photographer will take photos in all formats, so you can have options for cropping as you see fit.

Creative, Artistic Outdoor Headshot, DUMBO Brick Multi Color Wall Background, NYC

How To Take A Headshot – How to prepare for a professional headshot, headshot tips for men & women, should you smile in a headshot etc.

Where To Get Headshots, How To Get A Professional Headshot, Headshot Photo Ideas, Get Professional Headshots Taken

Ask your company, check local pop-up events in your area, ask your friends or check on Google or Yelp. Make sure the person specializes in your industry, skin-tone, body type, hairstyle and what you want to convey.

Most photographers may offer travel services or tips for photographers in your area. 


Do Headshots Need A Plain Background? Best Headshot Background, Best Background For Professional Headshot

Absolutely not. With that said, some backgrounds can be a bit too busy. Blurred background, simple patterns and textures work well too. Natural headshot backgrounds can be parks, busy city streets, lobbies/atriums, homes, offices and more.


Should Headshots Be Taken Inside Or Outside? Professional Portrait Backgrounds, Linkedin Profile Picture Background

They can be taken anywhere. A good photographer will know how to take them anywhere. More and more people are leaning toward outdoor headshots as indoor studio headshots can feel cliche, boring and stiff.


Are Black And White Headshots Professional? Black And White Headshots vs. Color Headshots, Linkedin Headshot Background

Black and white photos can be more flattering and make it easier to get consistency in company headshots, but they often lack personality and can feel a bit intense. 


Creative, Artistic Outdoor Headshot, DUMBO Brick Multi Color Wall Background, NYC - San Francisco Bay Area Photographer

Creative Portraits

Ramona Demure Vintage Fashion, Lifestyle Photoshoot, Modeling Portrait - San Francisco, Woman

Fashion & Modeling Portraits

Woman's Professional Business Portrait - San Francisco Bay Area, Professional Photo

Business Professional Photos

CEO Headshot, Business Professional Headshot, Female Executive Portrait Example, Pose, Hanna Wu Amplify Life Insurance

CEO / Executive Potraits

Men's Outdoor Professional Business Headshot, Casual Business Portrait, San Francisco

Personal Branding Portraits

Outdoor Urban Business Professional Headshot, Female Portrait Pose, Idea, Creative, Palo Alto, Stanford, Silicon Valley, MBA

Corporate Headshots

Koren Keiner, Yoga Instructor, Wellpreneur - San Francisco, Woman's Wellness Portrait, Yoga Photo Example

Yoga / Wellness / Fitness Photos

Kayla Fowler, Indoor Kitchen Chef Portrait Headshot Example, Pose, Woman, Female - San Francisco Bay Area Photographer

Lifestyle Photography

About Eddie Hernandez

Eddie is a professional photographer in SF w/ clients internationally. He balances approachability & professionalism, focusing on wardrobes, appearance, location scouting.