How To Take A Good Headshot, How To Pose ; Headshot Do’s & Don’ts; Professional Headshot Tips For Work, Business, Linkedin


How To Take A Professional Headshot, How to Pose For A Headshot

Headshots are more widely used than ever before. From LinkedIn profiles, press releases, articles, websites, social media, avatars, business cards, sales collateral to speaking engagements, headshots are something you should have handy and updated at all times.

Below are tips on how to prepare for professional headshots: what to wear for headshots, how to pose for headshots, where to take your headshots and how to take a good headshot for work, Linkedin, business outlets, website, social media and more.

These business headshot tips will help you understand what makes a good professional headshot.

Men’s Headshot Examples  |  Women’s Headshot Examples  |  How To Pose For A Headshot


Do I Need Headshots? Are Headshots Important? What Is The Purpose Of A Headshot

Headshots are the first thing people notice when they Google your name, look you up on Linkedin, pull up your website or are looking to learn more about you. First impressions are important.

You don’t want to come off as narcissistic or cold but also want to avoid looking unprofessional or dodgy.

If you are in a profession that requires lots of people-facing skills i.e. doctors, therapists, photographers, sales, executive leadership, artists, leadership, coaching, training or any kind of consulting work, you should strongly consider prioritizing a good headshot.

Users with profile photos on Linkedin receive up to 21 times profile views than those without photos.

Below are some tips on how to take a professional headshot.

Professional & Casual, Natural Headshots

Approachable, professional images for business & creative individuals; I shoot outdoors, public spaces & clients sites (office/home). Assist w/ outfits, backgrounds, locations & creative direction.


How To Take Professional Headshots: What Kind Of Headshot Do I Need

Quite often, I get requests from clients seeking a specific type of headshot they saw from a friend, from a colleague or from Pinterest. It’s great to have some inspiration for your headshot but it’s also important to make sure the headshot you seek is appropriate for your industry and profession.

The blurring of social media profiles, dating profiles and professional profiles has led some folks to use photos interchangeably. Even in the context of professional headshots, knowing what is generally accepted for your industry is important to know.

A headshot for a yoga instructor is different from a fashion stylist is different from an investment banker is different from a start-up founder is different from an interior designer.

Some photos rely on a close crop just below the shoulders and wide enough to fit the torso sans shoulders and arms. Other professions that entail a visit to an office or a outcome should possibly be more environmental in nature (fully body, half-body or traditional close-up) but with some detail of outcome of a design, place of business, feeling or sense of accomplishment.

A great photographer will be able to guide you around all the nuances of the various headshot types but when in doubt, research headshots from those in your industry who are accomplished for inspiration.

A quick Google search can help out as well – attorney headshot, environmental office headshot, modeling half-body shot, clarinet headshot, blurred city background, San Francisco outdoor headshots, pixie haircut, female start-up headshot.


What Should I Wear In My Headshot: Best Color To Wear For Professional Headshots

Wardrobe is key in a headshot even though most headshots only feature a sliver of the outfit, attire. The main thing to look out for is not to clash clothing colors with your skin tone nor background. Stay away from loud patterns.

White shirts should be avoided unless coupled with a tie or jacket, scarf or cardigan.

Turtlenecks and shiny clothing is generally a no-no. When in doubt, send a snapshot of the outfits you are considering to your photographer if he/she offers specific recommendations.

Most photographers do not consult on specifics of your wardrobe but if they do, take advantage of it. 

See: Men’s Outfits For Headshots  |  Women’s Wardrobe Tips For Headshots


Headshot Photo Dimensions, Headshot Requirements, What Size Should A Headshot Be

Often times people take headshots that are formatted for one use i.e. portrait or square crop for LinkedIn. It’s hard to predict how you will need to use your photos for down the road or what kind or requirements are needed by others.

Having options is key to avoid re-taking shots unnecessarily. I usually provide several options for clients but this is more the exception than the norm for most photographers.

I personally like more landscape-oriented photos for more creative types and the extra space on the sides is great for websites.


How to Crop A Headshot, Headshot Size Pixels, Resolution

When taking a headshot you and your photographer should keep in mind the cropping needed for the outlet or usage of photos.

The amount of space a subject should take up in a traditional headshot should be around 60-70% of the frame without 10-15% of the vertical space freed up above the head.

The reason for this is so that when the photo is cropped for a profile on LinkedIn the circular crop won’t be too close to the hair and top of your head.

You might see some headshots cropped at the top of the head or some of the head cropped off slightly but these are generally reserved for modeling, acting or creative headshots – not for business, LinkedIn purposes.

On that note, most photos are resized and reduced in quality when uploaded to a website but most designers and creative directors want full size photos so they can edit as necessary.

This can mean 300dpi and at least 2000 to 3000 pixels on each side (most dslrs capture photos at 3000 to 4000 pixels on the short side these days).

See: Social Media Headshot Dimensions


How To Pose For A Good Headshot: Best Angles For Headshots

-Rotate your body too much and it looks too modeling-esque.
-Pose in any way that feels comfortable or unnatural – would you pose like that at a networking event, among teammates or someone you are interested in?
-Lean back too much, or we can see underneath your chin and see some nose hairs
-Smile too hard or deep if you are concerned with wrinkles


Best Headshot Poses For Men & Women, How To Prepare For A Headshot

-Get rest the night before
-Hydrate adequately
-Avoid getting haircuts the day before or day of (most people don’t like their hair on the first few days)
-Avoid going on vacation/staying in the sun before a headshot (to avoid sunburn)
-Put your weight at the balls of your feet to come into the frame, camera
-Practice rotating your torso and face 5-20 degrees away from the camera to add some dimension
-Turning 75-90 degrees away from the camera is more so for actors and models only
-Headshots should be taken at or slightly above eye level (5-10 degree angle max)
-Lower your shoulders
-Practice lightly squeezing your eyes (don’t squint though)

I love asymmetrical looks (non-DMV, non-mugshot looks). Put a slight bend on one knee, shift your hops slightly to the opposite of the bend.

San Francisco Bay Area Photographer - Professional Business Headshots


Headshot Pose: Should You Smile In A Headshot? Teeth Or No Teeth In Headshot Photos

Whether to smile always comes up and there are many answers here, but at the heart of it, it depends on what you want to convey. I lean towards confidence and approachability. Smiling too much may not work for your profession, but it can for others.

Similarly, looking too professional and stern can appear unapproachable, self-absorbed. A small smirk, a light smile, a slight squint is all it takes to get a get shot. Having your eyes too wide open or too closed seems like you are too eager or too intense.

Finding that sweet spot in the middle is recommended. As for teeth, everyone’s gums and teeth are different. Some are more flattering than others. A great photographer will provide recommendations on the best look for you based on your own smile.

The thing to know is that most people can only hold a smile for 1-2 seconds max before their jaws clench and they become tired, bored or self-conscious. The best way to smile is know which smile works best for you, your face and what you want to convey. Some people want to avoid seeming to agreeable, others want to avoid looking fake. A good photographer will help you pick out the best smile based on these factors.


Studio vs On-Site Locations, Studio vs Natural Light Headshots; Indoor vs Outdoor Headshots

Most photographers shoot headshots indoors, in studios, against generic backdrops. This can be great for consistency for company branding but creativity and uniqueness is lost in the process (I can’t shake off the JCP – JCPenney portrait look from Step Brothers).

A great photographer can improvise with surrounding and environments like wind, sun, crowds etc. whereas studio photographers prefer controlled, generic environments.

If you want something generic or want to maintain consistency, studios might be your best bet. If you want individuality or want to have the environment as part of your branding, go with someone who shoots outdoors.

Also consider an indoor environment such as an office, atrium, hotel lobby, that offers protection from the elements but without the stiffness from a studio headshot.

See: Outdoor Headshot Examples 


Staring vs. Squinting In Photos: How To Take A Flattering Headshot, Tips For A Headshot

Some people have rather large eyes and that can seem a little intense. To relax, try minimally narrowing your eyes in a rather light-focused manner. You don’t want to squint completely as it may cause excess wrinkles.


How To Relax In Photos, In Front Of The Camera, How Not To Be Stiff In Front Of The Camera

You can watch videos, and read articles all you want, but the reality is, there is no single best approach. Everyone is different, people come in all shapes and sizes, and thus some poses are better than others. 

Some things are universal, i.e. rest, hydrate, breathe, make sure your clothes fit (and look good on you), and make sure you hire someone who can put you at ease.

It pays to have a photographer with a good sense of style and people skills. Anyone can photograph a model and make him/her look great, it’s much harder to get normal people to feel good, confident, and relaxed.

Headshots are less about technical skills and poses and more about your relationship with the camera. It’s why most photographers have bad headshots is because they are too proud to hire someone and struggle with taking their own photos.

Make sure the lighting is not too bright, make sure the space and ambiance are soothing and relaxing i.e. not too busy, not too close to your office where people might see you, not too quiet like a studio where it’s awkward being in a small room with an awkward photographer.

San Francisco Image Consultant For Men, Women, Wardrobe, Outfit, Style, Fashion,


Professional Business Headshot Tips: Corporate Headshot Day – Work Headshot Tips

Many companies hire professional photographers to come in and take headshots. Some employers choose their photographer based on location, pricing or background. These photos are usually rushed and seldom used outside of ID badges.

Many employees I have talked to were rushed, did not have enough notice, did not have options or were forced to pose a certain way to fit a step and repeat approach by the photographer.

Ideally, the photos you take of employees should be good enough so that employees will use them on LinkedIn, conferences add more to help elevate your brand, showcase your employees and foster a sense of professionalism, pride, and approachability.

Related read: Corporate Headshots


How Much Do Headshots Cost? Why Are Headshots So Expensive? Headshot Prices

There are many bad photographers out there. Some show you their best work only, others only know one type of photo, others only show you photos of models.

A great headshot photographer can efficiently take your headshots, give advice for your wardrobe, know what the best and most flattering angles are for your body, and give advice on how to provide unique headshots to tell your story.

A great photographer will also do all the editing in-house to reduce the chances that others can steal or re-sell your photos.

If you are looking for generic, boring headshots, you can definitely find cheap headshots. With that said, you should consider in the photographer will use the headshots for purposes other than for you i.e. stock images, licensing, or unwanted examples on their site.

Does the photographer outsource their editing, thus increasing the likelihood the photos will be published without your consent by agencies, shady photo editing services or sell them to others?

With other photographers, there is no guarantee you will like your headshots or that they will look like the examples on their websites.

With a bad photographer, chances are you will need to re-hire a better photographer to re-do your photos and even pay to have your hair and makeup done again for the subsequent shoot.

In times when you need a headshot asap for an important press release or announcement, can you really afford to not know how your photos will turn out by a photographer with no reviews, no referrals, and no experience with the type of photos you need (industry, location, etc.).

Remember, you are not paying your photographer for the amount of time spent on your headshot.

You are paying your photographer for the ease at which he/she can take your photo, amount of time saved vs doing it yourself, incorrectly with another photographer and making sure all the aspects above including wardrobe attire, angles, lighting, environment, facial expressions are in-sync.

Most people are biased with their appearance and have no clue that they are self-sabotaging their photos.


Turn Photo Into Headshot, How To Crop A Headshot Photo

Every so often, one is able to crop a photo and make it a temporary headshot. Most times it will fail due to outfits, backgrounds, lighting, props, facial expressions or people in your photos.

If your photo is clear enough and isolated enough, it could pass for a headshot earlier in your career but as you get old and advance in your career, you need something more professional to communicate your reputation and profile.

Photos that are more likely to be used as a headshot are typically individual photos as group photos are taken too close, require excessive cropping, and are rather obvious it’s a hack job.


How Much Of Your Body Should Be In A Headshot, Do Headshots Include A Full Body?

Typically, headshots should feature about 40-65% your body in the frame of the photo for most headshots. More than that and the photo is too close. How much of your body to use in a headshot will depend on the industry and other parameters/requirements but typically, headshots are cropped either at or around the chest.

San Francisco Image Consultant For Men, Women


Can I Use A Selfie As A Headshot, Headshot vs Selfie, Is A Selfie A Headshot?

If you are a professional skydiver, travel guide maybe as those are in the element and capture good locations ideally but most likely not. How do you take a selfie that looks like a headshot?

You might be able to use a timer and a stand/tripod but even then you need to be mindful of lighting, attire, poses, smiles, shadows and make sure not to be too close to the camera as close distances distort photos and make your face wider.

Additionally, most camera phones have a bad front-facing camera (rear-facing are better but still might not produce a high-quality enough photo for what you are aiming for).

How can I make my selfies look professional? Do not use the bokeh feature on cell phone, mobile phone cameras. These are often way too overdone and seem unnatural.

The best bet is to use the regular camera mode and ask a friend to take it for you. If your options are selfie or no photo, I recommend using no photo at all until you are able to get a good headshot.


Signs You Should Update Your Headshot, How Often Should You Update Your Headshot? 

You have a new hairstyle (or haircolor), people don’t recognize you, your photo is more than 3-5 years old, you have changed industries, you are on the job hunt, or you want to convey something different in your photos.

Related read: Signs You Should Update Your Headshot (Generic headshots)


Do Headshots Need Retouching? Should You Photoshop Your Headshot? 

You should be happy with your headshots and should be proud to showcase them. You should also feel confident in your photo that you don’t need photoshopping to alter your photo beyond recognition materially.


How Do I Look Thinner In Headshots, Headshot Tips Professional

Turn slightly away (don’t stand perpendicular i.e. DMV or headshot photo) and take photos from a slightly higher angle i.e. eye level or forehead.

Anything higher is unnatural and super obvious about your intentions. Avoid horizontal stripes, wear black if possible.

Image Consultant: Wardrobe, Social Skills & Lifestyle

Eddie is an image consultant in San Francisco with clients in NYC, LA, and beyond. He assists clients w/ fashion sense, social skills, hobbies & interests, etiquette, being more approachable around others & making friends.


How To Take Your Own Headshot At Home, DIY Headshots With An Iphone 

To learn how to take your own headshot at home, on your own or with a phone, read this guide (how to take headshots at home, on your own, with a phone).


What To Bring To A Headshot Session? How To Prepare For A Headshot

Bring an extra outfit in case you are not sure what to wear. A good photographer should be able to answer this ahead of time (assuming you choose a good one).


How Do I Make My Headshot Stand Out, How Do I Make My Headshot Look Professional

Hire someone who knows what they are doing. Most people are biased about their looks or lack self-awareness. Even if you are unbiased, taking your own headshot can be stressful, trust me, even professional photographers get other professional photographers to take their headshots.

There is only so much one can do with filters, cropping, editing etc. It’s better to hire the right person or exercise lots of patience in getting the right equipment and or following the right guides like this.


Headshot Rule of Thirds – Taking Professional Headshots, Professional Headshot Photo

Many professionals will state that headshots should be centered on the thirds of photos meaning if you had a tick tac toe board, dividing the photo into 9 frames, the headshot should be centered on one of the four inside corners of the center box.

This doesn’t make sense for Linkedin which has a circular crop so knowing your outlet is key on figuring out if this makes sense for you.

3 Things People Look For In Your Headshot

Teeth, eyes, smile, wardrobe, posture, background, hair etc. I know this is more than 3 things but these items correlate to 3 traits (professionalism, trustworthiness and personality).

How To Take A Headshot At Home, How To Take Your Own Headshot With A Phone

How To Take A Headshot At Home

Creative Headshots & Portraits

Outdoors, client sites & public spaces. I rely heavily on my creative side for styling and poses to obtain effortless, fun, approachable photos that don't look awkward, stiff nor cliche. 

About Eddie Hernandez

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