Professional Headshots For Social Media, Avatars, Zoom Profiles, Instagram Photos, Slack Profile, Twitter, Facebook

Social Media Headshots – What Are They? Professional Profile Pictures

Social media headshots are a rather new type of headshot that came about with the adoption of social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram, Slack & LinkedIn.

These headshots are meant to convey personality and individual character traits to show a more about who someone is about beyond the traditional cropped headshot.

They serve a purpose in a business setting to ID colleagues and teammates on outlets like Slack, where pages like Instagram and Twitter are mean to put a face to a name or brand.

Related: Modeling Headshots, Fashion Portraits

Ramona Demure Vintage Fashion, Lifestyle Photoshoot, Modeling Portrait - San Francisco, Woman
Outdoor Urban Business Professional Headshot, Female Portrait Pose, Idea, Creative, Palo Alto, Stanford, Silicon Valley, MBA

Professional Headshots For Social Media Avatars, Zoom Profile Picture Ideas

There are conflicting opinions on whether one should have professional headshots for social media accounts or have more candid, organic headshots – it’s possible to have both.

There are ways to have professional headshots that are also approachable and show personality rather than be overly stiff and boring. Smiles, outfits, and backgrounds can help to set the tone for what a headshot should convey about you.

Related read: Social Media Photo Dimensions Guide

Social Media Headshots vs. Official Corporate Work Headshots

Some industries and teams strongly prefer individuals maintain the corporate brand in the social media profiles, while others go as a far to control their work profiles on social media.

Regardless of the setup, it’s important you understand the norms and expectations for your industry and company. It’s not uncommon to use a different headshot for social media than what is used on your official company page.

CEO’s often hire me to take 2-3 different headshots depending on the outlet they are looking to showcase their photos – investors, employees/recruiting or in the community. Look at what others at your company are doing to get some tips on how you should approach your headshots for social media profiles.

Related: Company Culture & Office Lifestyle Photography  

Monica Leinke - San-Francisco Attorney Headshot Example, Woman's Lawyer Portrait, Stanford, Berkeley
Environmental Attorney Portrait, Headshot - Law Office Interior, Seated, Sitting Example, Lawyer, San Francisco

Should You Sit Or Stand For Social Media Headshots? Standing vs Seated Headshots

That will depend on the environment as well as desired output of your photos. Some places might not be big enough for one type of photo or the other. Your photographer should be able to make recommendations based on space, lighting and aesthetics.

It will also depend on your subject, their body type and frame, the height of chairs and desks and whatnot.

Some people will have a preference for one or the other but regardless of direction or preference, keep in mind the orientation and website requirements (most social media outlets favor a circular or square frame).


Backgrounds For Headshots, What’s A Good Headshot Background For Social Media?

Typically, social media headshots tend to be a bit more colorful, social and fun than traditional headshots. 

A pop in color in the background or outfit choice can help to distinguish your personal branding. Consider aspects like company colors, your location or your industry to figure out what works best.

A good photographer and image consultant can help you with the planning.


Woman's Professional Business Portrait - San Francisco
Pilates Instructor Branding Portraits - San Francisco Bay Area

Backgrounds For Social Media Photos & Profile Headshots, Professional Profile Photos

It really pays to consider plans and unexpected events for down the road. A change in jobs, a business shutdown or change in locations could result in you having to change or update your social media headshots.

Using neutral colors, avoiding logos and using agnostic environments can ensure you have more flexibility with your headshots. Similarly, avoiding logos and specific places can make it easier to avoid copyright issues with books, commercial use of photos and the like. 

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.

Peter Temkin aka Meat by Pete Kitchen Environment, Background, San Francisco Portrait, Pose

How To Pose For A Professional Social Media Portrait?

When it comes to poses, there is no universal best pose. The best pose will be determined by industry, seniority, function, outfit, background, and what you want to convey.

As you can see from the above examples and elsewhere on this site, some people look better standing straight ahead perpendicular to the camera (i.e. DMV/Passport photo style) while others look better with an asymmetrical look with others defaulting to slight turns i.e. 5-20 degrees away from the camera. Anything more than that can feel like a modeling portrait or trying too hard to make themselves appear slimmer.

A pose and smile can offset any expectations or associations within your industry and set the tone for how you will be different from others. Let your personality shine through!

Props, Locations, Environments For Social Media Photoshoots?

Depending on your industry and function, it might be wise to showcase either your place of business i.e. retail space, therapist office or wealth or prestige.

In other cases, it can be helpful to pose with samples of your work whether you are an artist or interior designer. The background of photos can signal a lot to audiences so don’t ignore opportunities to use your work space or work samples to show what you can do.


Risa Iwasaki Culbertson Headshot - Artist, Illustrator, Creative Portrait, San Francisco
Creative, Artistic Outdoor Headshot, DUMBO Brick Multi Color Wall Background, NYC

Landscape vs Portrait Orientation, Headshot Ideas

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 platform, LinkedIn etc.

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

Related read: Social Media Photo Dimensions

Slack Avatar Photos, Linkedin Profile Pictures, Facebook Profile Pictures, Linkedin Headshots, Instagram Profile Pics

For additional tips on how to take headshots, how to pose, what to wear, and background ideas, take a look at this headshot guide for help for both men and women.

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.