How To Take A Professional Headshot: Tips & Techniques

A professional headshot is more than just a photograph. It’s a representation of your personal brand, often used for business profiles, resumes, or promotional material. Whether you’re taking the picture yourself or working with a photographer, here are some tips to help you capture a high-quality professional headshot.

1. Understand the Purpose:

Know what the headshot will be used for, so you can tailor the image to fit the context. For example, a corporate profile might require a more formal look compared to an artistic portfolio.

2. Choose the Right Background:

Select a simple, uncluttered background that doesn’t distract from your face. Neutral colors like white, gray, or beige are usually best.

3. Use Proper Lighting:

Soft, natural lighting is often the most flattering. Position yourself near a large window, or use diffused studio lights to eliminate harsh shadows.

a. Key Light: This is the main light source, usually positioned 45 degrees from your face.

b. Fill Light: A softer light placed opposite the key light to fill in shadows.

c. Backlight: Positioned behind you to create a subtle glow around your silhouette.

4. Dress Professionally:

Wear clothing that reflects your industry and professionalism. Avoid overly bright colors or busy patterns that might distract.

5. Focus on Facial Expression:

A genuine, approachable smile or a neutral expression often works well. Practice in the mirror to find an expression that feels natural.

6. Frame the Shot:

The headshot should focus on your face and possibly your shoulders. Keep the composition tight and centered.

7. Maintain Eye Contact:

Your eyes should be looking straight into the lens, creating a connection with the viewer.

8. Pay Attention to Posture:

Sit or stand up straight, but keep your body relaxed. A slight tilt of the head can make the pose more engaging.

9. Edit Thoughtfully:

Post-processing should enhance the photo without overdoing it. Consider professional retouching for a polished finish.

10. Consult with a Professional (If Possible):

If your budget allows, hiring a professional photographer ensures you’ll have the right equipment and expertise to create a standout image.

11. Experiment and Review:

Take multiple shots with varying expressions and angles. Review them to choose the one that best represents you.

12. Keep It Updated:

A professional headshot should be current. Consider updating it every few years or if there are significant changes in your appearance.


A professional headshot is an investment in your personal brand. Whether you’re taking it yourself or working with a pro, focusing on details like lighting, background, expression, and attire can make all the difference. Remember, this image is often the first impression people will have of you professionally, so take the time to get it right!

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