How to Make Executive Headshots


Your executive headshots will probably be one of the key photographs that you will have taken of yourself. It is not just an image that shows what you look like.

The professional business headshot should achieve all the following:

  • Present you as a competent, trustworthy professional
  • Present you as a face of your business
  • Present a public image of your company and/or brand
  • Inform customers there is a real person behind the service/profession

It is for these reasons that your executive headshot should be taken with planning, careful consideration and by a professional headshot photographer.

To achieve the perfect result, read through our guide to the ultimate executive headshot:

Executive Headshot Style

Before having your photo taken – even before you have thought about booking a professional headshot photographer – you first need to consider the image that your company wants to project.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Where is the photo going to be used?
  • Is there a company policy or corporate standard already in place?
  • What impression are you trying to create with this image? (ie. friendly face, trust)

Make sure that your photo will match your brand, if relevant. If there are already several headshots of other executives already taken and being used, will your photo fit in with those? 

Most importantly, for almost all executive images you will want to look professional, not casual. You are about to become the face of your business.

Some of this will be subjective; companies vary and the right image you want to convey will depend on the nature of the business and the public perspective.

As an example, take a look at the two images below:

Coming Soon
Both may be executives, but which one, in your opinion, looks more professional?
Both may be executives, but which one, in your opinion, looks more professional?
Both may be executives, but which one, in your opinion, looks more professional?

How to pose for a good headshot

For a good executive headshot, the image should be restricted to the head and upper body.

The idea is to give a close-up image of you, the subject, so that the viewer has a good idea of what you look like; a full-length portrait won’t give this.

Standing or sitting is optional, although sitting will help you to relax a little more and usually this assists in appearing more natural in the photograph.

Keep props to a minimum (or preferably have none) as these tend to divert attention, unless it is a part of a uniform or represents your work – a barrister may wish to be photographed in their wig and robes, for example.


Professional headshots – what to wear

As a rule of thumb, when preparing for an executive headshot, a top tip is to dress as though you were going to meet a new client.

For women, this may be a professional suit or a classic outfit, and preferably long-sleeved, as bare arms can distract attention from the face; jewellery should be kept to a minimum and be classic style. Also, don’t overdo the make-up; minimal is best.

For the men, a suit is normal, with or without a tie, depending on your usual attire – but if wearing a tie, make sure it is not a jazzy pattern or shiny; stick to plain and neutral colours.

Another golden rule is to avoid anything that can be considered trendy or current fashion, as these will quickly date the photograph. Plain, neutral tones always work best.

Finally – make sure that you look like you do in everyday life; your executive headshot should be immediately recognisable as you! That includes avoiding having a fresh haircut or styling especially for the photo session.

Headshot photography lighting and framing

Lighting is best left to you photo professional, but natural looking lighting is key to a successful headshot photo.

A part of this depends on the location of the photo session. If you can, arrange to have the photoshoot at your place of work, as this lends itself to a more natural-looking final result, as opposed to a photo taken in a studio.

Correct lighting may be achieved by professional studio lighting or that combined with natural light, so if the photographer is coming to you then make sure they have a portable studio – not only with lighting but also a suitable backdrop. 

And as with your clothing, a neutral background works best for executive shots.

Coming Soon
What is your view of the different backgrounds in these two images? Keep in mind the purpose of the image is a headshot of the subject
What is your view of the different backgrounds in these two images? Keep in mind the purpose of the image is a headshot of the subject
What is your view of the different backgrounds in these two images? Keep in mind the purpose of the image is a headshot of the subject

Most often, for an executive headshot, the plain background is preferable; sometimes a background is required (to add context) but this is usually for a different style of photo – the editorial headshot – and is used for a different purpose.

One final point on the framing of the photograph – you have a choice of portrait and landscape. Again, this will often depend on where the photo is going to be used, but do you have a personal preference? Go back and take another look at all 5 headshots above; do you prefer one type over the other?

While you are having your photos taken, ask your photographer to take a variety of portrait and landscape shots, as you may have different uses for them both later.

More Professional headshot tips

Another consideration for your executive headshot is whether to smile or not – for more thoughts about the rights and wrongs of smiling, read this article to help you decide whether smiling is right for you or not.

Get a good night’s sleep the evening before your photo session; no-one looks their best with tired bags under their eyes; and eat well also on the day.

For even more top tips on how to look your best for your corporate headshot session, and how to get the best from the day, read this advice.


Another question often asked about executive portrait photos is ‘are professional headshots worth it?’

The considered answer must be yes; as we have seen already, an executive headshot is more than just a photo of you, it is a representation of your company and that means getting the best photo possible.

A professional will supply backdrops, correct lighting and photo equipment that brings out the best from the image. In addition, their skill and experience will bring out the best in you. 

A professional executive headshot will give current and future clients confidence about you and your business. 

With headshot photography prices varying widely, you need to know that you are going to get only the best results from your photo session. Book a professional with experience and with a good headshot portfolio already established. Splento have experienced professional headshot photographers for a fixed hourly rate – just £99 – which includes retouching and editing.

Take a look now at their portfolio for some great examples of professional headshots , where you can also find out how to make your own booking for a headshot photo session .

Are you soon to have a professional headshot photo taken? Has this article helped you decide on the style of photo or impression you want to give? Comment below and let us know what you think.

Contact Splento if you are in need of:

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