Professional Head Shots: Tips and Tricks for a Flawless Result Discover essential tips for perfect professional head shots. Learn what to do and what to avoid for flawless results


Nowadays, a professional headshot can be your first impression, whether it’s for your LinkedIn profile, company website, or even your own portfolio. The quality of your headshot can speak volumes about your professionalism and the persona you wish to project. This guide will provide you with essential tips and tricks to ensure your professional head shots stand out, helping you make that impeccable first impression.

Why Invest in Professional Head Shots?

Professional head shots are more than just photographs; they are a vital tool in today’s professional landscape. Here’s why they matter:

  • First Impressions Count: In many cases, your headshot is the first thing people see. A high-quality, professional photo can help make that crucial positive first impression.
  • Branding: For professionals, entrepreneurs, and even job seekers, a headshot is part of your personal or corporate brand. It reflects your identity, professionalism, and character.
  • Consistency Across Platforms: Whether on social media, publications, or business cards, a consistent professional image helps in building trust and recognition.

Happy smiling business man, company leader or sales manager, looking at camera standing in office, headshot portrait.

How to Achieve the Perfect Professional Headshot

Select the Right Photographer

Choosing the right photographer is crucial for obtaining a professional headshot that truly represents you. Not all photographers are created equal, especially when it comes to capturing headshots that convey professionalism and confidence. Start by researching photographers who specialize in professional portraits. Review their portfolios to assess their style and ensure it aligns with the image you wish to project. A skilled photographer will not only have a keen eye for detail but will also guide you through the process, making you feel comfortable in front of the camera which is essential for a natural-looking result.

Prepare for Your Session

Preparation is key to ensuring your headshot looks polished and professional. Here are some steps to follow:

  1. Wardrobe: Choose outfits that are neat and appropriate for your field. Solid colours usually work best, as they draw attention to your face rather than your clothes. Avoid overly bright colours that might dominate the photo.
  2. Grooming: This includes hair and makeup for all genders. Opt for a professional yet natural look. Men should be well-groomed, with facial hair neatly trimmed. Women might consider light, professional makeup to enhance their features subtly.
  3. Rest: Appear well-rested and alert by ensuring you have a good night’s sleep before the shoot. Tired eyes rarely convey the energetic professional vibe you want to emit.

Master the Pose

Your pose can significantly affect how your professionalism is perceived. While your photographer will guide you, understanding what works best can help expedite the process and ensure satisfaction with the final result. A slight turn of the shoulders with your face towards the camera often works well. It offers a look that is both engaging and confident. Keep your back straight and relax your shoulders to avoid looking stiff. A slight tilt of the head can convey approachability and friendliness, key traits in many professional settings.

Expressions Matter

The right expression is the cornerstone of a successful headshot. It should match the tone of your profession while still showcasing your personality. A genuine smile that reaches your eyes is universally flattering and can convey friendliness and openness. For more conservative fields, a serious yet approachable expression might be more appropriate. Practice your expressions in front of a mirror or with a friend to see what looks best and feels most natural. Remember, the goal is to look like yourself on your best day.

Head-shot of male looking at camera.

What to Avoid in Professional Head Shots

When aiming for the perfect professional headshot, it’s just as important to know what to avoid as it is to know what to include. Here are some key pitfalls to steer clear of:

Over-Accessorising: While accessories can enhance your outfit, too much can distract from the main focus: your face. Choose simple, understated pieces that complement but don’t overpower your appearance. For instance, a single, small necklace or classic watch can add a touch of elegance without causing distraction.

Inappropriate Attire: Clothing choices can make or break a professional headshot. Avoid overly casual attire such as t-shirts or tank tops unless they are appropriate for your profession. Similarly, overly bold or busy patterns can detract from the professional quality of your headshot. Stick to neutral colours and professional styles that reflect your industry standards.

Forced Expressions: While it’s important to look approachable, avoid overly forced smiles or expressions that don’t feel natural. These can come across as insincere or uncomfortable. Aim for a relaxed, genuine expression that represents your professional demeanor.

Neglecting Posture: Your posture speaks volumes about your confidence and professionalism. Slouching or awkward poses can convey a lack of self-assurance. Practice good posture by standing or sitting straight, with shoulders back and head tilted slightly forward to engage with the camera.

Ignoring Background and Lighting: A cluttered or overly dramatic background can distract from the subject. Opt for a simple, unobtrusive background that enhances your professional image. Similarly, poor lighting can cast shadows or create an unflattering image, so ensure your photographer uses balanced, soft lighting to highlight your best features.

Avoiding these common mistakes will help ensure that your professional headshot is a powerful, positive reflection of your professional identity.

Enhancing Your Head Shots Post-Shoot: Editing Techniques

Once your professional headshot has been captured, the next step is enhancing it through careful editing. This process can significantly improve the overall quality of the image, ensuring it portrays you in the best light possible. Here are some effective editing techniques used by professionals:

  1. Smoothing Skin Tones: Light retouching can be used to smooth out skin tones and reduce visible blemishes, resulting in a cleaner and more polished look. It’s important to keep this subtle to avoid an overly airbrushed appearance that can seem artificial.
  2. Brightening Eyes: The eyes are often said to be the window to the soul, and ensuring they look bright and clear in your headshot is crucial. Editing can enhance the eyes’ brightness and sharpness, making you appear more alert and engaged.
  3. Adjusting Lighting and Contrast: Proper adjustment of lighting and contrast can make your headshot stand out. This involves balancing shadows and highlights to accentuate facial features while maintaining natural skin tones.
  4. Cropping for Impact: Cropping the image correctly can focus the viewer’s attention on your face. This typically means a close crop that includes the head and shoulders, centered appropriately.

Using these editing techniques judiciously allows the real you to shine through, ensuring the headshot remains a true and professional representation of your personal brand.

Head shot portrait of a beautiful woman


Investing in professional head shots is investing in your professional future. With these tips, you are ready to capture a headshot that conveys professionalism and confidence. Remember, the goal is to create a lasting impression that propels your professional image forward. Trust in your chosen photographer’s expertise, prepare adequately, and you’ll be set to present your best self to the world.

Opt for the best, and let your professional head shots do the talking!


How often should I update my professional headshot?

Update your headshot every 1-2 years or whenever your appearance significantly changes, such as a new hairstyle or if you’ve entered a new professional phase.

What is the best color to wear for a professional headshot?

Neutral colours like grey, navy, or black are typically best as they convey professionalism and don’t distract from your face.

Can I use my professional headshot on all social media platforms?

Yes, using your professional headshot across all professional and business-related social media platforms ensures consistency in your personal branding.

Is it necessary to hire a makeup artist for my headshot session?

While not essential, a professional makeup artist can help ensure you look your best by enhancing your features in a natural way.

What should I do with my hands in a headshot?

Keep your hands out of the shot for a standard headshot. The focus should be on your face and expression.