The best ever headshot photography 10 great photography tips to improve your headshot photo skills


These days, headshots are used for a variety of reasons, from social media to business profiles. Whatever your reason for taking a headshot photograph, it’s important you do it right, or what you might be left with is an unflattering amateur shot, and nobody wants that…

This quick guide is mainly aimed towards a photographer taking headshots of other subjects – if you’re interested in taking the best self-portrait ever, check out our guide on your self-portrait – not just a selfie!

Interested? Here are 10 great photography tips that’ll take your headshot photographs to another level.


Headshot photo tips


1 – Eyes

Two of the most beautiful parts of the entire human body are the eyes. They’re also often the most detailed part of the face, showing a great deal of emotion. By focusing your headshot on the eyes, you can create a great connection between the model and the viewer. The eyes are also in a great position, so by focusing the camera on them, you catch a great balance of the rest of the model’s head and the space around them.


2 – Lighting

For a good headshot, try to maximise the soft light that falls on your model’s face. This means a good balance of light that hits all points, making the shadows softer and less aggressive and making the image more pleasant to look at. Equipment such as lighting umbrellas are perfect for achieving this look. 

For a full guide on how to get the right lighting, check out our post on evaluating your lighting in photographs.


3 – Expression

What’s one of the main things you’ll notice when you see someone’s headshot? Ten points if you guessed their expression.

Think about the purpose of this headshot. Is it to commemorate an event? Or is it to create a business profile? Guide your model or subject to make the perfect expression for the photograph. If they’re at a wedding, talk to them and make them smile. If it’s a business shoot, mould their expression to look serious but relaxed. Expressions can make or break a headshot.


4 – Background

The background of a photo says a lot about the situation and in the case of a headshot, the subject too.

If you’re taking a photograph of a family member at a fairground, you might want to catch something fun like balloons or a ride in action in the background. If your model is an author, place them in front of a bookcase to show off their personal interests. Or, if you’d like to keep things professional, a blank or white background will help keep the attention on the person themselves.


5 – Appearance

The main focus of the image might be the head, but that’s no excuse to avoid making a good appearance.

The photograph will still catch the collar and shoulders of your outfit, as well as any accessories such as makeup or jewellery. Keep it plain and simple for a professional look, or put on a show for those special occasions. 


6 – Angles

Taking the shot from different positions will change how the subject looks in the image. If you want to create a sense of strength and superiority, take a photograph of your subject from a low angle, or if you’d like to keep things passive, take a straight level shot.

Be aware that taking photos from different angles might highlight different areas of your subjects face, so make sure to look out for any blemishes. 


7 – Filters

Filters are a great way to make your headshot stand out. This can be outlined around the photograph to fit the theme of your location, or even lighting fixes. If you’re working on a professional shoot, you’ll likely leave filters alone and fix lighting in post-production, or make images black and white to remove any distracting elements.


8 – Lens 

If you’re taking a photograph with an actual camera, make sure to pick the right lens! Nothing is worse than taking a distorted image of your subject and only realising after the fact. Use a lens that will compress your image and slim the subject’s face, typically 90mm or above.


Best headshot photography skills


9 – Play with posing

Depending on what you’re planning on achieving with the headshot, you might decide to play with your subjects pose a bit. Make them gesture if it’s a fun shot, or to make things more dramatic, look past the camera and into the distance.

Different sides of the subjects face will produce different results too, showing certain features and face shapes.


10 – Pre-session consultation

If you’re a professional photographer, consider having a chat with your subject before the photo session. This can help ease them into things, making them more relaxed and comfortable in the shots. Finding out exactly what they want will also help direct your images, helping you understand what lighting or backgrounds to use or how to make them pose.


It’s not all that difficult to develop your headshot photography skills, and by following these guides, you can be sure to take some great photos of your subject.

Or, if you’re looking for a professional shoot no matter the event, Splento offers high-quality photography sessions for an affordable price, with a quick turnaround speed of under 24 hours! For more information, don’t hesitate to contact Splento today.


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