How to take a great headshot photo

Updated over a week ago

First impressions matter in the business world. Businesses want to work with people who are competent, organized, and dependable. You communicate this subconsciously through your attention to detail, what you wear, and how you carry yourself.

Your headshot is that first impression. Your future employer will subconsciously judge you by that photo. Will your headshot build or destroy a future professional relationship?

For example, if your headshot is a selfie, it tends to communicate that you are young, inexperienced, and possibly unable to handle the pressure of a full-time job. You may be entirely capable even if you submit a selfie as a headshot. But business owners who do not know you only have the headshot as a reference to who you are. They’ll judge you by the headshot, whether consciously or subconsciously.

Conversely, a headshot that is clean-cut, simple, and professional says “This candidate truly cares about my company. He is attentive to detail and values his brand in the professional world.”

Here are things to pay attention to when taking a professional picture:


  • A headshot is just what it sounds like. The picture should be waist-up, not full-body. Don’t crop your headshot from a group photo. Don’t use a selfie as a headshot.
  • A headshot should have a simple, clean background. The main focus of this shot is your face. Keep it that way.
  • Pay attention to the lighting. If you are outside, consider taking your photo at the “golden hour”: just after sunrise or just before sunset when the sun is not too bright. If you are inside, stand where light from a window can accent your face, or invest in some extra lighting options.


  • Don’t wear clothes that clash with the background you choose. Solid-color shirts work best, as patterns can detract from your face. Keep your attire professional: Don’t wear a t-shirt from your favorite band, but refrain from a tuxedo as well. What would you wear to an interview? That’s how you should dress for your headshot.
  • Keep jewelry and other accessories to a minimum. Don’t wear hats or other unprofessional attire.
  • Smile naturally. Keep your shoulders and back straight. Your chin should be tilted slightly up. One way to check your posture is to visualize a rope attached to your spine, pulling your head and back into a straight line.

You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on a professional photographer to get a good headshot. Find an amateur photographer friend that has a camera, and work together to get the shot you need. Or, grab your smart phone and have a friend help you take it.

By paying attention to key points like lighting and posture, you should be able to produce a headshot that rivals what could come out of a studio.