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Tips for Taking Amazing Headshots

Tips for Taking Amazing Headshots

Whether you are a professional photographer adding images to your portfolio, an amateur taking family photos for your Christmas cards, or you are just trying to take the perfect selfie for your Instagram account, it’s good to know the tricks for how to take a professional headshot. Follow these tips and tutorials to help you achieve the best headshot for any occasion.

A bit different than your standard portrait photography as a portrait photographer, being a headshot photographer means obtaining good lighting and having your subject in front of the camera as the only subject to appear in the photo shoot.

Obtaining the perfect shot during a headshot photoshoot means that the camera is honing in on the subject’s face at eye level and you can only see the shoulders and above. As many company websites Makes for a great high quality profile picture for your linkedin profile.

We have branded headshots. This type of business headshot is a corporate photo that uses specific company branding. For example, the headshot session taking corporate headshots may include a particular color scheme that relates to the corporation’s branding design.

Below are some headshot photography tips and camera settings which should make your headshot photoshoot give off that amazing first impression that your clients would be searching for. As first impressions are so crucial to getting your business going and putting your name and developing your personal brand, there is a good possibility that you will be uploading your great headshots to social media.
head shots


We talk a lot about lighting when discussing all other types of photography shots.  Headshots are no exception.  When trying to capture the most flattering headshot, lighting is everything.  It affects the glare on eyeglass, and the shadows and highlights that can add or take away facial and neck qualities. To achieve a blemish-free, perfect skin on your subject, use diffused lighting.  This will gently wrap around the skin while bringing definition to the skin. has the perfect Universal Flash Diffuser to help you. To add depth to the shot and pull the top of the head out of the background, try using the sun or your flash to add hair-light to your headshots.  Add a slight glow to the hair by placing it above or behind the subject.

Camera Lens

The lens you choose can have an impact on the quality of your headshot. While a powerful DSLR camera is great like the Sony a7 III Mirrorless Full Frame Camera Body + 28-70mm Lens Kit, with it’s 24.2MP 35mm full-frame back-illuminated CMOS sensor, Fast Hybrid AutoFocus and 4K HDR recording capability and it’s portrait lens will get you better results for a professional photo and a good headshot. Fixed zoom lenses are usually a good go-to pick. They usually offer higher apertures great focal length. Furthermore, they invite creativity as you have to think about positioning and composition more.

The following are some lens types that are suitable for headshot poses:

  1. 50mm Fixed

  2. 80mm Fixed

  3. 135mm Fixed

  4. 24-70mm Zoom

  5. 70-200mm Zoom

In a perfect world, you would want a higher potential aperture – this will allow you to create that excellent out of focus background known as the Bokeh effect that is so desirable. . An aperture of f/1.2 – f/2.8 can provide excellent headshot photos.

You’ll want to use a lens that will slim your subject’s face and compress the image. To achieve this, you will need at need at least a 90mm or above lens. That doesn’t mean you can’t shoot a great headshot with your smartphone like an iPhone though. Today’s smartphones have these apertures. You’ll also want to avoid using a wide-angle lens when taking headshots as well.  This type of lens will amplify imperfections and make your subject appear unrealistic headshot for any occasion.


Unless you are taking passport photos for someone, you need to try to add some design details to your background that will allow your headshot to pop.  If there is a crowd or a busy background that would distract from your subject, try blurring the background with a telephoto lens. Make sure that you have enough natural light to capture that high-quality perfect shot in your exposure. As mentioned before in commercial photography which may place headshots on company websites, the photoshoot often takes place with a white background. Using a light meter can assist in obtaining that natural light great headshot.


Prevent mug shot looking headshots by avoiding symmetry in the subject’s stance when shooting from different angles, which is a good trick to a great photoshoot. Have your subject stand or sit with shoulders one in front and one turned to the back rather than aligned.  If you photograph the subject from a low angle, they will appear taller, stronger and more powerful and your subject will feel less self conscious. Take the shot from above for opposite results.  Shooting down will also make the eyes appear larger and the face more delicate. Always remember that most people have a good side, so semi-profiles are an option as well.  If you choose to do this, make sure that the direction in which your subject is looking has more space than the other side.

Make sure that your camera settings are properly set to obtain that great headshot and avoid harsh shadows for example. You should shoot headshots at at ISO 400 or lower, with optimal being around ISO 100. Higher than this begins to look too grainy on most cameras. The general rule of thumb for your shutter speed in headshot photoshoots is setting it at 1/60th of a second to 1/200th of a second. Lowering your shutter speed will allow more natural light into your exposure.

Facial Expression


The most important element of a great headshot is the expression on the subject’s face. It is important that it matches the purpose of the photograph. You may have to get very creative to achieve this final element. From getting your depth of field correct to avoiding your exposure showing your subject with a double chin, It’s your job to pull out the most natural neutral colors and looks by delivering compelling, complimentary conversation, asking serious questions to acquire a thoughtful gaze, or making jokes to capture a natural smile.

At the same time you are doing all of this, you must continue to keep your focus on the subject’s eyes because nothing is more important than capturing the eyes in a way that will draw the viewer into the photo. After all, the eyes are said to be the window to the soul.  

Final Thoughts

Headshot photography can be a lucrative business. Clients are constantly searching for the best of the best when it comes to this industry. Personal headshot photography which may be needed at events such as weddings, speeches and vlogs, and is a great way to furthering your brand and reputation as a great headshot photographer.

While working towards your goal to be the best headshot photographer, bear in mind that you can always rely on photo editing software like photoshop for retouching your headshot to get that professional photo. Utilize the tutorials, camera settings, tips and tricks provided and your career as a headshot photographer should know no bounds.

So there you have it, some simple and effective ways to make those headshots look great no matter the occasion.  

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