Your professional headshot is one of the most important personal or business assets you have. It’s what people see first when they search for your name online and connect with you on social media.

It shows that you’re professional, confident, capable, and approachable. It’s the first hand shake but digital.

Therefore, it’s essential that your next professional headshot be the best one ever! If you don’t know where to start, keep reading: we’ll show you how easy it can be to find an affordable photographer who will capture your best angle.


What is a professional headshot?

A professional headshot is a photograph that captures the personality and style of the subject. It’s also commonly called an executive portrait, corporate portrait, business portrait or a simple as portrait.

Professional headshots are used for personal branding, social media, business proposals, LinkedIn and many more.


What are the different headshots?

There are several headshots, and each one has its own purpose. Each type has its own flavour, style and should portray the essence of the subject. The best way to decide which one is right for you is by looking at your goals and needs, as well as understanding the difference between each type of headshot.


Types of Headshots


Traditional Headshot

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It is also called as simple as “professional headshot”, which is exactly what it sounds like: a classic portrait that is typically taken against a white or neutral background with a professional lighting setup, whether it is indoor or outdoor.

These photos are simple, and they are great for business applications. Traditional headshots usually cost between $100 and $300. 



Lifestyle headshot

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If you’re looking for something a little more creative, consider a lifestyle headshot.

These photos are taken in a natural setting and capture you in your element. Lifestyle headshots are great for social media or just to show off your personality. You can get creative with your lifestyle headshot by using props or by dressing up in something that represents you.

These types of headshots are very similar to environmental portraits, but the headshots are focused more on the upper body. 

Prices for lifestyle headshots start at around $250 to $500. These are more expensive because there is more production to get the lifestyle feel.



Corporate headshot 

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This is like a traditional headshot but with a more formal feel.

These photos are often taken in the office, studio or at an event. These corporate portraits are great for people who want to show off their professional side.

Very often, the main purpose of these shots is to network on LinkedIn and company websites. Corporate headshots will show you in business attire or wearing a suit jacket/blazer and tie.

These types of photos are more formal than other headshots, but they don’t have to be boring.

Corporate headshots typically cost between $200 and $400. Photographers charge extra for additional individuals around $50 to $100.




Actor headshot

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These are a must for anyone pursuing a career in acting. The actor’s head shots are taken to showcase your range as an actor and help you get cast in roles.

The best headshots for actors are ones that show you with different expressions and emotions.

These photos can be taken in a variety of settings, from a neutral background to one with props or scenery. The common actor’s headshots are:

  • High key (bright and airy)
  • Low key (darker, moodier)
  • Compromise between the two (medium lighting) 

These types of photos can be taken in a more theatrical style and can be very fun. You might have to get into character and wear some costume pieces, props or makeup.

Actor headshots typically cost between $300 and $400, depending on the complexity of the shoot.



Environmental portraiture

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This is a style of photography that captures the subject in their surroundings. It can convey different moods, emotions and relationships between subjects.

Environmental portraits can be taken anywhere, from someone’s home to a park or beach. This type of portraits tell a story and usually the environment is as important ant as the subject.

I would say that is very similar to an editorial portrait. Prices for environmental portraiture start at around $250. 



Glamour headshot

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Glamour headshot or also called beauty headshot, is all about capturing your best self. It’s a close-up picture of your face that shows off your best features.

It can be used for modeling, acting or just for any occasion where you want to look good in front of the camera. These photos are usually taken with professional lighting, elaborated setups, makeup, and hairstyle.

Prices for glamour shots start at around $350 and it goes up depending on the production of the set and the people involved in making it happen.


What should you not wear for a professional head shot?

There are a few things you should avoid wearing for your photo shoot:

– Avoid wearing clothes with busy patterns, logos or text. You want the focus to be on your face, not your clothes.

– Stay away from bright colors. They can distract and take away from the message you’re trying to convey with your headshot. Stick to neutral colors like black, white, grey, navy blue, etc. Unless your goal allows it.

– Wear nothing too revealing or sexy. This is not the time to show skin! Keep it classy and professional.

– Avoid wearing clothes that are wrinkled or untidy. This will make you look unkempt and sloppy.

– Make sure your clothes fit well. Ill-fitting clothes can be unflattering and add pounds to your appearance.

– Wear nothing that would make you look unprofessional. This includes workout clothes, pajamas, casual clothes, etc.


How to shoot a professional head shot. My process and basic lighting setup.

As you read below, there are many style of headshots if you what to put a label on them, but basically you need to pay attention of the headshot goal so you can change the preproduction, production and postproduction so you can achieve that style that your client is looking for.

I will guide you through a basic setup I use as a starting point when doing a headshot.

  • Decide if you are shooting indoors or outdoors
  • Based on your location, choose a background,
      • Indoor, I usually go with a grey background. That way I can brighten or darker it depending on style. More on this below.
      • Outdoor, I do a quick scouting of the chosen location to choose the background I like. Try to separate your subject from the background so there is no distractions from it. Choose a location with a background with some analog or complimentary colours with your subject’s outfit.
  • Setup your lights.
      • Indoor, I use a 3 light setup, one main light positioned 45 degrees and 2 to 3 feet from the subject and a little higher that eye level. The fill light goes across the main light to create some contrast and depth. The third light I use it to control the background tone. Sometimes, I use a reflector under the subject’s chin and around chest level.
      • Outdoor, I often use 1 light depending on the location, but if the budget allows, I go with 2 lights and a reflector similar to the indoor setup, but this is not always the case. For the outdoor headshot, I try to position the sun behind the subject or across the main light. The main light has the same starting point position as the indoor setup and I tweak, depending on the available light and subject.
  • Choose your camera settings.
      • Indoor, I choose the base ISO that in some cameras is around 160 ISO, but move around your lowest ISO to around 400 ISO. Since this is a controlled environment, I like to go with base ISO. Aperture f 5.6 to f 8.0 and shutter speed 1/100 to 1/200, that in some cameras that is the max flash sync.
      • Outdoor, this is tricky because there are many ways to do it.
          • I set up my aperture to f2.8 – f4.0 to isolate the subject from the background
          • I set my shutter speed to 1/160 as a staring point and do a test shot. Usually I try to go as low as possible on the ISO.
          • From there you have 2 options, keep increasing your shutter speed until you get your exposure, you might run into a high-speed sync issue if your lights don’t allow it. The second option is to use an ND filter to keep the shutter speed under the flash sync speed.
  • Setup your camera on a tripod so you can focus on guiding your subject, or you can also hand hold your camera.


Who needs a professional headshot?

The quick answer is “Everyone” needs a professional headshot. Even if you’re not in the business world, having a decent picture of yourself is a good idea. Whether you’re looking to be an actor or a model; starting your own business; or just trying to get on LinkedIn and other professional networks, having a great photo of yourself is crucial.

Professional headshots are often required for certain jobs as well. If you’re going into finance or consulting and want to be taken seriously by clients and colleagues alike, having a professional-looking photo will help reinforce that perception—even if it’s just subconsciously conveyed through how people perceive your image online (or on paper).


Why do you need a head shot?

A professional headshot is a way to stand out from the crowd of selfies and show yourself as a professional.

When you’re looking for work in any field, your first impression can be everything. Professional headshots will make sure that your new employer knows, at first glance, that you take your career seriously and have put in the effort to present yourself. While some might think this sounds like overkill (and maybe it is), there’s no denying that having an established network of professionals who can recommend one another is invaluable for getting hired on the spot.

What are the risks of taking a selfie for your head shot?

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  • Selfies have become a popular way to take a photo and share it with your friends, but they’re not always the best way to represent yourself to new people.
  • For starters, selfies can make you look unflattering or worse—not like yourself at all. If you’re trying to show that you’re professional, put your best face forward!
  • Selfies are not consistent: You may take one great selfie today and another horrible one tomorrow—and then what will people think? You’ll never know what they really see when they look at your image because it changes so often. You want them to get used to seeing the same thing every time so that their impression of you remains steady in their minds.
  • Finally, selfies don’t tell stories well because they don’t show off much emotion.


How do you choose a headshot photographer?

  • Look for a photographer who has experience in taking headshots.
  • Find a photographer who specializes in portraits with the same style you’re looking for.
  • Look for a photographer with experience working with people like you in your industry. For example, if you are an actor looking to get headshots taken, find an actor headshot photographer.
  • Check out the photographer’s portfolio online to see their work so far—are there any images that stand out? Is there anything about his/her style or approach that appeals to you? If possible, ask friends or colleagues whose opinion on photography matters most to see if they know anyone else who shoots professionally whom they’d recommend contacting as well (or even better yet: ask them directly!). You may also consider asking potential photographers how long he/she has been shooting professionally.
  • Check the photographer’s social media for social recognition and google reviews. Even though this is not always 100% accurate, you can get a good idea of what people think about working with that photographer.


The common mistakes people make when taking their professional headshots

  • The first mistake is choosing a photographer who doesn’t have a strong headshot photography portfolio. This can be difficult to judge because, unless you’re an experienced photographer yourself, it’s hard to see the difference between good and bad headshots—especially if the photographers have little experience working with models.
  • The second mistake is choosing the wrong outfit for your profession; if you’re a lawyer or doctor, don’t wear something casual! A suit really helps show off your professionalism in part because it clarifies that you take your job seriously and will let nothing impede meeting all of your goals (and client deadlines).
  • The third common mistake is picking an inappropriate location for taking professional headshots, so what’s the best location? It depends :) Talk to your photographer before the shoot to plan what would be the best option based on the goals you want to achieve with your photos.


The value of a good photographer

A good photographer can be a valuable investment for you or your business when looking to create high-quality visual content. A good photographer can also help to tell a story and convey a message.

A great headshot can help you stand out from the crowd and achieve more success in your career.

Your image is one of the first things people see when they meet you. It’s your digital business card, so make sure it says exactly what you want it to say!

They will use lighting and composition techniques that highlight your best features while minimizing any flaws or distractions from the background.

It’s also important for them to work with you so that they understand what kind of person you are—your hobbies, interests and even personality quirks—so as not only take a flattering shot but also create shots which reflect who YOU are as an individual.



To summarize, here are the takeaways from this guide:

A professional headshot can have a big impact on your business. A bad image can cost you sales, opportunities, and clients—and it can make others think you don’t know what you’re doing. The good news is that having a professional headshot doesn’t have to be expensive or time-consuming. You just need to follow these steps:

  • Choose the right photographer for you.
  • Pick out clothes that make sense for your industry/field/role within it (or just what looks good).
  • Choose the right location
  • Communicate with your photographer before, during and after the whole process so you get what you want.

With all the information above, you should have a good idea of what a professional headshot is. It’s important to remember that this is just one piece of your overall branding strategy.