A headshot is a form of digital photography that focuses solely on a person’s face. The shot may include the person’s shoulders, as well. Unlike other types of photography, this shot typically only involves one person, and they are the main focus of the picture.

These do vary from portrait shots, as those can include the body. If the shot goes below the shoulders, it can no longer be referred to as a headshot.

Headshots have been on the rise over the last several years. Once reserved just for those in acting and modeling, headshots are now almost a requirement for corporate workplaces.

Companies want to showcase their employees on their websites or online directories in our digital age. Headshots have become the way to do that.

Also, as online professional networking opportunities arise, professionals with profiles on networks such as LinkedIn need a professional headshot. Another good candidate for headshots is professionals and business owners with their websites. They can show off a good headshot in the About Us section of their site to create a human connection.

Some companies may want their headshots conducted against a traditional type of backdrop. That is completely fine.

A business has a specific ethos they want to convey. And if posing their employees against that backdrop is how they get that ethos, that is ok. But those backdrops aren’t the only places you can shoot these sessions. You don’t have to shoot them inside at all.

As these shots have expanded from their more austere origins, so have the places these sessions can happen. The outdoors opens up a whole new world of backdrops for headshots. Just because the focus is on the person doesn’t mean they can’t have some gorgeous foliage behind them.

outdoor corporate headshot on a bridgeindoor corporate headshot

One of the keys to a terrific headshot is to play with the angles, poses, and expressions. Corporate headshots may not permit you this creativity, but take it wherever you find it!

Playing with angles is a way to break that rigidity for other types of headshots, especially outdoor headshots.


Engage with your client

Another way to get a fantastic headshot is to engage with your client and keep talking while setting up lights. Break the ice.


Keep shooting

Keep shooting even when fixing poses or taking a break. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve got a money shot by keep shooting and capturing that candid and natural headshot. People love it because you get the authentic side of them.



Lighting is another excellent way to improve the quality of your session with your client. Lighting is one of the best ways to jazz up those headshot sessions where you don’t get as much creative freedom. You need to bring out their eyes, first and foremost. Get your lighting to pull out that feature. See if you can get it to bounce off their hair. Play with these elements to bring a new level of dimension to your shot.



The best thing you can do for your headshot session is talk to your client before you begin to observe their goals.

Find out why they are getting headshots done in the first place. Knowing why they need the photoshoot done gives you more room to play and create what types of shots you want for the session. If someone is a fashion designer, you will conceptualize their shoot differently than a writer or an accountant.


Encouragement and Pose

The most important thing you must do during your shoot is to keep your client calm. Not everyone feels comfortable in front of the camera.

Throughout your shoot, give words of encouragement to your subject.

If your client feels awkward posing for pictures, your encouragement can mean the world and help you achieve a much more productive result.

In addition, to support, don’t forget to give your client additional instructions for a pose. If they need to tilt their chin, change their gaze, etc., make sure to call those things out to them. This will help you get the variety of shots you need. You can check my blog post about the psychology of headshot photography.

headshot photography setup



I hope this overview is helpful so that you understand what a headshot is and how to get the best shots of your clients. These are an essential part of our digital world. They can be more than the classic shots you have seen on LinkedIn. If a photographer goes outside the box, these photoshoots can have a great deal of magic.