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How to Take a Perfect Business Headshot

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How to Take a Perfect Business Headshot


Making a splash in your career field of choice takes a few extra steps than it once did. While previously providing just a resume was satisfactory, there are more unspoken requirements now. One of these items is a high-quality business headshot that can adorn your social media networking profiles and job search portfolio.


However, getting the perfect business headshot isn’t just throwing on some nice clothes and showing your best smile. Instead, there are several things that you should take into consideration. Whether you use a photographer or take your own professional headshot, these business headshot tips are for you.

How Do You Take a Perfect Business Headshot?

Getting a great business headshot requires a few steps. You ensure a high-quality headshot by using a professional photographer and following the steps below.

Use Studio Lighting 


Studio lights are great for photo shoots because they give the photographer a lot of control over the direction and intensity of the light. 


Studio lights can be placed where needed, moved around quickly and easily, and controlled by remote so that the photographer doesn’t have to walk over to each individual light source. 


This helps you get exactly the look that you want and reduces shadows or other unwanted effects from being in certain areas of the photo.

Practice Posing in the Mirror

You don’t want to receive your pictures back from the photographer or view your self-portraits on your camera and see that your smile was off-kilter in every single shot. While you may feel funny doing so, practicing different poses before the shoot can make a big difference in how the pictures turn out.


While practicing your business headshot poses, be sure to review your smile. Is there an element that you don’t like? What can you do to change it? Experiment with a few different looks to ensure they come across as professional and portray confidence.


Poses to consider include:


  • Sitting to the side with head to the right
  • Sitting to the side with head to the left
  • Facing forward with a head tilt
  • Standing with arms folded


When it comes to having appropriate poses in your business headshots, you may not realize that some are better received than others. For this reason, reviewing the appropriate poses before going into the shoot is all the more critical.

Avoid Recent Trends

As another of our corporate headshot tips that aligns with the topic above; it’s not advisable if you are hoping for your headshots to age well. As tempting as it may be to participate in the current photography trends, it’s vital to avoid them. Using trends means employers will see how old your images are by corresponding the trend to the timeframe. 


Additionally, professional standards change over time, and an older photo you create with a trend as inspiration may not be appropriate. 


When looking for poses, choose those that have remained in style for the majority of the past decade. You’ll typically see looks that are head and shoulders with neutral backgrounds. You will sometimes see a full-body photo, but that isn’t as common.


What trends to avoid:


  • Staring off into the distance
  • Far away shots
  • Poses with props
  • Overlays


When it comes to your business headshot, focus on the tried and true methods. This activity is one situation where you don’t want to deviate from the norm.

Pick a Quality Outfit

Another critical element that comes with getting the perfect headshot is having a quality outfit that is business appropriate and not flashy. You don’t want your apparel to take away from the look and professional demeanor that you are trying to exude. When prospective employers see this photo, they check out the person who will represent their company, and you don’t want to give them any reason to think you aren’t the perfect fit.


You want your outfit to be neutral in color with clean lines for your headshot photo. Be sure that it is appropriately ironed and that it isn’t overly revealing. It’s critical to ensure that your clothing is free from company logos, rips, and tears. Confirm that the different outfit items match and coordinate well with each other.


Outfit suggestions:


  • Neutral colors
  • Freshly ironed
  • Logo-free
  • No rips or tears


When entertaining different apparel options, try to find a professional-looking blouse or button-up shirt. You can pair this with a jacket or leave it alone. Include slacks or a skirt, and you’re good to go!

Keep Hair Neatly Styled

Paying particular attention to your hair before the camera snaps are crucial to getting the desired photo. 


Before sitting in front of the camera, check yourself in the mirror. Look for any flyaways or frizzy areas in your hair. Be sure to properly style it so it looks collected and professional. 


You should also have hair products on hand in case you need them during the shoot. If something is out of place, you can quickly put it back in its correct spot with a bit of styling.


Suggestions for appropriate and professional hairstyles include:


  • Straightened
  • Curled
  • Pulled back with a clip
  • A tight bun
  • A braid


Another thing to think about with hair is to be aware of any grown-out roots or overgrown hair. You want a clean, put-together look going into the photo shoot.

Opt for Simple Makeup

While styling your hair, you also want to plan for your makeup (if needed). Although you want to put on enough that it covers any blemishes or spots you are currently dealing with, you don’t want to overdo it. Be sure that you are elevating your natural features with the right colors and products.


When choosing the shades for your makeup, stick to those that naturally resemble your skin tone. You don’t want to have bright colors that make certain areas of your face stand out from the photo. Additionally, if the session goes long, you don’t want to have to reapply highly detailed makeup techniques.


Products to focus on for your portrait:


  • A foundation that matches your skin tone
  • Light blush
  • Mascara
  • Eyebrow powder
  • Concealer, if needed

Focus on Posture

Something that frequently happens as people take photo after photo is that their body gets tired of holding a similar position for too long, and their posture begins to slump. If you’ve been pondering how to take a perfect business headshot, posture is an element at the core of the process.


As the camera clicks, check in with yourself (and your photographer if you are using one) to see if your back is aligned straight or if you are slightly hunched over. Continually remind yourself to put your shoulders back, as that also projects great back posture.


Ways to check your posture:


  • Reset yourself after a few shots
  • Focus on pushing your shoulders back
  • Take breaks


If you find yourself struggling with your posture, something as simple as changing the chair you are using can help. Sometimes a stool forces you to straighten your back, whereas a high-back chair gives you room to recline.

Don’t Overdo the Accessories 

When choosing your outfit for your business headshots, allow yourself to use only a minimal amount of accessories and jewelry. Keeping things simple with an essential pair of earrings, one or two rings, and a dainty necklace is best for looking the most professional in your picture.


Although you may have a whole accessories lineup that goes splendidly with your outfit, getting professional portraits done is a straightforward process. While we often want to stand out from the crowd, business headshots aren’t an opportunity to do so.


Acceptable accessories include:


  • Stud earrings
  • One to two rings
  • Dainty necklace


Lastly, you want to ensure that your accessories’ design isn’t offensive or attention-grabbing. Avoid symbols or words that can invoke a reaction.

Get Rest and Hydrate

Do you know how your skin looks dry and dull after a busy couple of days with little sleep? Those features can easily shine through in your portraits and make the quality less than stellar. One of our most critical corporate headshot tips focuses on this issue.


To avoid dullness and dry skin, ensure that you get adequate sleep each night and practice good skin care in the days leading up to your photo session. You will want to ensure that you are properly cleansing and moisturizing your face daily and taking in the appropriate amount of water.


For great photo-friendly skin:


  • Get ample sleep in the days leading up to the shoot
  • Wash your face regularly
  • Moisturize frequently
  • Drink plenty of water


Another thing to remember is that external factors like shower temperature can affect your skin. Take all precautions to ensure a quality photo!

Take Multiple Shots

Whether paying a professional photographer for your business headshots or taking them on your own, you never want to settle for just one shot. Since you are all put together professionally, you must take advantage of the situation and get multiple images in various poses and angles.


While taking these photos, take brief breaks in between to check your hair and smile. The perk of taking so many different pictures is that you are bound to come out with at least one that is perfect. And if you have more than one you like, you can rotate them out from time to time!


When taking multiple shots, remember:


  • Take pictures from different angles
  • Pause to reset posture
  • Check your smile
  • Ensure appropriate lighting


Another bonus is that if you find a specific pose that works excellently in multiple photos, you can use that as your go-to pose for next time!

Try To Relax

When you think about it, the elements that make up a business headshot session are the opposite of relaxing. You must ensure that you are sitting in perfect posture at all times, there are lights on you from all angles, and you are consistently trying to force a smile that looks natural.


With all that in mind, it’s crucial that you try to relax as much as possible. Whether you are taking deep breaths after a few shots throughout the session or envision being at the beach or getting a massage while the camera clicks, do what is possible to portray a look of relaxation.


Benefits of relaxing:


  • Looking happier
  • Loosened muscles
  • Better posture


If you need more motivation to relax, there are numerous medical advantages to incorporating extra amounts of calmness into your life. 

Do You Need a Business Headshot?

While a business headshot used to be more common in executive-level employment, the need for them has expanded significantly and now includes most professions. Having a headshot is essential if you plan to network through places like LinkedIn or post on job boards. You want to put your best foot forward, and this is performed tenfold with a high-quality headshot.


Another thing to consider is the importance of a professional headshot if you are self-employed. Those who freelance or work as consultants or contractors will often need to send a photo of themselves to the company they work for, whether for verification or an identification badge.

Why You Should Book a Professional Headshot Photographer

While it is possible to take your own professional headshots, there are situations in which hiring a photographer is preferable.

Ample Experience

Hiring a photographer means you benefit from the experience they have gained throughout their years in the industry. While you are relying on the information you find online, and in guides such as this, a professional will have learned experience through the previous shoots they have done.


Many find that having an experienced photographer gives better results through the photos they receive. Furthermore, the process is shorter and requires less work on your behalf.


Photographers get their experience through:


  • Ongoing photo sessions
  • Classes
  • Tutorials
  • Mentoring
  • Workshops


Some photographers go to school to learn all the techniques of the industry. Others sign up for ongoing education that they participate in over time. 

High-Quality Equipment

Most people who opt to take their own headshots are doing so with a set of basic equipment. They may use a smartphone in portrait mode that they balance on a shelf or attach to a tripod. Often they don’t have the appropriate type of light or use the correct camera settings for the best focus.


One of the biggest perks of using an experienced photographer is that they come with a collection of high-quality equipment. These items are finely tuned due to frequent use and can be set up and taken down with ease. 


Things that photographers routinely use:


  • Light modifiers
  • Light stands
  • Backdrops
  • Posing equipment
  • External flashes


Studio Environment

Another perk to using a professional photography service like JCPenney Portraits, is that we have nearby studios with backgrounds and lighting for an easy and quick photography session.


Having this all taken care of will alleviate any stress that you are feeling in advance of the shoot. You won’t be required to find the necessary items or learn the appropriate settings to get the perfect headshot photo. All of that will be taken care of for you.


What you can expect in a photography studio:


  • Bright and soft lights
  • Clean and sanitized environment
  • Already set-up equipment
  • Posing stools and chairs
  • High-end camera


In the end, visiting a studio for your business headshots is a calmer experience than trying to gather all the necessary items and details to do it on your own.

Frequently Asked Questions

The act of job hunting is stressful enough, but adding on the need for professional headshots is a different level. Below we highlight the top questions surrounding getting a perfect business headshot.

Should I use props in a business headshot?

When taking professional headshots, you want a picture focusing on just you. Therefore, having any props – whether they relate to your profession or not – is strongly advised against in this instance. Anything that diverts attention away from your face shouldn’t be in the portrait.

Are black-and-white business headshots a good idea?

While you may see black-and-white professional headshots in publications or agendas, getting the photos done in black-and-white isn’t advisable. Some companies use your headshot for identification purposes, which requires features like hair and eye color to be visible. Black and white photographs don’t offer these details.

How often should I take a business headshot?

The range of how often you should retake headshots will vary by profession. Those in the entertainment industry will get them done more frequently, while business professionals are typically good for at least three years, barring any significant physical changes. It’s a good idea to review your photos yearly to ensure they are still relevant. 

Book a Business Headshot Photography Session Today!

How do you take a perfect business headshot? Several elements come into play to secure the ideal image. While you can take them on your own with the guidance we list above, many find it more advantageous to bring in professionals to ensure the perfect headshot.


What will your professional headshot say about you? Find out today by hiring a professional photographer from JCPenney Portrait Studios and scheduling your headshot session. 

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