professional headshot

4 Tips for a Better Professional Headshot

By Princess Jones

Headshots matter. They are your representation on your business website, your email, and your social media profiles. When you get a professional headshot wrong, it really affects how the world see you. We’ve all browsed LinkedIn and have seen the party headshot coupled with the financial services consultant job. Don’t let that be you. Here’s how to avoid it.

Theme Correctly

The biggest mistake people make with headshots is offering a theme that conflicts with their business. Your business’ personality and your photo personality should match. You wearing a bathing suit next to a write-up of your dog grooming business is going to confuse people. Likewise with a party clown in a dark suit with a stone face. A good rule of thumb is to appear in your headshot the way you would appear if you were to meet a customer. You may wear sweats and a scowl while you bake your cookies, but if you’ve got a chef’s coat and a smile when you’re selling them in person, that’s what you should be doing in the head shot.

Backgrounds Matter

The most overlooked part of a headshot is the background. It’s the canvas of your headshot and shouldn’t be chosen lightly. Studio backgrounds can be more uniform but choosing a background scene can be interesting, too. You have a chance to set the headshot in a scene that helps to highlight who you are and what you do. Backgrounds that feature the beach, your office, or a library all give different impressions. It’s up to you to choose correctly.

Choose Colors Carefully

The color choices in your professional headshots should not only match your overall theme but it should also take into account how you appear in a photo. Try to incorporate colors that complement your skin tone. Are you a warm, cool, or neutral? Make your color palette based on that. If you have particularly pale skin, black is probably something to be avoided. Avoid patterns with elements too close together because that can appear distorted through a lens. And remember that certain colors convey certain emotions. For example, blue is thought to inspire trust, but red is more aggressive.

Get Professional Help

It’s not that you can’t get the perfect headshot with a phone selfie or by cropping a group shot. It’s definitely possible to stumble on something like that, but that’s the exception, not the rule. If you want to give yourself the best shot at coming up with something professional, go with a professional.

That said, professional photography is not cheap. If you’re looking for budget-friendly options, check with art schools for students looking to fill their portfolios. And don’t forget that you’re not the only one trying to make it work on your budget. Bartering is a great way to stay within your budget. Offer something you do in exchange for their photography services.

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Princess Jones

Princess Jones is the evil genius behind P.S. Jones Copy & Design, where she helps food and drink businesses speak the language of their audiences. For more talk about copywriting, design, and the tools to pull them off, follow her on Twitter @imprincessjones.


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  1. Great tips! We do a lot of headshots for clients at the company I work for. Sometimes it’s a little awkward not really having a plan in mind for how they should look to match their website.

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