How to Take Headshots You’ll Actually Want People to See

Let’s be honest, most of us don’t like standing in front of the camera while a photographer gets all up in our face.

But we all know that a great looking professional portrait is a valuable asset to have. 

Even if it feels a bit awkward, having a professional photo is a major authority building visual content piece that will help you stand out. 

Here’s the good news…

Headshots have evolved past their 80’s glamour days. These days, there are a lot of ways to capture a professional portrait that will help you build your brand and genuinely connect with your audience. 

As a professional photographer who’s experienced in shooting professional portraits, I have a few tips to share with you on how to take headshots that you’ll actually want people to see.

Here we go!


First things first, get the idea that you have to stand in front of a white or grayish backdrop out of your head. I know that’s what most of us think about when we think headshot, but the truth is that you can have your headshot taken while you sit on your couch… 

…Or your kitchen stool 

…Or with a bright yellow backdrop

…Or outside

And not only *can* you do this, but you should! Because while there’s nothing wrong with a plain, white backdrop, you probably want your portrait to be a little different. 

One thing that you DO want to do is to make sure you have some contrast, whether that’s between what you’re wearing, your skin/hair color, or what you are standing/sitting in front of. 

For example: if you have blond hair and light skin, I would not choose to wear white and have a white backdrop (or a really light, sunny background if you’re taking the photos outside). Unfortunately, your portrait would likely end up looking washed out and flat.

But also kind in mind: the focal point is YOU, so you don’t want to have the background behind you be busy or distracting. Just keep it clean and bright. 


Just like your backdrops, don’t be afraid to try different poses. Have the photographer take photos from different angles so that you have a variety of photos to choose from. 


In a world of selfies, most of us have a pretty good idea what our best side is. So, let the photographer know this so they can focus on that side. This will actually make their job easier, as well as help you get a great shot that you’ll be happy to show off.   

Your brand

If you are having photos taken for your brand, you’ll want to make sure that you are incorporating your brand’s unique style and colors. 

If the photos will be used on social media or for marketing, adding a lifestyle component is always a good idea. 


I am not going to sugar coat it — most photographers are going to be using some pretty bright and possibly artificial lighting for your headshot, which can make your skin look shiny. 

For women, this can easily be fixed with a bit of makeup. I actually recommend getting your make-up done by a pro. 

I have found with a lot of my clients that having your make-up professionally done can help get rid of some of the awkwardness. When you feel more confident, it comes through in your photos. These are as close up as photos get, so go for it girl! 

And for men, doing a quick face wash or using a cleansing wipe right before shooting can help remove any shine.

Let your photographer guide you

I’m telling you, an experienced photographer will know how to help you pose in a way that’s going to capture all the right stuff… but it’s probably going to feel weird.

So, if they instruct you to turn sideways, lean forward, tilt your head a little.. It’s because they know what looks best on camera. Trust me, it’s not going to look as awkward as it might feel, so trust the process! 

Beat the awkwardness

I have been doing professional portraits for years, and if there’s only one thing that will really help you take a killer headshot, it’s adding some expression or movement. So find someone (or something) to make you laugh! A genuine expression is always going to stand out more than a forced smile. 

If you’re in the Phoenix area and are ready to book your professional portrait, send me an email or connect with me on instagram and send me a DM! 

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Pinterest Strategist & Brand  Photographer. Based in Arizona.