What Type of Headshot Background Is Right For Me?

by | Oct 1, 2020

Between what to wear, how to pose, and how to smile, there’s a lot to think about before booking your professional headshot session.

To make your life a little easier, we thought we’d cover four vital questions to ask yourself when deciding on your headshot backdrop. 

Read this guide and you’ll know exactly how to pick the perfect headshot for your personality, goals and industry.

Question #1: Is there a certain style that’s uniform in my industry?

For some industries, like law, medicine and finance, solid-colored studio backdrops are pretty much the standard across the field. So, unless you’re aiming to be a maverick, you should probably stick with a traditional studio session.

In other industries, there’s no standard format, so go with whatever backdrop suits you! The safest bet, though, is almost always a studio backdrop.

In case you’re curious, here is a non-exhaustive list of customary backdrops based on industry:

Law: Dark Gray or In-Office

Real Estate: On-Site at Listing

Medicine: White Studio Backdrop

Pharmaceutical/Biomedical: In-Office or Outdoor

Finance: White Studio, Gray Studio, or Black Studio Backdrop

Large Corporation: Medium-Tone Gray Studio Backdrop

Technology: In-Office, Outdoor, or Studio (Varies)

Marketing Agency: Outdoor

Construction: Outdoor

Consulting: Studio Backdrop 

Fashion: Urban Outdoor

Dating: Various Outdoor

Freelance/Solo-Entrepreneur: Any

Energy: White or Off-White Studio Backdrop 

Architecture: White or Off-White Studio Backdrop

Acting/Modeling: Any Color Studio Backdrop

Musicians: Any Color Studio Backdrop

Question #2: What do I want my personal brand to be in this industry?

When deciding on your backdrop, there’s a bit of a balancing act between being approachable and being professional. 

In general, studio sessions appear more “intentional” and therefore more professional.

In general, outdoor/in-office sessions appear more “candid,” which can come off as more friendly.

There are pros and cons to both styles. Unless your boss/employer is enforcing a specific backdrop style, feel free to either a) buck the trend and pick the opposite of what’s standard for your industry (be a maverick!) or b) just go for an impeccably executed version of that standard style.

If you’re booking headshots for a group, check out our Build Your Company Headshot Brand ebook — it has some helpful tips for creating company headshot guidelines from scratch.

Everyone has their own special circumstances. You should also consider the following personal questions.

  1. Is my hair long? Beware of shooting outdoors, particularly in the afternoon. Your hair will be everywhere, bellowing like Fabio’s in the wind. 
  2. Am I sensitive to flash photography? Certain people with epilepsy or other related health issues should go with an outdoor shoot, as it won’t involve any sudden bursts of light.
  3. Am I sensitive to continuous lighting? On the flip side, some people’s eyes are sensitive to continuous light, forcing them to squint during bright photography sessions. In this case, go for a studio session that uses flash photography. (Hint: People with light-colored eyes typically have this problem. If you have brown/black eyes, you’re probably OK either way.)
  4. How photogenic do I personally think I am? If you’re concerned about whether or not you are photogenic, outdoor and in-office settings are generally more forgiving. 

Question #4: Will I feel more comfortable in a certain setting?

If you just know you’re going to feel more comfortable outdoors, then go for it! If you know you’ll feel more professional in a studio, then go with that! 

Unless your employer is forcing you to get a headshot with a specific format, you should pick whichever session “feels right” for your circumstances. It’ll result in a more natural posture and expression, and a better final photo.


Thanks for reading! We hope this guide will help you decide what type of headshot is best for you. 

If you have any questions, feel free to email us at smile@headshots-inc.com or start a chat with our chat bot on the site.

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