About Creative Headshots

Everything you need to know about what to wear, how to pose, and what backgrounds to use for the best creative headshots.

After you’re done reading this guide:

What Are Creative Headshots?

Creative headshots are a type of professional portrait photo typically used by artists, innovators, designers, writers, or anyone else who wants to express their creativity with their headshot.

If you’re a creative, a good professional headshot can help you promote your published works, advance your career, and improve sales.

As opposed to a general professional headshots or business  headshots, the focus is not necessarily on making the subject look “friendly” or “professional”, but rather to make the subject look “interesting”. 

The key elements of the photo which can be changed for a creative headshot:

– Creative use of shadows on the subject’s face to create an edgier look. (Although, you can also have a fun/friendly creative headshot.)

– Creative use of background colors to either match the subject (black shirt on black background etc) or make the subject stand out with a friendly colorful background.

– Creative expression/pose that looks just a bit different than your typical “stand there and smile” pose.


fun creative headshot of female blue
creative edgy headshot example

Are Creative Headshots Important?

Have you ever met someone that you instantly either liked, or disliked?

Perhaps you knew why you felt that way about them, or perhaps you didn’t, but most people are prone to generating “first impressions” of other people in just 1/8th of a single second. These first impressions can have dramatic impact on who they hire, buy from, and otherwise listen to.

These days, most first impressions start online.

And, if you’re trying to convince people that you have something important to say, the worst thing you can look is boring.


What Do I Wear for Creative Headshots?

It depends on your personality, your work’s theme, and where your photo will be placed!

In general, we recommend “smart casual” clothing for these types of sessions. Unique clothing can also be used to make a statement with your photo.

Either way, in general, solid colored clothing tends to photograph better than complex patterns and faded/pastel clothing.

If you’re still not sure, then ask us! We’re always happy to provide guidance.


commercial headshot photography example of guitarist
creative moody headshot example of female

How Do I Pose for Creative Headshots?

 As opposed to other types of headshots, you’re welcome to try interesting poses for your shoot. We can provide some simple options, but if you’re booking this type of session, you should research interesting poses before your shoot.

Pinterest, Instagram, and other blogs are great sources of inspiration. If you’d like a creative headshots, please bring several examples on your phone to your session.

At the beginning of your session, you should warm up with simple and straightforward poses. Simply stand there and smile.

Later, we will work toward some more complex head tilts and poses.

What Backgrounds are Best for Creative Headshots?

Depends on your clothing and the theme of the work!

In both professional and business headshots, we typically recommend that you maintain high contrast with the background.

But, as opposed to other types of headshots, you don’t always need to have follow this rule for creative photos.

While we may end up recommending a background color that has high contrast with your outfit, monochrome combinations of clothing and can also look interesting. (See example here.)

Visit our headshot backgrounds page to see previews of all background options.

Alternatively, if you want an outdoor/office session, we can recommend a good location for your shoot.


headshot background options

HeadShots Inc Offers 11 Studio Backdrop Options

edgy business headshot example

How Should I Prepare for Creative Headshots?

There are three keys to preparing for your headshot ahead of time.

First, if possible, try to get some sleep, exercise, and sunshine in the weeks before your session. Our editing team airbrushes your selected photos before delivering them to you, but your preparation will help ensure that the photos look as natural as possible.

Second, make sure to briefly wear your desired clothing a couple days before your session. You want to make sure that your outfits still fits properly and doesn’t need dry cleaning.

Third, take a look at some prior photos of yourself and see if there are any that you particularly like. When you arrive at the studio, show those photos to your photographer, and that will help us find an angle that you find flattering.


What If I’m Not Photogenic or Hate Getting My Photo Taken?

We’ve got you covered! Most portrait photographers are unfortunately guilty of creating a cringe-y environment for their clients. They force you into awkward poses and don’t truly understand what clients are looking for from their session. Either that, or they rush you through the session.

At HeadShots Inc, we strive to create a fun & stress-free environment for every client. At our studio, we play upbeat music and constantly get feedback from the client so that we can work towards an amazing headshot that you’ll be proud to show online. 


creative headshot photography example at school
creative photography full body portrait example

How Much Do Creative Headshots Cost?

Creative headshots can cost anywhere between $89 and $1500 depending on geography, package, and provider.

When considering pricing, remember to look at a) licensing (who owns the photos) and b) retouching fees.

In terms of licensing, photographers typically only give you ownership for photos that you “buy” from them. This fee is separate from your “session fee,” which just covers the time spent inside their studio.

If you want to use your photos on a press release, advertisement, magazine, or book cover, you may have to pay additional licensing fees.

For retouching, many photographers charge between $50 and $150 per photo. Calculate those fees into your total session cost.

If you’re looking for a less expensive option, there are also Virtual Headshot services that start at $49/photo.

Looking For Creative Headshots?

Learn more about creative headshot services below.

Individual Sessions

Headshot sessions for executives and entrepreneurs. Make a great first impression with your professional headshots.

Team Sessions

Group sessions at our studio, your office, or another location of choice. We can handle groups all the way up to 1,000 per day.

Virtual Headshots

DIY headshots done with just a smart phone. It’s not as good as our in-person photography, but much better than a selfie. 

Corporate Plans

Flexible corporate plans that allow you to send employees to our studio for exactly matching headshots or portraits.

Learn more about Gift Cards, Event Booths, and Branding Services:

Looking For Our Studio Locations?

Visit one of our studio pages to learn about getting creative headshots near you: