About Residency Headshots

Everything you need to know about what to wear, how to pose, and what backgrounds to use for the perfect medical residency headshots.

What Are Medical Residency Headshots?

Medical residency headshots are a type of portrait photo typically used during the application process for medical residencies and fellowships. For your average resident, the most popular place for their professional headshots is on their ERAS application.

Medical residency headshots focus on showcasing the subject’s professionalism, friendliness, and competence. A great headshot is the perfect first step for building an awesome personal brand that helps you get interviewed and ultimately hired at your target residency programs.

In order to be accepted by the ERAS system, the photos you submit must follow specific guidelines. The headshot must be 2.5in x 3.5in with an approximate DPI of 150 and file size of no larger than 100 kb.

Are Medical Residency 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.

Your ERAS photo is prominently displayed on your application. Many times, the board reviewing your application will actually project your headshot onto a big wall while discussing your application…

A great professional headshot is critical for making a good first impression with these people – and so can have a major impact on your career and success.  

What Do I Wear for Residency Headshots?

Generally speaking, you should dress in formal business attire for your medical residency headshot. Do not wear scrubs for your headshots unless you’re also bringing a suit to be used for your main ERAS photo. 

While we usually preach flexibility and “tailoring outfits to your personality” for sessions, the conservative nature of the medical professional means that this is a bullet-proof rule.

Remember, dress for the job you want, not the job you have. If you’re still not sure, then feel free to ask us! We’re always happy to provide guidance.


residency headshot example
medical residency headshot example

How Do I Pose for Residency Headshots?

No need to go crazy on your poses for professional headshots. In our sessions, we tend to focus on minimalist poses. We’ve seen other photographers force clients into some truly bizarre poses. But, we avoid this practice like the plague.

We are, after all, showcasing your professionalism — not our photography.

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 arms-crossed headshots and perhaps a couple candids.

What Backdrops are Best for Residency Headshots?

For medical residency headshots, we recommend a neutral colored backdrop. (Either white, off-white, or grey.) 

If desired, you can also use an outdoor headshot. But, we’ve typically found that a studio headshot exudes more professionalism for this industry. 

This is particularly true because of the file size requirements for ERAS headshots. We need to compress the photo to a file size of less than 100kb, and so oftentimes lose many of the background details that look good in an outdoor headshot.

HeadShots Inc Offers 9 Colored Studio Backdrops + Pure White

medical residency headshot example 2

How Should I Prepare for Residency 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.

There are also many photographers who refuse to specialize in one form of photography, so they’re frankly not very skilled at any specific type of 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. We only offer headshots (not even full-body portraits) and so we’ve mastered one service that we do exceptionally well. 


medical residency headshot example
medical residency headshot example

How Much Do Medical Residency Headshots Cost?

Professional headshots cost between $65 and $750 depending on geography, package, and provider. The upper end is likely a complete rip-off unless you’re looking for an extremely specific style. The bottom end is going to produce some truly terrible photos.

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 billboard, or in print, or somewhere else, you may have to pay additional fees.

For retouching, many photographers charge between $50 and $100 per photo. Calculate those fees into your total session cost.

For reference, HeadShots Inc sessions cost between $150 and $400, you get 100% rights to all original photos, and  you get one airbrushed photo included (additional are just $25 each.)

Looking for Medical Residency Headshot Pricing?

Find the perfect headshot package for your goals and budget below.

Individual Sessions

See pricing for individals and small groups of up to three people. Packages range from $150 to $400 based on session length and location.

Team Sessions

See pricing for groups of any size. Traditional headshot days and acting class discounts available across the San Francisco Bay Area.

Ready to Book Your Session?

Book studio sessions using our online scheduling calendar or request an outdoor/group session below.

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