About Professional Headshots

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

After you’re done reading this guide:

What Are Professional Headshots?

Professional headshots are a type of portrait photography typically used for websites, press releases, publications, and social-media profiles. 

The term “headshot” or “head shot” just means that the portrait photo is cropped somewhere in the middle torso – so that the focus is on your face.

The term “professional headshot” (as opposed to other types) is the most broad. It can mean anything from a traditional “corporate headshot” (shot with formal attire on grey) to a creative “acting headshot” (casual clothing and interesting expressions). 

Professional headshots are used to make you look trustworthy, friendly, and competent to the outside world.

There are various ways a good photographer can use the background, your expression, your pose, and overall lighting to help you convey those elements of your personality visually.


professional headshot photography example at an office
professional headshot photography example done at law firm

Are Professional Headshots Important?

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

Maybe 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 1/10th of a single second. These first impressions can have major impact on who they hire, buy from, and otherwise listen to.

These days, most first impressions start online.

Hiring managers use LinkedIn to screen job applicants. Potential clients look up employees online to see if they’re credible. Investors/donors use the company About Us page to learn about company executives.  

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 or company.  

What Do I Wear for Professional Headshots?

It depends on your personality, industry and where the photos will be placed!

For more conservative situations like law or academics, we recommend the standard suit-and-tie, or female equivalent.

Otherwise, the best rule-of-thumb is to take a look around LinkedIn to see how peers in your industry are dressed. Make sure to pay closer attention to people who are successful vs whomever is in your immediate network.

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


headshots for lawyer at law firm example
professional headshots of therapist outdoors

How Do I Pose for Professional 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 Professional Headshots?

For more conservative industries like law and finance, we recommend neutral backdrops based in white, gray or black. With those colors, we can get some really crisp shots that convey reliability and consistency.

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

If you work in creative industries, non-profits, or tech, and you’d like your photos to have a bit more “pop,” feel free to pick a colored studio backdrop or try an outdoor/in-office session. These photos often have a bit more personality. 

If you’re a senior administrator, manager, or thought-leader, you should probably have several photos of yourself that you can use across platforms. Ideally, you would have a couple outdoor or office photos to supplement your studio headshots.

If you have the same exact headshot on LinkedIn, the company website, and press releases, it can look a bit amateurish.

headshot background options

HeadShots Inc Offers 11 Studio Backdrop Options

professional headshot photography example

How Should I Prepare for Professional 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. 


professional headshot photography example
professional headshot photography example for business

How Much Do Professional Headshots Cost?

Professional 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 Professional Headshots?

Learn more about professional 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 professional headshots near you: