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Are Corporate Headshots the New Handshake?

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First impressions have always mattered, and in the past it was all about the handshake. Now that we’ve entered the era of LinkedIn, virtual business, and online personal branding, a well-done headshot can be equally important as a firm grip.

A carefully chosen headshot is a key part of publicly representing yourself and your brand. As with all first impressions, your headshot should set the tone for who you are and what you’re about. It’s important that the image looks and feels like you, not how you think people want to see you. Luckily, the days of staged and stuffy yearbook-like headshots are over. Polished, genuine, and more relaxed headshots are in. Here are some tips for putting your best face forward:

  1. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Show some personality and SMILE!
  2. Don’t abuse Photoshop or Instagram. A little touching up is fine, but steer clear of any unnatural filters or alterations.
  3. No matter how pretty you look, skip any headshot that has other people’s body parts cropped out around your head.
  4. Lighting is key. If you’re using natural light, never shoot at midday–the strong light creates harsh shadows. If you’re indoors, try moving near a window since a combo of natural and artificial light often makes a better shot.
  5. Pay attention to how you frame the shot. Make sure horizon lines are straight, that there are no distracting objects in view, and that you have chosen the best angle. (It helps to take a few practice shots from different angles.)
  6. Keep your background simple and clean. This can mean a white wall or a tree; just make sure that the background makes you stand out, and not the other way around.
  7. Don’t wear anything with words, and stick to solids or subtle patterns. Words and flashy patterns distract viewers from your beautiful profile!
  8. Skip the suit and wear something that shows off your (work) style. Anything with a classic neckline should do the trick.
  9. Depending on your industry and career path, a professional photographer may be worthwhile. But if you have an amateur photographer friend, ask him or her to use you as a test subject!
  10. Update regularly—once a year is a good rule of thumb. A career change or branding adjustment may also mean an update is in order.

Do you have any headshot do’s or don’ts? Share them in the comments!


#Tips #Photography Career Advice
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Shant Kiraz
Shant Kiraz

#9 is definitely the strongest tip, especially since a lot of people are trying to DIY their own headshots and end up looking amateur. It'll help you if you find a pro/rising photographer who can bring out your personality!

Carly Heitlinger
Carly Heitlinger

GREAT tips! I was going to highlight the one I thought was most important, but truthfully they're all amazing.

To answer the headline, YES! I chose to take some on a day when my hair/skin seemed to be behaving, and had a handful of shots taken with different outfits. A year ago, I'm still using these for various scenarios. It's always a good idea to have a few headshots on standby.

I have been meaning to get headshots done and this is a great reminder! I used to intern for a website where we would do posts on young women breaking into fashion PR. As the one in charge of these posts I was always shocked at the awful quality of photos I got from such pretty and professional young women. The "Facebook" crop was literally the worst trying to deal with. Professional photos may seem like a pointless investment of time and/or money but they really are worth it.

Number 1 and 2 are the most important! I took my Mom's LinkedIn head shot at one of our favorite Alexandria haunts and she was nervy but I made jokes until she smiled naturally and it turned out perfectly. Using Photoshop on a headshot is like putting on make up, no one should be able to tell you're wearing it. ;)

I was wondering if I needed a professional headshot. I appreciate your addressing this. I might get my husband to take a few shots and see if I need a pro.

I thought it was the oddest thing when I was asked to take a headshot with a professional photographer at my place of work. Now, I'm psyched that this opportunity is available to all employees free of charge. I'm thinking about going back since my hair has changed a bit since I started working at the institution.

Elana Gross
Elana Gross

Thank you for all of the tips! I never had a professional headshot until this year but I am so grateful to have one!

Couldn't agree more!

Couldn't agree with this article more! In the social media time period that we live in today, your headshot can make or break it in some respects. I know I need to update mine!

A picture is worth more than a thousand words. You want your picture to reflect a message about who you are. A professional photographer will know how to make that happen. You need a good head shot in the age of internet
introductions. I am shamelessly promoting my husband, Leland Bobbé, who is an award winning photographer. He can be contacted at

As a headshot photographer in the Napa and San Francisco/Bay Area I wholeheartedly agree with these tips!

I also work on personal-branding and constantly tell people that actors and real-estate agents have been ahead of the game!

Headshots launched their careers...why not of those seeking promotion or attention from venture capitalists?

Nice piece Kristen!



natural light all the way- sounds easy to do - but much harder than just setting up your standard lighting kit


Great article! It is so true that everyone needs a great professional head shot. Check out our company – Edit My Photography – to have our professional editors make sure you get rid of those wrinkles, stray pieces of hair, and make your photo POP some more!

The Tips in this article are great if you have the time and a little skill, Photoshop by the way is great when you know how to use it. unfortunately most people don't have the time to learn it.

I'm a New York corporate Headshot Photographer and work with business men, mostly bankers and Lawyers as well as actors and models. A business headshot can make you look more confident, knowledgeable and approachable. It adds a human element to you if someone has not met you in person essentially giving the actual first impression. So how important do you think that is?

Getting clients comfortable and in the studio to have fun and not be serious is our art-form. a headshot photographer is really supposed to get you to let that guard down and capture some serious confidence and maybe even some quirkiness.
if you are ever in new york and need a professional business headshot give us a call.

Ken Jones photography

A great article on the power of headshots. I'm a commercial photographer and shoot for agencies, actors, models, celebrities, businesses, and regular individuals.

There are specific styles of headshots, and correct ways to light them, and specific ways to have your self confidence come across on the camera. I shoot both studio and lifestyle headshots designed to make you look your very best, and to fit the market that you are trying to reach. Be sure to find the best headshot photographer in your market.

Saving money on an average headshot can be risky, so be willing to spend a little more than the local portrait studio or a beginner student. My clients land better jobs because their headshots are really, really good. So put some budget into your headshots.

And, as this article conveys, have fun with it and show your personality.


To see a variety of headshot and body shot portfolio images.

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