How to Decide what Style of Headshot Photo is Right for You

Posted on: June 29, 2021

So you’ve decided to hire a professional headshot photographer to upgrade your business headshot photo. 

Now…how to decide what style of professional portrait is right for you? 

There are three things I recommend every headshot photography client consider when it comes to choosing a style for their new business portrait. 

  1. Consider the context
  2. Look to industry leaders
  3. Think about where your headshot will appear

Consider the context

You might have some gut feelings about the style of headshot you “like” the best, just from a visual / aesthetic perspective. But just because you like it, doesn’t mean that style of business headshot is appropriate for, well, your business. 

Say you love the look of headshots and portraits with luscious greenery and foliage in the background. Who doesn’t!?

But…what percent of your business takes place against the backdrop of foliage? If the answer is “none”, then that might not make the most sense for your business headshot.

Your business headshot photo is about one thing: YOU. So what’s going on in the background is far secondary to what’s going on with your face. A neutral or solid-color background always works. 

But if you want your new professional portrait to be in more of an environment, I recommend it be context-appropriate for the line of work you’re in.

If you typically work in an office environment, your headshot could be inside or outside a corporate office of some sort (doesn’t have to be your actual office, just something that looks office-y). There are plenty of beautiful corporate buildings in downtown Seattle.

You get the idea.

Alright, next up….

Look to industry leaders

When you’re hiring a professional headshot photographer it’s wise to have at least some idea of the style of business headshot you’re looking for; a good photographer can help you think some of this through but ultimately you do need to weigh in, it’s your headshot photo after all.

When you’re seeking clarity on your vision for your new business headshot a great place to start is by looking at the headshot photos and LinkedIn profile pictures of leaders in your industry. This will help give you a feel for what is appropriate in your field

Maybe they’re colleagues or maybe they’re strangers in your same line of work. Even better? Look at the professional headshot photos of people who are further along / higher up in your industry.

You know that bit of advice about dressing for a job interview as if you already have the job you’re going for? I like that bit of advice for business headshots too.

If you’re upwardly mobile in your career, consider styling yourself and your business headshot photo for the job you are gunning for (assuming it’s in your same industry), not for the one you currently have. You can also find some great style advice and best practices in a couple of my other blog posts — what to wear for business headshots for men and style advice for professional headshot photos for women.

Alright, last but not least…

Consider where you headshot will appear.

If you’re hiring a professional headshot photographer for the sole task of updating your LinkedIn profile photo, you don’t really need to think about this part. 

But if your business headshot photo will appear on other platforms (on a business card, maybe on the “about” page on your business website) it’s smart to think about what that platform and that page will look like.

Will there be text with your headshot photo? Is the background that your business headshot photo placed upon going to be white? Gray? 

These questions will help you think about whether your new professional headshot needs to be closer up or more zoomed out, vertical or horizontal, on a neutral/blank background, or more in-context.

**I love a white background for professional headshot photos appearing in print, especially for business cards and real estate flyers. Instead of having a rectangular or square photo, it’s just your smiling face on a blank background, fully integrated with the rest of the content.

Alright folks, I hope this is helpful!

I know you’ve got things you’d rather spend your time on than figuring out what business headshot photo is best for you. Don’t worry–when you hire me as your professional headshot photographer I’ll help you think this all through.

We’ll style your business headshot photo to be rock solid not just for where you’re at in your career, but for where you’re going.

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