Tips for Great Headshots

Does anyone remember when you used to be able to work in this world and never ever think about anything like a “headshot” unless we were trying to break into acting or something!? ((Gen X grumbling sounds)) That’s just not the reality anymore so here we are with some tips for great headshots.

Whether you’re on LinkedIn or have a small business with a page on Facebook, a great headshot is vital. Look at this study that shows how fast people decide whether or not to trust you! It’s mere milliseconds. Crazy!

You don’t want to leave important impressions to a selfie, right? Your portrait needs to convey your professionalism, your personality, and if applicable, your brand. The person on the other side of the lens is vital to that, which is why we take our portrait photography work so very seriously.

To see what we mean, check out this video where six photographers are told six different stories about one man and asked to take his portrait. What they’re told about him shapes the photos they take and then that will shape what viewers think of that person when they see his photo.

(For this post, we’re using three photos of the same person to demonstrate the different stories that can be created.)

Tips for great headshots

Some Tips to Start

Our number one tip for great headshots is to work with a professional whom you trust and like. You want to work with someone who takes the time to know you and understand your needs, and you also want someone from whom you will feel comfortable taking direction.

Another top tip: when it comes to professional photos, be yourself in the context of understanding the business you’re trying to get into or the clients you’re trying to attract. If you feel like you can’t trust your instincts on this, ask others in your field or talk to us. We’re pretty good at this stuff, and if we don’t feel like we can answer your question, we’ll find someone who can.

Now let’s get into some more details.

What to Wear

  • You know your industry so wear something that makes you feel like you’re the boss. ((wink))
  • Solids are great but patterns can be okay if they don’t distract from your face. Often patterns work best, for example, on a skirt rather than a shirt.
  • Avoid scarves that can’t be loosened or turtlenecks that might make you look like, well, a turtle…with no neck.
  • Avoid shirts that are buttoned too tightly at the top.
  • Avoid really low necklines. A bit of a v neck can be one of the best necklines for photos for women.
  • Avoid really small patterns. (If we didn’t already get that across.)
  • Layers are great because they can be played with during the shoot. You could end up draping that jacket or sweater rather than wearing it. Layers provide a sort of prop.
  • Though baggy clothing can be super comfortable, it can look messy in photos.
  • Avoid logos of any kind unless it’s your company logo that you want to highlight.
  • Jewelry can be fun but try not to overdo. (Then again, you could bring a few different pieces with you and we can play.)

Tips for great headshots

Makeup tips for great headshots

  • Don’t get anything waxed or threaded the few days before your shoot. You don’t want any redness. That also goes for pretty much any professional skin treatments. Don’t get them too close to the day.
  • Drink lots of water in the couple of weeks leading up to the shoot. It’ll make your skin look extra full and healthy.
  • If you’re getting a haircut, make sure it’s about two weeks before to a) let it settle and b) allow yourself time for a “fix” if that’s necessary.
  • Don’t overdo your makeup. Do what you would normally do.
  • If you wear glasses, make sure the lenses are clean.
  • Bring your makeup and hair products to your photos shoot in case you need a touchup.


  • This depends largely on what you’re trying to convey and what line of work or business you’re in.
  • Do you want to be strictly professional? We might take shots at your business or in your office.
  • Then again, if you’re a lawyer in town, we might decide to work outside, in front of the courthouse.
  • Or if you’re trying to emphasize your connection to Erie itself, there are, as you know, innumerable locations that are recognizable: outside the art museum, the library, near the Brig Niagara, the lake, walking downtown past an iconic Erie building.
  • Are you in a business that’s about something fun and playful? We can incorporate that in a simple way.
  • Again, just think about exactly how you want people to feel about you when they look at your professional photo.

Tips for great headshots

Tips to use these great headshots

  • As we mentioned at the top, you can use these headshots for all of your social media.
  • If you have a website, use this for your “about me” page.
  • If you write online, whether for your own blog or some professional sites, use your headshot at the bottom of each post in the “about the author” section.
  • You could use this in your email signature.
  • In actual print, you can use these in your brochures, ads, and even on your business cards.
  • If you’re ever interviewed for the newspaper or a professional newsletter or magazine, send them your headshot.

Because remember that’s the point of these photos — to connect to your colleagues and clients. A picture is worth a thousand words, and with this headshot, we’re telling a story that people perceive instantly without even consciously realizing it. We’ll make sure the story you tell is true to you and captivating to the viewer.