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By: Christopher Todd

Award-winning Orange County photographer specializing in people with 20+ years of experience


What You Need to Know About Professional Headshots.

By: Christopher Todd
Table of contents
    black male professioanl headshot on gray background

    What Are Professional Headshots?

    Professional headshots are high-quality photographs of an individual used for professional purposes. A headshot must be a close-up of your upper body including shoulders sometimes from the waist up. The photo must be a clear image of your face with little to no distractions. 

    • They are typically used for business profiles, resumes, websites, social media, and other marketing materials.
    • Professional headshots are meant to present a polished and professional image of an individual.
    • They are usually taken by a professional photographer with proper lighting, framing, and editing techniques.

    Professional headshots are more than just a simple picture - they are a representation of your personal brand.

    In this article, we will explore everything you need to know about professional headshots, from why they are important to how to prepare for your session and what to expect from the process. By understanding the key elements of a successful headshot, you can ensure that your image accurately reflects your professionalism and personality. 

    Drawing out someone's best expression requires a blend of expertise and experience. It's a fact: not all headshots are equal. With years of photographing countless individuals, I can attest that most people feel uneasy about being in front of the camera. Whether it's uncertainty or simply not being accustomed to professional photography, I've encountered it all. This is where my expertise shines. Understanding the pivotal role of body language in every shot, I ensure clients feel at ease, resulting in compelling expressions and headshots that propel them toward their aspirations.

    Let's get started so you can learn more about professional headshots. 


    Why Are Professional Headshots Important?

    In an era dominated by digital presence and first impressions often made through screens, the significance of a professional headshot cannot be overstated. It serves as your virtual handshake, the initial point of contact that can either captivate or repel potential clients, employers, or collaborators.

    According to a LinkedIn study, profiles with professional headshots get 14 times more views than profiles without one, showing the importance of a quality headshot in today's job market and networking sphere.

    As an Orange County headshot photographer, I know that keeping your online and marketing strategies present and up to date is the best way to reflect who you are. Your profile photo on social media should always show the present you. LinkedIn profile photos should be professional headshots. Business headshots are important for your "about me" section on your website and marketing material. Business cards are being replaced with all online activity making professional headshots very important to your success.


    What Makes A Good Professional Headshot?

    There are four main components of a good professional headshot lighting, facial expressions, background, and poses. In my opinion, if you don't have the right facial expression or best pose your body language can be off. So what is so important about body language also known as non-verbal communication? According to Psychology Today some studies show that 80-90 percent of communication is non-verbal.  “The belief is that 55% of communication is body language, 38% is the tone of voice, and 7% is the actual words spoken.” I will break this down as to what it means for headshots. 

    Your headshot needs to show personality. I use micro expressions to get good professional headshots. Micro expressions are small expressions including, smiling with your eyes, showing your teeth, slightly tilting your head, and squinching your eyes. These are important as they will help communicate that you are trustworthy, friendly, and professional. 

    • Lighting A headshot photographer will know how to use lighting so you look your best. It can be natural light or off-camera lighting. Be sure you choose a photography studio that is expert in both types of lighting.

    • Facial expressions Most people are not used to being in front of the camera. It can be stressful and uncomfortable. Hire a pro who can guide you and give you professional coaching for facial expressions. This will help you feel comfortable and eliminate the stress.

    • Background Discuss with your photographer what type of headshot background you would like. Ask to see examples of their work or check out their portfolio section on the website. A good headshot photographer will be able to show you the most recent work they have photographed.

    • Poses Unless you are a model you will most likely not know the best poses to use for your photos. Be sure to ask if the photographer will coach you and provide expert posing so you look your best.


    Are Professional Headshots Worth it?

    The cost of a professional headshot is worth every penny. Your online presence is more important today than it was in the past.

    With fewer in-person business meetings, your profile photo has to work twice as hard. It needs to show who you are, and what you represent, and tell a story about your company or business.

    Investing in your headshots is one of the best ways to ensure you attract the right clientele. See more articles on LinkedIn

    See more real headshot examples and exclusive pro tips. 


    Should I Smile For Headshots?

    Yes, you should always have a few photos taken of you smiling. A genuine, authentic smile in a headshot is a non-verbal communication saying you are friendly, approachable, and honest. But don't force a smile it needs to be natural and authentic.

    A great photographer will be able to get you to smile with your eyes. It's ok to show your teeth in a smile. Whatever feels natural to you will appear to look natural in your portrait. I always have a few tricks up my sleeve to get a natural smile out of people. 

    Should I Wear Jewelry In A Headshot Photo?

    As a professional photographer, I do not advise people to wear jewelry for their photos. Unless you are in the jewelry business and it is part of your brand. A necklace can be a big distraction. Keep in mind most professional headshots are used for online profiles for your website and LinkedIn.

    These photos should focus on your face and shiny objects will take away from that. Keep jewelry to a minimum if you feel you really need to wear it in the photos.

    real estate agent stands in front of house that is sold

    What Should I Wear For A Professional Headshot?

    Get noticed with these exclusive professional headshot tips for women. 

    What should I wear for my headshot is the number one asked question I get. The best advice I can give is to wear what you are comfortable with. It should be appropriate to your job type. Well-fitted clothing is important. Not too loose or too tight.

    Office attire is usually most common, a suit is a great choice for corporate jobs, including attorneys, or doctors. However, depending on your field the outfits could vary. Medical field scrubs might be a good choice.

    Keep colors in mind. Plain colors are the best choice. Patterns are too busy and distracting for a headshot photo. These photos are oftentimes only viewed for less than 3 seconds. You don't want to distract the viewer with a loud pattern. Avoid flesh tones, beige, peach, brown,s or yellows. As these will blend your face and arms into the outfit. Keep color choices in the mid-tone range. Purples, blues, and greens can be flattering. Black and grey are a safe bet.

    Pro Tip: Before you decide on the perfect outfit know the background that will be in the photo. For example, if you decide to wear green and your background is a parkway with greenery and shrubs you might blend in and not stand out enough. Studio portrait backgrounds also need to be taken into consideration. A black suit against a black backdrop won't work. You will blend right in.

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    Example of branding photo man wearing button down shirt standing outside house.

    How Should I Prepare for Professional Headshots?

    Preparing mentally for your session is a good idea. Feel confident on the day of the shoot. Know and trust the photographer you hire. Rest, relax, and enjoy your session. Have a plan, don’t rush. Organize your outfits the night before.

    • Relax
    • Avoid alcohol the night before your session
    • Get plenty of rest
    • Exercise
    • Stick to your plan

    Other ways to prepare for your professional headshot include:

    • Choosing the right professional outfit
    • Ironing outfit the night before
    • Get a haircut at least 5-7 days before the session
    • Schedule a headshot with ample time before and after
    • Communicate with your photographer about what the headshot will be used for 
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    Some of our most frequently asked professional headshot questions

    Have more questions? Get in touch with us to start planning your headshots today.

    Best Headshot Photographer Near Me

    Have questions before you book your headshot session?

    Schedule a call today. We are happy to answer all your questions. 

    Meet Your Professional Headshot Photographer

    Call Me Chris

    I won't bore you with too many details, but I will say that I consider myself to be the luckiest guy in the world and I'm so grateful to have had the opportunity to merge my passion and career.

    A couple of quick things about me personally. I was born and raised in Orange County. I currently live with my family near Huntington Beach where I love to surf or be in the ocean with my boys.

    My passions include art, traveling, and of course photography.

    Male photographer holding camera.

    Meet Your Professional Headshot Photographer

    Male photographer holding camera.

    Call Me Chris

    I won't bore you with too many details, but I will say that I consider myself to be the luckiest guy in the world and I'm so grateful to have had the opportunity to merge my passion and career.

    A couple of quick things about me personally. I was born and raised in Orange County. I currently live with my family near Huntington Beach where I love to surf or be in the ocean with my boys.

    My passions include art, traveling, and of course photography.

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