Updated: Oct 18, 2022
High quality professional headshots are important for many working professionals for various uses. From your Linked profile, marketing materials, or social media presence, it can make or break how they are perceived in many circles.
Whether you are a photographer or the person getting headshots taken, there are some things to consider to make sure you're getting the most out of your session.
How To Take Headshot Photos (Quick Tips)
Make sure your client is comfortable
Have them sit down if they like
Pull the client away from the background
Make sure their whole face is in focus, especially the eyes
Decide on the emotion you want to convey
Frame the face and minimize the shoulders
Control the lighting
Use the right depth of field
Manually control the white balance
Keep the ISO low
Use off camera flash
Use a tripod
Have a consultation prior to shooting
It's important to consult with your client to get on the same page on how the flow of the photoshoot will go. This will allow you to set clear expectations and work out all the details. Getting your client at ease will ensure a smooth sessions and great results.
Consider the background color
A professional headshot is usually taken on a number of backgrounds such as white, black, grey, or using the environment. Depending on the usage you may need to consider what background will work best for your needs.
Will you eventually use the headshot to have text on the photo? What color clothing will you be wearing? Solid Colors work best but you can play around with what the intended results will be.
Get Comfortable / Sit Down
Since headshots are about the person's face there is an opportunity for the client to sit down and be comfortable during the photo shoot. Being comfortable definitely show's through the eyes and you want your client to show the right emotions.
Talk with your Client
A great tip for headshot photography is having a good dialogue with your client. Before you start your session perhaps it would be a good idea to talk to them for 15 minutes to see how their day is going, get to know them a bit, and be relatable. Putting your client at ease that you're a personable human being is key to a great session.
Pull away from the background
One mistake that I use to make is having my client too close to the background, especially when using a flash. That doesn't give you enough fall off to allow the background to be nicely out of focus or minimize shadows.
The focus is the face so try to remove any distractions from behind even from a solid backgrounds slight imperfections. It will also save you time in editing.
Frame the Face
A headshot is different from a portrait so concentrate on the face and emphasis that. Don't be too concerned with the shoulders.
Control your lighting
Obviously, there are many ways to shoot a headshot but I typically like to use speedlights and an umbrella so I can control my lighting 100% of the time. This technique is great when you don't know what environment you will be shooting in.
You may be in a location with weird lighting and you want to have the right lighting and white balance so your photos are exactly what you want them to be. I like to do a minimal amount of editing as possible so getting it right in camera is very important to my process.
B&H Photo along with Peter Hurley put together 4 Quick Tips which I think is really helpful.
My name is Jason Logan. I'm a freelance photographer from Jersey City, NJ. I'm the co-founder of JMT Photography & Media. You can view my work at www.jmtphotographymedia.com | firstname.lastname@example.org