Business Headshots: What You Need to Know

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Business headshots are essential for humanizing your brand, adding personality to your website or brochure, and building trust with your customers. While some companies require business headshots from their employees, small businesses and entrepreneurs may not. In any case, professional business headshots are a great investment for any company.

Once you recognize the importance of corporate headshots, it is time to learn how to perfect them. From what you wear to the photographer you choose, every decision can impact the overall effect of your professional headshot. Keep reading for everything you need to know to take top-notch business headshots.

What are Business Headshots?

Corporate headshots are categorized as portraits. These photos are used for professional reasons, including business cards, company websites, and business social media profiles. Business headshots differ from other portraits because the focus is on professionalism, highlighting the personality and competence of the individual being photographed.

Business headshots feature only one individual, never multiple subjects in the same photo. The purpose of a corporate headshot is to feature a single employee, executive, or owner. While previously reserved for a company’s top brass, company headshots are now common for all levels of employees.

While you can take a business headshot on a smartphone or with a personal camera, they are typically taken by professional business headshot photographers. Professional photographers that take business headshots understand the best way to frame a subject and edit the photo after it is taken.

Business headshots are used in a variety of ways. In recent years, corporate headshots have become essential pieces of a company’s website. Often featured on “About Us” or “Team” pages, business headshots bring a company’s team to life. Professional headshots are also used on business cards, LinkedIn profiles, company brochures, billboards, and more.

For example, real estate companies frequently include business headshots on their billboards. Tech companies often utilize headshots on their website to create a personal connection between their clients and their team, who may never meet in person. Every industry and business size can benefit from having professional business headshots on hand for their marketing materials and website.

Types of Business Headshots

There are multiple types of business headshots used today. When deciding the right style for your professional headshot, it is important to consider your industry and your audience. You want to choose a style of headshot that is accepted in your industry while still appealing to the emotions and preferences of your customers. The most common types of business headshots are editorial portraits and professional portraits, but there are others.

What are professional portraits?

Professional portraits are most likely what comes to mind when you think of business headshots. These images feature a single person with a neutral background. The photographer often uses lighting to ensure the focus of the image is on the professional. In most cases, the subject’s head, shoulders, and the top of their chest are visible in the photograph. The background of the image is not cluttered, and there are no additional objects or props in the photograph.

What are editorial portraits?

Editorial portraits differ from traditional headshots because the professional is not the only object in the photo. This type of business headshot is used to tell a story, often featuring a person’s place of work or objects relevant to their work. A baker might take an editorial portrait in their kitchen or wearing an apron or chef’s jacket. A customer service specialist might take an editorial portrait while sitting in front of a computer or wearing a phone headset.

Types of Business Headshots by Background

Other types of business headshots are based on the background used in the image or how the photo is edited after it is taken.

TYPE OF HEADSHOT

DESCRIPTION

Plain White

Simple headshot on a solid white background

Colored

Simple headshot on a solid-color or gradient background

Office

Headshot with an office background or taken in the office

Black and White

Simple headshot edited in black and white

Environmental

Headshot taken in the work environment, typically with the background blurred to focus on the subject

Black Background

Simple headshot on a solid black background

Dramatic

Headshot edited to draw attention, typically with altered lighting, zoomed in on the subject, or otherwise modified to tell a story

Why Corporate Headshots are Important

In past decades, company headshots were reserved for executives and CEOs. However, headshots are used today by many professionals because they understand the value of showing their face. Professional business headshots are important for building relationships and trust, showcasing your personality, highlighting your brand, and humanizing your business. Instead of simply being another name or company, a business headshot transforms you into a real person in the mind of your audience.

With so many businesses and professionals operating online and communicating with clients virtually, there are significantly fewer in-person interactions. These business practices may be more efficient, but they lack a personal touch. Clients are more likely to trust you and feel loyal to your business if they think of you as a person instead of a company. Professional headshots can bring your online business to life for your customers.

It is also important for business headshots to look professional. These images convey your brand and represent your organization, so they should be clean and crisp. Headshots taken by a professional photographer often appear better on screen and in print, helping your company look more professional and legitimate. In many cases, a professional headshot is the first interaction a client has with you. The value of first impressions is well understood, and it extends to your business headshot.

Feature Your Company’s Team Page

Business headshots are often used on a company’s team page on their website. This page is meant to highlight the real people who work for an organization, putting names and faces to a company. The images on your team page will give an instant impression for your audience, and you want to ensure it is a good one.

The style and background of company headshots vary based on the business. If you want to convey friendliness and warmth, you may feature headshots of employees smiling or leaning in towards the camera. If you want to convey expertise or seriousness, you may feature employees with subtle smiles and crossed arms.

While some companies prefer to have consistent poses or background for their business headshots, you can also use headshots to feature the personality or role of each team member. For example, a restaurant may feature images of their chef cooking in the kitchen, their baker decorating pastries, or their servers holding plates of food.

The professional headshots featured on your website can be as unique as your company or your individual employees. While it is important to maintain industry standards, professional headshots can help your company stand out from the crowd. Research the headshots other companies in your industry but be sure to make your team page your own.

Boost Your Credibility

Corporate headshots are crucial for building trust with your clients and potential customers. There are so many scams online today, and it is difficult for customers to trust businesses that they interact with over the internet. Professional headshots help to boost your credibility, ensuring your clients that there are real people behind the computer screen.

When clients are serious about doing business with your company, they will likely include your website in their research. As they browse the various pages of your site, they should come across a page that showcases smiling photos of employees and executives. Business headshots help create positive connections with your clients before they ever meet you in person or online.

First impressions are crucial, so your business headshots should be professional and relevant for your company and industry. A clean, professional headshot allows your clients to see exactly who is supporting them and providing the goods or services they rely on. For this reason, it is important to never use fake images or stock photos for your corporate headshots. Customers can easily search image databases or social media sites to uncover phony images, and all trust is destroyed.

Humanize Your Company

You can use business headshots to showcase your personality and make even stronger connections with your clients. For corporations, business headshots can reduce the stereotypical assumption that large companies are “soulless” or “cold.” For small businesses, professional headshots can help build trust among clients and create relationships. For freelancers and individuals running their own business, they can help customers see you as a real person.

Business headshots can also be used to highlight your company values. Selfies or cropped photos will look unprofessional on your website. Even if these images look nice, they will not convey the level of trust and knowledge you want to show your customers. It is tempting to think of casual photos are more personal or relatable, but they can cause confusion for your customers and cause them to take their business somewhere else.  

Professional headshots do not have to be cold or emotionless, though. In fact, you can use your business headshots to convey warmth, passion, expertise, and many other characteristics. This can only be accomplished if you rely on a professional to take your headshots. A professional photographer will be able to pose individuals, adjust lighting, and edit the photos to convey all of the emotions you want.

How to Take the Best Business Headshots

Whether you are hiring a professional photographer for your business headshots or attempting to take them yourself, there are some important do’s and don’ts to consider. Business headshots have to look professional in order to build trust with clients, and they must be edited properly to look good on your website or other materials.

Tips for Great Business Headshots by a Professional

If you are hiring a professional photographer, follow these tips to achieve the best business headshots.

  • Consult with your photographer before your session to convey your goals for your headshots and how you plan to use the image.
  • Carefully consider your wardrobe and research other headshots for examples.
  • Talk with the photographer at the beginning of the session to loosen your nerves.
  • Try making funny faces or laughing to relax your face before taking your actual photo.
  • Understand that uncomfortable does not equal a bad photo. Your photographer may ask you to adjust your sitting or standing position in a way that feels awkward but looks good on camera.
  • Ask to see the images during the session. You can look at the raw images to decide if your headshots are turning out as you imagined and make any necessary adjustments before your session ends.

Tips for Taking Great Business Headshots on Your Phone

If you do not have the time or budget for professionally photographed business headshots, you may have to take the photos on your own phone. Below are some tips to help your images look more professional.

  • Do not take your business headshot in selfie mode. These images rarely come across as professional.
  • Choose a simple background without a lot of clutter. Solid colored walls or backdrops are typically best.
  • Try taking your photo outside for flattering natural light. Remember to keep the sun behind you instead of standing in direct sunlight.
  • Use a ring light if you are taking your headshot photos inside. Try placing a whiteboard in your lap to help the light reflect onto your face.
  • Angle your body towards the camera instead of taking the photo straight on for a more flattering look. Remember to keep your shoulders relaxed.

What to Avoid When Taking a Business Headshot

Your professional photographer will help you get the best business headshots, but there are still some things you can avoid to make the process more smooth.

  • Don’t wait until the last minute to choose your location. Have a few location ideas in mind and discuss them with your photographer.
  • Don’t forget to remind all employees about the date and time of photography sessions. If you are scheduling multiple corporate headshots at once, you want to ensure all participants are prepared.
  • Don’t ignore the advice or instructions of your photographer. Professional photographers understand which poses and lighting options will look best on camera. Listen to their input and adjust your posture accordingly.
  • Don’t ask for just one photo of each subject. Have your photographer take multiple photos of each person, so they can choose their favorite option, or you can pick the one that best represents your company.

What to Wear for Business Headshots

What you wear in your business headshot is just as important as the style of image and background you choose. Your outfit will do a lot to convey professionalism or leave your clients with the wrong impression. While it is tempting to dress comfortably when taking photos, a nicer outfit will make a better impression.

For corporate headshots, it is often best to provide specific recommendations on what your employees should wear. Set expectations early and reinforce them as the date for your photography session gets closer, so your employees can prepare. In some cases, it is easier to list what outfits or articles of clothing are not appropriate for a professional headshot instead of saying what is allowed.

For individuals who run their own business, there is nobody to tell you what to wear. You can certainly ask your professional headshot photographer for advice on what photographs well on camera, but the decision is ultimately up to you. When choosing your outfit for your business headshot, consider the impression you want to make on your audience and the message or story you want to convey with your brand.

For both men and women, there are some general tips on what to wear or not to wear for your business headshot.

  • Avoid clothing with loud or busy patterns. These articles of clothing can clash with your background or take the focus away from your face.
  • Prep your outfit before the photo session to remove any stains or wrinkles.
  • Check the fit of your clothing. Ill-fitting clothes will be uncomfortable during your session, which can translate to your overall photo.
  • Understand the impact of color. Black and dark tones convey a somber feeling while rich, neutral colors can convey warmth. Pastel colors can easily wash out your skin or look week while mid-tone neutral colors are more flattering and stand out against a white background.

What should men wear for business headshots?

When choosing what to wear for a business headshot, men should look to their superiors or colleagues for ideas. If suits and ties are common in your workplace, that is likely the look you should go with. On the other hand, if your office is more casual, a polo or button-down shirt may suffice.

What you wear can also boost your confidence and impact how you appear in your headshot. Choose clothing that makes you feel professional, confident, and capable. More formal outfits typically help accomplish this, making you feel important and relevant for your clients.

Steer away from clothing that is old or worn. Choose an outfit that is newer, nicer, or worn less frequently. Items that are “dry clean only” tend to fit the bill and show less signs of wear and tear. For accessories, opt for a simple tie or belt and keep jewelry to a minimum, such as a wedding ring or college ring.

What should women wear for business headshots?

For women, the options for business headshot attire seems endless. It can feel overwhelming to decide the best outfit for your professional headshot, but there are some ways to narrow it down. First, you want the outfit you choose to be flattering and you want to feel comfortable while wearing it. Start by looking through your favorite outfits or silhouettes.

Layering your outfit can help provide a variety of options during your photo session. If you wear a blazer, jacket, or sweater, you can take your business headshots with the jacket on and off. This tactic gives you two different images to choose from or use in different ways. When layering your outfit, choose complimentary colors and avoid loud patterns.

Keep jewelry simple when taking a business headshot. Wedding rings, stud earrings, and simple pendant necklaces often photograph better than loud or chunky jewelry. Dangling earrings can easily get caught in your hair or clothing, and they can be difficult to position during a photography session.  

Ideas for Modern Corporate Headshots

Modern corporate headshots tend to vary from traditional business headshots in many ways. While you can stick with the more traditional route of a professional portrait, you can also mix it up to better convey your personality and brand. If you want to steer clear of a boring professional headshot, consider these modern corporate headshot ideas that are becoming increasingly popular.

  • Strike a power pose
  • Take an action shot, walking or working
  • Pick a unique or interesting location
  • Bring a pop of color to draw your audience’s eye
  • Use props that are relevant for your business
  • Interact with your environment
  • Channel your brand aesthetic with color, lighting, and clothing
  • Highlight what makes you unique or different instead of minimizing it
  • Dress to impress, choose an outfit that is edgy, soft, playful, or rock’n’roll – depending on your brand
  • Express yourself by altering your facial express and body language

Business Headshots Pricing

The price of business headshots will depend on a variety of factors, including the style of image, the rates for your photographer, the background or props used, any editing needed, and how many final images you need. For corporations booking professional business headshot sessions, bulk discounts may be available to take photos of all your employees. For individuals, you may have to consider the cost of backdrops, props, lighting, and more.

You can also expect to pay more for a professional photographer with more experience than someone who is just starting out or building their portfolio. On average, the price of business headshots can range from as little as $75 to more than $1,000.

Things to Consider When Hiring a Business Headshot Photographer

If it is time to update your business headshot or take a headshot for the first time, hiring a professional photographer can help ensure the best outcome. Hiring a business headshot photographer is an investment, though. It is important to establish clear expectations with your photographer and communicate consistently throughout the process.

  • Take the time to meet with your photographer (in person or on the phone) to discuss your specific needs and goals.
  • Set aside enough time for a photography session to avoid feeling rushed.
  • Ask to see the photographer’s portfolio to ensure they can provide the services you need.
  • Ask for clarification on exactly what is included in the photographer’s rate. This will make it clear if there are additional expenses you will have to cover, like backdrops or settings, props, and editing.

Examples of Professional Business Headshots

There are examples of professional business headshots everywhere you look. If you need some inspiration for your own business headshot, start by looking at the competition. This will give you an idea of what your customers will see from other companies in your industry. Next, explore the websites of your favorite companies or social media sites, taking note of the headshots you like. You can also provide examples of business headshots you like to your photographer.

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