Compilation of portrait images of a variety of men and women

A Photo Guide to the Do's and Don'ts of Professional Head Shots

In business the first impression can set the tone of your relationships, and you want to make a great impression. Unfortunately, in today's world many impressions are made before we ever meeting in person. Fortunately, we can guide those impressions by having great bios and memorable, professional photographs. Here are some do's and don'ts for your professional head shots.

Don’t wear bold patterns or excessive accessories

Pick solid colors, in classic styles. If you work in a more creative field, wear something with a slightly bolder color palette. Try to avoid patterns, since they have a tendency to look outdated fairly quickly.

Do dress professionally

Choose attire that is clean, professional and represents your career well. Try to put together an outfit that is slightly dressier than your everyday work attire. Use makeup and accessories sparingly, though feel free to show your personality with these small touches.

Don’t choose somewhere you’re uncomfortable

Don’t feel pressured to take your photos in a studio or anywhere else that feels forced. The most important thing is that your location makes you feel comfortable. 

Do choose a clutter free location

Feel free to find a location that is interesting and will help your photo be memorable, as long as that location is clutter free and not distracting. Outdoor locations, your work space or your home are all great possible locations. 

Don’t pose in splotchy light

Avoid having shadows or uneven light on your face when getting your photos taken. This type of lighting can be distracting and take the attention away from you.

Do choose good lighting

Make sure your location has good, even light. You want to look for a space near a large window if you’re indoors, or outside in even shade. It’s important that your image appears bright, but natural.

Don’t pose in highly expressive ways

You want to keep your pose simple. While you want your personality to shine through, you should use subtle cues, rather than overt gestures or poses. 

Do pose professionally

Choose a natural, classic pose that will flatter you. Typically, a three-quarter turn of the body and your face directed at the camera is preferable. You can choose to cross your arms as long as the rest of your pose seems inviting.

Don’t try to look too serious

Looking too stern has the potential to make you look mean or aggressive and give off a negative vibe. A friendlier expression is more likely to give others a positive first impression.

Do have a pleasant expression

Consider smiling for your photos; you will look friendlier. If you want a more serious look to your photos, aim for a soft smile with a friendly expression.

Don’t use old or outdated photos

A photograph from 10 years ago is likely to look different from how you look today. Anything that dates your photos, such as older styles of photography, significantly lower resolution or dated outfits or hair are important to avoid.

Do have an up-to-date photo

You want your image in a photograph to be similar to how you will look when you meet with someone. A current photograph ensures people know what to expect. Any time there are major changes to your appearance (significant changes to hair cut or color, weight differences, getting glasses or contacts) is a great time to update your professional photos.

Don’t use your cell phone camera

Avoid using your cell phone camera or taking a selfie. You want to project professionalism, and that means taking your image seriously. 

Do hire a professional

Find a professional photographer who has a style that matches the look you’re hoping for and research their process, style and past experience. A professional who understands what you’re trying to achieve will be able to guide you in choosing a great location, posing most effectively and even picking out your outfit.

A few more tips:

  • Make sure to get a digital copy with the appropriate rights to use the photos on any websites and print materials you're planning for. 
  • Ensure that the digital photos you will be receiving or taking are high resolution and do not have watermarks.
  • Consider getting some action shots of you performing your day-to-day work to potentially use as your profile image.
  • Don't use a photograph with other people in it or crop yourself out of a photograph that included several people.

All photos in the post were taken by Kat Merriman except for the outdated photo, provided by Micheal Kramps and the selfie, taken by Brad Wucher.

Workforce, Networking, Professional Photos

+ Leave a comment

portrait of Kat Merriman