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6 Tips for Shooting Headshots for Clients

Almost every profession needs a headshot, which makes headshot photography among the most sought-after and demanding jobs. If that’s your case, use the following tips for creating professional headshot photos for clients and secure more corporate bookings.

6 Tips for Creating Professional Headshot Photos

There are many ways you can help that can help clients show their personalities or business image through professional headshots. A successful headshot session involves discussing the photo shoot essentials, applying photography basics, editing in Lightroom, and preparing the right gear. 

Young businessman in a maroon jacket smiling outside of a building
Photo by Zahir Namane on Unsplash

1. Post-Process Photos Using Lightroom 

Photo editing plays a significant role in creating professional headshot photos that make the subjects look fresh. With Lightroom presets, you can adjust exposure and achieve consistent colors. 

Some editing processes include clearing up pores, removing blemishes, and softening the shadows due to wrinkles. You can also brighten the eyes, enhance the color of the iris, whiten the teeth, and define the eyelashes or hair.

2. Communicate With the Client

Get a firm grasp on what the client needs and expects. Remember, communicating with your clients makes you a more professional and competent photographer. 

You can use the client’s goals to conceptualize the shoot. Set the peg, location, and shot list, and wardrobe by asking the right questions.

  • Where will they use the photos — website, print materials, social media marketing?  
  • Should you incorporate particular colors that match the company’s branding? 
  • Do they need situational headshots in their office or a formal shoot in a studio? 
  • Does the subject have a preferred angle or pose? 

3. Plan Wardrobe and Makeup 

Help your subjects prepare for the shoot by suggesting possible outfits and makeup. Ask them to apply natural makeup or style their hair in a way they would normally do. Additionally, stick to colors that enhance the color of their eyes.  

Recommend wearing an outfit or uniforms in their “environment”. If the subject is a gym instructor, go for active wear clothes. If the subject is a doctor, include scrubs or lab coat.

Whatever the clothes may be, your subjects should feel comfortable, so that they can cooperate with you throughout the shoot.

woman wearing coat
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

4. Choose a Location or Background

You can take professional headshot photos in a studio, in an indoor setup, or outdoor setting. Regardless of the location, the background should stay in line with the plan, so you can make the subject stand out in the image. 

If clients want a studio shoot, be sure to have the basic colors of backdrops. Should they prefer an indoor setup, look for plain-colored walls or a bridgeway. When they want an outdoor shoot, choose spots with neutral colors, and avoid noisy backgrounds.

5. Use the Right Lens and Camera Settings 

Most headshot photographers use 35mm, 50mm, or 85mm prime lenses. If you want to get more tight shots, you can also try a 24-70mm zoom lens.  

While the settings may depend on the situation and lighting, you’ll want a shallow depth of field to make the subject pop out of the image. This means setting the aperture between f/1.4 and f/2.8. 

Meanwhile, the shutter speed must at least be double the focal length of your lens. If you’re using a 50mm lens, the minimum shutter speed must be 1/100.

6. Play With Composition and Posing

Get multiple shots with varying compositions and poses. Even if you try different composition techniques such as the rule of thirds, framing, and negative space, make sure to focus on the subject’s face. 

Position the subject’s shoulders about 45 degrees to the camera lens and tilt the head towards you. Guide the subject to extend the neck a bit to form a slimmer profile and avoid a double chin. Lastly, always remind your clients to keep their chins up and sit or stand straight.


With practice and preparation, you can produce professional headshot photos your clients will love, and consequently, improve your portfolio and boost clientele. 

5 replies »

  1. Best and simplest tutorial I’ve come across so far. I just started learning editing as I only used to take pictures and send to an editor. But that is costing me a lot so I’ve decided to try editing myself. Lots of YouTube videos down and I feel like this is the simplest one I have seen. I’m definitely going to save this as a reference.

  2. It’s good to learn that the background for headshots should be in line with the plan so the subject stands out. My wife is wanting to become a better photographer and she was wondering how she could take headshots better. I’ll be sure to tell her that she should stay in line with her plan to make her subject stand out.

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