Business headshot tips

We are doing more and more business headshots in Fort Worth, Arlington, Irving, and Dallas as more and more people see the benefit of a nice portrait on their website or a trade publication. I’d like to offer a few tips to help you achieve the best results.

1. The Purpose of the Portrait. Remember your brand. Are you high quality, or cheap? Just like your logo, and the business’s exterior signage, your portrait tells volumes about your brand. A Realtor who specializes in executive homes wouldn’t drive up in the same car as the pizza delivery guy.  Neither should the executive who is looking for a fresh resume headshot to give to his “head hunter”.

Even your expression is important. Are you an attorney using the photo for advertisement/marketing? Are you a politician running for office? If you are either, and want to show how tough you are, you will want to avoid the big smiles. Most attorneys and politicians don’t want to show big smiles, but a soft smile would be more appropriate than a scowl. A dentist better show a big, beautiful smile. Try different expressions, and see which you prefer. You will probably want to appear strong, but approachable. The expression and pose of an actor would be quite different than that of a physician.


Judge Sharen Wilson in her court room.


2. Clothing– For both men and women, it is important to avoid stripes, prints, distracting logos etc. You want the viewers eye to go to your face, not your outfit. You also want to avoid a trendy tie or outfit unless that is synonymous with your profession, and you are willing to have another headshot done every time styles change. As far as shirts and blouses, again, keep it simple. A basic, classical white dress shirt is always a safe bet. Another option for men is a basic light blue. While soft pastel colors are great at a Spring business meeting, or courtroom appearance, your business portrait will be seen year around, so avoid seasonal colors. Ladies may wear a blouse with texture, as long as it isn’t a dominate aspect of the wardrobe. And by all means, save your Santa tie for the company Christmas party.

3. Hair – Fresh haircuts are good, but give them a couple days to look just right.

4. Time of day -Don’t schedule your business portrait appointment for the early hours. You may have slightly puffy eyes, and need to do a re-shoot. Conversely, a late afternoon business photo may mean a 5 o’clock shadow.

5. Jewelry/glasses/accessories – I always tell my clients that if they normally use glasses, then they should be included in their portrait. Don’t fear the glare that you get when an amateur “takes your picture”. That is almost never an issue for an experienced photographer. Jewelry should be kept minimal, and not be distracting from the star of the show… YOU!

6. Cheaper by the dozen – If you can add a few folks to your session, you may get a discount from your photographer. The photographer may even do the session at your office with all the same lighting and backgrounds as found in a studio. We’ve created studio quality headshots in hallways, break rooms, empty offices, conference rooms, convention centers, etc.

7. Double Chin– One of the best ways to get rid of the appearance of a double chin is to remember the turtle. Lean forward a bit, stretch your neck out just a little bit (think of the turtle sticking his head out) and then raise your chin just slightly. Try it in the mirror to see how much is best for you.

8. Consider the background. – While this is normally the photographers job, if the photographer is using a white background, don’t wear a white shirt/blouse without a dark jacket over the shirt. White clothing against a white background is not the best way to bring contrast to your business headshot. We’ve created numerous portraits that use the view out the window as a background. We’ve used skylines, courthouses, the capital building, etc as story-telling backgrounds that offer a unique brand to a company’s headshots.

Heidi Knight financial advisor

Not all business photos have to be a “headshot” against a studio background.

9. DON”T obsess about your photo. If you are worried about a blemish, the size of your nose, balding, etc, your discomfort is likely to show in your photos. The professional photographer should know techniques to slim a round face, minimize a double chin, etc. Trust the professional.

10. Use a professional– Think about the websites you have visited recently. A professional portrait speaks volumes about the individual. A tacky photo of a person against a wall, taken by a co-worker, with a cheap camera, sends a very different message. For a fairly small price, ($100-175 at most studios) that first impression on your website can be one of quality and professionalism.

Busines headshot Fort Worth Dallas

In studio executive portrait.

On Location Business Headshot.

Portraits created on location at your office can save your company hundreds of dollars. Imagine the time involved in sending 10 staff members to a studio: Leave office, drive to studio, create image, drive to office, park, etc.  Now imagine only 10 minutes from the time they leave their desk, to the time they are back in the saddle. All it takes is a small conference room, hallway, etc that is at least 8′ x 10′. We supply studio lights and background, or we can create an environmental portrait using a suitable area at the office. If you only want 1-3 employee headshots created, a studio might be the best bet… if you don’t include travel and time away from work. If you have four or more individuals who need a business portrait, I’d strongly suggest you consider an in-office portrait session. The president of a petroleum engineering company told me I saved him hundreds of dollars when I created business headshots for his 10 employees at their office. Their time away from their desk was about 7-8 minutes, compared to maybe an hour each if they had to leave their office and drive to my studio, and back.

We currently charge $150/person for in studio session, which includes a web sized image with basic retouching. Location portraits are based on number of employees and travel. We’ve even flown to various locations to create a similar “look” for all employees in one company that did business in several cities.

Give us a call for any questions, or to book a session.


This section is for photographers**

1. Lighting – Use main, fill (or reflector) and hair light and/or rim light. Short lighting is best for most subjects. Avoid broad lighting your subject. Set up your lights in such as way that you will not have to move them too much. The more you move your lights, the harder time you will have with consistency if you are photographing several individuals.

2. Modeling lights. Be sure that your modeling lights are on, and bright. This will help you avoid reflections in glasses, and give the eyes more color (pupil gets smaller).

3. Background– If you are using a dark background, and your subject is wearing dark clothing, or has dark hair, make sure you use a background light, hair light or rim light to separate the subject from the background.

4. Posing- Generally speaking, a women being photographed for a business headshot/political campaign, etc should be posed with a “masculine/basic” pose. It is generally considered a stronger pose, and is usually the preference of professional women. However, when I photograph a female pediatrician, I also include poses with a “feminine tilt” of the head. She wants to appeal to the mothers, and may prefer that pose.

©2011 Richard K. Dalton, – Certified Professional Photographer PPA

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11 Comments to "Business headshot tips"

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    Been banging my head against the wall lately with this sort of thing… thanks for helping out!

  2. Nice work Dalton, Samuel L Jackson esc. ;O)

    All the best,


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