8 Best Headshot Photography Tips

When you look at a normal headshot, you might think that it’s actually a pretty easy picture to take.

For some people, it’s not a daunting task. However, for a majority of us, taking a good headshot is something that can sometimes be a little difficult.

Think back to picture day at school. You may have sometimes gotten a bad picture because the person behind the camera was trying to stick to a schedule.

Because of that, some of the pictures were probably rushed a bit and didn’t turn out nearly as good as they could have.

Some of you probably know at least one person that had a terrible experience on picture day.

A lot of that could’ve been because they weren’t ready for the picture when it was actually taken.

The best headshots happen when you are taking your time and you can give good direction as a photographer.

Headshot Photography Tips

Having one person sit in front of the camera and taking a picture of them can actually be a bit intimidating for some.

It’s not something that’s as easy as it looks.

Taking pictures, in general, isn’t necessarily an easy task. So, taking a picture of a person trying to capture their “good side” and help them look as good as possible isn’t something that’s easy either.

Luckily, there are some tips that you can follow to help you achieve the best possible headshot.

This way, you and your subject are happy with the way the photos turn out.

You’d be surprised at how small differences can make an amateur photo look like a professional headshot.

Wear the Right Clothes

Wearing the proper clothes for a headshot is going to be crucial.

Depending on what the headshot is for, whether it’s a corporate headshot or a headshot for an aspiring actor, you need to make sure you have the right clothing.

Hopefully, you have talked with the subject a little bit beforehand so you know exactly what they’re looking for.

This means that you, hopefully, have the right setup in mind. Meaning you have the background you want.

You can have a simple background for something like a corporate headshot. If the subject wants a different kind of professional headshot then you can play around with the background.

However, you always want to make sure they’re wearing the proper clothing. It’s going to feel a bit awkward when you have a headshot where the subject’s clothing is clashing with the background.

You want to make sure everything is complimenting the subject since they should be the only focal point in the photo.

Lighting Setup is Vital

With headshot photos, you want to make sure that your lighting is perfect.

Lighting should always be a concern when it comes to any type of photography. With headshot photography, the lighting needs to be on the subject so that it doesn’t hide anything.

The focus is going to be on the face of the subject so you want to make sure the lighting gets the entire face. You want to eliminate any shadows that could be creeping onto the face.

With proper lighting, you should have a clear view of the subject without any shadows interfering.

If you have the Aputure LS C120d and place it properly, shadows will never be an issue for you.

If you want to learn more about the importance of lighting in photography in general, check out this video.

Proper Camera Settings

With photography, there usually isn’t any exact settings for any specific type of photography.

However, there are preferred camera settings that can help you get the best shot possible.

For a great headshot, there are certain settings that can help you achieve the photo you want.

For starters, you’re going to want to have a shallow depth of field. This way your subject will be more in focus compared to the rest of the picture.

When this happens, you’re really separating the subject from the background. Your subject will be in focus while the background will be blurry.

When it comes to shutter speed, it’s recommended that you have it set at least double your lens focal length.

You also want to make sure that you have a good lens to capture your subject properly.

For headshots, using something like the Canon RF 50mm lens will give you amazing headshots.

Silly Faces

For a lot of people, they may not be very comfortable being in front of the camera.

A headshot session is something that not a lot of people experience. They may feel like they are an actual model at a photoshoot and they honestly kind of are.

This isn’t like they’re getting a picture with their phone that’ll take a few seconds and it’s over.

Because of this, it’s on you, the photographer, to help the subject feel relaxed during the process.

A good way to do this is to ask them to make silly faces.

Making silly faces should get the subject more relaxed and comfortable in front of the camera.

This is also going to help you check everything. You can make sure your lighting is good, your camera settings are right, and the clothing the subject is wearing doesn’t take away from the feel of the photo.

You’ll be killing multiple birds with one stone just from asking the subject to make silly faces.

Start with People Sitting

You may have seen a headshot photograph where the subject is standing.

This definitely isn’t a bad thing. However, to make sure your subject is comfortable, you should start them off by sitting them down.

When you sit them down, they will, hopefully, get comfortable quicker.

Standing up and posing in front of a camera isn’t something most people do every day. It takes people time to find a groove when they are in a photo session.

Sitting the person down will help with this.

Work with Different Poses

Once you’ve done what you can to really make the subject comfortable in front of the camera, you should work with some different poses.

Head shots need to show off a lot of the face so don’t get too crazy with your photography by making something like a silhouette where you can’t see the subject.

With different poses comes different compositions. You should always keep this in mind. When somebody changes their pose, don’t assume that the same angle will work.

You should also keep in mind that this will change the perspective of the photo as well. It’s always nice if you can show off your subject from a different perspective.

You might need to change the angle slightly so the entire composition of the photo looks good and actually makes sense.

Encourage Subject

Headshot sessions typically aren’t short. You’re going to be taking a lot of photos.

The subject can possibly get discouraged as well. Some people can feel like they aren’t doing a great job in front of the camera and aren’t as photogenic as they’d like to be.

Because of this, you need to make sure that you encourage your subject with almost every shot you take.

You need to act like a professional photographer and get your subject to give you the best shot possible. This happens through a lot of encouragement.

If you can do that, then the subject will not only feel more comfortable in front of the camera, they will feel like a supermodel.


With any type of photography, you aren’t going to get the shot you want right away every single time.

In fact, it’s very rare that you get the shot you want on the first try.

It can take some time.

Again, headshot photography may seem easy, but you need to take your time and have patience with it.

As a photographer, you can look at a photo and know if it’s one that you like or not. It’s important that you don’t get discouraged.

Stay patient and understand that the perfect shot will come at some point.

Headshots Made Easier

Headshot photography, along with any type of photography, is never as easy as it looks.

If it looks like it’s easy, then the photographer is doing a good job.

This is something that you can jump right into without knowing anything, but the pictures you take may not be very good.

If you can follow the tips above, you may not be perfect with your headshot photography, but things are going to be much easier for you in the end.