Getting ahead with your headshot

I can understand the reluctance to work with a photographer to get your headshot taken. I am a photographer and personally hate having my photo taken. But in today’s job market (and life in general), it’s imperative to put your best “face” forward.

Think about it: the first thing anybody does after they meet you is Google you. These days, first impressions aren’t just in person. The first time a recruiter, brand, or client likely will see you is on the interwebs because of your headshot. Your image matters.

Yes, that means you need a headshot in your arsenal that looks professional and, most importantly, reflects you.

Play with creativity in space and color,

but always keep in mind that you are the focus.

The grey background, three-quarter, face-to-camera pose isn’t the only option for a great headshot these days. There are more dynamic ways you can present yourself as professional but personalized to you.

So, what makes a good headshot?

The Basics

Your photo should be well-lit. The focus should be on you and your beautiful face. And this might seem self-explanatory -- but you’d be surprised at how many people don’t follow this one -- you should be the only person in your headshot.


If your goal is to have a more traditional headshot because you’re in a corporate-type role (think: law, finance, business), you will likely want your headshot to be formal. This can be achieved through a single-colored background or even a black-and-white portrait. Both are classic, simple, and keep you as the focus.

Dress code? Dress like yourself on your best day. Don’t go overboard. Solid colors tend to do well for traditional headshots.

Add Some Spice

If you’re in more creative fields, your headshot doesn’t need to be taken in a studio. If you work in wellness, try shooting your headshot outdoors. If you work in tech, perhaps your workspace would be an interesting background. Play with creativity in space and color, but always keep in mind that you are the focus, not your background.

Dress code? Stick with your fashion style. If it’s “more is more,” then you do you! But remember that the focus should be on you, not your clothes.

Remember, a well taken headshot shows that you are serious about how you present yourself to the world and that you are serious about your business.

Don’t underestimate the connection between you and your photographer. One of the keys to snapping the perfect headshot (or as I prefer to call them “portraits”) is working with a photographer you like.

In my own work, I speak with my clients first to hear about what their goals are. Are they looking for a new job? Creating an image for their website? Or are they simply preparing an image for themselves “just in case?” Taking the time with clients allows me to make sure we go into the shoot as a team, and come out of it with an image that the client is happy with.

Want to book a session? Get in touch:

Stephanie Geddes is a NYC photographer capturing portraits, editorial, and still life. Visit her site at

Follow Stephanie on Facebook & Instagram.

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