As photographers, we often put the focus on our client’s image, rather than our own. But having something as simple as a professional headshot shouldn’t be something we only recommend for clients — after all, we’re professionals too.

A headshot is often the first impression someone has of you, so be sure to have a professional yet engaging portrait to show your network.

Make it Clear and Professional

Just like your clientele, you want your headshot to look professional. This means staying away from a busy background. I personally opted for headshots on a white and darker background, but if you’re doing an environmental headshot, be sure that you create separation from your background.

In terms of clothing, simple is better. Stay away from flashy colors and patterns — you want your headshot to be about who you are, not the latest trends at your favorite clothing store. I chose to wear dark jeans and a button-up shirt.

For hair, make sure it’s appropriate in terms of style and length. I recommend getting a haircut a week or two before the photoshoot, so you can show your “average” length and avoid any salon nightmares in the process.

But most of all — be sure to smile. Smiling helps to showcase your personality and shows how friendly you are. Your headshot represents you as a brand, and it’s something all your current and potential clients will most likely see.

Have Some Fun

With all that being said, it’s OK to take some “fun” shots too. These can serve as cool behind-the-scenes photos to post on social media, and if nothing else, they can be great reminders of the session.

Use Your Camera

Props are always fun to work with. Even though it won’t appear in every photograph, be sure to have your camera with you. Grasp it in your hands — after all, you are a photographer.

Try to stick to just your camera and lens. Nothing too crazy — while flashes and gels are fun to showcase, you’re going for a professional look here, right?

Take a Variety of Shots

The key with any headshot session is to be sure to take a variety of photographs that can represent you as a brand. For me, I took quite a few on a white background but also had some fun with a darker background and some mood lighting.

For the most part, you’ll probably utilize a square version of your headshot for social media. But be sure to have options available in both horizontal and vertical formats. Try different angles and facial expressions, too.

Update Your Networks

Chances are, you’ll have one “primary” headshot you go with. Be sure to create a version cropped to be square and then post it online. Update profile pictures on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn to stay consistent. This is important because while it’s fun to have photos with you and your friends, you’re a brand. It’s important to represent that.

While you’re at it, don’t forget to put your headshot on your website’s about page, too. This will help your site in becoming welcoming to any potential clients who might take a peek.


Headshots are a simple yet important piece of who you are as a photographer. Be sure to update your headshot often, as it’ll show that you care about not only your clients — but your personal brand, too.

And thanks to Cathy Seaver for the amazing photos!

For more on Photography Marketing, see our weekly column.