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Headshot Photography

A headshot is a photograph of a person’s head and shoulders, with an emphasis on the person’s face. Some headshots – called three-quarter shots – include as much as ¾ of the person’s body. Actors and models most frequently need headshots. However, other professionals from star athletes to business owners sometimes need a photograph designed to market their personality. Sometimes headshots appear on business cards or are included with a professional resume.

Headshot photo sessions usually are held in the photographer’s studio, but can also be at a location of the client’s choice. For example, business headshots might be shot at a corporate meeting or conference. It is important to define your need and the specific use for the headshot to make sure the portrait meets your requirements. Modeling, acting, and professional headshots all have different looks.

Until recently, black and white glossy prints were the standard for models and actors, but headshots are now often in color. Printed modeling headshots are typically 9”x12” and acting headshots 8”x10”. The photographer must also consider the venue where the headshot is to appear – a Facebook and LinkedIn headshot both have very specific appearances.

To be successful, a headshot has two goals: provide an accurate representation of what a you really look like, and create a relationship between the you and the person who is seeing your photograph by portraying your personality and character. For these goals to be met, remember to ask questions, making sure the photographer understands your needs, verify their professionalism, and communicate the planned use of your headshot.

Tips for Headshot Photography


Make sure you discuss your needs with the photographer and let them know if you have a “good side” or features you wish to accentuate or downplay.



Make sure your makeup is clean and natural. Wear whatever makeup you usually wear. If you are a male, consider using glare-reducing translucent powder.



Let your photographer know the purpose for the headshot. Commercial modeling headshots emphasize likability and smiles; theatrical headshots are more serious; and a professional headshot needs to look “professional.”



Stay away from busy backgrounds, and don't wear any clothing with loud patterns or designs. Dress in clothing that makes you feel comfortable while you're moving around in it.