Headshots are a powerful tool if you’re trying to populate your new website with images or simply updating your LinkedIn profile. A great headshot can convey the feeling you’re looking for and set the tone. Your headshot options go beyond just a shoulders-up picture against a white wall. By making smart stylistic choices, you can take control of the impression your headshot gives your audience. As your headshot is often the first image people see of you and your brand, it’s important to be open to exploring creative or different solutions – making your headshot more memorable than the stock-standard ones you commonly see being used and driving forward your branding goals. Let’s dive into some of the most popular headshot composition styles to provide you with some inspiration.
Classic Black & White Headshot
Shooting your headshot in black and white can give them a timeless and sophisticated look. This is a great way to add visual interest to your headshot without taking a big risk, as they’ll always look classic. Black and white headshots are also great if you’re unable to find a pristine background, as removing the colour takes away a lot of visual noise and draws the viewer’s attention away from any distractions and towards the subject’s face.
Here’s another example of some excellent black and white headshots, but done in a different way. These pictures are taken in a studio, and studio lighting can often be harsh and unforgiving if not done just right. By converting the headshots into black and white, any harshness is eliminated, creating a softer effect. Removing the colour from the photos helps to maintain cohesiveness, ensuring that the headshots look great next to each other, regardless of what outfits the subjects are wearing.
These headshots would fit right in on a sleek, modern website. They convey a feeling of professionalism and an established business.
The headshots taken below are taken against a textured background with a variety of wardrobe colours and poses. This style is much more relaxed than the studio-taken black-and-white photos above and gives the headshots a more approachable, friendly feeling.
This casual style of headshot is usually shot outdoors, taking advantage of the natural light, which is often more flattering. Taking all the photos against the same background provides cohesiveness when displayed side-by-side, while the differing wardrobe colours add visual interest. The varying poses and facial expressions also allow the photographer to display the subject’s personality in a better way.
Casual headshots are an excellent option if you want to build a personal connection with your audience and convey authenticity. They allow you to break away from the formality of traditional headshots and present yourself in a way that feels approachable and relatable to others.
Another positive of this headshot style is that it requires less technical skills and equipment. It’s definitely possible to achieve using a good mobile phone camera, just make sure you get your framing just right and consistent each time.
Duotone Studio Headshot
Using duotone lighting is a fantastic way to make your headshot more unique and can be done in Photoshop during the editing process or with coloured lighting in a studio. The effect is striking, casting shadows across the subject’s face. Using this style is ideal if you want to stand out from the crowd and convey you’re not afraid to think outside the box – making it ideal if you work in a creative industry, such as design. To up the creativity even more, you can use alternating colours for the different headshots.
Colour psychology is a powerful tool in itself, so make sure you put some consideration into the colour you choose if you go with duo-tone headshots. For example, blue is generally associated with competence and trustworthiness, whereas red is associated with love, danger and excitement.
Here’s an especially unique, creative way to showcase your team. It involves full-body shots, cut and pasted into a white background side by side. It creates an effective reminiscent of a video-game character selection screen, which is a fun and playful way to stand out.
This style would be ideal for a fashion brand to show off its team and products at the same time or a creative agency to show its ability to break new ground. It does require the use of a studio, photography skills and editing know-how to execute effectively, but the distinctiveness is worth it if it reflects your brand perfectly.
Dynamic Group Headshot
Here’s another fun, artistic example to add some dynamism to your website. The example given shows the different members of a team in different positions, with the ability to hover the mouse and change the direction they’re facing. You can also click on the different teams to learn more about them.
Far from a traditional headshot, the result is a “meet our team” page that will stay in the heads of viewers long after they click off. Taking a distinctive, artistic approach like this is a fantastic way to to increase your brand’s memorability and make people want to learn more. Just like the other unconventional example above, this style would require the use of a studio, as well as editing and web development skills to implement. This is a gernal rule for headshot photography as a whole – the more you want to stand out, the more work and skills it’ll take!
Classic Portraiture Headshot
This style sticks to some of the traditional headshot conventions (certainly more than the examples given above) while still adding an artistic flair. The high-contrast images, taken in front of different backgrounds around the office, is reminiscent of traditional portrait photography. This style is more like what you’d see on the sleeve of a book than a standard LinkedIn headshot.
To achieve this look in your headshots, mix up the backdrops you use, and let the subjects express themselves with their poses and wardrobe choices. The high contrast of the images and the blurred background still allows the subjects to stand out while still having plenty of visual interest.
While you don’t need a studio, a professional portrait photographer and a high-quality camera will provide the best outcome for this style.
The below style is another example of more ‘portrait’ style headshots, this time outdoors with soft natural light and contrasting shadows. These headshots have a down-to-earth, approachable feel while incorporating a flair of creativity.
However, one downside of using shadows and natural light to add interest to your headshot is that they move quickly! This can make it hard to have consistent lighting throughout the headshots. Just before dusk, or ‘golden hour’ as photographers call it, is the perfect time for outdoor portraits – however, this generally only lasts half an hour, making it a hard concept to achieve in one shoot if you’ve got a large team.
Clean and Bright Headshot
The below is an example of headshots in crisp, modern style. The bright, consistent light gives the headshots a professional and polished feel, and while the varying poses and backgrounds give the impression of seeing the subject in their element at work and give a glimpse of their personality.
This style is ideal if you’re looking for the perfect balance between professionalism and memorability. While this could be achieved with a phone camera, a photographer will have an easier time making the headshots cohesive and achieving that ‘bright’ effect.
How to Choose the Right Outfit for Your Headshot
Choosing the right outfit for your headshot can make a huge difference on the impression the end result gives. Here are some of the most important rules to follow to ensure your headshot turns out exactly the way you want it:
- Avoid anything that draws too much attention away from the main focus: your face! This includes ultra-bright colours and loud prints. Solid, neutral colours are always the safest choice.
- Don’t wear ‘tight’ prints, like a shirt with a small checkered pattern or a tweed skirt. While these clothing items might look great in person, they can show up as wavy on camera and strain the eyes. This is known as the ‘moire’ effect:
- Make sure your clothing is ironed, well-fitted and isn’t see-through. Sometimes, the smallest imperfection or crease in your outfit is much more noticeable on camera than in person. To avoid anything that might interfere with your perfect headshot, wear something that doesn’t crease easily, is completely opaque, and fits like a glove!
- Dress like you’re going to meet your most important client. While some industries have a more relaxed dress code than others and have a bit more leeway, it’s best to play it on the safe side and dress as professionally as you can.