Putting Your Best Face Forward: Business Headshots

| May 24, 2018

by Susan Shelby

Headshots can provide the first impression of a firm’s employees to potential clients as they conduct due diligence or review a proposal. Employee headshots should convey professionalism, confidence, and personality, and can set the tone for how potential clients perceive your firm.

All too often, people crop a headshot from a favorite photo in lieu of taking a professional headshot. While it might be an attractive photo, cropping may distort the image proportions or limit resolution quality. More, a casual photo may not portray a desirable professional appearance, perhaps because of the holiday party attire or an inappropriate background.

Despite the abundance of smartphones and digital cameras, hiring a professional photographer is worth the investment. Given the wide use of headshots on company websites and social media platforms such as LinkedIn, photographers now specialize in business headshots. There are many choices available, from mall-based photography chains to independent professional photographers.

A skilled photographer will work with employees to capture the perfect shot. A subtle tilt of the head or slight adjustment to the chin can make a drastic difference in the final result. Professional photographers also have the expertise to convey your company culture with fun and authentic poses. One way to find the right photographer is to note the photo credit on headshots you admire or reach out to the subject for contact information.

Preparation is key for a successful photo shoot, so be sure to notify employees as soon as a shoot is scheduled. Some common questions include:

  • What to wear? Clothing choices should align with industry type and reflect the company’s personality, whether casual or formal. Business attire with simple lines adds a sophisticated touch, while clothing with busy patterns or ill-fitting items that gap or stretch can appear sloppy and distracting. Inform employees of the selected background color in advance so they can avoid wearing similar shades.
  • Where do we go? To take headshots of a large number of employees, many companies will host a photo shoot at their office, an outdoor venue, or even a jobsite. For a couple of new hires, a photography studio located close to the office offers minimal interruption to an employee’s workday.
  • What time works best? Late afternoon photo shoots should be avoided to prevent tired expressions and rumpled clothing. Instead, aim for mid-morning scheduling and allow ample time to take photos and finalize selections for each employee.
  • Who to photograph? If feasible, consider an all-staff photo shoot to refresh everyone’s headshot at the same time. Otherwise, start with individual teams as budget allows and add new hires as needed. Work with the photographer to choose a style or vibe consistent in every headshot.

Headshot Dos and Don’ts: Simple steps for achieving an ideal photo

A headshot photo shoot is an opportunity to create a fun bonding experience using lighthearted humor to ease nerves and avoid stiff, formal expressions. The following suggestions will help employees come ready and relaxed.

When preparing for a photo shoot, do:

  • Wear something that makes you feel comfortable and confident.
  • Bring alternative clothing in case of a last-minute wardrobe change. It is better to come prepared than to have to reschedule for a later date.
  • Look your best by drinking plenty of water and getting rest on the days leading up to the photo shoot.
  • Pack a lint roller, hair brush, and cosmetics for touch-ups.

When preparing for a photo shoot, don’t:

  • Wear trendy jewelry or high-fashion clothing that will date the photo.
  • Worry about your shoes or bottom half of your outfit. Traditional headshots fill 60% of the image with head and shoulders, so the rest of you won’t be visible.
  • Try drastic new hair or makeup styles.

If you want to project competency with an approachable demeanor, put your firm’s best face forward with high-quality headshots. It’s an investment all professional service firms should consider essential.

Susan Shelby/ photo Frank Monkiewicz


Susan Shelby, FSMPS, CPSM is the president and CEO of Rhino Public Relations.

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