Tips for Getting a Great Professional Headshot

Tips for Getting a Great Professional Headshot

Some Tips To Ensure An Effective, Professional Headshot


Portrait Final_ArticleIf you find yourself in need of a current headshot, it’s understandable you might feel the urgency to get “something” on line you can use right away.  In the short term, that may be an acceptable compromise.

It’s easy to allow an inferior headshot  to linger on your Facebook and LinkedIn profile.  If your current headshot doesn’t look professional or show you at your best, it’s time to change it.

Your website and social media page isn’t the place for a quick snap that your friend took yesterday.  It may be current, but won’t look professional. Remember, this is a photo that just about everyone who comes in contact with you will probably see.  Yes, they’re all looking at you.  A professional, flattering, effective headshot is well worth the small investment.

Here are some tips to ensure you get an effective, professional headshot:

  •   Select an experienced, reputable photographer who has a choice of backgrounds and his own lights. Portrait lighting is crucial and using it correctly separates the professional from the amateur.  A great headshot requires an expert photographer who knows how to properly light your face.  Check out the photographer’s website and ask to see sample headshot work.
  • Find out if the session fee includes basic retouching or if this will cost extra, and make sure you’ll get the final shot in different file sizes, so it can be used for web posting or printing.
  •  Drink plenty of water starting at least the day before your headshot session, as well as throughout the day of your shoot.  It’s not a myth: being properly hydrated will actually help you look better in your shots!
  •  Get a good night’s sleep before your headshot session.  Make-up and image retouching can mask only so much; they won’t hide a tired look in your eyes.
  •  If possible, schedule your headshot for a time when you can arrive a little early, and not feel rushed about leaving.  Being relaxed adds an air of composure to your portrait.
  •   For men during a late-day session, a touch-up shave at mid-day is recommended.




  •   Dress in the fashion which you feel best represents you and your business.  Make sure you bring some clothing options.  Solid colors are best.  Avoid large or bold patterns and bright colors.  They draw attention away from the face.
  •  Accessories and jewelry should be limited to small non-distracting pieces.
  •  Check yourself out in the mirror right before your session starts.  Even if you’ve hired a make-up artist for your shoot, check out the result yourself.  Confirm your tie is straight or your scarf adjusted just so, smooth down your hair if necessary. Take a moment to be sure that you look the way you want to be seen.  The added confidence of that one moment will read in your photos.

Following these basic tips will give you the headshot that’s required for today’s competitive marketplace.  It all starts with you being prepared, and the chemistry you’ll find with the right photographer.

Portrait Assignment – Governor of Delaware – Jack Markell

Governor of Delaware_WebOne of my many assignments today was to photograph Jack Markell the Governor of Delaware who is chairman of the board of JAG (Jobs for America’s Graduates) which was meeting at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill.  A photographer might not be shooting pictures of a governor every day. But we are often called on to photograph business executives and many of the same principles that applied when I was photographing Governor Markell were the same later in the day when I was shooting a series of executive portraits at the Moran Company which is a health care research and constulting firm with expertise in Medicare & Medicaid reimbursement located in Arlington, VA. These particular images will be used for their website. My biggest challenge is to keep the subjects engaged with the camera, I find it helpful to use a tripod so I can make eye contact while pressing the shutter. Most clients with the exception of CEO’s, public speakers and politicians have a tendency to recede away from the camera and it’s my objective to get the subject to project towards the camera. With the Moran Company I had nine subjects and some watched on as I photographed their co-workers, in this situation, it’s not easy to keep people relaxed and engaged but I had to do it. My equipment is very portable so I walked around the office moving away from the co-workers and isolating the subject to control the situation. When I photograph large law firms or companies with 20 or more partners or employees I schedule the sessions for five minutes between each person for that very reasonWomens Portrait the Moran Company. While photographing the Moran Company I used both natural light and studio light and sometimes even the combination of the two. It’s important to remember that one must work fast, for example I had five minutes with the Governor on location and very limited lighting equipment. Most of the time I rely on one off camera light which is usually a Nikon flash in a soft box or some sort of light modifier on a rolling stand and oh yes, I always bring a collapsible reflector.  Business Publications_web

Mark Congdon of JWSIEG Wines

COX_0662_RCOX_0679_TCR_CropIn case you are wondering, I do get to sample the wines after the assignment has concluded. It’s one of the many benefits of my profession.COX_0675_TCR

Violetta Markelou

photocrati gallery

About two years ago I was asked to photograph the CEO of one of my very large international accounts. Well the company loved the images and of course wants to use a different image from the same shoot for a new publication. While searching through the files I found several images of Violette Markelou who had worked with me on that assignment. She had posed at different locations as we tested lighting and nailed down absolute locations where each image would be taken so we wouldn’t compromise the CEO’s time. Violetta is not only a talented photographer but also an expert make-up artist and stylist and I was fortunate to have her with me. For obvious reasons the CEO never looked quite as good as my test subject, never the less it was still a very successful shoot. And as a side note, the most beautiful wedding on line that I have ever seen (and I’ve seen a lot of weddings) was Violetta’s which was in Greece and photographed by my close friend the renown artist and the internationally known  Yassine El Mansouri.

Shalom Baranes – Architect

Shalom Baranes - Architect

Shalom Baranes – Architect

Shalom took a great portrait, he reminded me a little of Tony Shalhoub who played ‘Monk’ on the TV series. Social media, such as, Facebook and Linked-In seem to be attracting a lot more executive portrait business, it seems everyone wants a professional profile image to post. Some people are getting downright creative while others want to maintain the professional look of the past. Curtis Preutt, who is responsible for all the publications for the National Capital Division of the Boy Scouts of America, took an image of me that was quite creative while we were  testing a portable studio set up at the Marriott Scouting Center in Bethesda. I think this image will be suitable for one of my many profiles on line. Now if you want to see really creative, friend Miriam Lomaskin, who is  the film editor and head photographer for the Holocaust Museum, on her Facebook page. She uses an iPhone for most of her images on Facebook and they’re unbelievably great. Her profile images change now and then and are fun to watch, especially if you know her. My point is business will continue to increase for the creative professional because we are all using e-mail, web pages and social media to communicate and get business and there seems to be a more personal connection when we can see one another. Think of it, every time an e-mail shows up in outlook we may have the opportunity to see an image of the person sending it and the same goes for social media.