Professional headshots are definitely an investment, both financially and for your professional career, but they’re well worth it! A high-quality headshot can help you make a great first impression, whether you’re applying for a job or promoting your own business. Here are a few ways to get the most out of your professional headshots.

Use a variety of expressions
Every single shot you take doesn’t have to be a deadly serious expression. Of course, you want to look professional, but that doesn’t mean you can’t crack a smile or even laugh now and then. And definitely don’t use the same forced smile for every image. The more variety you have in your expressions, the more choices you’ll have later. A more serious headshot may be suitable for a job application, while an image that’s a little more casual may look better for social media or your blog.

Keep it simple
When it comes to background, you want something that will help you stand out but won’t draw attention away from the main focus of the photo: you. Talk to your photographer about the kind of backgrounds you think would suit your needs, and they can suggest the perfect locations or in-studio backdrops to get the look you’re going for.

Leave your look to the pros
Hair and makeup for photos may be different from what you may do in your daily routine. If you don’t wear makeup often or are unsure what to do, it’s a great idea to get both your hair and makeup professionally done before your shoot, so you know you’ll look your best.

And guys, this advice goes for you too—consider stopping into the barbershop before your photos so your hair is looking sharp!

Choose the right outfit
No matter what your line of work, your clothing will be front and center in your headshots and will probably be the first thing people notice when they look at your images. Avoid any patterns or graphics that can be distracting and stick to solid, neutral colors. Ladies, try to avoid statement necklaces or any large pieces of jewelry that will draw attention away from your face.

Turn up the tunes
One of the main things that keeps people from getting professional headshots is nerves. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard “I’m just not photogenic” or “I don’t feel comfortable in front of the camera.” Have no fear! It’s your photographer’s job to help you feel at ease, and one way to do that is to play some of your favorite music. Create a playlist of songs that help you relax—or songs that get you pumped up. Whatever works for you!

Know your target audience
Before you go in to your photo session, do some research on what type of headshots fit well with your business or industry. Look at the websites of companies you’d like to work for and study the photos of their employees. And if you’re starting your own business, search for similar companies to give you an idea of what sort of tone to strike. If you’re unsure, err on the conservative side.

The more effort and thought you put into your images, the more you’ll get out of them. After all, your headshots are an investment in your professional future! 

Professional headshots are all about communicating with your audience. It is essential that your look matches what you want your image to convey.

I suggest looking professional yet approachable, as well as trustworthy and intelligent. That may seem like a lot to fit into one photo, but a big part of your headshot is the wardrobe. Take a few minutes to think about all of the things that make up your personal brand and what you want others to take away from a glance at your profile.

Keep your colors calm
That means no neon or blindingly bright colors and especially no busy patterns. These distract from your face, which is the main focus of the photo.

Instead, opt for solid, neutral colors and jewel tones, which flatter almost any complexion. Avoid flesh tones like beige or tan and keep away from dark black or bright white. If you’re looking for a neutral color, go with navy, burgundy, gray or forest green. A great way to choose your outfit color is to find a top that matches the color of your eyes and build the rest of your outfit from there.

Go for classic, instead of trendy
For the guys, I suggest you think classic. Pick your favorite suit that fits well and doesn't bunch up when you button it or when you sit down. Stay away from jackets with tight grids or small herringbone patterns as they can have a moiré pattern effect on camera. Ties look best when their tone lands between the suit and the shirt, so a light shirt, a dark suit, and a tie in a shade somewhere between them. Some ties are too shiny—try to stay away from really reflective, shiny, silk ties.

If you don't wear a tie, choose a non-white shirt if possible. White shirts without a jacket and tie to break them up can lose detail in the color and folds. And if you wear a button-down shirt, it's best to wear a jacket or sweater of some kind to layer the look. If not, choose a darker color shirt or something with pockets or details to avoid it looking like a head floating on a blank, boxy shirt, and unbutton a button or two. And make sure we can't see your undershirt beneath the button-down shirt: wear a v-neck or no undershirt at all.

For the ladies, I recommend much the same in keeping it classic. Choose a professional suit or business-oriented outfit that is timeless: you shouldn’t be able to tell what decade it is in the photo.

Keep it conservative
Try not to wear stark white unless it’s under something, such as a suit jacket, cardigan, or sweater. V-necks accentuate the neckline and generally look best on women. Just don’t choose something with too low of a neckline, as too much cleavage may also be distracting from the look you are going for. And no turtlenecks—they tend to make people look like they have no neck at all in photos.

Try to stay away from short sleeves or tank tops: executive headshots tend to look better without bare arms, but if you'd like to try showing arms in a sleeveless blouse or shift dress, we could make it work. Just bring a blazer or sweater to put over it as an additional option.

Avoid flashy jewelry
If you’re going to wear earrings or a necklace, keep it simple. Go for small hoops or studs, and avoid loud, colorful pieces that will distract from the rest of your outfit. Statement necklaces may seem fun, but they can easily draw all the focus in an image.

Make sure you’re comfortable
It’s essential that you feel at ease in whatever outfit you choose because if you’re uncomfortable, it will definitely show in your photos. If you buy a new outfit for your session, be sure to try it on and wear it around a bit beforehand to make sure you feel comfortable in it. Your clothing reflects who you are, so don’t wear something that feels completely unnatural and unlike your everyday work wardrobe.

Don’t wear your outfit to your session
You don’t want your chosen blouse or shirt getting wrinkled by your car seatbelt. Wear some comfortable clothes to your session and bring your outfit in a garment bag or on hangers to avoid any unexpected wrinkles or stains before the session.

Wear casual shoes
The best thing about headshots is that you don’t have to create a full outfit. In fact, your shoes don’t even have to match the rest of your look! Just choose shoes that you feel comfortable in since they won’t appear in your images.

Putting together an outfit for your headshots may seem a little overwhelming at first, but just think about how you want to present yourself to the world. You do this every day in your choice of clothes for work, so put the same thought into your outfit for your session!

It’s time to update your headshots! Now what?

Choosing the right photographer for you is an important decision. After all, you’re investing not just in images, but in your career. You’ll use your headshot on your social profiles, on job websites, and anywhere you need to promote your personal brand.

As you’re looking for a photographer to take your headshots, consider asking these questions to find someone who’s the right fit for you.

What does a session include?
Every photographer has different packages. Before you book a session, make sure you know what’s included. How many images will you receive? Will you receive prints, digital images, or both? How long will it take to get your photos? Be sure to ask your photographer what you get from a session, and if there’s something else you want, like extra prints or more outfit changes, ask if you can add on more items for a fee.

Are hair and makeup included?
Some headshot photographers include hair and makeup from a professional stylist as part of their sessions or even as an add-on. It’s important to know ahead of time if you need to get your hair and/or makeup done before your shoot.

How many locations will you use?
Your photographer may want to stay in the studio, or they may want to spend some time outside capturing natural light images. Some photographers may even do both in one session. If you have a preference for indoor or outdoor photos, it’s important to know what your photographer is comfortable with and specializes in. Also, knowing the location of your session can have an impact on what outfits you choose to wear, so be sure to get this information ahead of time!

How would you describe your images?
Every photographer has a different style, and it’s important to find one that matches your vision for your images. Some photographers prefer natural light, while others like to use their studio where they have more control over their images. Are their images more bright or classic, airy or sharp? Ask your photographer to show you some of their previous galleries to give you an idea of what to expect.

How many outfits can I wear?
Some photographers may limit the number of outfits per session, just to keep things simple. If that’s the case, consider wearing layers that can be removed or added for different looks. There are plenty of ways to adjust your look without having to change clothes multiple times during your shoot.

When will I receive my photos?
If you’re on a deadline, this could be a huge question for you. Ask your photographer when you will be able to view and order photos. Some photographers may be able to turn around your images rather quickly, while others may have a lot of clients and take much longer.

Will I receive a photo release?
If you intend to use your headshots online, whether on social media or your own website, be sure to ask if you will receive a photo release. Most photographers will be more than happy to give you rights to your photos, especially if you receive digital images, but if you don’t have that release, using the images could be considered stealing their work.

How long does a session last?
When you’re booking a headshot session, you need to know how much time to devote to it. Will this be an all-day event or just a couple hours? Knowing how long your session will be can help you better prepare.

How many images will I receive?
While some photographers may give you all the edited digital files, others may just give you a certain number of images. Be sure to ask how many images you’ll receive after your session and whether you will get to choose the images or the photographer will choose them for you.

Will you help me choose outfits?
Picking what to wear for your session can be a challenge. If you’re really uncertain about how to choose your wardrobe for your shoot, ask your photographer if they would be willing to offer advice or suggestions on how to dress.

Before you choose a photographer to capture your headshots, make sure to talk to them about any concerns or requests you may have. Remember, open communication is the best way to ensure both you and your photographer have a great experience and get the results you both want—amazing images!

Surely you've heard the expression “Don’t judge a book by its cover!” But if a cover isn’t compelling and inviting, most people aren’t going to look inside and find out more.

It’s human nature to make snap judgments based on appearances, such as picking up on body language and facial expressions. That’s why, when you’re looking for a job, it’s so important to have an updated, professional LinkedIn profile photo to let potential employers know that you’re trustworthy, intelligent, and perfect for the position.

You’ll be judged by your appearance
The first thing most recruiters or potential employers look at on a LinkedIn profile is the photo, so like it or not, the way you look matters. The right headshot can help you score your dream job, and an amateur or outdated headshot can actually cause you to miss out on opportunities.

Don’t believe it? A CareerBuilder survey actually found that the way you present yourself can not only affect your ability to get hired but can also impact your chances of getting a promotion.

That’s why it’s absolutely essential to have a quality, updated professional headshot on your LinkedIn profile. You want to encourage recruiters to keep looking and check out your skills and experience, instead of clicking away after just a few seconds.

You want to make a solid first impression
These days, most potential employers will look your up online before they ever contact you for a phone or in-person interview. That’s why you want to put a lot of thought and effort into how you present yourself on your LinkedIn profile. You want to show off your skills and experience, as well as give the impression of someone who’s intelligent, dedicated, and approachable.

That may sound like a lot to pull off, but as we’ve all heard, a picture is worth a thousand words, and your profile photo can help you give the right impression to recruiters. Your LinkedIn image can also serve as an introduction to other people in your field and potential clients, and you want to make sure that introduction is a positive one. A selfie or blurry amateur photo can give off the impression that you don’t care about presenting yourself professionally, which can be an immediate turnoff to potential employers.

You’ll get more engagement
Social media is a very visual medium, and LinkedIn is no different from Facebook or Instagram. Profiles with a photo get more engagement than those without—21 times more views and nine times more connection requests. Those additional views can make all the difference in getting an interview for the job you want.

When you choose a professional, sharp outfit for a job interview, you’re telling your interviewer that you’re serious about the position without even saying a word. The same is true for your LinkedIn profile photo. A quality, professional headshot can let recruiters know that you mean business and encourage more people to click on your profile and learn about your skills and expertise.

You’ll look more genuine
Having a quality profile picture lets anyone who looks at your profile know that you’re for real. Profiles without a photo tend to give off the impression that they’re fake or spam accounts, which is definitely not what you want potential employers to think when they see your profile.

Also, not having a photo might keep people from accepting your connection requests. People are a lot savvier about the internet these days and more likely to be suspicious of a profile without a picture. If you’re looking to build your network on LinkedIn, you definitely don’t want to give people a reason not to accept your connection.

You want to show off your personality
Interviewers love LinkedIn profiles because it allows them to put a face to the name before they meet the person. A photo also gives recruiters and potential employers an idea of what kind of person you are. For example, a selfie or cropped group photo may suggest that you don’t pay much attention to detail or aren’t very diligent in your work, while a professional headshot tells anyone who sees it that you are dedicated and on task.

Let recruiters, employers, and all your connections know that you mean business with a high-quality LinkedIn profile photo!

When everyone has a camera on their cell phone—and often a pretty decent one—it can be easy to think you don’t need professional photos for anything and certainly not for your headshots. Can’t a friend just snap a good picture of you with their iPhone in Portrait Mode?

Well, you certainly could ask your friend to take your headshot, but if that friend is not a professional photographer, you definitely won’t get an image that conveys the right impression of you and your personal or professional brand.

If you choose to get professional headshots, you should do them right—hire a professional who can help you create the images you want.

Image is everything
Professional headshots give off an impression of organization and expertise that a selfie or blurry photo from your company party just doesn’t. Whether you’re job hunting or trying to promote your own business, you want to give off the best possible impression with your headshot.

Think of your headshot as your own personal logo. It’s the quickest and simplest way to get noticed by everyone from potential employers to prospective clients. You wouldn’t sketch out a sloppy logo and post it to your social media and website. You’d hire a professional to create a logo that represents your company and the work you do. Shouldn’t you take the same time and care with your headshot?

A professional can get you the results you want
Anyone can snap a quick photo, but if you want a high-quality image, then you need a professional headshot photographer. A pro knows their craft, everything from composition to lighting to editing your images, and they’ll ensure that you get the photos you want.

After all, you want people to hire you for your services because you’re a professional and the best at what you do. The same is true for your headshots: hire someone who has the skills and expertise to do the job and do it well.

Invest in your professional growth
More than a financial investment, professional headshots are an investment in your future, whether it’s your career or a growing company you started yourself. Quality, eye-catching images can create a solid first impression for potential employers or clients who look you up and can even make them more likely to trust you and connect with you.

Professional headshots are about so much more than having an image for your LinkedIn or other social media profiles. They’re about putting your best face forward as you network and connect with potential employers and prospective clients, and a professional photographer can help you do that!

When you’re looking for a job, it’s essential to have a positive online presence. After all, most potential employers will look up your social media profiles and search for you online, and you want your digital footprint to reflect positively on you and your career. Check out these 6 tips for building a solid online presence that will help you get the job you want.  

Create an online portfolio
Building your own website is a great way to show off your previous work and expertise in a polished way. If you’ve never created an online portfolio before, don’t stress! It doesn’t have to be complicated. Use your resume as a starting point and add extra details, like graphs, charts, white papers, or articles you’ve created. Keep it simple and easy to navigate and be sure to regularly update it so the information stays fresh.

Include keywords on your career website and in your resume
Many companies use automated tracking systems to accept resumes which allow them to search for certain keywords and eliminate applications that don’t meet their requirements. So, if you want to get your resume to the right people and get through the digital sifting, you have to include the right keywords in your content. Think about words and phrases recruiters might use when looking to fill the type of position you’re seeking and including them in the body of your resume. Don’t just create a list of words in your resume, but make sure they fit smoothly and cohesively into your content. And be sure to include these words and phrases in your online portfolio as well, the better to show up in searches for potential positions!

Monitor your social media presence
Some people think they can keep their personal social media separate from their career, but that isn’t the best idea. Social media can be a great way to build personal connections that can lead to professional opportunities, and your personal profiles should present the same face to potential employers as your LinkedIn.

Put time and effort into your LinkedIn profile
Don’t just throw together a LinkedIn profile in a few minutes. Take time to build out your account with a professional photo and detailed job history. You’d be surprised how many recruiters check LinkedIn first when scoping out possible new hires, so you want to make sure your profile is just as detailed as the resume you submit to hiring managers and recruiters.

Look for opportunities to create online content
Show off your expertise in a blog post, whether by creating your own blog or guest-writing on someone else’s. Blogging is an excellent way to expand and improve your online presence, and you don’t even have to be an amazing writer to create a solid blog post. Just make sure whatever you post is error-free and don’t write anything you wouldn’t want a potential employer to read.

Be active online
You won’t have much of an online presence if you don’t interact with other people online. Participate in forums and comment on content that interests you on LinkedIn. Make sure your comments are thoughtful and don’t get involved in debates, but definitely take time to be more involved on the websites you’re a part of. You never know what opportunities you’ll find as a result!

By building your online presence, you can open yourself up to more career opportunities and growth, as well as build a network of personal and professional connections to help you find the job of your dreams!