5 Useful Tips to Improve Your Headshot Images

Ritesh Saini
Ritesh Saini

New / Noteworthy

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following post is a quick tip from our Free eBook – Headshots 101. If you missed out on your copy last time, it’s available again, and free today.

Capturing a great headshot requires a few considerations that can really spell the difference between a mediocre shot and an excellent one. Here are five useful tips that you can use when creating headshots.

Remember — You can download the complete Headshots 101 eBook, free right here for a limited time!

1. Framing

Unless there is some creative reason, or use in reproduction, that requires a horizontal format, you are best off shooting headshots in a vertical format.

Photo by Aurimas

The above image was professionally produced. When you’re creating headshots and you choose an unusual format or crop, make sure that there is a reason for it.

2. Choose the right equipment

With a headshot assignment, you want to use a medium length telephoto lens like 85mm, 105mm, or 135mm.

You’d typically use an aperture of f/5.6 to f/8.5. You want enough depth-of-field to keep the face sharp, but let the background go soft.

Always focus on the eyes when doing a headshot. A headshot with soft focus on the eyes never looks good!

Use a tripod to compose your headshots better and to not have the framing and focusing thrown out of balance.

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3. Camera point of view

A headshot created for a businessperson or a model, for example, should be shot looking directly into the face.

A camera POV that looks down on a person (even slightly) makes them appear more approachable and submissive.

You get the opposite effect when the camera is lower and looking up at your subject. That camera POV tends to make the subject look more commanding and in control.

4. Your choice of background

The choice of background has a big impact on a headshot image. Take a look at the following images – the lighting scheme is exactly the same. The only difference is the background.

Photos by Steve Jurvetson

5. Skin retouching and props

When you retouch skin, you should not remove all skin texture. This is especially important on a headshot.

We are all used to looking at people up-close. Skin texture looks normal. Wrinkles look normal. Yes, it’s important to make your subject look their best. But if you remove all skin texture and wrinkles, your subject will begin to take on the look of a plastic doll.

Props with headshots should be eliminated or used minimally.

6. Extra Tip – Your subject(s) will be more critical about their hair than just about any other aspect of their portrait, headshot or otherwise. Always check the hair before proceeding.

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About Ritesh Saini

About Ritesh Saini

Ritesh has been photographing since 2010 and his photographic interests have varied from nature and landscapes to street photography. He recommends the Portrait Photography Guided Resource Kit to anyone who wants to jumpstart their portrait photography skills.

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