Professional business headshots of women

In this blog post I discuss a handful of tips for better corporate and business headshots or portraits. I normally these tips with my headshot or portrait clients before the photo session. And it doesn’t matter whether we’re talking actor headshots, personal headshots, corporate or business portraits- same recommendations apply to them all.

1. Know where your business headshot or portrait will be used.

When you do, discuss it to your headshot/ portrait photographer. Knowing about it in advance will help your photographer to think about orientation (vertical vs. horizontal vs. square), background, lighting setup, color (black/white, color), etc.

Read my blog post about the differences between headshots and portraits here.

business headshot examples for linkedin profiles, facebook profiles and websites
An example of business headshots from the same photoshoot and variety of their use

2. Who’s your audience?

Is it business people? Is it entrepreneurs? Farmers? What’s their age group? What do they do? How do they dress up? Do you really need that business suit and a tie? Is it really T-shirt this time?

I’m just throwing some thoughts out there for you to think about. So you pick the right mood, don’t overdress/ underdress, etc. and communicating the right message to your audience. See below about general tips regarding clothing.

Business headshot of art director
Business portrait of art director.
Business portrait of theater professor
Business portrait of UW theater professor.

3. Think about a mood and message you want to convey.

If you’re looking for a general business headshot, you probably don’t need to dig too deep. But it’s still would be very helpful if you come up with three words we will be trying to fit into your professional headshot. An example could be “Approachable. Friendly. Trustworthy.”

Depending on your profession I would encourage go deeper. Think about who will be seeing your headshot or portrait? What do you want them to feel or see just by looking at your image?

Now go ahead, write down few sentences and have it on you when you show up for your photography session.

4. Put a little headshot and portrait inspiration board together and email it to me.

It really doesn’t need to be anything big and fancy. Several small resolution images, screen shots, website links to example “About Us” pages will work just fine. It will give your headshot photographer an idea what light, background, environment you’re leaning towards. This particularly is useful to small business owners and entrepreneurs who don’t need to follow corporate business headshot standards.

Business headshot of freelance writer John Roach
Business headshot of freelance writer John Roach.
professional portrait of a multimedia artist in photography studio Madison WI
Bear at the Burning Man 2017.

5. Don’t overdo makeup.

A natural look always works best. Keep it simple, clean and professional. Also, don’t worry about small blemishes, skin redness, etc. That’s where retouching comes in.

Disregard this section if you’re working with a professional makeup artist.


You know your hair better than I do. If you think you can handle it, go for it. There’s a mirror in studio’s dressing room. If you think you will need help, don’t expect your photographer to fix it for you.

I’m not hair specialist. Please visit professional hair specialist before the photo session. If you need any recommendations, shoot me an email via my contact page and I will hook you up with some good people who do it well. For additional fee hair and makeup artists might be available at the studio.

Professional business headshot of an IT specialist
Professional business headshot of an IT specialist

Professional business headshot of Sales Force specialist.

7. Few suggestions regarding your clothing. Are you a pet owner?

Keep it simple, comfortable and current. Don’t bring something that’s been sitting untouched in the closet for last 5 years. If you’re not sure, try it on before the shoot.

Also, make sure your clothing is clean, looks good and is “photo session ready”. Especially if you are a pet owner.

If you’re not sure what to wear, bring 2-3 different top outfits and I’ll help you decide. There’s a changing room in studio.

If you’re a professional who wears uniform (doctor, police officer, etc.) and want to be photographed in it, please mention it up when reaching out to me.

When it comes to colors, I recommend staying away from busy patterns, logos, and very bright colors. If you have trouble deciding, head over to my Pinterest page and check out my color palette board.

business portrait of two dentists in their Madison, Wisconsin office
Business portrait of two business professionals in uniforms.

8. Show me your good side, but tell me your worries as well.

When it comes to headshots or portraits people often have facial features they don’t like- past injuries, imperfections, etc. Make sure to mention it to your photographer before the headshot or portrait session.

Also, quite a few of my headshot and portrait clients have face side they prefer. If you have preferences, please let me know about it during photo session and I will position and light you accordingly.

portrait of a jet pilot in professional photography studio Madison WI
Portrait of Air Force pilot Mark Greene.
creative business portrait of fine art photographer
Business portrait of an entrepreneur Tommy Sweeney.

9. About “fixing it in Photoshop later”…

Take headshot and portrait session seriously and do your homework. Please, do not show up unprepared and expect me to fix things in Photoshop.

While my packages include retouching of final selects, I will add additional editing fee for things that could have been simply avoided by doing your homework. Examples would be fixing wrinkled or dirty clothing, messy hair, etc.

10. It is going be alright.

Don’t do well in front of the camera? Planning on telling me that you that your smile will break my camera or lens? Well, you’re not alone. Quite a few clients I photograph don’t do well in front of the camera. Or at least, they think so.

Reality is most of the human beings I photograph aren’t comfortable in front of the camera. I will guide your from start to finish. And you’ll do just fine!

And guess what? No smile ever broke my lens glass.

My portrait and headshot philosphy in 60 seconds.


Please note, that some of the tips cannot be applied for photo sessions where I photograph large batches of headshots and portraits and am using the same lighting setup.

Changing room in my studio might have minimal accessories such as lint roller (for pet hair and small speckles), hair spray, brushes, clippers, etc. but its not guaranteed. PLEASE MAKE SURE TO BRING YOUR OWN TOILETRY/MAKEUP.

Also, know, that I, as headshot and portrait photographer, love you for who you are. And any facial imperfections you worry about, in my opinion, is what really makes you one unique looking individual. Life would be visually helluva boring if everybody would look like Barbie and Ken, wouldn’t it?

For a free estimate or to schedule your business headshot or portrait session, call at 608-239-4199 or use this contact form.