Top 8 Attributes that Make {or break} a Professional Corporate Headshot

Author: Robb

June 8, 2023 • 5 minute read

Posted In: PhotographyPhotography

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Having a good professional corporate headshot is essential. Why? See why professional headshots matter. We’re all meeting more people professionally online these days, and you need a way to stand out to be unhindering-ly you. This is your digital front door as a working professional.

There are a lot of important things that go into making a great professional corporate headshot. It can be really easy to overlook a few of these items. These points will help you get the most out of your headshot. We’ll include a simple question to direct your focus.

1. Sharp

I know, but we do need to say it because you’d be surprised: the subject should be clear and in focus, with the eyes being the main focus of the image. Do your viewers and prospects a favor with helping them focus on the right thing. You. “The eyes are the window into a person’s soul.” – Bill Shakespeare

Question to ask: Where should my attention go?

2. Lighting

To truly showcase a person in their professional corporate headshot, the lighting should enhance and not steal the show. It should be balanced and not distracting, or at least showcase the person’s best features shaping the face naturally. It’s all about people seeing you in the best light – literally.

Question to ask: How should I see the person?

3. Composition

Chicagoland professional corporate headshot of african american lady with a great smile chicago buildings in background

The composition of a professional corporate headshot should be simple and uncluttered, with the person’s face taking up a large portion of the image. If there is anything in the background, it should make sense without stealing the show. Ideally they are in the middle or on a third of the image to maintain visual interest.

You wanna nerd out a sec? Pop over over to our info-sharing friends at The Digital Photography School for their examples on The Rule of Thirds.

Question to ask: What does my attention stay on?

4. Expression

The person should have a natural and engaging expression, with their eyes being the focal point of their professional corporate headshot. Everyone’s got their own look, and it’s important to find one that best showcases their personality in a single frame. Tough but fun game!

Question to ask: How should I feel looking at this person?

5. Wardrobe

The subject’s clothing should be simple and appropriate for the intended use of the professional corporate headshot. Seeing a doctor in a jumpsuit may catch you off guard, and a mechanic wearing a three piece suit just doesn’t add up. This will also gives the viewer of the headshot a heads up on what they would wear normally.

Question to ask: How would this person be dressed for our meeting?

6. Background

The background should be neutral or at least complementary, with no distracting elements. Fun tip/trick: when looking for a good background, we usually cross our eyes. That’s how it’s gonna look in the picture. Bonus for any conversations that start because of it. We wrote more about choosing the right background for your professional corporate headshot in another blog post over here.

Question to ask: What makes the person stand out naturally?

7. Editing

The exposure and color of the headshot should be accurate to the true representation of the person. Auto settings in a camera just don’t get it right. Less Oompa Loompa, more digital spray tan. Have you played with this slider 1,000 times? Us too!

Question to ask: What is the actual skin color?

8. Retouching

Retouched: The headshot should be edited naturally while removing any distractions from seeing the subject in true form. We actually have a 30 day rule, just to draw a line in the sand for what stays and what goes. If you’ve had that wrinkle more than 30 days, that’s you showing the world you’re wise beyond your years. That pesky pimple that ALWAYS pops up day of your pictures getting taken? Consider it a thing of the past and gone. But, for the love of all that is digital, don’t let anyone get the skin to barbie doll level. What change in the before and after did you notice the most?

Question to ask: Where’d that wrinkle go?

Final thoughts on professional corporate headshots

So there’s quite a bit that goes into creating a successful professional headshot. Thankfully, you should see the common themes of being true to the subject matter. Because you’re the best you, period. Be real. These are all important attributes when choosing a photographer or agency to capture your headshots. Ask the questions, see the results.

Behind the scenes of a Chicagoland corporate headshot in chicago loft space, young female employee smiling

Need a hand?

We’d love to help you on your professional headshot quest! You can contact us to get the process started, or book a time below in our studio! The process is simple, and in most cases you’ll have your new headshot in just a few days.

Let us give you the FULL EXPERIENCE! We’ll provide you with high-quality, professional headshots for you to use on your socials, company website, business cards, and more!