What is a headshot?

Nowadays, your profile images speak on your behalf, from your social media and LinkedIn profile to your personal life. These days, we all need a little personal branding. Lots of people choose to ditch their old standby selfies in favor of investing in a session with a professional headshot photographer. 📸

Typically, a headshot is a high-quality close-up focusing on a person’s face. The industry standard for business headshots is a studio photograph with a plain backdrop, always giving off that executive, marketing-material feel. 👩‍💼👨‍💼

It sounds a bit old-fashioned, right?

Luckily, at Flytographer, we’re not about being standard in any way, shape, or form. So, forget all stiff and boring rules about headshot photography and let your personality and creativity shine with a modern headshot session. There are so many fun types of headshots such as those for real estate, entrepreneurship, graduation portraits, online dating and so much more.

They say it’s the first photograph of a person that lasts. Still, it’s not all about the way you look. You also have a backstory, a personality, and an attitude that shapes you. So here are six headshot tips for you to make use of all your traits and tell the world who you are! 🎉

Photo: Macy in Austin for Flytographer. Jessica captures memories in her hometown with a Modern Headshot in Austin.

Photo: Amelia in Buenos Aires for Flytographer. Paul celebrates a trip to Buenos Aires with a Modern Headshot photoshoot.

1. Understand your personal brand first

Did you know that it takes a fraction of a second for people to decide if they trust you or not? If you’re starting your career or venturing to new opportunities, use this split-second assessment to your benefit and make the best impression possible. A good headshot is like your business card and is of utmost importance for your career.

In business, as in life, if someone is interested in working with you, they’ll most likely look you up online. That means that your headshot is their impression of you. It’s your first chance to build trust and relationships. A good picture should depict who you are and give your audience a good grasp of what you can bring to them professionally. 

By the looks of it, remote work is here to stay. More and more professionals will either work from home or take a hybrid approach from now on. That means that online tools such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams will continue to be part of our work routines. 

But remember, no one likes to chat with a blank avatar. It feels like talking to a ghost! 👻 If there’s space for a profile picture there, why not add one? It only takes a few seconds, and it’s yet another chance for you to stand out from your peers or competition. 

And … it’s not all digital, folks! A clear headshot helps potential clients to recognize you in the real world when you come across each other at networking events or conferences. 🤝

Check out these examples of headshots from 10 female founders who are awe-inspiring.

Photo: Hayley in Vancouver for Flytographer. Kitty captures memories in Vancouver with a Modern Headshot photoshoot.

2. Make it personal

When it comes to new headshots, the X factor is your personality! Think about it, what better ways to stand out in the crowd than highlighting whatever makes you unique?

It helps to think of it from an outsider’s perspective. What do your best friends say about you? Are you more of a romantic type or an adventurer? What about your co-workers? Would they define you as an avid risk-taker or more of a creative soul? 🎭

Take all this into consideration when brainstorming ideas for your headshot session. Stick to one or two traits, and you’re good to go.

Photo: Flytographer in New York City. Yuri captures memories in New York City with a Modern Headshot photoshoot.

Photo: Hayley in Vancouver for Flytographer. Kirsten captures memories in Vancouver with a Modern Headshot photoshoot.

3. Plan your outfit(s)

We’ve all heard things like “dress to impress” or “dress like a boss.” That just doesn’t sound right, does it? 

Before everything, we think that what you wear should introduce yourself, not someone else. Your headshot session is an excellent opportunity for you to make an honest personal statement through your clothes. 

You can select pieces and accessories to highlight strategic aspects of your personality. For instance, if you’re a painter, why not show up in your messy painting clothes? 🎨 Or perhaps you are in the fashion industry and want people to know how stylish you are by wearing the latest trend. 

If this is a corporate headshot, a polished and classic look works well for most industries. It’s a style that fits both work and social life perfectly.

It’s also a good idea to pick more than one look. This gives you a wider variety of photos for your social media channels and more options when selecting that one professional headshot to boost your career.

But remember: What you wear also influences how you feel. Make sure to choose something you feel confident in that brings out your best natural self. 😎

Photo: Amelia in Buenos Aires for Flytographer. Carina captures memories in Buenos Aires with a Modern Headshot photoshoot.

4. Use props to tell your story

Have you ever thought of using props? In a modern headshot session, they can tell a story about you, or send a particular message to your audience.

For instance, an open laptop can show you’re flexible to move around, the classic coffee mug implies that you’re available for friendly conversations, and the right pair of glasses can undoubtedly make you look more trustworthy. 

But be careful: Some props can send wrong messages, especially if it’s a professional photo shoot. A glass of wine, for instance, shows sophistication on social media. But it isn’t ideal for a professional portrait unless you’re in the wine business. Sunglasses are fine for a mysterious look on your Instagram feed. 🕶 But they’re a no-go for professional photographs and dating app profile photos alike. For those, it’s all about that eye contact. 👁👁

Photo: Marta in Venice for Flytographer. Sophia captures memories in Venice with a Modern Headshot photoshoot.

4. Pick an intentional background 

Commercial headshots are usually taken outside in natural light or in a location that relates to your personality or business. They tend to have wider angles, revealing a lot of the context in the background. Whether you’re in a quiet interior or in the middle of a bustling city, the environment you choose for your headshot photo is most definitely meaningful.

If you’re the outdoorsy type, you may want to take your headshot in a park, or somewhere you can also feature nature and greenery in the shoot. This works well for professionals who work with nature, such as botanists, landscape architects, or organic farmers. 🌿

As an established executive taking a new photo for business purposes, you may opt to shoot your professional headshot in a sleek-looking office or overlooking a stunning city view. 

Or perhaps you’re more of a bohemian, artsy type. You can choose a cozy interior from a café or lounge. If you’re into the performing arts, a theatre stage can also be an idea. Or why not simply stand by your favourite artwork?

Maybe you’re a digital nomad who does their remote work from across the globe, typing on your laptop from beautiful and exotic locales. 🏝 If you’re adventuring around the globe, why not use the inspiring locations you visit as backgrounds to make for a stunningly great headshot? 

Luckily, Flytographer connects you with photographers in 350 destinations around the world, so we’ll meet up with you wherever you are. Here are some ideas for inspiring destination shoots in Cabo, Bali, and Dubrovnik

There’s no rule of thumb, people! As long as the place inspires you or reflects your biz, it’s perfectly suitable.

Photo: Siza in Venice for Flytographer. Tianna captures memories in Venice with Modern Headshot photoshoot.

6. Practice posing in the mirror

No one’s better than a headshot photographer to guide you on the practicalities of where to look, what to do with your hands, and, quite literally, how to put your best foot forward during your headshot session. But you can brainstorm ahead of time. Your headshot is a powerful nonverbal form of communication, which means that you’ll talk through your facial expressions, eye contact, and body language. 

The magic of a headshot is that you can loosen up and try different things. It’s often more like a portrait, and it can even be from your waist up or full-body. You don’t have to stand up straight or sit on a chair, although you can. Here’s an idea: Make it more dynamic by walking towards the camera confidently. You can also gaze at the camera over your shoulder as you walk past it. Classic poses also work, like sitting on the steps looking fabulous or leaning against a parapet.

If you have the freedom, you can be silly and do something unconventional, like making a face, laughing with your eyes closed, screaming out loud, and even dancing. Sometimes a funny look replaces a perfect smile. 😜

Photo: Elina in Amsterdam for Flytographer. Roy captures memories in Amsterdam with a Modern Headshot photoshoot.

Show the world who you are

Who would have guessed that a simple headshot had so many possibilities behind it, right? Well, believe it or not, there’s much more. Our professional photographers worldwide from Los Angeles to Tokyo can add to these ideas and guide you for a perfect modern headshot. With their help, all you have to do is show the world who you are (and we’ll make you look amazing) with a fun, hassle-free photo shoot.